The Daily Press

March 8- Read Jeremiah 47
The Philistines, whose judgment is spoken of in this chapter, were constantly at war with Israel throughout their history. They were part of a collection of nations known as the Sea Peoples, so the prophecy of their destruction by a flood is somewhat ironic. The Philistines were a major problem for Israel already at the time of the judges. Samson, a Danite, was used by God to fight against the Philistines who were taking over his tribe’s inheritance. The Philistines used beautiful Delilah to entice Samson and lead to his capture. Despite Samson’s efforts, the tribe of Dan was so decimated by the Philistines that they needed to find a new inheritance, as we see in Judges 18. Open warfare between Israel and Philistia started with the Battle of Ebenezer, where the Philistines stole the ark (1 Sam. 4). The most well-known Philistine is probably Goliath, whom David slew in 1 Samuel 17. Interestingly, David later fled from Saul to the Philistines and lived amongst them as a mercenary for a while. What do you think we learn from that move by David? Was he wrong in doing it? Why or why not?
Sing or pray Psalter #361.
March 9- Read Jeremiah 48
This chapter talks about the severe judgment proclaimed on Moab. In verse 10 we read, “cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.” The prophet is addressing the Chaldeans here so that the Jews would clearly see the coming judgment. God commands the Chaldeans not to have any mercy. Verse 37 tells us that the Moabites would be miserable and lose control in their judgment, even tearing themselves apart.
Interestingly, the last verse begins, “Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days.” After all this pronouncement of judgment, is God saying he will restore the Moabites’ strength? Calvin explains that this promise was given, “not for the sake of the Moabites; but that the Jews might feel assured that God would at length be propitious to them; he promises pardon to the Moabites as it were accidentally, so to speak, and thus unavowedly stretches forth his hand to them, but with a design through this mercy to give to the Israelites a taste of his paternal favor.”
Sing or pray Psalter #362.
March 10- Read Jeremiah 49
This chapter begins with God’s judgment upon Ammon, who’d been stealing land from the tribe of Gad. God decreed that their land would be taken away instead and given to the Jews. The section ends with the same promise not to completely wipe them out that we read yesterday.
Judgment is next pronounced against Edom with wording like that found in the book of Obadiah. We read here that Edom’s destruction will be so great that even a thief would be taken aback by the extent of it. There will be no one to care for their orphaned children. The land will be made like Sodom and Gomorrah.
The chapter finishes by pronouncing judgments on Syria, Kedar and Hazor, and Elam. Syria’s capital, Damascus, was a great city praised by men, but it would be destroyed. Kedar was the son of Ishmael, and Hazor might refer to the Canaanites who were driven into Arabia. Elam refers to Persia, who descended from Elam, the son of Shem. Their judgment also ends with God saying he will “bring again the captivity of Elam in the latter days.” Why do you think this phrase is included for some nations and not others?
Sing or pray Psalter #326.
March 11- Read Jeremiah 50
God would use Babylon to destroy the nations listed previously, and then we read in this chapter that she would be judged herself. God’s people are commanded to remove themselves from her before this takes place. Verse 8 reads, “Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.” Proverbs 30:31 tells us that male goats are leaders, so the elect are told to lead the people out quickly and without fear. In verses 19 and 20, we read of the remnant returning and their sins being forgiven. They were brought to Carmel and Bashan, the best parts of the land. The wording of the verses also beautifully illustrates just how fully God has forgiven their sin. God will remove his people and then destroy the land like Sodom and Gomorrah, as we read in verse 40. God does not always bring his judgment upon the wicked immediately, but longer life doesn’t profit them, for it only gives more opportunity to sin and makes their condemnation all the greater.
Sing or pray Psalter #201.
