My Two-Minute Summary of Today's Bible Reading

August

"A Bible reading laity is a nation's surest defense against error." -J. C. Ryle

"Open Book" by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.com

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August 1

We read of King Josiah's religious reforms. When he read all the Law that was found deeply hidden in the Temple the people uniformly responded favorably (at least in word). He accomplished all that the unnamed prophet prophesied about him 308 years earlier. He informed King Jeroboam (Israel-N) that a king would be born who would undo all the damage Jeroboam had done by erecting two altars to prevent the Israelites from worshiping in Jerusalem during their three annual festivals (6/9's reading). Then Josiah put together the grandest Passover celebration since the time of the prophet Samuel. The writer stated that there had never been a king like Josiah before him and none like him after (up to the time that 2 Kings was being composed). Next began the ministry and writings of the prophet Nahum who railed against the Assyrians living in the capital city of Nineveh for their extreme and constant cruelty to all their neighbors. God identified Himself as her enemy (a very bad position in which for a country to find herself). 

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August 2

We read the prophecies of Habakkuk and Zephaniah, which were given around the time of Assyria's fall in 612 BC. God responded to Habakkuk's complaint by revealing His intention to use the cruelty of the rising Babylonian empire to discipline the Jews. Because the Babylonians worshiped their own strength God will also punish them. The main point of Habakkuk's message to the Jews is that those who live in faithfulness to God, out of a sincerely trusting heart will be preserved by that faith.

Habakkuk was a singing prophet (3:1-19). Zephaniah called to attention the double-minded people's syncretism, a practice that continues today. Those that behave this was are usually those who are pious looking church attendees who go home after the worship service to do the things that God hates the rest of the week.

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In the same way, Isaiah tried to get King Ahaz to trust in the Lord, "Unless your faith is firm, I [The Lord] cannot make you stand firm" (6/23's reading). The Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 5:7) and writer of Hebrews in chapter eleven also reminded their readers the benefit of living by faith.

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August 3

We read Zephaniah's prophecies of judgment against Moab, Ethiopia, Assyria, and Jerusalem. In the end, God promised to bring all people together for worship by "purifying their speech." They will consist of only  the lowly and humble people. God will sing over them [us] (Zephaniah 3:17). Next in the narrative King Neco of Egypt wanted to pass peacefully through Judah to join forces with Assyria in a battle at Carchemish, but King Josiah may have been afraid that after their victory both armies would descend on Judah. So Josiah and his army intercepted the Egyptian army for battle. King Neco claimed to be conscripted by Judah's God, but apparently King Josiah had his doubts, entered into battle in disguise and was killed by an arrow. Jeremiah composed funeral songs for him and the people mourned for him and even ninety years later the prophet Zechariah referred to their great mourning (9/13's reading) (MacArthur, 2005, p516). Then Jehoahaz succeeded his father Josiah. Finally, we read Jeremiah's prophecies against the Philistines and the Moabites.

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Isaiah 6:5-7 "Then I said, "It's all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips..." (NLT)

James 3:10 "And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!" (NLT)

To know God correctly means that all of His attributes have to be given equal weight. I believe that those who make theological errors often lean too heavily on certain characteristics, actions, and words while minimizing or ignoring other attributes that appear to be in tension with the ones that we favor. With that in mind, Jeremiah seems to have made a strange statement, "Cursed are those who refuse to do the Lord's work, who hold back their swords from shedding blood!" (See also Exodus 32:27-29 -2/11's reading, and 1 Kings 20:35-37 -6/12's reading). My purpose in pointing this out is to help bring the pendulum of seemingly popular paradigm back from where God is seen only as a type of manipulatable divine sugar daddy whose grand purpose is to be our eternal butler to satisfy our human desires toward the balance that He is like a wild lion. He is sovereign. He is untamable. His word is final.

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August 4

We read that the people chose the younger son, Jehoahaz to succeed Josiah, but the Egyptian king took him captive after only three months on the throne, where he died in prison. * King Neco crowned his older brother, whom he renamed Jehoiakim King of Judah. He was so evil that his name is not even mentioned in Jesus' genealogy. The Gospel writer, Matthew skipped him (Matthew 1:11 - Lockyer, 1958, p178). Jeremiah prophesied against Judah and was put on trial for treason. But the religious leaders really wanted to kill him because he said that God was going to destroy the Temple in the same way that He destroyed Shiloh. ** Some wise old men warned against treating Jeremiah as they did the prophet Uriah, whom they had formerly killed for prophesying the same kind of message. Then God sent raiding bands to inflict destruction and violence against Judah. Finally, Jeremiah made his prophesy about the coming "seventy year captivity of the Jews in Babylon."

