Reading #1 – Genesis 16
Reading #2 – Psalms 148
Reading #3 – Proverbs 20
Reading #4 – Ezekiel 16
Reading #5 – Job 13
Genesis 16 – Sarai and Hagar. So Sarai gave Hagar to marry Abram as a secondary wife; from this union, Ishmael was conceived (1-4). Sarai was barren and Hagar was now pregnant and it created a hostile situation. By making the promise come true by human intervention, new problems were created. Sarai turned around and laid the problem at Abram’s feet instead of taking responsibility for the situation she created (5). When we are promised something by G_d, we need to trust Him to fulfill the promise and keep our hands off of it. Hagar ran away from her mistress because the situation had become intolerable. When the Angel of the Lord found Hagar, she was on her way back to Egypt (7). From the child she was carrying, Ishmael, the Muslim nations were created and this would be a problem for the Hebrews well into the 21st century AD. This situation would parallel the promise given to Rebecca about Jacob (Genesis 25:22-26). A secondary parallel would be the situation where the returnees had relationships with pagan tribes and children were born; the people valiantly decided to send the foreign-born wives and children away which would create future problems (Ezra 10:1-8).
Job 13 – Job Says His Friends’ Proverbs Are Ashes. Job was convicted that the three people were speaking non-sense. During this struggle, he reviewed his life to see if there was anything offensive to G_d (Psalms 139:23-24). Job’s friends were unofficial counselors and so he did not submit himself to their judgment. When we submit to G_d’s counsel, we need to wait for him and that is what Job was doing. Going through struggles and disasters does not automatically imply “I did something wrong”. Unfortunately, we are responsible for controlling our life and ministry (1 Timothy 4:15-16); we can listen to the counsel of other people but we make the final choice. There are times, like this situation, that we have to go to the High Court “The throneroom of G_d” (3-5). It doesn’t take much to be an “unofficial counselor” just open your mouth, speak the word of G_d without understanding what is going on, spend no time praying for the subject, and put on your best Elisha face (7-12).
Psalms 148 – Invocation to Praise the Lord. The Lord’s work touches everybody no matter where they are in social strata. If we don’t praise the Lord, the rocks and hills will do it for us and set above us (Luke 19:37-40). We praise the Lord not because he is the “Lord” but because his work touches our lives in a real and tangible way (13-14).
Proverbs 20 – On Life and Conduct. G_d gives us the ultimate responsibility for the decisions we make and the paths we go down. Unfortunately, we humans have the tendency to make decisions and then consider the ramifications. When we do not consider the consequences, we put ourselves and those we are sworn to protect in danger (2-3). This is where Sarai, Rebecca, and the men who married foreign-born wives got into trouble that would play out years after the incident occurred. The examples of the lazy man, making plans without guidance, the righteous man, and the discerning king (4-8) give insight into how king David was successful and many others had failed. When we sell or give away priceless things like virginity, righteousness, and marital harmony because it is called “worthless” the person getting it will call it a “trophy” and we’ll never get it back again (14-15).
Ezekiel 16 – G_d’s Grace to Unfaithful Jerusalem. The king, the priests, prophets, and people of Jerusalem gave away a precious gift that G_d had given them. To say, “your father is an Amorite and your mother is a Hittite”, implying that the relationship the nation had with the Lord G_d was dissolved (2-3). In the fifth book of Moses, the people were told to destroy the Amorites, Hittites, and Canaanites which they did not comply with and created future problems like the judgment (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). The Lord G_d called one man, Abram, from Ur of the Chaldeans intending to make him into a great nation. Sarai and Abram’s misguided plans altered G_d’s best for the two. In the same way, the nations that were not destroyed became the controllers of G_d’s chosen people and that led to the demise of this once great nation (4-14). The precious gift of a righteous life is not something we should ever give away but, the unofficial counselors tell us “It is worthless to live righteous come and have some fun” (Proverbs 20:14-15). The lives of the nation just like our lives in the 21st century are precious to G_d although we consider them of marginal importance (Hebrews 12:2). When we go down the path to sin, G_d will restore us when we turn back to him but the gift he had previously given us will be gone and we will have to start over again. Israel in the time of Moses and Joshua would not be the same one as Ezekiel. The nation gave away things that did not belong to them (15-21). For the nation, it was the end of life as they knew it and the Devil would pull a final act of defiance by turning on the nation.