Day 218: Each Will Be Judged
Isaiah 57:1-13 Echoing the condemnations stated earlier, this prophet condemned idolatry and the religious leaders who allowed it or even encouraged it as a form of worship. This blatant infidelity warrants deep repentance and conversion. Idolatry, being a gravely evil act of infidelity, is compared to adultery and prostitution.
Ch 57:14-21 The Lord consoled those who had been faithful and promised an abundance of blessings. God, who loves each individual personally and infinitely, has a special predilection for the poor and downtrodden.
Ch 57:15 Contrite and humble spirit: Reconciliation requires true sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid all sin. (CCC 1450-1453)
Ch 58:1-2 The “cry” demanded of the prophet was a call to interior reform and fidelity to the covenant. The leaders and prophets were too corrupt to correct the abuses and sins of the people. Isaiah was urged here to speak out courageously and without fear so that everyone was called to account for his or her behavior and understood the necessity of repentance. (CCC 1427, 1429)
Ch 58:3-14 Fasting has value to the degree that it is accompanied by a sincere disposition for holiness and a spirit of charity toward others. External acts performed for the sake of appearances have no merit since the intention is to build up vanity and to win the admiration of others. It is important to bear in mind that rectitude of the will is essential in all good works. (CCC 1430, 1755)
CH 58:6-7 The prophets of the Old Testament frequently condemned injustice, fraud, and exploitation particularly when it victimized the poor and vulnerable. Deeds of mercy and selfless service are a perfection of the virtue of justice. There can be no charity without the foundation of justice. Christ revealed that he is especially present in the poor and downtrodden. The Church identifies seven CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and burying the dead) and seven SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY (admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, bearing wrongs patiently, counseling the doubtful, forgiving injuries, comforting the sorrowful, and praying for the living and the dead). (CCC 1397, 2447)
Ezekiel 17:1-24 The first eagle represents Nebuchadnezzar, while the second represents the Pharaoh with whom Israel had formed an alliance. The cedar is Jerusalem, and the trimming of its top represents the first exile in which Nebuchadnezzar took the elite of Judah into captivity. King Jehoiachin is the “topmost of its young wings” who likewise went into exile but years later was given a respectable place in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar’s son. Zedekiah, who entered into the pact with Egypt, represents the seed placed on the throne of Jerusalem that is destined to grow in the future. Ezekiel’s purpose was to show that Jerusalem had fallen and the people exiled because Israel broke its covenant with God. In turn, God kept the covenant but punished his people to bring them to repentance. Israel, therefore, would only receive the benefits of the covenant upon conversion. (CCC 346)
Ch 18:1-20 Another metaphor is introduced to explain the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile. God, as a loving father, disciplines his children to reform and reestablish his relationship (covenant) with them. In this passage there is less emphasis on collective sin by which a whole people suffers as a consequence; rather, these passages make it abundantly clear that the wretched state of the Jewish people stemmed from personal sin. (CCC 1888)
Ch 18:5-9 The sins and good works enumerated here are by no means exhaustive but provide examples simply of just and unjust behavior under the Ten Commandments and the moral law. All the Commandments serve as the pathway, for a righteous person “walks in my statutes, and is careful to observe my ordinances.” Several sins against social justice, particularly those that oppress the poor and needy, are mentioned along with sins of idolatry and adultery. (CCC 2056)
Ch 18:21-32 God glories in forgiving those who turn back to him, and he ardently desires the salvation of all. His forgiveness is contingent on our willingness to accept his laws and to fulfill his will. (CCC 1437, 2595)
Proverbs 13:7 St. Augustine read this proverb as pertaining not to worldly possessions but to “the riches of the heart,” which he called “the greatest form of wealth: full of strength, shining with piety, overflowing with love, they are riches in themselves and have an intrinsic value” (Sermones, 36, 7). Paul expressed a corollary to this proverb when he spoke of the hardships and persecutions that the Apostles must endure: They are treated “as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:10). (CCC 2053)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
OH GOSH YOU GUYS!
