Sodom and Gomorrah were gone. Israel had been carried away captive by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.. You would figure the southern kingdom of Judah would learn their lesson from them, but they didn’t. As a matter of fact Judah’s sins were even worse. God indicted them sharply, “…you became more corrupt than they in all your ways.” (Ezekiel 16:47)
And again in:
Ezekiel 16:52 (NKJV) “You who judged your sisters, bear your own shame also, because the sins which you committed were more abominable than theirs; they are more righteous than you. Yes, be disgraced also, and bear your own shame, because you justified your sisters.
One day God would repopulate all of these lands, in Israel’s case He would bring back the Jews, but not before they’d “paid” for their sins.
Ezekiel 16:59–60 (NKJV) “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I will deal with you as you have done, who despised the oath by breaking the covenant. 60 Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.’”
In Ezekiel 17 God communicates through the illustration of illustrious trees and flying eagles.
Babylon had lopped off the cream of the crop, the top from Jerusalem and taken them captive. Jerusalem was to keep its covenant with Babylon and the LORD, in yielding to His chastening hand, but they didn’t. Instead they rebelled and looked to Egypt (a typology of the world) rather than looking to God and submitting to His Word.
Therefore, Babylon would come again, another eagle would carry away the king and many captives in 586 B.C..
Ezekiel 17:19–20 (NKJV) “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘As I live, surely My oath which he despised, and My covenant which he broke, I will recompense on his own head. 20 I will spread My net over him, and he shall be taken in My snare. I will bring him to Babylon and try him there for the treason which he committed against Me.’”
Warren Wiersbe gets even more specific, “The great eagle (Nebuchadnezzar) came to Jerusalem (Lebanon) and took to Babylon the top branch of the cedar (King Jehoiachin). He left some of the seed (King Zedekiah), which grew into a low vine. Zedekiah made a covenant to be loyal to Babylon, but then he broke it (vv. 15, 16, 18) and turned to Egypt for help (vv. 7–8; Jer. 37). The result? The king of Babylon will come back and destroy the lowly vine of Judah (vv. 9–10).”
Jerusalem would be judged.
But thank God it doesn’t end there, for one day Israel would be exalted forever. In the Millennial Kingdom Jerusalem will not only be the capital of Israel, Jerusalem would be the capital of the world.
And the “tree” of God’s people would branch out beyond Israel, reaching a diversity of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Ezekiel 17:23–24 (NKJV) “On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it.”
Revelation 5:9 (NKJV) “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
Jesus is an infinitely “better” High Priest, establishing a better covenant, with better promises.
It’s interesting how the writer to the Hebrews emphasizes the fact that this is the “main point,” – – that we have a Mediator who is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, in the true Temple of God, Jesus Christ.
Back in the day, every one of the Jewish priests would offer sacrifices and offerings for themselves and the people; that’s the heart of their ministry. Jesus also had something to give, but it wasn’t according to the Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood, His offering wasn’t of this world, for all those individual offerings were merely shadows of the substance, they all pointed to Jesus.
It’s fascinating that when Moses was commanded to build the tabernacle, he was commanded to build it according to the pattern that was shown to him (Exodus 25:9, 40; 26:30). There’s a perfect model of all this in heaven!
So now, Jesus establishes a better and final covenant for His people.
In Hebrews 8:8-12 the writer quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34 where God gives an amazing prophecy of the new covenant He would one day establish with His people; it would be a covenant written on their hearts, not on stone, it would be very intimate with all the people, not simply the priests. It would be a personal relationship (they will “know” the Lord) and by the blood of this one final, formal sacrifice for all, God would wash away, ALL their sins…imagine that, He remembers them no more!
This new covenant makes the old obsolete…and hence the transition from Judaism to Christianity. Jesus didn’t destroy the law, He fulfilled it. Christianity wasn’t something invented by Christians, it was God’s intention all along, with clear-cut prophecies in the Old Testament, all about this, this is just one of them in the book of Jeremiah (there are hundreds of others).