March 12- Read Jeremiah 51
Jeremiah 51:15 reads, “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.” We recently had a sermon entitled “Meekness in Wisdom.” We were taught that true knowledge and wisdom come to expression in a godly walk, which is characterized by meekness. Wisdom is the ability to apply the knowledge of God’s word to circumstances in our life, and meekness is the ability to do that in godly humility. This trait is not a weakness but is strength that shows a loyal subjection to God’s will. One who is meek is under control, and we should be so governed by the love of God that our whole life is lived that way. This verse in Jeremiah 51 talks about God’s wisdom, but meekness isn’t mentioned. Is God meek? Wisdom and meekness go hand in hand for us, but is the same true for God? What do you think?
Sing or pray Psalter #259.
March 13- Read Jeremiah 52
Foolish king Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar reacted quickly, bringing a large army to lay siege to Jerusalem. King Zedekiah, who should have been acting as a picture of Christ, fled the city with his army at night. Instead of caring for the people God had entrusted to his care, he decided to do things his own way and fled the place where God dwelt. This turned out to be a decision he paid for dearly, because Nebuchadnezzar quickly caught him, forced him to watch his own sons be murdered, cut out his eyes, and took him in chains to Babylon.
In what ways are we like Zedekiah? We all have responsibilities. Some of us are students. Others are mothers in the home or fathers in the workplace. Some are school or church leaders. Some of us hold the responsibilities of single life and others those found in a marriage relationship. In all these responsibilities we have the command not to flee Jerusalem, but to perform our callings to the best of our God-given ability, putting his glory before our own desires.
Sing or pray Psalter #283.
March 14- Read Lamentations 1
As I read about the detailed destruction of Jerusalem, I wondered who wrote this book. I discovered that the top read, “The Lamentations of Jeremiah,” but my Reformation Heritage Bible says we don’t necessarily know if that’s the case. The vivid descriptions in the book suggest it was written by someone who saw it firsthand, such as Jeremiah. We first hear of the book being attributed to Jeremiah in the Septuagint, and most other Bible translations have followed suit, including the KJV. The fact that Jeremiah 9:1 states the prophet was going to write a lament over Jerusalem’s fall further supports the theory. I learned elsewhere that traditionally, Catholics viewed Jeremiah and Lamentations as one book, although new translations have split them into two.
As some have put it, in Lamentations the prophet goes from “warning to mourning.” The warnings hadn’t been heeded and judgment had been carried out. The book clearly demonstrates our need for Christ. Jerusalem is portrayed here as a widow, who was once highly sought after for her beauty, but is now disgraced and rejected. The only way out of this despair is to be restored by her first love, her true bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
Sing or pray Psalter #284.
March 15- Read Lamentations 2
Lamentations 2:15 reads, “All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?” Calvin addresses the fact that this verse might seem unnecessary. Isn’t this just hitting them when they’re down? No, Calvin explains, these words were needed, because the Jews still hadn’t confessed their sin.
When I read the verse, the first thing I thought of was the danger of giving the world a cause to blaspheme. We need to be conscious of the example we are setting because the world is always watching and questioning our actions. What do you let your kids do? How do you treat your wife? What kind of language do you use? What party were you at? What did you say about the boss? What church was it you go to again? Wasn’t that supposed to be where the truth of the gospel is preached? We must let our lights shine, that the world might not blaspheme God by hissing and wagging their heads in scorn as they pass by.
Sing or pray Psalter #338.
March 16- Read Lamentations 3
Matthew Henry divides this chapter into five sections. The first is entitled, “A sad complaint of God’s displeasure and the fruits of it (vv. 1–20).” The prophet speaks of being in darkness and having no strength. He felt as if God had attacked him and humbled him before all the nations. The second section is, “Words of comfort to God’s people when they are in trouble and distress (vv. 21–36).” Verses 22 and 23 tell us, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” The title of the third section is, “Duty prescribed in this afflicted state (vv. 37–41).” That duty was to repent, cast their burdens upon the Lord, and trust in him. For the fourth we find, “The complaint renewed (vv. 42–54),” and the final title reads, “Encouragement taken to hope in God, and continue waiting for his salvation, with an appeal to his justice against the persecutors of the church (vv. 55–66).” We have the wonderful assurance that, even in the most grievous of trials, our God is in control and is working everything for our profit.
