devotions written by Deborah Galyen
"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.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you” (v25). God promised that the exile of His people from their own land was not the end of their story. They had rebelled and been disciplined, but God was compassionate toward them because of His own holiness – His own character (v21-24). He intended to bring the exiles home and “do more good to you than ever before” (v11).
The good that God planned was more than just rescuing them from physical exile. The real miracle was deeper: in Christ, giving us all clean hearts and new spirits (v26).
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power” (v3). The writer of Hebrews stated that God spoke to us by His Son, and the Son is: God’s heir, co-creator of the universe, the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact imprint of God’s nature. Angels may be glorious messengers (v7), and the prophets were very important, but only Jesus Christ upholds the universe as the Son.
Abraham and Moses and others can be models of faith. But we worship the Son, who shows us God’s face and whose throne is forever and ever (v8).
“For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother” (v15-16). We don’t know how Onesimus (v10) became a slave or why he ended up in prison; very likely, he had escaped slavery but had been caught. We do know that Onesimus found Jesus through Paul’s witness in prison, and Paul told his former master, Philemon, to consider him a beloved brother.
Onesimus’ story could have ended with a tragic, pointless death in prison. Yet, through faith in Christ, slavery became his path to freedom and inclusion in God’s family.
“Jerusalem--built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up…” (v3-4). Jerusalem was always more than a physical place; it was the spiritual and emotional heart of the nation. Praying for the “peace of Jerusalem” (v6) meant praying for the people of God to be secure, and, in the midst of tribal conflicts, for its citizens to be “bound firmly together” in praise of the One God.
“For my brothers and companions' sake” (v8). Our hope is set on the New Jerusalem, where all the tribes of the world will be “bound firmly together” by love for the Lamb who died for us (Rev 21).
“I will deal with you according to the anger and envy that you showed because of your hatred against them” (v11). Ezekiel pronounced judgment on “Mount Seir,” another name for Edom, where the descendants of Esau had settled. As northern Israel and southern Judah came under attack by the Assyrians and Babylonians, apparently the Edomites rejoiced and hoped to profit by Israel’s downfall. Their lack of compassion and self-centered ruthlessness angered God.
“You magnified yourselves against Me with your mouth … I heard it” (v13). Nothing escapes God’s notice and His care, and we can trust Him to judge perfectly.
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)
July 5: Ezekiel 30 (07/05/2014)
July 4: Ezekiel 29 (07/04/2014)
July 3: Ezekiel 28 (07/03/2014)
July 2: Ezekiel 26-27 (07/02/2014)
July 1: Titus 2 (07/01/2014)