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* The editors of "The One Year Chronological Bible" published a misprint (in my copy) about Jehoahaz on the top of page 1035. He was exiled to Egypt where he died, not Babylon. (See 2 Kings 23:34.)

** The Israelites in 1 Samuel 4 treated the Ark of Covenant like a good luck charm. They worshiped the box rather than the presence of God. So God allowed the Philistines to capture the Ark and defeat the Israelite army. The leaders in Jeremiah's day treated the Temple like the Israelites treated the Ark of Covenant in Samuel's Day.

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August 5

We read that though Jeremiah, God spoke a warning to all the nations that they had one last chance to repent of their sins and acknowledge His divine sovereignty. His discipline was planned to start with Jerusalem. Compare this with 1 Peter 4:17. Since Jeremiah was imprisoned he could not deliver the prophecy. So he had his scribe Baruch write it down and read it in the Temple. The leaders warned Baruch and Jeremiah to hide because King Jehoiakim was going to read it. As each section of the letter was read to him he cut it off with a knife and threw it into the fire. Then he ordered Baruch's and Jeremiah's arrests, but God hid them. I wonder if He made them invisible. So Jeremiah dictated another more severe prophesy from God that included specific judgments against Jehoiakim.

Jeremiah warned and encouraged Baruch for enduring his suffering. The Lord would protect his life as a reward for his faithfulness. Finally, God promised that His discipline would be violent, but that He would not completely destroy Israel.

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August 6

We read of Jeremiah's object lesson with the irreparable smashing of the clay jar that represented the coming destruction of Judah and the severity of the Babylonian siege, which would make the trapped Judeans have to resort to cannibalism for survival. Temple priest Pashur punished Jeremiah for his prophesy with a beating and a day in the stocks. When he was released Jeremiah prophesied that Jerusalem would indeed be destroyed and that Pashur, his family, and friends would all be deported to Babylon where he will die. Jeremiah lamented the pains of his calling, but strengthened himself in the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar did conquer and take Jewish captives. He instructed Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to choose the smartest of the Jewish youths to be trained for his royal service. Ashpenaz discovered four promising Hebrew captives. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah's names were changed to Babylonian names, but they determined not to eat the food that had been sacrificed to idols and God blessed them with noticeably good health, endowed them with superior wisdom and granted them favor with the king.

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August 7

We read the account of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Only Daniel was able to disclose its content and application (as revealed to him by God). Consider the danger he faced: here was a man who knew what was hidden within a king's imagination. The king should have felt threatened by this vulnerability. Instead he promoted Daniel and his three friends. But Daniel was careful to give God the credit for revealing the mystery of the king's dream. Most likely, the jealousy of this promotion led their peers to turn them in when the Hebrews refused to bow to the golden statue.

Next we read more of Jeremiah's warnings to the people that the possession of and their worshiping in the Temple offered them no protection from the consequences of their sin. God desired their worshipful obedience rather than dutiful, but insincere rituals. These prophecies are undated and may have been given before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem.

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August 8

We read more of Jeremiah's undated prophecies. He charged that the false prophets were deceiving the people with lies. They did not know God, abandoned His Law, lived their lives steeped in greed, refusing to seek God's wisdom, and sought only to please themselves. God recommended that the only good boast for anyone to make is that he or she rightly knows the Lord and His delight in love, justice, and righteousness. God applied the practice of circumcision figuratively to the substance of a person's heart (the free will) to communicate His true desire of enjoying the company of people who willingly obey out of gratefulness for and devotion toward Him. God promised that a day of reckoning will come when all idols will be destroyed. Finally, Jeremiah offered a precatory prayer that may be applied to contemporary America, "...Pour our Your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge You, on peoples that do not call on Your name..." (Jeremiah 10:25a - NLT).

