Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 46-47
The restoration of the people to their homeland and the temple to the holy city are meaningless without a restoration of proper worship. Proper worship is requisite for the unity, harmony and growth of God’s people. Without it, the entire system is doomed to fail, as is evidenced by the present plight of Israel as Ezekiel penned this book. Failure in regard to worship was detailed in chapters 43-44, having also received mention in chapters 33, 34, 36, 37. God’s people are facing the same threat today in regard to worship. Whether it be shallow appeals to the flesh (praise teams, hand raising, etc) or outright rejection of the authority of the Scriptures (rejection of male leadership, instrumental music, ecumenism), all are a threat to the harmony and peace of God’s people around the world. God did not restore His people so that they could follow the dictates of their own collective or individual conscience. Neither did He send His Son to die to purchase and establish the church so that men might be left to their own imaginations and devices.
New Testament reading: Romans 10-12
One could never become too comfortable when reading the writings of Paul. He was and is an equal opportunity disturber. Recall in Romans 1 how he “laid the wood” to the Gentiles, but then in chapter 2 turned his attention to the Jews? He does the same thing in reverse in today’s reading. After speaking to the manifold failures of Israel to see and understand God’s plan to include the Gentiles in chapters 9-10, Paul’s attention is reverted back to the Gentiles, warning them not to be boastful concerning their inclusion in God’s promises, for salvation to all men came through Israel, specifically Jesus Christ. Paul reminds the Gentiles that they are considered as wild olive branches who have been grafted into a cultivated olive tree, that is to say, the spiritual heritage of Israel. Thus, he says, “remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you” (v 18). The two must coexist in harmony and love, realizing the life of both comes from God, and that God is capable of pruning both the cultivated and grafted (wild) branches.