Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 29-30
In chapters 29-32, Ezekiel takes up his prophetic mantle against Egypt, the seventh heathen nation to fall under Divine condemnation. The sins of Egypt were many. She had learned nothing from the great plagues and witnessing the mighty hand of God. In yesterday’s reading, we noted how Nebuchadnezzar had sieged Tyre for thirteen years, only to break through and find that many of the people and potential spoils had moved offshore. Ezekiel 29:17-21 is intriguing, as God notes that Babylon had labored hard against Tyre without receiving any wages in return. In verse 20, the Lord is clear that Nebuchadnezzar was doing His bidding, saying of Babylon, “they worked for Me.” In an act demonstrating God’s great sense of justice, even when dealing with the heathen, the Lord declares that He is giving Egypt and her spoils to Nebuchadnezzar as wages for his labors against Tyre. This payment of wages was begun at the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C. There is a brief article on Wikipedia noting Egypt’s defeat and the dispersion of her people (cf 29:12), her failure to return to a world power (cf 29:14-16), and the utter defeat of Egypt and her allies (cf 30:5-12). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carchemish
New Testament reading: Acts 15-16
How did the Lord open Lydia’s heart? By the same means he closed Pharaoh’s… through His word. I once heard an apropos statement in this regard: “The same sun that hardens clay also melts wax.” So it is with my heart. God’s word can soften my heart like wax and make it more pliable to conform it in the image of Christ, or it can harden my heart when I reject its teaching. Repeated rejection of God’s word leads to a callousing of the heart, making change more difficult as time passes. Also, chapter 16 also contains one of the most misused passages in all the New Testament in attempt to teach salvation by faith only (v 31). If one will read the verse carefully, then continue to read through verse 34, it would be helpful to correct and dispel this error. If one uses Acts 16:31 to teach salvation by faith only, he must also teach that one can be saved on behalf of another, for Paul added “and your house” to the singular imperative verb “believe.” The jailer and his family were saved when they heard the word of God, believed it, and were baptized that same hour of the night.