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Today's Readings: 2 KINGS 25 | Ezekiel 13 | Luke 9

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - 2Kings 25:8-10

"On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem" (2Ki 25:8-10).

The Babylonians enter the city and destroy the Temple -- which had become a symbol of lip-service and outward ceremony (let us learn the lesson here). Later, against his will, Jeremiah is taken to Egypt by the few who remain in the land. We are not told in Scripture how, when, or where he dies.

The people had rejected the admonitions of the Spirit-inspired prophet. The Kingdom of God on earth is rent. The glory departs Israel, only to return momentarily in the person of Jesus Christ at his first advent. The long Gentile night has begun.

Reading 2 - Ezekiel 13:10-16

"Because they lead my people astray, saying, 'Peace,' when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash ["untempered mortar": AV], therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, 'Where is the whitewash you covered it with?' Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD. So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, 'The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign LORD' " (Eze 13:10-16).

The AV translates here: "untempered mortar", whereas more modern scholars suggest "whitewash". The second of these is more likely correct, being supported by the references -- in the New Testament -- to "whitewashed tombs" in Mat 23:27 and "whitewashed wall" in Acts 23:3. Nevertheless, either translation presents the same basic point: the putting of a "good face" on what is a flimsy structure. This the "prophets" of Judah did!

"Disobedience after the flood brought 'confusion of tongues' as a punishment. So long as groups of men speaking a common tongue could live out their own life without much contact with other groups, the full effect of this calamity was not felt. But in these last days, when there has been a comparative annihilation of distance, and when an event in any part of the world may have immediate devastating consequences for all the world, we are experiencing in full measure the effects of that which happened at Babel. If God compared the peace efforts of Israel's leaders at the time of the overthrow of the kingdom to a ramshackle wall, daubed with untempered mortar [or even 'whitewash': GB], to what can the efforts of the leaders today be compared when they try to construct a world out of the discordant elements of every nation?" (John Carter, "Hebrews" 68).

Reading 3 - Luke 9:62

" 'No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God' {Luk 9:62). A few weeks ago [actually, now, many years ago!: GB] in a time of transit troubles, a brother who earns his daily bread as a plowman started to walk to the Sunday morning meeting. This involved a tramp of nine miles, and, but for the kindly forethought of another brother who drove out to meet him, he would have had to walk the entire distance. After the meeting he quite unconsciously presented me with this idea, neatly packed up in a single sentence. Speaking of the words quoted above he said: 'Only a plowman can understand those words in their full meaning. While he keeps his eyes fixed on the mark at the other side of the field, he can plow a straight line; but if he looks back even for a second he misses the mark and the line grows crooked.'

"This presented a new thought in connection with the well-known figure of speech. I had always thought of the looking back, as meaning the wandering of desire toward old associations and old ambitions. The full meaning seemed to be that when once a man is enlightened and starts work for Christ there must be no tardiness and dragging of feet. If he tires of the work and desires to return to his former darkness he is not fit for the Kingdom of God. The plowman with his technical knowledge and experience sees a deeper meaning. He must have no doubt as to the object at the end of his line, and he must keep his eyes riveted on the distant mark. If he loses sight of that even for a moment his plowing is spoiled" (Islip Collyer, "Principles and Proverbs").


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