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August 9

We read Jeremiah's complaint to God over the prosperity of the wicked while he, who God had singled-out as His righteous spokesman was always suffering persecution. God responded by prophesying the coming horrific destruction for the wicked that will cause even innocent creatures in nature to suffer. As an object lesson, God had Jeremiah buy a pair of under garments to wear for a while then to stuff in a crevice of a rock for it to decay. When after much time had passed, he retrieved it ans saw its rotten condition, God said, "I created the Hebrews to be as close to Me as My innermost clothing, to bring Me glory and honor, but now they will be discarded without pity, mercy, or compassion." The Lord told Jeremiah to stop interceding for them because He will not listen to Jeremiah's prayers. He will destroy them with war, famine, and disease. Jeremiah pleaded, for the sake of God's reputation, not to destroy Judah (S), but His patience was ending. He said, "I'm tire of giving you another chance..." Jeremiah reminded God of his personal devotion and God responded with His promise of protection. Finally, "...any nation who refuses to obey Me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the Lord have spoken!" (NLT)

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August 10

We read how God forbade Jeremiah to start a family because of the coming violent destruction. God said, "I have removed My protection and peace from them (Judah-S). The Lord measured the wicked condition of the human heart to be worse than imaginable. Mockers challenged the validity of Jeremiah's message because God's great patience made it appear that his warnings were unfounded. God made an object lesson of the potter's rejection and remolding of his faulty clay form. In the same way God said that He had the right to expect His creation to behave in the manner to which He designed it and to destroy it if it did not please Him. * Finally, another object lesson was the faithfulness of the Recabites to obey their ancestor's instruction to abstain from alcohol and to only live in tents. Yet God's people were not so devoted to His much higher Law. God promised an invaluable reward for the Recabites' ardent faithfulness. **

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* One of the greatest blessings of the sovereign Lord is to be cherished and owned by Him. Others who enjoyed this status were the descendants of Phinehas (Numbers 25:12-13 -3/7's reading) and the seven thousand people that had not bowed to Baal (1 Kings 19:18 -6/11's reading).

** God's ultimate purpose as revealed through Scripture is to redeem sinners so that they would become His eternally devoted worshipers.

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August 11

We read prophecies about God's judgment on the people of Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, and Hazor for all their wickedness, but He will protect the helpless ones that depend on Him. King Jehoiakim was exiled to Babylon and his son Jehoiachin succeeded him, but God promised a quick end to him and his mother. Nebuchadnezzar became so powerful that he conquered all the land previously controlled by Egypt outside of her border. The king of Egypt was able to protect his country, but he became a helpless ally to Judah. Jeremiah prophesied that in contrast to the self serving leaders, who will soon be severely punished, the Lord will gather all the Judean diaspora and appoint them righteous leaders that will care for them until ultimately, Jesus will be their King. This event will be so significant that it will supersede the memory of the Exodus (Jeremiah 23:7-8). Finally, false preachers' lies will fail, but the true prophets' words will be effective. "Does not My word burn like fire?' says the Lord. 'Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?'" (Jeremiah 23:29 -NLT).

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August 12

We read God's charge against false prophets that lied by saying, "This is from the Lord" when they spoke. He will forget their existence end expel them from His presence. After Nebuchadnezzar had taken the royal family captive, Jeremiah learned an object lesson with the good and bad figs. The good ones represented the faithful who were among the exiled. The bad ones represented those that were left behind that would be vulnerable to all Judah's enemies to freely ravage. God delivered a message of hope to the exiles that in seventy years they would return, because He had favorable plans for them. This is where the popularly quoted verse of hope is found (Jeremiah 29:11), but seldom are the following three verses included, "in those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. I will be found by you, ..." The "good" that He promised in verse eleven refers more to this blessed communion than for the material prosperity to which so many people try to apply this verse, are longing. Finally, God promised to return the exiles to their land and to restore their fortunes, to give them a king from the line of David and that they would live in harmony with Him.

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August 13

We read the passage in Jeremiah 31:15 that the Apostle Matthew used to describe the mothers' loss of their children in Bethlehem at the hands of Herod's soldiers (Matthew 2:17-18). The mothers who were not slain during the Babylonian invasion in hopelessness mourned the violent loss of their families. In the same way the kingdom of Judah mourned the loss of her community, but the Lord promised that comfort would follow His discipline. He also promised a New covenant, when He will put His instructions deep within their hearts. This would be better than the Exodus Covenant where even Moses told the people that, "...to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand..." (3/20's reading -ESV). This New Covenant will be made possible through Christ's eternally satisfying sacrifice (Luke 22:20). Then Jeremiah prophesied about Babylon's sudden and violent destruction yet there was not even a battle and her demise was gradual, but the sudden fall may be referring to what happened in Daniel 5:30. * Finally, a widely quoted phrase about the Lord is found in Jeremiah 50:34, "But the One who redeems them [Israel] is strong..."

