OT: Ezekiel 18:1-19:14
In chapter 18, Ezekiel takes pains to outline what is apparently God's "New Deal": from that point on, people would be judged as individuals, and "the soul who sins is the one who will die" (4). Ezekiel first gives the example of a righteous father and a sinful son (the son dies), and then a sinful father and a righteous son (the father dies). Next, he gives an example of a wicked man who repents (he lives), and a righteous man who goes bad (he dies).
In verses 25-29, God brings up the charge that He is unfair, and answers that the people are unfair. I wondered in what context came the charge from the people. Was the accusation a result of the old policy or the new? He cites it after laying out the new policy, but of course, that policy sounds like the fair one...so...why are the people complaining? And if the accusation is in response to the old policy, does the new policy represent God's reaction to the complaint? Hmmm...probably not, b/c rather than answer that He has changed policies, He simply highlights the people's own injustice. I don't know. Frankly, this whole section was kind of confusing to me. It makes sense if you read the Bible as an evolution of God's relationship with man, but the whole notion of God "changing policies" in the first place is a little weird.
I also like how God twice declares that He does not take pleasure in death. In verse 23, He asks rhetorically, "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?...Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" In verse 32, He expands this thought: "For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!" I like those verses, as they put God's wrath in some kind of perspective. I think it's easy for me to get overwhelmed by the fury and brutality of it all and to miss the fact that, as passionate as He is about it, it is not His desire.
NT: Hebrews 9:1-10
Speaking of changing policies, Hebrews continues its theme of God's transition to the New Covenant. As I noted in the OT section, the idea of any transition at all in a God who is "the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow" is a little bit baffling, to say the least. But relationships evolve and grow, I guess. And if you look at the Bible as telling the story of one relationship--that b/t God and man--then it makes sense that it would develop and evolve. All relationships do.
The evolution that is described in this reading is that of the tabernacle worship forms changing into something more internal. Regarding those forms, verse 10 maintains that "They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings--external regulations applying until the time of the new order." This fits in with the earlier discussion of Jesus being the new high priest, followed by the assertion that the new covenant is written on our hearts. We've covered the priests and the covenant, and now we are moving onto the external forms described in that covenant.
Psalm 106: 32-48
The grim historical retelling continues today.
And odd proverb about how it is better to turn to a nearby neighbor for help "than a brother far away."