Friday, November 11, 2011

November 11- The Two Sisters

November 11, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Ezekiel 23:1-49; Hebrews 10:18-39;
Psalm 109:1-31; Proverbs 27:13

Sisters, sisters... 
~Irving Berlin

Ezekiel 23:1-49

Back in the day, Irving Berlin wrote a song about two sisters.  It was sung in the movie White Christmas. The lyrics extol how the two girls are devoted to each other.  They need no chaperon because they look out for each other.  They are caring and sharing, even to the point of sharing a dress, so the one sister could go out on a date.  Nothing could come between these sisters, who act as one.  The song ends with the line,  "Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister. And lord help the sister, who comes between me and my man."  Well, today, the Lord tells Ezekiel to recount the story of two sisters.  In this story, something comes between these two sisters and their man.

God never tires of finding new ways to describe His relationship with His chosen people, Israel.  Today, Israel and Judah (the Northern and Southern kingdoms) are pictured as two sisters named Oholah and Oholibah.  Oholah represents Samaria, which is the capital of the Northern Kingdom.  Oholah means "her own tent."  This is representative of the fact that the Northern Kingdom rebelled against God and set up her own form of worship apart from the Temple, which was a  picture of the Tabernacle. Oholibah represents Jerusalem, which is the capital of the Southern Kingdom.  Oholibah means "my tent is inner."  This represents the fact that in Jerusalem God's Temple, which was built by Solomon and patterned after the Tabernacle, represents where people can come to worship God. This is an important distinction between the two kingdoms.

In this parable God marries the two sisters and has children with them.  This shows God's deep love, dedication, and commitment to the people of Israel in both Samaria and Jerusalem. But not everyone in this relationship is committed to the relationship. In the story, Oholah begins to lust after Assyrian soldiers. The soldiers represent the gods of the Assyria that the people of Samaria begin to worship.  Both girls had been corrupted by Egyptian idol worship in their past and are described as being lustful in their youth in Egypt, but Oholah now continues her lust after other men/gods. She lusts after the Assyrians, although they mistreat her by stripping her and taking her children as slaves.

Oholibah sees what has happened to her sister as a result of her adultery, but she follows in her sister's footsteps anyway. Jerusalem watched  Samaria be captured and taken into captivity by Assyria. Oholibah not only lusts after the Assyrians, she also gets in bed with the Babylonians.  Still not happy, Oholibah also goes back to her long ago lover, Egypt. This is how God describes Jerusalem's decision to form an alliance with Egypt.

In the parable, God promises to bring all of Oholibah's old lovers back to kill her and destroy her.  In God's jealous anger, He will cause her unfaithfulness to destroy her.  Her enemies will leave her naked and bare. God's desire was for Jerusalem to trust in Him, rather than in the pagan nations and their gods to save her.

Jerusalem will have brought all of this upon herself by prostituting herself with pagan nations.  Both Oholah and Oholibah are guilty of adultery and murder.  The adultery is because of her idol worship and the murder is because the people sacrificed their children by burning them on altars to pagan idols. This disloyalty to God and His laws will only be met with destruction at the hands of these lovers.  It is a just punishment for betrayal and deceit.

God ends the parable by saying that their righteous punishment will be a means by which people can come to an understanding of who God is.  He is holy and just.  He, alone, is to be worshipped.  This story helps us to know our God.  We can begin to understand His passion, intensity, and jealousy.

Do you understand the betrayal that God feels when as the Creator He is ignored and cheated upon? Do you prostitute yourself by loving other things rather than God?

Hebrews 10:18-39

Christians are able to boldly enter the Most Holy Place in heaven.  This is because of what Christ has done.  This is revolutionary.  We enter where the HOLY GOD OF THE UNIVERSE dwells.  We enter with true hearts that trust in Christ. Our evil consciences are sprinkled with His blood.  This protects us.  We hold onto this hope like a rope.  It is our salvation.

This should cause us to burst forth with good deeds and love for others. Do you feel that joy?  Do you burst forth to help others?

If you reject this message and deny the power of Christ, there is nothing for you to look forward to but judgment.  The punishment for those who trample on the Son of God will enrage the Holy Spirit, who is the one who delivers God's mercy to people.   Paul ends by saying, "It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God."  Amen and amen.  It is faith that assures our salvation.

How is your faith?

Psalm 109: 1-31

Picture Jesus and his enemies as you read this psalm.

Proverbs 27:13

Deposits and collateral are important when you are dealing with shady individuals.

What did you see today as you read?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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