Sing or pray Psalter #149.
March 17- Read Lamentations 4
Lamentations 4:3 reads, “Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.” I was puzzled by the meaning here, so I investigated it further. Matthew Henry says the sea monsters mentioned might be whales, but Calvin believes they are snakes. Henry says that the meaning is that the whales nurse their young, but the judged people don’t, because they are so destitute that they don’t have anything to give. Calvin seems to agree with this line of thinking, saying that the “daughter of my people” isn’t cruel herself, but she’s experiencing cruelty from those around her. The cruel enemies of the people are keeping them from caring for their children. According to Henry, this makes them like the ostriches, who lay their eggs and then abandon them. Calvin explains this last phrase as simply making the point that birds in the wilderness have no one to help them, just like the people in their judgment. Taking these explanations together, we see a picture of Judah’s helplessness when left to herself.
Sing or pray Psalter #145.
March 18- Read Lamentations 5
Matthew Henry says that this chapter is different from the others in Lamentations, as it’s not written in alphabetical order. As it turns out, Chapter 1, 2, and 4, are all written so that each line starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapter 3 is similar, but it actually has three lines for each letter. While researching this, I also learned on that Lamentations, Esther, Song of Solomon, Ruth, and Ecclesiastes make up the five scrolls of the Hebrew Bible, which are each read in synagogue on a different Jewish holiday.
Henry breaks this chapter up into a few different sections. In verses 1–16, we read about the sad state of God’s people in captivity. Verses 17 and 18 tell of their sadness at the destruction of God’s house, and verses 19–22 are a supplication to God to turn his lovingkindness upon them once again. Sometimes this chapter is referred to as “The Prayer of Jeremiah,” even though it ends with the statement, “But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.” Why do you think the book ends in this way, instead of with something redemptive?
Sing or pray Psalter #139.
March 19- Read Ezekiel 1
One of the interesting features in this chapter are the wheels, which we will talk more about in Ezekiel 10. After looking through several different commentaries, this appears to be a difficult passage. One thing that can be said is that two wheels intersect at 90 degrees, which allowed the spirits to move in all directions. Also, eyes on the wheels may symbolize God’s awareness and direction of events.
Another interesting feature is the four cherubim. Each of these has four wings and four faces. These four faces are that of a man, lion, ox, and eagle. Each has hooves like a calf, and the rest of their body is like a man’s. They burn like torches, and the wings of one touched the wings of another. This connection could illustrate that together they are a complete whole. What do you think these cherubim picture? Why do you think there are four of them and that number is seen so much in the chapter?
Sing or pray Psalter #399.
March 20- Read Ezekiel 2
In Acts 26:16, God says to Paul, “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.” A similar call comes to Ezekiel. Matthew Henry points out that he’s the only prophet who’s repeatedly called the “son of man,” a name which serves two purposes. First, it’s a dignifying name, because it’s the name of the Messiah in the Old Testament (Dan. 7:13). Second, it’s a humbling name, because it reminds Ezekiel that he has no strength of himself. That is shown from the fact that the Spirit had to lift him up in verse 2. The prophet needed strength because the message he had to bring was lamentations, mourning, and woe. This was what it would be to God’s people who heeded Ezekiel’s words, and it was not an enjoyable message to bring. Yet, he would find peace in submitting to God’s will for him, as we will discuss tomorrow.
Sing or pray Psalter #107.
March 21- Read Ezekiel 3
I recently heard a father talking about his distaste for vegetables, especially brussel sprouts. He said he always tried to choke down the veggies without complaint, so as to be a good example to the kids, but the brussel sprouts required every ounce of his resolve to get the job done. Similarly, Ezekiel was told to eat a very distasteful book, filled with lamentations, mourning, and woe. The prophet showed his spiritual strength by eating without hesitation, not skirting his duty like Zedekiah did at the end of Jeremiah.