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* Jeremiah's prophesy of Babylon's end may be simultaneously referring to two separate events that similarly result in the destruction of God's enemies and the rescue of Israel. Dr. John MacArthur believes that Jeremiah's prophesy more likely focuses on Babylon's destruction as described in The Revelation chapters seventeen and eighteen. (MacArthur, 2005, p878.

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August 14

We read a hymn of praise to the Lord that Jeremiah composed. He then prophesied the utter destruction of Babylon for her wickedness and violence. He prophesied  that God would dry up her river and springs. We will read the fulfillment of it (on 9/7 -Daniel 5:30) when the Medes and Persians cut off the Euphrates tributary to dry up the moat and then set the dead marsh on fire to strike paralyzing fear in the hearts of the Babylon army (Jeremiah 51:30) so that the invading army will pass under the wall and into the city (Jeremiah 51:30, 32, 36). God called for His people to be ready to return once Babylon's infrastructure has eventually disintegrated from the conflicts among her leaders. * Yet for the time being, king Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, took king Jehoiachin captive, and replaced him with his evil uncle Zedekiah. Then the Egyptian army arrived at Judah's southern border to Babylon withdrew, but God promised that Pharaoh's army would return to burn Jerusalem to the ground.

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* There is an interesting parallel where God calls His people to flee fro the sins of Babylon. Compare Jeremiah 51:6 with Revelation 18:4).

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August 15

We read how Jeremiah was flogged an imprisoned repeatedly for the false accusations of defection and treason when he was merely leaving to survey his new property. * Weak King Zedekiah inquired of him for some word of advice from God, but he refused o act on it,  most likely out of fear of his government officials whom he admitted were to powerful for him to control (Jeremiah 38:5). ** Jeremiah was apparently "safe" within the prison when the attacking Babylonian army invaded Jerusalem. Then Ezekiel, after being deported to Babylon, saw a vision of the four angels and a machine that represented the Lord's omnipotence in judgment. Simultaneously, he heard a voice and the Spirit of God possessed him. The voice  called him "Son of man" and strengthened him for his assignment of confronting the hardhearted Jewish captives. *** He was given a scroll to eat and instructed to apply the words to his own life before preaching them to others. Finally, he sat in mourning with the exiles for seven days, identifying with their loss, before he began to speak.

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* Isaiah was also called a traitor (6/24's reading)

** King David shared a similar situation when he admitted that he was unable to control Joab and Abishai (2 Samuel 33:39 4/21's reading).

*** "Son of man" is used over ninety times in Ezekiel. (MacArthur, 2005, p896).

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August 16

We read that God placed a solemn responsibility on Ezekiel as a spiritual watchman. If he refused to warn a person of his sin, Ezekiel would be held accountable for that person's eternal damnation, but if he obeyed and the person still refused to turn from his sins, then Ezekiel would not be held accountable. * A verse that helps to destroy the erroneous paradigm that  a person's good and bad deeds can balance or offset each other at the judgment (Ezekiel 3:20). Ezekiel presented an object lesson to the people by lying down on his side before a model of Jerusalem for four hundred, thirty days because the people had been in rebellion for the last four hundred, thirty years, (God is truly patient). Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, Jeremiah wore a wooden yoke as an object lesson to foretell of Nebuchadnezzar's inevitable conquest of Judah. A false prophet, Hananiah, took it off of him and broke it as a "sign" that this would not happen. Jeremiah prophesied that the time of Hananiah's death was within the year because he made false claims in the name of the Lord. Two months later Hananiah suddenly died, proving to all that Jeremiah was the true prophet. Finally, Jeremiah sent an encouraging letter to the Babylonian exiles that promised God's destructive retribution to the Babylonians.

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* Dr. John MacArthur noted that Ezekiel's ministry was more personal than those of Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, whose ministries were more national in scope (MacArthur, 2005, p898).