We mentioned yesterday in Ezekiel Ch 16 how IDOLATRY is often represented as ADULTERY
It happens SO MUCH
So often do we, and the People of Israel, the same broken people, the same broken hearts, we turn AWAY from the God who loves us to ANYTHING ELSE
That’s what idolatry is
Taking GOOD things and making them the ULTIMATE things
It’s very rare that people make idols out of BAD things
We make idols out of GOOD things
And then we make them into ULTIMATE THINGS
At the same time we make idols out of gosh...here is a great example
Isaiah 57:5, “...you who burn with lust among oaks, under every green tree…”
Once again, this is the imagery of IDOLATRY and ADULTERY
So what are these OAKS and GREEN TREES?
Those were like the HIGH PLACES, which were often considered places of FERTILITY
So in the ancient world they would commit IMPURE ACTS to appease some “god” or “goddess” of FERTILITY
So not only would there be IDOLATRY going on there
There would also be lewd conduct, promiscuity, fornication in those places
God is saying, “This is what you do. Not only are you doing this, but you are doing this claiming that you are doing the RIGHT thing.”
This is the CRAZY thing
You’re doing THIS, thinking you are doing the RIGHT THING
Isaiah 57:6, “Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion; they, they, are your lot; to them you have poured out a drink offering, you have brought a cereal offering.”
Remember all the types of OFFERINGS we learned about in Leviticus and Deuteronomy?
Here is God saying, “You’re still doing that, but you are doing it to FALSE GODS. You are doing it in the stones of the valley.”
Isaiah 57:8, “[You offered your sacrifice]. You journeyed to Molech with oil and multiplied your perfumes…”
He was a false god
There were often metal statues of Molech with arms outstretched and where his hands would be a receptacle
People would heat up the statue
Maybe they would put embers or fire in the hand receptacle
AND THEN PLACE THEIR OWN CHILDREN
AND THEN PLACE THEIR OWN INFANTS
AND THEN PLACE THEIR OWN BABIES INTO THIS PLACE!
This is Isaiah highlighting, once again, the degree to which people are giving FALSE WORSHIP
So then God promises, “I’m not always going to be angry. I’m going to bring you back to me.”
Then Isaiah Ch 58 talks about True and False Fasting and Worship
People are fasting FALSELY
People are worshiping FALSELY
They ask the question, in Isiah 58:3, “Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?”
God responds, “Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fists. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.”
So this is the REALITY
Here are these people in Isaiah Ch 57 who are WORSHIPING FALSE GODS
And even when it comes to worshiping the REAL GOD, they aren’t even doing it the RIGHT WAY
THEY ARE DOING IT JUST FOR SHOW
THEY ARE NOT DOING IT WITH THEIR WHOLE HEART
WHICH IS REMARKABLE!
WHICH IS REMARKABLY PRESUMPTUOUS!
It’s having these SURFACE RULES and doing it for the WRONG INTENTION OR REASON
Sometimes the motivation we have is SELFISH
We pray when we listen to the Bible, and sometimes that motivation is SELFISH
I want to save my soul
I want to be holy
Now, that is NOT AWFUL
That’s not the BEST THING IN THE WORLD
Our motivation should be LOVE
We recognize that there’s not ALWAYS LOVE
Sometimes our motivation is something OTHER THAN LOVE
At the same time, that is OK
GOD STILL ACCEPTS THAT
GOD STILL ACCEPTS THAT HUMILITY
GOD STILL ACCEPTS THE OFFERING THAT WE HAVE
WHAT DO WE WANT ULTIMATELY?
THAT IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT!!
Even if we have a SELFISH MOTIVATION, ultimately we want to BELONG TO GOD!!
