OT: Ezekiel 7:1-9:11
Well, thankfully for Ezekiel, today he just had to listen and watch, without participating in any grueling skits. Unfortunately, the prophecy he hears is as unadorned as it is brutal (chapter 7). And the images he has to see are unsettling, to say the least. In chapter 8, the Lord transports him in a vision to various spots in Jerusalem where "detestable" things are happening with idols. Then in chapter 9, Ezekiel witnesses the wrath of God in that same vision. Six men come and are instructed to destroy everyone in the city, with an important exception. There was a seventh man whose job was first to go and to mark the innocent of the city. Those people would be spared. I can't be sure, but I think this is the first mention that certain people in Jerusalem will be spared because of their personal innocence. (Someone remind me if it has been mentioned before.) Of course, that is a comforting thought to me, although I guess I also tend to see all children as innocent, and the scripture makes clear that children will be killed (9:6). Perhaps those children are killed as part of the punishment to the parents? I don't know.
Anyway, the section ends with the man who marked the people returning and saying that he had done what he had commanded (11). I guess that point also marks the point of the slaughter. Yikes.
NT: Hebrews 5:1-14
Today, the author of Hebrews describes the role of the high priest and shows how Jesus now fills that role for us. High priests served as mediators between the people and God (1). They were able to deal well with the people b/c they could relate to them (2). The downside to that was that their ability to relate made them sinners. Thus, they continually had to ask forgiveness for their own sins (3).
Jesus, on the other hand, can relate to us b/c of His experience as a human, but His perfection nullifies the need for sacrifices to be made on His behalf . The text twice mentions that He is a priest in the order of Melchizedek, which I have always heard means that he is both a priest and a king (6,10). Apparently, only Melchizedek has that distinction in the OT. That's what I've heard, at least, and off the top of my head, I can't think of any others.
The section ends with the author chastising his audience for being spiritually immature. He says that, metaphorically speaking, they are on milk when they need to be on solid food (11-14). I think that I've always tended to consider myself a "solid food" Christian, and it has only recently occurred to me that I might still be on milk, or at least on baby food! I hope not, but looking back, I am definitely sure that I haven't been on solid food as long as I think I have! I especially like the last verse: "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil" (14). I am seeing more and more that you do need that vigilance to determine good from evil. It is so easy to get sucked into worldviews and mentalities that differ from the teaching of the Bible, and to lose sight of the truth of scripture. The only examples that are popping out to me right now are the shows and movies I might choose to watch, but I'm sure that there are many others.
A praise psalm, telling the people to remember the good works that God has done in their nation.
Against lying and flattery.