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August 17

We read that Ezekiel's object lesson to the captives required that he shave his head and beard with a sharp sword and divide it into thirds to demonstrate the three methods of God's destroy fury (disease/famine, violent death, exile) in response to the people's sins of not only abandoning Him, but of giving the devoted credit He deserved to their lifeless objects and to nature.

Here begins Ezekiel's use of  several variations of the phrase, "...that they will know that I alone am the Lord." Ezekiel uses the phrase over seventy-five times. Ezekiel, enabled by a fearsome form of fire, traveled to distant Jerusalem by a vision to see what only the Lord could see, even in the hidden rooms to understand the necessity of God's severely divine judgment. Money will become worthless as survival becomes the people's first priority. They will search in vain for Godly truth, but it will be hidden from them because they arrogantly spurned its value for too long, when formerly it was so freely and easily attainable.

I reject the Hindu concept of "Karma," however, I do believe that often "What goes around comes around." God said, "I will bring on them the evil they have done to others, and they will receive the punishment they so richly deserve" (Ezekiel 7:27 -NLT). "If you repay good with evil, evil will never leave your house" (Proverbs 17:13 -NLT -6/1's reading).

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August 18

We read that Ezekiel saw another vision of the same angels that he saw with the "whirling wheels" in his first vision beside the Kebar River. The glory of the Lord left the Temple in several stages. Jeremiah had said for the people to surrender to the Babylonians and live, but the leaders said that the people should prepare to resist the attack. Because of this Ezekiel, who was given a spiritual transport to see the secret meeting in Jerusalem, prophesied the severity of the violence they would (and did) suffer because of their rebellion and abandonment of God. While he was prophesying one of the priests dropped dead in real-time causing Ezekiel to fear for the death of all. Ezekiel prophesied punishment to all false prophets; men and women alike. Finally, a sobering word from the Lord, "I know what you are saying, for I know every thought that comes into your minds." Ezekiel acted out an object lesson that predicted how King Zedekiah was going to try to escape at night through a hold in the wall to flee to Egypt with only what he could carry, that he will be captured and brought as a captive to Babylon, but would not see it. * Finally, Ezekiel pronounced judgment against all the false prophets who predicted peace.

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* On 8/25's reading (2 Kings 25:3-7; Jeremiah 39:2-10; 52:6-11) we will read how King Nebuchadnezzar captured King Zedekiah and how he was made to watch as his sons were slaughtered and to have his eyes gouged out so that this would be the last thing he would ever remember seeing. Then he was taken as a prisoner to Babylon.

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August 19

We read how invisible idols can exist in the human heart by "embracing things that will make humans fall into sin." God said that those who set up idols in their hearts, but also inquire of God at the same time (this is called syncretism) will suffer a terrible punishment. God said that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were to intercede for them, He would only spare those three for their righteousness. In Hebrew tradition, the rabbis forbade all readers (except males over thirty years old) from reading Ezekiel chapter sixteen because of the erotic descriptions used in the Hebrew language. Verse 21 God said, "...must you slaughter my children?" reminds me of the present day scourge of abortion on demand in the USA and abroad. There are four dreaded punishments listed: war, famine, disease, and wild animal attacks. When all four are present we will know that we are really deep in trouble. Christians often focus on homosexuality as the most notable sin practiced in Sodom and Gomorrah, but God listed their offenses as: pride, gluttony, laziness, and committing detestable sins (Ezekiel 16:49-50). Certainly sexual perversion is included in "detestable sins." My point is that unfortunately it is a common practice to strongly condemn certain overt sins that others commit while ignoring those that we are able to conceal within our secret lives (except of course, God sees). Finally, God promised that after He has punished the people for their sins, He would restore them.

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August 20

We read the story of two eagles that represented King Zedekiah's broken covenant with Babylon when he sought military help from Egypt. The Babylonians captured him and Egypt was unable to do anything about it. Tucked in the end of the story is a messianic message that one day God will choose a "Branch" (Jesus) to rule His blessed kingdom and He will not break His covenant. God also changed the paradigm where formerly "children suffered for their parents' sins" to the new declaration that "each person will pay for his or her own sins." God expressed that He laments the deaths of the wicked rebels and desires for them to repent rather than die in an un-forgiven state. He said that if a wicked person thinks about his or her sinful behavior and decides to repent then his or her past sins will be forgotten. In spite of His generous grace, by offering them another chance to be saved, the Israelis continued to accuse God of not doing right. Even for believers it is typical for our first response to sudden loss to be, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?" It is one thing for a believer to respond in confusion, but it is much more offensive to God is for Him to hear this as an accusation from rebels.

