Go to the hard headed house of Israel (Ezek 3:4-3:9)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘Son of man!

Go to the house of Israel!

Speak my very words to them!

You are not sent

To a people

Of obscure speech

With a difficult language,

But to the house of Israel.

You are not sent to people

Of obscure speech

With a difficult language,

Whose words

You cannot understand.

If I sent you to them,

They would listen to you.

But the house of Israel

Will not listen to you.

They are not willing

To listen to me.

Because all the house of Israel

Have a hard forehead.

They have a stubborn heart.

I have made your face hard

Against their faces.

I have made your forehead hard

Against their foreheads.

Like the hardest stone,

Harder than flint,

I have made your forehead.

Do not fear them!

Do not be dismayed

At their looks.

They are a rebellious house.’”

Yahweh told Ezekiel, the son of man, to go to the house of Israel. He was to speak Yahweh’s words to them. Yahweh was not sending him to people who had an obscure and difficult language, like the Babylonians, who would not understand what he was saying. However, they might listen to what he had to say. Instead he was being sent to the Israelites, whose language they both shared. These Israelites would not even listen to Yahweh, because they had a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Yahweh was going to make Ezekiel’s face hard against their faces. He was going to make Ezekiel’s forehead hard against their foreheads. His face and forehead would be like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Therefore, Ezekiel should not fear them. He should not be dismayed at their looks, because they were a rebellious house.

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Why did nature fear Yahweh? (Ps 114:5-114:8)

“Why is it?

O sea!

Why do you flee?

O Jordan!

Why do you turn back?

O mountains!

Why do you skip like rams?

O hills!

Why do skip like lambs?

O earth!

Tremble at the presence of Yahweh!

Tremble at the presence of the God of Jacob!

He turns the rock into a pool of water.

He turns the flint into a spring of water.”

This short psalm concludes with wondering why nature was so submissive to Yahweh. Why did the Red Sea flee and spread apart? Why did the Jordan River turn back? Why were the mountains and hills skipping like rams and lambs? The answer was, of course, they trembled at the presence of Yahweh, the God of Jacob. Yahweh was able to turn rock and flint into water.

The adventurers cannot find wisdom (Job 28:9-28:11)

“They put their hand to the flinty rock.

They overturn mountains by the roots.

They cut out channels in the rocks.

Their eyes see every precious thing.

They probe the sources of the rivers.

Hidden things they bring to light.”

Even the great adventurers and the various inventions of those days do not find wisdom. The invention of fire with flint was a big deal. Overturning mountains was a massive task. Cutting channels in rocks was not easy. They used their eyesight to find precious metals. They even tried to figure out the sources of the rivers. They were looking for hidden items by bringing light to them. These were the adventurers and discoverers of 2,500 years ago. They wanted to know about things and how they worked. Yet they never found wisdom.

Purification of the Temple (2 Macc 10:1-10:4)

“Now Judas Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city. They tore down the altars which that had been built in the public square by the foreigners. They also destroyed the sacred precincts. They purified the sanctuary. They made another altar of sacrifice. Then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices. After a lapse of two years, they burned incense. They lighted lamps. They set out the bread of the Presence. When they had done this, they fell prostrate. They implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes. If they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations.”

This purification of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus took place earlier in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, about a year before the death of King Antiochus IV. Here it is 2 years after the desecration of the Temple. In fact, the description in 1 Maccabees was more elaborate, but pretty much the same as here. There was no lamentation and mourning for the city and the Temple here. The Lord led them on here as the altars were in the public square. In 1 Maccabees, they saved the old stones. Here they just made another altar. They offered sacrifices, burned incense, lighted lamps, and set out the bread of Presence as in 1 Maccabees. Here there is a prayer to be more lenient next time if they do sin.