Why would any Christian ever even think of going back to Judaism, to religion, or anywhere else for that matter?
I can’t help but think of:
John 6:67-69 (NKJV) “Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”
What a contrast between Psalm 105 and 106. Psalm 105 is all good. It mentions none of the failures of Israel in chronicling its history. But Psalm 106 is pretty much the opposite. It’s a list of the failures of Israel in history. The common thread, however, in both Psalms is the grace and faithfulness of God.
Israel had a bad memory; they had a tendency to forget the works of the LORD (Psalm 106:13, 21). There were many examples of this.
Rather then just thanking God for His daily provision of manna, they got picky and lusted for food (meat). As often happens in life, they got what they wanted, what they kicked and screamed for, but O what a price they had to pay! Notice what we read in;
Psalm 106:15 (NKJV) “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.”
It’s tragic that many in the camp envied and opposed Moses, so God swallowed up the rebellious offenders.
Not long after their redemption from Egypt they fashioned their gold into the image of a calf, called it the LORD, and worshipped it; they included sexual immorality with their act of idolatry!
They despised the Promised Land through, complaining in their tents, but God heard.
They couldn’t be cursed by others but had no problem cursing themselves through more idolatry and blatant sexual sin.
Thankfully Moses and Aaron interceded, thank God for men like Phinehas who intervened…and thank God for His mercy in not giving us what we deserve (Psalm 103:10-14).
Can you relate at all to any of this? A few failures along the way? Prayerfully we learn from their mistakes and especially our onw. Let’s learn NOT to forget God and all He’s done for us, let’s learn NOT to do the things they did.
But let’s also learn that if we do stumble and fall, there’s still hope. God is willing to work in our lives and wash away our sins, if we turn from our sins and REturn to Him.
Let’s also learn to intercede for others…as Moses and Aaron did.
Proverbs 27:7 (NKJV) “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”
We’ve all been there, for sure on Thanksgiving, when we’re stuffed, we’ve had enough, we’re so full we can’t eat another sliver of pumpkin pie.
On the flip side, if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat pretty much anything. I don’t want to gross you out, but read 2 Kings 6:29 and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
The primary point of this Proverb, however, is not food for the body, it’s food for the soul. If we’re satisfied with the love of the Lord and the sweetness of our Savior, we’re good. But if we’re not looking to Him to fill our lives, we’ll start looking to others to fill the void, even from some we should avoid.
We wonder sometimes, why is that beautiful girl hooking up with that jerk? It’s not always, the case but sometimes it’s because she doesn’t have a right relationship with God, she doesn’t get the attention from her father, and she’s craving it from someone, anyone. It breaks your heart to realize that even the bitter beatings are sweet to them. (remember the woman at the well?)
John 4:13–14 (NKJV) “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’”
Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV) “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.”
There’s a true maxim that, “God is most glorified, when we are most satisfied in Him.”
Proverbs 27:8 (NKJV) “Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his place.”
This definitely applies to a man or woman abandoning his or her family responsibility. It also applies to someone wandering away from the Lord.
We read back in:
Proverbs 21:16 (NKJV) “A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.”
But in all reality, it predominantly speaks of when our children leave the nest too soon.
“Just as a bird wandering from its nest too early or too far brings hardship on itself, so a young person leaving home too soon may find himself unable to care for himself (e.g., the prodigal son, Luke 15:11–32).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary
So – you don’t want it to be too late – but neither do you want it to be too early when those kids leave the nest.
Proverbs 27:9 (NKJV) “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.”
Imagine living in a culture where life solely consisted of working hard in the field, sweating under the sun, bathing was rare, and deodorant was non-existent. Let’s just say you didn’t have money for ointment, perfume, or cologne, but then someone gifts it to you – or maybe you smell it on them. You get a whiff. Man that smells good!
That good sensation is the a picture of what it’s like when you get good, solid, sound, biblical counsel from a friend.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.