Finally, Ezekiel composed a funeral song for the death of Israel's kings.

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August 21

We read God's continued charges against the wicked lawlessness of His people, but with a heightened sense of urgency for them to repent before it is too late. God told Ezekiel to remind them that even their ancestors were never really committed to Him. They refused to purge themselves of the idols as God had demanded. Yet He was gracious because He wanted to protect the honor of His name among the surrounding nations. God gave them instructions on how to possess real life and to enjoy holy blessed communion with Him. Since the ancestors and descendants (even the children were not innocent) alike all rebelled against His decrees, He lifted His restraint from them to allow them to pollute themselves with sin and rebellion to the degree that no one would ever argue the fact that they deserved the most comprehensive horrific and devastating punishment.

The leaders came to Ezekiel for a word from the Lord, but God refused to respond and He was even insulted that they came asking because He knew that they had no intention of responding appropriately. He revealed Himself as their enemy. If God is one's enemy, that person has no hope of survival, not in this temporal life or in the eternal life. Another glimpse into the blessed future reign of Christ is given, tucked away in Ezekiel 21:27.

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August 22

We read that God's frustration with Judah's resistance is met with the promise of an intense purging like that of purifying metal in a crucible. The leaders' disregard for separating the holy from the common, the people's lack of sexual restraint, the murder of their own babies, and their brazen syncretism led to the immediate suspension of God's merciful protection and grace. God searched for even one person who would stand up for what was right so that He could hold back His destructive fury, but not even one person could be found who would "...rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land." To express His disgust, God composed an analogy of two innocent sisters who were properly married, but who then converted their generous husband's protective homestead into a shameless brothel and even used his gifts of endearment as currency to lure and prey on distant lovers. He concluded by describing their deserving punishments. * Specifically on January 15 of the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, Babylon began her two-year siege of Jerusalem, where all the foretold horrors began. God said, "I tried to cleanse you, but you refused. So now you will remain in your filth until My fury against you has been satisfied. I, the Lord, have spoken!"

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* In Jewish tradition, as with chapter sixteen, except for males over the age of thirty, the rabbis prohibited anyone from reading chapter twenty-three because of the erotic references that God used as an analogy to describe Israel and Judah's idolatrous behavior of making political and military alliances, craving the extravagance of foreign cultures, practicing social and economic abuse against the poor, and the murder of their babies.

An interesting note about verse 23:25 is that "...remove your nose and your ears..." refers to the punishment of facial dismemberment prevalent in the ancient middle east for adulterers (MacArthur, 2005, p915).

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August 23

We read about another painful side of being a prophet of the Lord; when He makes an object lesson for the stubborn and unworthy people to observe by subjecting the prophet to humiliation, affliction, and suffering. All the while, the prophet knows that his distress will not produce repentance in the heart of his audience, yet he must obey. God gave Ezekiel a twenty-four hour notice that He would lose the wife in whom he delighted and that he would not be permitted to mourn her death in public, as an object lesson to the rebels. In the same way, they will also not mourn the destruction of Solomon's Temple nor the slaughter of their sons and daughters because the grief will be so overwhelming. God was offended by their pride in and idolizing of the Temple; thinking that it could save them. As the Lord foretold, Ezekiel's wife suddenly died and Ezekiel obeyed, but the people did not repent.

Ezekiel proclaimed destruction on many surrounding nations. A notable one was about Egypt becoming a "minor nation," never to rise again to greatness.

Jeremiah prophesied violent merciless deaths over the Judean leadership for enslaving fellow Hebrews. As the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem, Jeremiah encouraged those who wanted to live, to choose to be POWs rather than to resist them and be killed. Finally, many of the prophecies about the destruction of the nations have been applied to Jesus' ultimate defeat of Satan, of whose essence the evil nations portrayed in their behavior and arrogance.