Not only did Ezekiel eat the book, but verse 3 tells us that it tasted, “as honey for sweetness.” Why would such a negative book taste sweet to Ezekiel? Maybe it was because the prophet was submitting to God’s will, which gave him peace and made the book taste sweet. We all have trials in our life. Sometimes those trials can be very grievous, but we have the assurance that God will always supply us with what we stand in need of, which gives us peace. Is that why you think the book tasted sweet?
Sing or pray Psalter #38.
March 22- Read Ezekiel 4
In studying for these devotionals, I studied some YouTube sermons by a Pastor Roger Jimenez from Sacramento, CA that I found very helpful. I definitely don’t agree with a lot of the tangents he goes on, but he does a good job of explaining the chapter verse by verse.
In this chapter, Ezekiel acts out a siege as a picture of what will happen at Jerusalem. As the texts say, he lays on his side for 390 days and then on his right side for 40 more, picturing the years of Israel and Judah’s trespass against God. He lays bound, as they will be in captivity, and puts an iron pan in front of his face, signifying God separating himself from them. Ezekiel’s only allowed a small ration of food and water each day, as would take place in a siege, and he had to bake his food using dung for fuel.
Do you think Ezekiel literally did this just as it’s described here? If so, is there an argument to be made for getting creative with trying to make sermons memorable? Why or why not?
Sing or pray Psalter #199.
March 23- Read Ezekiel 5
In the first few verses of this chapter, Ezekiel is commanded to shave his head and beard, divide the hairs into three parts, and destroy them. One third was to be burnt with fire in the city, one third was smitten with a knife, and one third was scattered in the wind. The hairs signify the Jews, and their division pictures the ways in which they perished. Some died right when the city was attacked, some died as they tried to flee, and some died after they had fled to other nations. The phrase, “and I will draw out a sword after them,” in verse 2, shows that they wouldn’t even be safe when they fled to other nations.
However, not every hair was destroyed by these means. Verse 3 says, “Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts.” God always saves a remnant, although even this remnant had to be whittled down, as we see in verse 4. Here we read that even some of these hairs are burnt with fire, leaving only the tiniest of remnants. Isn’t it amazing that we belong to that minuscule cluster of hairs that remained?
Sing or pray Psalter #273.
March 24- Read Ezekiel 6
Ezekiel 6:12 says that the people will be destroyed by war, famine, and pestilence, which we see all throughout scripture. God brought Israel and Judah into captivity when they were defeated in war. Famine was destroying the kingdom when Elijah met the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17. In 2 Chronicles 21, we read about how Jehoram was judged with a gruesome disease that causes his bowels to fall out. Can you think of other places where judgment is brought in one or more of these three ways?
In other passages where God lays out the ways in which God pours out his judgment upon men, wild beasts are included along with the other three. We see this in Ezekiel 14:21, for example. Can you think of any reason why the wild beasts wouldn’t be included in the passage for today?
These judgments are in line with the four horses found in Revelation 6:1–8. The white horse is seen as conquest (sometimes pestilence), the red horse as war, the black horse as famine, and the pale horse as death itself. God had used these means all throughout history to punish the wicked and chastise his people.
Sing or pray Psalter #106.
March 25- Read Ezekiel 7
The heading I have for this chapter is “The Day of the Wrath of the Lord.” One of the results of that wrath is seen in verse 12, where we read, “The time is come, the day draweth near: let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn: for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof.” This verse refers to the fact that all the people will go into captivity. Therefore, the buyer will have no reason to rejoice in his good deal, and the seller won’t mourn the sale of his property, because he was losing it anyway. The seller here doesn’t refer to a regular businessman, but someone who’s property was being sold because of their debt. Maybe you will remember that Jewish law stated that a family’s inheritance would be returned to them in the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:13), which took place every fifty years. This year of redemption was a wonderful picture of our redemption and God’s preservation of his people, but that illustration had been destroyed by Judah’s sin and removal into captivity.
