devotions written by Deborah Galyen
“Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing" (47:12). Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple reassured the Jews in exile that they would return to their own land, but it also promised much more: the reality of God’s kingdom on earth, as in Revelation, with a river of life, trees of healing, and inheritance for foreigners (47:23).
The water that flows from the sanctuary is Jesus Christ (John 4:14). When we drink of Him, we participate in God’s everlasting kingdom.
“And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (v13). Jesus Christ, God’s Word made flesh, knows our private thoughts (v12), and we cannot hide things like pride or selfishness from Him. This could be terrifying, except that Hebrews goes on to say that Jesus, our Great High Priest, also sympathizes with us because He Himself was tempted (and yet did not sin).
We don’t have to fear the Judge, because He understands us and has taken our sin upon Himself. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” (v16).
“For we who have believed enter that rest” (v3). Some of the Israelites did not enter the Promised Land (their place of “rest”) because they didn’t believe God was able to conquer their enemies. Hebrews says that the complete fulfillment of this promise for the people of God is still to come (v8), but we will enter it in the same way the Israelites did: by faith. Our sins cannot keep us out, because Christ forgives us. But to walk forward, we must trust Him.
God’s promise still stands (v1), and the invitation is open. Everyone who believes in His Son can enter His kingdom of peace.
“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side … then the flood would have swept us away” (v1-4). Most people at some point experience the feeling of being “in over our heads.” Life brings us challenges, sometimes of our own making, and they are too much for us to handle. Children, finances, work, sickness and loss can all seem like a “torrent” or “raging waters” (v5), and we recognize that we are insufficient for the battle.
But we are not alone. “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (v8), and His resources are infinite.
“This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession” (44:28). God used Ezekiel’s prophetic visions to remind His people about what mattered. The priests were supposed to represent Israel to God and point toward the intimate relationship He desired for everyone. They had no land inheritance; God Himself was their inheritance. Their food was the regular Temple offerings, and they depended on God totally.
God wants us to work and enjoy His creation, but our inheritance – our security, hope, and future – are in Him (I Peter 1:4).
"Son of man, this is the place of my throne … where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever” (43:7). God showed Ezekiel the heavenly Temple – more perfect than the one that had existed in Jerusalem – and then the “glory of the Lord” filled that Temple (v5). There, God declared that He would dwell with His people forever, and they would never again commit the terrible sins that led to their exile.
No matter what we have done, we don’t have to be exiled from God. Christ’s death has conquered sin and makes us holy, and we are welcomed into His presence.
“There they shall put the most holy offerings–the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering–for the place is holy" (42:13). In exile in Babylon, the Jews could not offer the sacrifices which had been such an important part of their worship to God in Jerusalem. Yet in Ezekiel’s heavenly vision, the Temple was complete and ready for these holy offerings – prepared for worship and secure.
No matter the conflict on earth, there is a permanent, holy chorus in heaven, which we can join; it is “like the roar of many waters” declaring that the Lord reigns (Revelation 19).
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (v13). The author of Hebrews urged the believers to encourage one another “every day” to remain faithful to Christ. Our past experiences can strengthen us, and we can have hope for tomorrow, but we can only believe today. Each day, we have the opportunity to examine our hearts, confess our sins, and offer ourselves again to God (v12).
“For we have come to share in Christ” (v14). We have been made brothers and sisters, co-heirs with Jesus, and we have every reason to trust Him.
“For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham” (v16). Angels are God’s messengers and wonderful beings of His creation, yet Jesus Christ took on the flesh-and-blood form of humanity, with all our vulnerabilities, in order to save us (v14). He became like us in every way (v17), so that He could act as a faithful high priest in bringing us to the Father. He loves us enough to call us brothers and sisters (v11).
Jesus Christ experienced temptation, suffering, and death (v14, 18), and He conquered them all. He can help us, if we call on Him.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (v1). The early believers faced a lot of ideas and religions which competed for their attention and loyalty, tempting them to “drift away” from the truth about Jesus Christ. To strengthen their faith, the author of Hebrews reminded them that that the gospel was “declared by the Lord,” witnessed by those who heard and saw Christ, and affirmed by Spirit-given signs and wonders (v2-3).
Our faith in Christ is not fragile; we can confidently put our trust in the God who created the world and has proven His love for us in Jesus Christ.
“Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt” (v3). We all serve some master: our jobs, our families, our addictions, or our ambitions. The psalmist realized that he would only find peace when he looked to God as king (v1-2), because every other master leads to some form of “contempt” or harm, such as exhaustion, disappointment, and idolatry.
We have had more than enough of serving false masters. When we submit to God, we receive mercy, healing, help and joy, and all our other needs and affections find their proper places.
“Set your heart upon all that I shall show you … Declare all that you see to the house of Israel” (v4). Ezekiel was in Babylon with the Jewish exiles when God brought him in a vision back to Jerusalem. After 25 years in Babylon (v1), without access to their Temple or sacrifices, the Jews needed hope. God showed Ezekiel an undamaged Temple, secure and perfect, and told him to go back and tell people.
Like the Temple, our best earthly structures and achievements are fragile. But we can take comfort in what is permanent: we are citizens of “a better kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Heb 12:28).
“And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD" (39:29). Ezekiel prophesied about a great battle between Israel and enemy armies from the north, and in this battle God would fight on Israel’s behalf. This victory would make Israel forget their years of suffering (v26), and the surrounding nations would see God’s justice and glory (v21).
God has poured out His Spirit, and we can see His glory in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). In time, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
“Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel” (v12). In the Spirit, Ezekiel saw a valley of dry bones, and he watched the Lord put flesh and bones on them and breathe a new spirit into them. God promised that He would do this to Israel, so that, as renewed people, they would be fit to live in the land.
“My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (v27). We are “dry bones” until Christ makes us alive, and then, by His life-giving Spirit, we are ready to live in His kingdom.
July 25: Ezekiel 43 (07/25/2014)
July 24: Ezekiel 41-42 (07/24/2014)
July 23: Hebrews 3 (07/23/2014)
July 22: Hebrews 2:11-18 (07/22/2014)
July 21: Hebrews 2:1-10 (07/21/2014)
July 20: Psalm 123 (07/20/2014)
July 19: Ezekiel 40 (07/19/2014)
July 18: Ezekiel 38-39 (07/18/2014)
July 17: Ezekiel 37 (07/17/2014)
July 16: Ezekiel 36 (07/16/2014)
July 15: Hebrews 1 (07/15/2014)
July 14: Philemon (07/14/2014)
July 13: Psalm 122 (07/13/2014)
July 12: Ezekiel 35 (07/12/2014)
July 11: Ezekiel 34 (07/11/2014)
July 10: Ezekiel 33 (07/10/2014)
July 9: Ezekiel 32 (07/09/2014)
July 8: Ezekiel 31 (07/08/2014)
July 7: Titus 3 (07/07/2014)
July 6: Psalm 121 (07/06/2014)