Ezekiel 31:1-32:32; Hebrews 12:14-29;
Psalm 113:1-114:8; Proverbs 27;18-20
Today, God pictures Egypt and Assyria as giant trees in the forest. Long living and impressive, Egypt had dominated the world stage for millennia. It is with sorrow that God is going to judge the idolatry of Egypt and fell this mighty tree.
Next, we see God explain that these nations and the people He judges for idolatry and unbelief do not simply vanish from the earth. Although their bodies decay in the ground, their souls continue to exist and go somewhere after they die. But where? God is describing a holding place after physical death, where the soul exists until the final judgment. In the Hebrew language this place is called Sheol. In Greek it is called Hades. This is not hell and should not be confused with what happens after God's final judgment of all of mankind. Unfortunately, Hades is sometimes interpreted by modern translators of the Bible as hell. This leads to great confusion. Please refer to Jesus' parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 to get further insight into Hades/Sheol. The rich man in the parable is in the tormenting section of Sheol, while Lazarus is in the paradise section of Sheol. This was prior to Jesus' resurrection. After Christ rose from the dead, he set the captives free who were believers in the paradise side of Sheol and brought them into his presence forever (1 Peter 3:19-20). The unbelievers are still in the tormenting section of Hades/Sheol to this day. Okay, let's get back to Ezekiel's prophecy in chapter 32.
Here the Lord calls for Ezekiel to weep for the hordes who have been taken down to the pit. The pit God is referring to is Sheol/Hades. God laments that Egyptians will be there along with Assyrians, Elamites, Meshaech and Tubal, Edom, all the princes of the North, and the Sidonians. This is a list of the nations surrounding Israel and some of the pagan nations of the ancient world, who came and will come in the future into conflict with Israel. Remember that the focus of the Bible is not the whole world and all of ancient history. The focus of the Bible is God's relationship to mankind as focused through the lens of the Jewish nation, who would bring the world the Redeemer Child. This is where God is concerned. His point is to bring salvation to His creation and to reveal Himself to and through His creation. Israel is a key player in this drama. Prophesies and events focus around this people group. These surrounding enemies are seen to be judged by God for eternity. They await their final judgment in the grave/place of death/Sheol/Hades. It is in this pit that God's enemies lie in shame. These are the outcasts. The Lord has spoken!
Are some of these concepts helping you to understand God's story? Can you explain any of this to a friend?
What does living a life of faith look like? Today Paul helps the Hebrews and us realize how faith looks. Faith shows itself in a life that is clean and holy. A person of faith is not filled with bitterness about his/her life circumstances. They do not trade in their eternal promise for earthly possessions as Esau did in the book of Genesis.
Paul reminds the reader that we are not having to face God on a flaming mountaintop like the early Jews and Moses did. We are able to approach God through Christ in a beautiful city with a living God. The heavenly Jerusalem is filled with singing angels, rather than smoke and trembling. Believers can count on being reunited with the spirits of the redeemed in heaven. Jesus is there as our mediator.
God will indeed shake the earth as He did at Mount Sinai, but this time He will shake not only earth, but the heavens too. In the end He will judge the whole universe and shake down all evil. Only eternal things will remain (vs. 27). With this in mind, believers should live holy and worshipful lives in fear and awe. Amen!
Can you grasp this future with God in an eternal place of perfection?
For the Lord is high above the nations; His glory is far greater than the heavens. So true!
As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person. I like this. Examine your heart today.
What are you learning? Please share.