Sing or pray Psalter #151.
March 26- Read Ezekiel 8
Here we read of four different abominations the people were committing, which can all be summarized as idol worship. In verse 4, we see that they had placed an idol in the temple porch. Verse 10 tells us that they were worshipping beasts everywhere. Ezekiel had to dig through the wall to see this whole thing, just like we often have to work on our spiritual life in order to understand just how horrible it is to blaspheme God. In verse 14 we see that women were crying in the north gate. Calvin thinks “Tammuz” here refers to the Egyptian god Osiris. He continues that Osiris was yearly wept for by the Egyptians and that his worship included women exposing themselves to his idol. Finally, Ezekiel sees men turning their backs on the temple and worshipping the sun in verse 16. These horrible abominations provoked God to jealousy (v. 3), like a husband who has been cheated on by his wife.
Sing or pray Psalter #340.
March 27- Read Ezekiel 9
In Psalm 73:3, Asaph says, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He almost lost faith in his affliction, because he looked at the wicked, and they seemed to have easy and prosperous lives. However, Asaph is made to see that, although things can appear that way at times, God is ripening them for their final judgment and preparing his people for heaven.
In Ezekiel 9:6, God commands all the idolaters in Judah be slain, but he says all the faithful with the mark on their forehead will be spared. Matthew Henry thinks this means quite literally that the lives of all God’s people were spared when the Chaldeans took over, but Calvin takes a different approach. He says this simply means that, although the righteous suffered physically along with the wicked, God preserved and cared for his people through it all, a teaching which harmonizes with passages like Psalm 73. Although it often looks like the righteous actually suffer even more than the wicked, all the earthly things they have and abuse only make their condemnation all the greater, while God uses trials to strengthen the faith of his people.
Sing or pray Psalter #304.
March 28- Read Ezekiel 10
This chapter is very similar to Ezekiel 1, where we also hear about the four cherubim and the wheels around them. Calvin believes these wheels symbolize “the changes which constantly occur in the world.” The world is always changing like the turning of a wheel.
I recently heard a sermon entitled “The Changeless Jesus Christ.” As the sermon was preached on the last Sunday of the year, the minister was bringing out the comfort we have that, in an ever-changing world, our God is always the same. Everything else changes. We change from high faith to low faith, from health to sickness, from young to old. Society changes, as technology advances and wickedness grows. Opinions change, authority figures change, circumstances of life change, doctrines change, but Christ never changes. He has decreed he will save us and never changes his mind. Our salvation is sure. As we go forward into another year, we have that comfort. We are and always will be his chosen people, and no matter what he has in store for us this year we know he will never leave us nor forsake us.
Sing or pray Psalter 376.
March 29- Read Ezekiel 11
We have a lot of talk about cauldrons and flesh in this chapter, but what does it all mean? In verse 3, the people are saying, “this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.” They believe they are safe from destruction, like flesh inside of a cauldron. They are, no doubt, mocking Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jeremiah 1:13, which says that the Chaldeans would come like a fire under a pot and consume them. In Ezekiel 11:7, God turns their own parable on them, saying, “Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it.” God is stating that all those they had slain in the streets were the flesh, and these dead citizens were the only safe one among them. Then, in verse 11, God states clearly that the city would not be a place of security for them. Man loves to give himself a false sense of security in his sinful ways, but God’s justice will always be satisfied.
Sing or pray Psalter #372.
