Old Testament: Ezekiel 33:1-34:31
Ezekiel 33:1-34:31 Watch Out
Chapter 33 This is the last section of the book of Ezekiel (Eze. 33-48). The prophet was re-commissioned in this chapter as a watchman. Ezekiel was appointed a watchman over Israel (Ezek. 3:17). McGee imagines that the watchman was the person who was stationed on the wall of Jerusalem and called out every hour that “all was well.” The false prophets were telling everyone that “all was well” though everything was very bad. God was trying to get their attention. He told Ezekiel that if he warned the people that his life would be spared (v. 9b). If they listened, their lives would be spared. If not, their lives would be demanded (v. 9a). I always wondered how I could preach and no one seems to hear me. Here’s the answer! Verse 32, “Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them.”
Chapter 34 We live in an age of these guys. My wife says she doesn’t like preachers. I have to get her to exclude me. Verse 2 says, ““Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves!” Those were the words of Yahweh. A few years back I had a fellow pastor accuse me of being a “hireling” (cf. Jn 10: 12). Not long after that I had to file for bankruptcy in order to keep our house. I’m sure one of his cronies saw me at his superchurch’s food banks so our family would have food till my wife’s paycheck. I know that both were preaching a false gospel. I actually don’t know of any pastor that is preaching the Biblical gospel in our area. I wish I did but I don’t. All are watering down Scripture trying to grow their “flocks.” They think the only way to do that is be careful that they aren’t offensive. They are probably right. At the end of John 6, Jesus had been drawing large crowds after He started His own food bank of bread and fishes. So He told all His disciples to go out and get more people and tell them about the free food. OK, no, He didn’t. He gave them a hard saying on eating His body and drinking His blood that successfully dispersed most of the crowd (cf. Jn. 6: 66). Most of the pastors out there today would feature women mud-wrestling if they thought it would up their attendance. Here is what Yahweh said back in the day, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep” (v. 10).
The chapter ends (vv. 11-31) with a statement of God’s care for Israel despite the failure of the shepherds. He will send One Shepherd that will feed them and care for them, a prophecy of the coming of Christ (v. 23). John 10 rings of this chapter in Ezekiel.
New Testament: Hebrews 13:1-25
Hebrews 13:1-25 Final Exhortations
The writer to the Hebrews tells the flock to continue to show love to each other but also to outsiders (v. 1a, cf. Gal. 6:7). Some who have done that might even had angels visiting them (v. 1b, cf. Gen. 18:1-8, e.g.)! Some had been imprisoned for their beliefs and shouldn’t be forgotten (v. 3).
Many modern-day movies seem to have taken their theme from verse 4, fornication and adultery. Now that’s entertainment!
We are to be free from making money an idol (cf. Matt. 6:24-33). We should be content with what we have, not buying everything in sight just because it’s on sale (v. 5a). Of course, there is nothing wrong with waiting on God for things we need and taking advantage of sales, discounts and coupons. God says He will never leave us in the lurch or abandon us (v. 5b, quoting Deut. 31:6). In verse 6, the writer quotes Psalm 118:6,7. The lesson here may take time to learn. We do not need to be afraid of any one or any thing. Mere men can not hurt us. We don’t need any thing that God doesn’t want for us.
The Hebrews were to remember their leaders some of whom may have died for their faith (v. 7). Jesus does not change (cf. Mal. 3:6) though their leaders may no longer be with them. He always lives to protect and provide for them.
The author warns the congregation not to be carried away by weird doctrine concerning foods (v. 9). It doesn’t bring any aid or comfort (cf. 1 Cor. 8:8). In this dispensation, we are privileged to eat at a spiritual altar, Christ (v. 10). In the Old Testament, Jews would offer the blood of animals in the Temple but the carcasses of those animals were burnt outside the city (v. 12). Jesus was also sacrificed outside the city (v. 13) but His blood was shed for everyone. The Hebrews should be willing to leave the comfortable confines of Old Testament worship to lay hold of Christ (v. 13). No one gives up anything of worth on earth in grasping anything Heavenly (v. 14).
We should praise the Lord as our sacrifice now of praise to God (v. 15). We should also sacrifice our earthly good to share with others. God is pleased with that kind of sacrifice (v. 16, cf. v. 1).
The Hebrews should have respected their pastors and not given them an unnecessarily hard time (v. 17). The pastors themselves will have to give an account of their actions to God (v. 17a). The people should try to relieve the burden of their pastors, not add to it. If they do, they will lose rewards at the bema judgment (v. 17b, cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15).
The Hebrews should pray for the writer of the letter. He has a clear conscience (cf. Acts 24:16) but desires to continue to be honorable in all he does (v. 18). He also asks for prayer to be able to visit them again soon (v. 19).
The writer closes with a benediction asking that Jesus, the Shepherd, through the New Covenant provide everything they need to do His will (vv. 20-21). He asks that glory be given to Christ (v. 21b).
He says that he hopes they will take his words to heart and that he hopes to visit them soon with his friend, Timothy, who had recently been released from jail (vv. 22-23).
The author and all in Italy say “hi” to all the leaders and congregants with the Hebrews (v. 24).
Characteristically of a letter of Paul’s, he closes with a reminder of God’s “unmerited favor, ” grace (v. 25).