Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 35-36
In Ezekiel 35, the prophet again takes up his prophecy against Mount Seir (Edom, cf 25:12-14). We often see in Old Testament literature how the evil intended by the wicked is returned upon their own heads (cf Jdg 9:57; Prv 1:10-11, 18). So it was with the evil Edom envisioned and perpetrated against Israel and Judah (35:11). You recall that the Edomites were the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother (Gen 36:8). They tormented their brethren by cutting off their path of escape when Israel was pursued by her enemies (35:5; cf Obad 10-14). Moreover, they schemed to take the mountains of Israel for themselves once their Jewish brethren were removed (35:12).God condemned them as pitiless and bloodthirsty, declaring they would not profit at their brother’s expense (35:15). In Ezekiel 36, God in turn announces a blessing on Israel. Though she then bore the shame of her iniquity in the sight of all the nations, she would soon be restored, shooting forth her branches and bearing fruit for the people of Israel (36:8). God would bless Israel by removing her heart of stone and replacing it with one of flesh. That is, He would replace her cold, dead heart with a living one that would respond to His word.
New Testament reading: Acts 22-24
One thing we should do when talking with someone about their soul is to identify with them. By this, I mean that we present ourselves as equals, interested in the same goal. We must not come across as considering ourselves better than or in any way superior to them. Though he wasn’t ultimately successful in this particular case, this was Paul’s approach in Acts 22. First, he spoke to the audience in their native Hebrew tongue (21:40). This was rewarded with the silent attention of his audience (22:2). Second, Paul identified with them as a Jew, and not only a Jew, but a Jew who was zealously persecuting the church. Third, he more closely identified with them as a citizen of Jerusalem. Once these relationships were established, Paul recounted his conversion while en route to Damascus. They listened to him until he broached the subject that was sorest among them, the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan. We must prepare for kickback when dealing with today’s hot button issues, e.g., the one church, baptism, instrumental music, and male leadership.