March 30- Read Ezekiel 12
There are five sections in this chapter, each beginning with Ezekiel stating that the word of the Lord came to him again. In verses 1–7, Ezekiel is told to move from one place to another in a way that the people will see. He’s told to make it look like he’s going into captivity and to dig through the wall like he’s trying to sneak out. Then, in verses 8–16, God explains that this is what Zedekiah is going to do when Nebuchadnezzar takes over. It says he will die in Babylon, but not see it, pointing to his eyes being plucked out. In verse 17–20, God tells the people their judgment will be so severe that they won’t even be able to eat without shaking, like Belshazzar did when the hand wrote on the wall in Daniel 5. God continues by reminding them of how foolishly they love to tell themselves these words of judgment are just talk that never actually takes place (vv. 21–25). Finally, God declares in the last three verses that his decree will always take place, and we must never fool ourselves into thinking we can get away with sin.
Sing or pray Psalter #365.
March 31- Read Ezekiel 13
I found an article written by Forbes entitled, “Why The World Is Getting Better And Why Hardly Anyone Knows It.” The premise was that nearly all the data on poverty, literacy, health, freedom, and education points to an improving world, yet the media horror stories keep people from seeing all the positive around us. The world is always toting the fact that “tolerance” and “acceptance” are at an all-time high, life expectancy keeps increasing, and people around the world have more rights and freedoms than ever before.
Ezekiel 13:10 warns us against false prophets who come saying “peace when there is no peace.” In their deep desire to do anything to deny the coming judgment, they ignore the abounding of sin that’s staring them in the face. They ignore the fact that society is quickly becoming desensitized to violence and the feelings of others, while hatred for Christianity is growing rapidly. Our pastor recently shared a story about reformed churches in China who are experiencing fierce persecution as the government works to shut them down. May we pray for the church universal that we might not be lulled into spiritual slumber by those who speak of this false peace.
Sing or pray Psalter #385.
April 1- Read Ezekiel 14
In Jeremiah 15:1 we read, “Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.” In this verse, God says that even if Moses and Samuel interceded for the people, he wouldn’t hear them. They are ripe and cannot escape the judgment that’s coming.
Ezekiel 14:14 holds a similar statement, though the names used this time are Noah, Daniel, and Job. The people had become so wicked that even these three heroes of faith wouldn’t be able to make them repent. They could escape the judgment themselves but wouldn’t be able to help others do so.
Part of the judgment these men would be unable to save Judah from is described in the previous verse as “breaking the staff of bread.” Just as an old man leans on a staff for support, so we rely on earthly bread to restore the strength of our body. However, without the Bread of Life the staff of bread is always broken. It may fill us up for the moment, but it doesn’t profit us anything.
Sing or pray Psalter #12.
April 2- Read Ezekiel 15
In this chapter, Judah is portrayed as a vine tree. A fruitful vine is beautiful and pleasant, but it’s not better than other trees in and of itself. Not only is the vine tree no better, but it’s actually useless if you’re looking to get wood from it. The value of the vine is all in its fruit. We are only valuable to God when we produce fruit, which he works in us. Judah at this time had stopped producing fruit and had convinced themselves there was value in just being a vine, as we see from the Pharisees boasting in the fact that they were children of Abraham. In Isaiah 51:2, God tells us that he will cultivate the vine that isn’t producing fruit. However, Judah is so far gone that they will only produce wild fruit. The vine that uses up resources and refuses to produce fruit will be cut down and burned. Verse 7 talks about them going from one fire to another, picturing Nebuchadnezzar’s multiple attacks on Judah. How do we apply this truth to ourselves? How do we keep from becoming an unfruitful vine?
Sing or pray Psalter #27.
April 3- Read Ezekiel 16
In this chapter, God tells Ezekiel to remind the people of Judah about the amazing story of their helplessness, God’s care for them, their rejection of that care, and God’s holding to his covenant. Judah is compared to an unwanted infant who was cast into the open field to die, just as the wicked Spartans in ancient Greece would do with their weak offspring, but God took her in as his own. God restored her from her lowly and shameful place and exalted her above the nations round about. However, instead of praising God for his care for her, Judah used her beauty to entice heathen men into committing adultery with her. God gave her many gifts, but she took those gifts, including the children God had given her, and offered them to pieces of wood and stone. Ironically, the wicked men whose praise she sought were ultimately the ones who brought about her destruction. She forgot the relationship of friendship and fellowship she had with God, but he did not forget, and restored her to him once again. That’s us. That’s how horrible we are, and yet God’s lovingkindness never fails. What a wonder!