But here is the kind of fasting and prayer that is happening in Isaiah Ch 58
IT IS SELFISH
Not only is the MOTIVATION selfish
But even the GOAL is selfish
Not only the reason why I’m doing this
But even the ultimate end, what you want to get out of this is still yet selfish
THAT IS PAINFUL TO THE LORD!
THAT IS PAINFUL TO THE PEOPLE!
Because we are giving God LESS THAN HE DESERVES
Because we are giving God LESS THAN HE IS OWED
On to Ezekiel Chs 17 and 18
We have the parable of the two eagles and the branch (VINE)
It’s one of those really grateful moments where not only is there a PARABLE
There is an EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE in Ezekiel Ch 17
Here is an eagle that takes a branch and plants it and makes it grow and it does grow
The branch turns to another eagle and says, “You take care of us instead.”
The first eagle comes and destroys the branch
Ezekiel explains what that means (Also read above in the Didache Bible notes for an explanation...don’t say I don’t look out for you guys and gals 😉)
The first eagle is NEBUCHADNEZZAR, King of Babylon
Ezekiel 17:3-4, “...A great eagle...came to Lebanon and took the top of the cedar, he broke off the topmost of its young twigs and carried it to a land of trade.”
So Nebuchadnezzar takes Zedekiah, the King, and his sons and brings them to Babylon
And here are people like Daniel, Shadrach, Abednego, Mishac, Hannaniah, Azariah, and Mishael in the FIRST DEPORTATION TO BABYLON
They are dwelling in Babylon BUT BEING FRUITFUL
Not only are they being FRUITFUL
But the REMNANT is left in Israel that Nebuchadnezzar left, is the SECOND DEPORTATION with Ezekiel, of course
BUT EVEN THEN
There were people who REMAINED IN JERUSALEM
These people remaining in Jerusalem made an alliance with Egypt with the idea that they could fight against Babylon
So we have this SECOND EAGLE who was powerful
They thought the second eagle would be better for them
Because of that, the first eagle came and destroyed the branch
AND THAT IS THE THIRD DEPORTATION that Nebuchadnezzar takes from Jerusalem and leaves only a remnant of the blind, crippled, and lame behind
Rather than choosing to be a vassal state, they end up being completely destroyed
There was a small small remnant that was in Jerusalem and the REST were in Exile in Babylon
It makes more sense now?
First eagle is Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar)
Second eagle is Egypt (Pharaoh)
The branch is The People of Israel (JUDAH)
Ezekiel Ch 18 is SUCH A GIFT
We have this in the LECTIONARY
It talks about the JUSTICE OF GOD
EVERY PERSON IS JUDGED ON THEIR OWN CONDUCT
THEY ARE NOT JUDGED ON THE HOLINESS OF THEIR PARENTS
THEY ARE NOT JUDGED ON THE SINFULNESS OF THEIR PARENTS
THEY ARE NOT JUDGED ON THE HOLINESS OF THEIR CHILDREN
THEY ARE NOT JUDGED ON THE SINFULNESS OF THEIR CHILDREN
This is REALLY IMPORTANT for us to be reminded of in so many ways
There are some people who will say they have a WHOLE LINE of family members who are FOLLOWERS OF THE LORD
Ok, but are YOU a follower of the Lord?
God doesn’t have any GRANDCHILDREN
God is not a GRANDFATHER
God is a FATHER
As a FATHER, God only has CHILDREN
My parents were really really faithful and that was GREAT for them
It doesn’t mean anything when it comes to ME
I HAVE TO CHOOSE TO BE FAITHFUL ALSO!!
Maybe my parents were awful
That doesn’t mean anything when it comes to ME
I STILL HAVE TO CHOOSE TO BE FAITHFUL!!
THAT IS SO GOOD!
Ezekiel 18:25, “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’”
God is saying, “Oh no no no. This is ACTUAL justice.”
Ezekiel 18:27-28, “Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is lawful and right, he shall save his life.”
God says, “Whoever turns away from their sin to me, I receive them.”
