Ezekiel (countdown: only 13 more days in EZ-Yeah!)
23:37 They have committed both adultery and murder—adultery by worshiping idols and murder by burning as sacrifices the children they bore to me. It is tempting as a parent to read right over this, thinking it was those people in those days. But I was just thinking today how the American Church (in general—not all) has done this. In fact, most of us (me included) have done it to some degree. We have at times unwittingly worshiped idols of money, greed, and prosperous ease. And then we have passed it on by putting our children on altars of sacrifice to the god of the American Dream. A typical Christmas in a typical Christian home is a great testament to this. I once read that Christians spend in the billions at Christmas just on media/electronics gifts for their kids.
From the early centuries, Christmas was another man established pagan holiday intending to get our focus off of God's established Holy Days. We have lost so much invaluable understanding of our Bibles and hence God's plan for the coming ages by leaving behind the Holy Days in exchange for holidays. This is US (hey, good play on words)! Though we "wrap it up" and try to make it something better than what it is, I personally see (after much study of the traditions of Babylon and the early RCC) Christmas as nothing more than a lie of Babylon that we have bought into, trying to squeeze Jesus into it. For many, it is full of bondage, materialism, loneliness, greed, chaos, and emptiness. Stepping on toes, I know. Sigh. Life as a truth teller is a difficult job, but somebody's got to do it.
23:45 But righteous people will judge these sister cities for what they really are—adulterers and murderers. This might be referring to the elect/overcomers. Remember in 1 Cor. 6, Paul says we will judge people and angels alike.
10:32-33 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. How well I remember! We must remember that with enlightenment from the Spirit, we will not be accepted by man.
10:34-36 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. I was thinking that as time of this age draws to a close, I must hold all of my possessions loosely. This can be difficult when you have sentimental objects lying around your house. But what comforts me is knowing that with God, everything is quite possibly retrievable later! I don't know what I will want then, but if it is still in me to want it, God will provide it. Otherwise He will remove it from my heart. It's funny but the things I really care about are not my "valuables," but my kids art work and writings from grade school, as well as their letters to me, pictures, and my prayer journals. Who's to say these things can't be restored, at least in my heart? The "clay is coming off the torch" soon, and we will have power we never dreamed of. Perhaps our sentimental items will live on in our hearts in new and powerful ways that contribute to the plan!
10:37-39 FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Can I get a whistle? This is a sobering verse. Lord, make me courageous and faithful!
On that topic, what do you think it means to "shrink back to destruction"? In what ways does God want us to forge ahead as warriors of faith?