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August 24

We read how God instructed Jeremiah to purchase land from his prison cell while Babylon was laying siege to Jerusalem's walls. King Zedekiah incarcerated him for prophesying Judah's fall to Nebuchadnezzar's army because it lowered the soldiers' fighting morale. Jeremiah's seemingly foolish purchase was to prove that the people would return to repossess their land as God had promised. In addition God said that He would give them one heart and purpose: to worship Him forever (obviously, this is referring to the Millennial kingdom). Another prophetic word about Jesus' reign is found in Jeremiah 33:15. Finally, Ezekiel prophesied against Tyre because she celebrated at the destruction of her merchant competitor. Tyre was famous for her skilled musicians (Ezekiel 26:13; Isaiah 23:16). The prophesy that stated that she would be wiped off into the sea came to pass when the Babylonians and then later, the Greeks took every remnant piece of the destroyed city's rocks, dirt, and dust that they could gather to dump into the sea in an eventual accomplishment of building a half mile long land bridge to destroy the fortress island to which the people fled. Ten thousand were executed and thirty thousand were sold into slavery (which is interesting because they were also known for selling Hebrews into slavery). God swore that they would never again be rebuilt. To this day the island is in ruin and the mainland is no more than a coastal tourist attraction. *

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* https://www.britannica.com/place/Tyre

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August 25

We read more prophecies of Tyre's former glory and subsequent utter destruction to the point hat even the record of her history would be erased. Many of the descriptions of greatness, pride and punishment are referring to the human king, but are similar to that of Satan's story. This was probably because Tyre was fully permeated and consumed with the same spirit of selfishness and pride that flew in the face of God's essence. Similar descriptions concerning Babylon's king are found in Isaiah 14:3-23. A prophesy was made against Sidon as well. Jesus referred to the judgment of these cities in Matthew 11:22; Mark 3:8.

When the wall of Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians King Zedekiah and his soldiers tried unsuccessfully  to escape out the back gate. The former misperception that the two prophets' predictions were in conflict dissolved when Jeremiah's prophesy that Zedekiah WOULD see the Babylonian King in tension with Ezekiel's prophesy that Zedekiah WOULD NOT see Babylon were both fulfilled as his eyes were gouged out (after his last vision to remember was seeing his sons and friends being slaughtered before King Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah) and then he was deported to a Babylonian prison. Ezekiel also prophesied that God will gather His remnant from the diaspora that was scattered to distant lands to resettle them in Israel and reveal His holiness to the nations.

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August 26

We read the account of the final destruction of Jerusalem with every important building burned, the wall all torn down, Solomon's Temple burned, and all its valuables plundered. All the leaders were executed and all but the poorest people were deported to Babylon. The writer of 2 Chronicles 36:15-16 (probably Ezra) published a type of "I told you so" when he commented that the Lord had repeatedly and compassionately warned the people, they mocked and scoffed, and God's patience had finally run out. In the midst of all the mayhem God protected Jeremiah and a God-fearing Ethiopian who had once rescued Jeremiah. No doubt the Judeans that defected to King Nebuchadnezzar told him how Jeremiah had been telling the people to surrender (Jeremiah 38:20 -8/15's reading) and more recently in the narrative, those who had defected from Jerusalem during the siege probably reinforced this fact (Jeremiah 39:9 -8/25's reading). So when the city fell King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that Jeremiah be released from prison, given anything he wanted and money, and set free unharmed. Finally, here begins Jeremiah's sorrowful book of Lamentations over the preventable destruction that the people's sin incurred after receiving and ignoring many warnings over numerous years.

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August 27

We read Jeremiah's reflections on the justice of God and the pain of His severe discipline on those who assumed that His slowness to anger (what believers recognize as His patient grace) meant that He was permissive or inept. By withdrawing His protection, God allowed Judah-(S)'s enemies to "...consume the whole land of Israel like a raging fire." Jeremiah blamed the priests and prophets for giving messages that ticked the listeners' ears with a false hope of peace and safety rather than naming and condemning their sins. In sorrow he recorded the extent of the destruction where mothers were hungry enough to eat the children that they used to nurture, but he also reminded the reader that God is faithful and that His mercies are new every morning. Jeremiah recognized that the rod of God's discipline was the source of all Judah's suffering. He described his sorrow as "bitter beyond words." Even so, Jeremiah said that he still dared to hope because he expected the Lord's eventual salvation. He understood the balanced tension between God's anger and His compassion. "He does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow" Lamentations 3:33. He even punished Edom for their expressed joy over Israel's punishment (Ezekiel 35:15 - 8/30's reading). Jeremiah called the people to respond to the Lord's punishment with repentance.

