No more warnings for Judah; they have reaped the reward of their indifference to God. Now attention is turned to Egypt, Philistia, Moab, and others. As we read these judgments, it’s important for us to read on two levels. God is speaking to these surrounding nations of the day. However, He is also speaking to attitudes and positions which apply to every generation.
What do I mean? Well, when the Word speaks of “going to Egypt for help,” it refers to the natural strength of man. From the time of the fall of man, people have wanted to trust in themselves and their own abilities without God. (This attitude in its ultimate form is Humanism, implying that there is no need for God). So as we read the judgments on Egypt, apply these judgments to self-sufficiency. We all have to watch this from time to time.
Next we have Philistia. In the early days of Israel, the Philistines were considered barbaric and violent. They were powerful, and thus greatly feared by the Israelites. So the spiritual parallel here would be people trying to attain their goals with brute force or bullying tactics. Sometimes this bullying can be psychological, and can often achieve a certain amount of success – just because others don’t confront. But it’s totally ungodly. (In fact, force is the technique of the devil).
The third nation we see judged is Moab. Now this is an interesting one, and we need to listen up to what God is saying here. Moab was the incestuous son of Lot, born to his daughter, and the word means, “From Father.” In a spiritual sense, this word can refer to traditions – learned from our fathers.
So what’s so bad about traditions? Aren’t they good? Don’t they keep us grounded? Sometimes.
However, there are times when the traditions of men will completely conflict with what God is trying to do in our lives, and we have to choose.
You may have heard the joke about the lady who always cut off the end of her ham before cooking it – because that’s the way her mother and grandmother did it. Curious about why she would throw away perfectly good meat, her husband went on a pursuit to discover the answer. His wife’s mother did it because her mother did it. So he pursued further to the origin, and found the reason. The grandmother cut it off because her pan was too short.
That’s the way it is with traditions. There may be a good reason, or there might not be.
So let’s apply these concepts to our walk with God. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Your traditions make the Word of God of no effect.”( Matthew 15:6). They ignored the Word in order to honor traditions.
Any of us who have grown up in a church environment know how many customs are involved. There are customs of worship, order, sacraments, and doctrines. There’s really nothing wrong with all of that.
However, when our customs are held higher than what God says in his Word, we are in trouble. He won’t be able to teach us anything, and we won’t grow in our walk with Him.
So let’s stay meek and teachable. Let’s allow our Father to guide us into more and more of what He wants us to know. Our ancestors didn’t know all there was to know about God – and neither do we. Let’s reach out for all that He has for us, and stay pliable in His hands.
Jesus changes the priesthood. During the Old Testament all of the priests came from the tribe of Levi. They were holy men, but of course, they were not perfect. They had to sacrifice a lamb for themselves as well as for others.
When Jesus completed His earthly mission and sat down beside His Father, He became our High Priest, but not like the earthly one. He is perfect. He paid the price once for all sin for all eternity – for those who receive the gift.
Paul begins to admonish the listeners because he wants to reveal more of his revelation, but feels hindered. The Hebrews need elementary principles explained again and again. Only through listening and applying the Word to their lives will they grow. They will be able to have “solid food” and not just “milk,” when they apply what they have learned.
That applies to us too. We should strive to practice what we know, so that we too can grow up and be ready for the meat of the Word.
That’s what I’m striving for.