Reading #1 – Genesis 17
Reading #2 – Psalms 149
Reading #3 – Proverbs 21
Reading #4 – Ezekiel 17
Reading #5 – Job 14
Genesis 17 – Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision. The most important of G_d’s laws are, “walk-in obedience habitually, and be blameless (1-2). According to the Talmud, there 613 laws of G_d but, they boil down to two “great commands” (Matthew 22:37-40). When we get the two “greatest commands working in and through our life, we will naturally follow the rest and it won’t be a struggle. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham “Father of multitudes” which would seem to be a stretch because his only son at that time was Ishmael. It was natural for Abraham to scratch his head over the promise because having one son does not make a large multitude. The sticking point of the covenant was the importance of being obedient and we know that Abraham complied willingly because the writer of Hebrews points it out (Hebrews 11:8-11). The sign of the covenant was “circumcision”; this practice is still employed to this date. The purpose of circumcision is an outward sign of an inward confession. The problem is, circumcision is only valid if the person is obedient to G_d’s commands (10-14) as would be evidenced by Ishmael’s behavior (Genesis 16:12); Later in scripture, Paul would address this matter to the fledgling church at Rome (Romans 2:22-25). Sarai “My princess” would be called Sarah “Princess” (15-16).
Job 14 – Job Speaks of the Finality of Death. What Job is speaking about may sound very close to “poor me I must suffer all the remaining days of my life” (1-4). The only thing that Job could see was what was right in front of him that is, “his immense suffering”. When we suffer, our life is marked by suffering and everything that follows must be considered in light of what is going on (5-7); this was part of the reason that Abraham asked G_d to bless Ishmael because Abraham could not see G_d’s blessing all that he knew was that he had a son through the slave Hagar but to believe that the Lord G_d could bring forth a child when Abraham was 90 years old and Sarah was a little younger (17:17-18). Job had no idea why such suffering was inflicted upon him when he could not think of a logical reason for it (16-17). Job’s friends would use his conviction (18-22) like a springboard to condemn him.
Psalms 149 – Israel Invoked to Praise the Lord. When we praise the Lord, our viewpoint is changed from the “mess” to the “overcoming”. It is easy to sing praises in church but it is more difficult to praise him in our private life. Praising G_d is not about “making a pig’s ear into a silk purse”, it is about changing what we are focusing on. Singing praise encourages the church as well as those who know what we are going through and yet see our voices lifted up to Him (1-2). The Lord takes pleasure in our praises because the Devil loses the battle. The Devil says, “look at the mess you are in, how can G_d love a slob like you”? We need to praise the Lord in the bad times, the good times, and the transition between the two. Praising G_d will not make “everything all better”, it will help us to see beyond the struggle and tell the world, “this situation will not hold me bound” and the people will throng to hear your reasons why; the world may not like what we say but, they will not be able to argue with results when G_d’s word is again proven to be true (6-9, Hebrews 4:12-13).
Proverbs 21 – On Life and Conduct. What we do in life and how we do it that is, “with what motivations” will either lift us up or tear us down. Be righteous is not necessarily sought after because it would seem to be foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19) based on the perception that the wise person is “missing out on something good”. How we conduct the affairs of our life needs to always be seen through G_d’s filter so that we understand “what is right and what is wrong”. Having a good name is earned by living upright before the Father in all situations (1). Calling one’s self by name of the Lord but living as the world does will not bring us any closer to the Kingdom of G_d than we were before we accepted the word of G_d like the example of the Sanhedrin (John 8:39-42).
Ezekiel 17 – Parable of Two Eagles and a Vine. The two great eagles were the two remaining kings of Jerusalem; one would be taken to Babylon and would live out his days eating at the King’s table; the other king would die in the desert because he tried to escape. The vine as the kingdom or what was left of it (2-8). The nation was relying on the Davidic promise “you will always have a king of David’s family on the throne” (2 Samuel 7:15-18). The caveat to this promise is that “if his children disobey, I will punish them (2 Samuel 7:14). As children of the Living G_d, we are held accountable for our actions just like Israel and Judah (Romans 14:11-12). The promise given to Abraham was just about undone because of disobedience in the relationship with Hagar and it would be the same issue with Sarai’s distant relative Rebecca who would bring division between her two sons Jacob and Esau.