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August 28

We read Jeremiah's record of how vulnerable the weak were to be abused by violent men and lamented the plight of the people. Obadiah's prophecy against Edom begins here but Dr. John MacArthur believes that of the four historical attacks on Jerusalem, Obadiah's time more likely followed the second attack because Obadiah made no mention of the Babylonians, the destruction of the Temple, the deported exiles, or the total destruction of the city. (MacArthur, 2005, p1001). Although it really does not matter because the Edomites also behaved this way after Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC. Obadiah pronounced severe judgment on them mostly for gloating over Jerusalem's destruction, but also for their pride. * They were located in an area where merchants traded between India, Europe, and northern Africa. So their position afforded them first pick of the trafficked goods and the best opportunity to learn wisdom from the variety of traveling sages. The Edomites (of whom nothing good was ever spoken in Scripture) were descendants of Esau who was in enmity with his brother Jacob. They always warred against each other. Even ultimately Herod (an Edomite descendant) tried to kill baby Jesus (Jacob's descendant). Finally, Nebuchadnezzar's appointed governor was assassinated and the people fled in fear of the expected Babylonian military response.

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* "Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished." Proverbs 17:5

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August 29

We read how the guerrilla leaders being perplexed and undecided about what to do following the assassination came to Jeremiah and asked him to inquire "his" God for a message, promising to obey whatever He commanded. * Ten days later God spoke to Jeremiah to say that they should stay in Jerusalem because God was going to cause Nebuchadnezzar to treat them kindly. His anger was now satisfied, but if they choose to incur more guilt by fleeing to Egypt, He ensured their utter destruction. So (as expected) the people rebelled, kidnapped Jeremiah and Baruch, and settled in Egypt anyway. The women brazenly accosted Jeremiah by proudly confessing that even in Judah they had always covertly worshiped and now continue in their over devotion to "the queen of heaven." Jeremiah prophesied Egypt's destruction and their deaths by Nebuchadnezzar and only a pitiful few of remnants would return to Jerusalem. Finally, God told Ezekiel that the word of the Lord had become so trivialized in the rebels' hearts that they would come pretending to be sincere just to be entertained by the preaching of God's word. This truly would be a tragic condition of the heart in which for someone to revel, briefly. Once they realize the extent of their tremendous foolishness it will be too late to repent and be saved.

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* In 8/21's reading we read how God was so offended that the leaders came to Ezekiel for a message from God that He said, "How dare you come to ask Me for a message? As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will tell you nothing!" (NLT)

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August 30

We read God's charge against the spiritual leaders of Israel who used their God-given position to pad their greedy pockets with wealth rather than to properly serve and shepherd the people. The evil shepherds only took care of themselves and neglected the sheep so that they wandered off to distant lands (and wandered off spiritually as well). God said that He will destroy those that are "fat and powerful" and become Israel's Shepherd. He will find them, feed them, and separate the good ones from the bad ones. Jesus used this analogy during His ministry as well. Ezekiel pronounced more judgment on Edom for her "eternal hatred" towards Israel and said that when God was finished with Edom the entire world would celebrate. Finally, God promised that He would take back from and punish the nations that gleefully rushed in to take possession of Israel's abandoned land. * God said that He was ready to hear Israel's prayers, to repopulate and make her thrive again like the Garden Eden, but that He was not going to do this because they deserved it; in fact Israel should be very ashamed of her behavior. Rather, He was going to cleanse and prosper her so that everyone will know that He is the LORD.

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* "...for they said, 'Let us seize for our own use these pasturelands of God!'" Psalm 83:12 (NLT) (5/20's reading).

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August 31

We read about Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones. This represented the people of Israel, so scattered that they are as helpless and dead as dry bones, but God will bring them back to life as the nations watch. He will also reunite the divided kingdom and cleanse them from their sinful backsliding heart. A prophecy for the "distant future" is yet to be fulfilled when God will gather all Israel's enemies that wish to destroy her. They will appear to be an overwhelmingly superior number of military forces, but He will fight them Himself with such awesome power that all the creatures and peoples of the world will quake in terror. Then back to the near future, he said that God will destroy Egypt's pride and strength by Nebuchadnezzar's army. All this epic destruction and miraculous restoration was planned and will be accomplished by God's design to achieve His purpose: "so that the world will know that I am [God is] the LORD.

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