Sing or pray Psalter #30.
April 4- Read Ezekiel 17
This chapter holds an interesting parable about two eagles and a vine, which is then explained. The first eagle represents Nebuchadnezzar, who carries Jehoiachin, the top of the cedar, away captive. The king of Judah couldn’t resist Nebuchadnezzar any more than a twig could resist the king of birds. The cedar that Jehoiachin was the top of represented the royal family. Nebuchadnezzar sets up Zedekiah, illustrated by the willow tree, to be king in Jehoiachin’s place. Things went well at the start of his reign, and he became like a vine which gave fruit to his ruler and looked attractive before the other nations. Zedekiah had no reason to complain, but he decided to follow after another eagle instead. This eagle, representing the king of Egypt, was not as strong as Nebuchadnezzar, and Zedekiah was foolish to trust in him. The Babylonian eagle responded by returning to Judah to pluck up the vine and carry the rest of them into captivity.
Sing or pray Psalter #94.
April 5- Read Ezekiel 18
In verse two, we read that the captives were speaking a proverb that, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” What does this mean? Calvin and Matthew Henry explain that the Jews here are complaining about being judged for something their ancestors did. Just like it doesn’t make sense that a child would taste the spoiled grape bitten into by his father, so they thought it was unjust that they were getting punished in Babylon for sins they hadn’t committed.
Verse three follows with, “As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.” Calvin says that here God is stating that he would make clear to all that the Jews deserved their punishment because they hadn’t ceased to rebel against him since the day they were carried away. This is evidenced by the fact that only a tiny portion would ever return to the Promised Land. In verse four, God further explains the folly of thinking he relishes his people’s adversity because it’s only natural that he would care for his own creation.
Sing or pray Psalter #116.
April 6- Read Ezekiel 19
This chapter is divided into two parts: verses 1–9 is about the kings of Judah and verses 10–14 is about the state of the nation. In the first part, Judah is portrayed as a lioness, which we see in other passages, such as Genesis 49:9 and Numbers 23:24. This lioness had a baby who grew strong and powerful. This whelp pictures Jehoahaz, who was taken to Egypt by Pharaoh Necho, as we read about in 2 Chronicles 36. Necho made Jehoiakim (the next whelp) king instead, but he was soon bound by Nebuchadnezzar and brought to Babylon.
Verses 10–14 switches to Judah being described as a strong and fruitful vine, which had lost all strong leadership under Zedekiah. This reminds us that leaders are held accountable to a higher standard, as we see from Moses being judged for striking the rock and Adam being blamed for bringing sin into the world. However, when human leadership fails God makes plain to all that he’s the one in complete control and is working everything perfectly according to his plan. Men fail, but God never fails.
Sing or pray Psalter #126.
April 7- Read Ezekiel 20
This chapter reminds the Jews of all the ways God cared for them throughout their history. He brought them out of Egypt, giving them riches and leading them to the land flowing with milk and honey, but they still rejected him and served other gods. He didn’t destroy them in the wilderness, even though they rejected his laws and desecrated the Sabbath. They constantly complained, saying they wanted to return to Egypt, even after he saved them by wonders time and again. When they arrived in Canaan, they tried to be just like the nations they’d been commanded to destroy, worshipping their gods and even sacrificing their own children.
Do the sins of others ever frustrate and anger you? Do you teachers and parents ever wonder, “Why don’t they just obey?” We all think like that at times, and we need to be reminded of the simple answer. We’re all sinners. Although at the moment it might be more obviously seen in the person or people we’re angry with, that’s how we all are spiritually. We are all like the Israelites or like small children, who rebel again and again, selfishly forgetting all that has been done for us.
Sing or pray Psalter #141.