And God says, “Whoever turns away from their righteousness to their evil, I allow them to go.”
BUT GOD DOES NOT WANT THAT TO HAPPEN!
Ezekiel 18:32, “For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
That’s God’s DEEPEST DESIRE
Well, His DEEPEST DESIRE is to pour out love from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father with that LOVE being the HOLY SPIRIT
God’s desire is that NONE OF US SHALL BE LOST
God’s desire is that NONE OF US TURN AWAY FROM HIM
ALL OF US TURN TO HIM AND LIVE!!
THE STAKES ARE HIGH!!
This is ETERNITY we’re talking about
This is the BATTLE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL happening in OUR DAY
GOOD AND EVIL
HEAVEN AND HELL
GOD AND THE FORCES OF EVIL
ARE HAPPENING ALL OF THE TIME
Even in the SMALL DECISIONS of our lives
That’s something to REALLY REFLECT ON
OK that wasn’t the last thing
Here’s the last thing
In Isaiah today, we hear a lot about KEEPING THE SABBATH HOLY
IT’S SO POWERFUL!
Here’s God who says in Isaiah 58:13-14, “If you turn back your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord…”
We can sometimes give the Pharisees a bad rap
They were really concerned about the Sabbath
At the same time, it was likely that the Pharisees were concerned about the Sabbath because they KNEW ISAIAH CH 58
They knew the REST OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
God is saying, “This is a big deal, that you actually HONOR my Sabbath.”
So here is Jesus who is honoring the Sabbath by PERFORMING MIRACLES
Here is Jesus who is honoring the Sabbath by SETTING PEOPLE FREE
Here’s the thing…
Those Pharisees who were emphasizing the LAST PART of Isaiah Ch 58 were forgetting about the FIRST PART of Isaiah Ch 58
They were saying, “No, we have to keep holy the Sabbath.”
Jesus is saying, “Yeah, but here’s the Sabbath.”
Isaiah 58:6, “...to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”
THAT IS THE KEY HERE!!
We have to ALWAYS ALWAYS keep the ENTIRETY of Scripture IN MIND
It’s not just Jesus FLOUTING THE RULES
What Jesus is doing is GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE RULE AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF ISAIAH CH 58
Jesus doesn't merely ISOLATE THE END OF ISAIAH CH 58
Jesus is saying, “Yes, I am honoring the Sabbath by doing EXACTLY what God said through Isaiah in 58.”
LOOSENING THE BONDS OF WICKEDNESS
UNDOING THE THONGS OF THE YOKE
LETTING THE OPPRESSED GO FREE
Is there anything more powerful than HEALING SOMEONE?
Is there anything more powerful than BRINGING SOMEONE BACK TO LIFE?
Is there anything more powerful than LETTING THEM GO FREE?
SCRIPTURE DOES NOT CANCEL OUT SCRIPTURE
Scripture gives LAYERS to Scripture
Scripture gives COLOR to Scripture
Scripture gives DIMENSION to Scripture
We are so grateful
We also have to be those people who HONOR THE SABBATH
We also have to be those people who HONOR THE LORD and give him the worship He DESERVES and DESIRES
WE KNOW OUR TEMPTATION IS TO TURN AWAY FROM GOD
LET’S TURN BACK TOWARDS GOD!!
LET’S TURN BACK TO HIM AND LIVE!!
WHICH IS WHAT GOD WANTS!!
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we thank you. We thank you so much for giving us your Wisdom and sharing with us the way in which you see, the way in which you think. Just like we recognize yesterday that you spoke to us and said that your ways are not our ways. Our minds, our thoughts, are not your thoughts. We are so grateful for that. We are so grateful that you do share your ways. You share your thoughts with us. And so we ask you to please, once again, like we prayed yesterday, like we keep on praying, allow your words to continue to change our hearts. Allow your power to change our lives. Allow your Grace to change us forever, so we can belong to you not only today, but also in Eternity. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”