Old Testament In a Year: November 20 – Ezekiel 14, 15

Ezekiel 14, 15
Focus Verse: That the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord God. – Ezekiel 14:11

Reading about the condemnation and destruction that God promises to bring upon Israel and Judah because of their idolatry and unrighteousness isn’t easy. It makes God seem mean, merciless, and a far cry from the gracious God that we are familiar with.

But because He is merciful, God must condemn unrighteousness. Because of His grace, God allows those who continue in sin to be destroyed.

God most desires one thing: For us to be His people and for Him to be our God.

Sin keeps that from happening.

Therefore, God is merciless when it comes to punishing sin, because He cannot bear to have His children kept apart from Him. The purpose of God’s punishment is to push the sinner away from sin and towards Him. That they may no longer go astray, no longer defile themselves…but become one with Him, united in His glory.

Old Testament In a Year: November 16 – Ezekiel 3, 4

Ezekiel 3, 4
Focus Verse: “And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.” – Ezekiel 3:11

Just as God gave Ezekiel a message to deliver to the nations of Israel and Judah, God has given us a message to deliver to the nations today.

The message of the Good News of Jesus the Christ.

Whether people receive or reject it, we have a responsibility to share it. We must tell the world that God loves each individual so much that He sent His only Son to live a perfect life, die a brutal death and rise again just for them. We can’t force people to believe. We can only warn them of what will happen if they don’t believe.

There is no need for us to fear what their response will be, for God is with us. He will strengthen us. He will help us.

Old Testament In a Year: November 15 – Psalm 137; Ezekiel 1, 2

Psalm 137; Ezekiel 1, 2
Focus Verse: How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? – Psalm 137:4

A foreign land is not always a physical place. It can be a state of mind, a permanent feeling, or a passing event.

We may find ourselves in a foreign land of despair…of grief…of loneliness…of unbelief…of depression. None of this is familiar territory for the Christian, but that doesn’t mean we won’t sometimes find ourselves struggling through it.

It’s hard to sing “hope is rising” when you’re in the depths of despair.

It’s hard to sing “no more sorrow, no more pain” when your grief is fresh.

It’s hard to sing “Your love never fails” when your faith in God is ebbing away and unbelief is taking over.

It’s hard to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land. Hard. But not impossible. Because the ultimate victory is already ours. Death, despair and depression have no sting. Grief and the grave have no power to hurt. The pain that we currently feel can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.

This is what we fix our eyes on. This is what we set our hearts on.

For the joy before us – CHRIST JESUS – we endure the burden of the cross, scorn the shame of the world, and persevere under pressure until we are by His side in glory.

Women of the Word: the Women Who Mourned for Tammuz

Ezekiel was a Hebrew prophet who lived during the fall of Jerusalem and was among those who were exiled to Babylon like Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. During his prophetic ministry, Ezekiel spent much of his time telling those in exile that Jerusalem would fall, the temple would be destroyed, and they should not expect a fast return to their homeland. He urged them instead to focus on repentance and being obedient to God while living in exile. Much of Ezekiel’s prophetic messages are recorded in his book of the Bible which ends on an optimistic note when Ezekiel has a vision of dry bones coming to life and dancing, a prophecy that Jerusalem would rise again, the temple would be restored, and the exiled people would one day return to their homeland.

In Ezekiel chapter 8, Ezekiel is lifted by the Spirit and through a vision is taken to Jerusalem where he sees how the Israelites have turned to idolatry and filled the temple with idols. Ezekiel 8:15 reads, “Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz.” After seeing this sight, the Spirit asks Ezekiel, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.”

Ezekiel does see more detestable things. He sees men worshiping the sun instead of God. He sees the elders of Israel offering incense to idols. He sees idols and crawling things and unclean animals portrayed all over the temple. Even though the people think that God does not see their ungodly behavior, God promises to deal with them in anger and not have pity or spare them or listen to them. Continue reading

1 Year In God’s Word: Day 338 — Ezekiel 47-48, 1 John 3

year-in-Gods-Word-day-338

Ezekiel 47
Focus Verse: Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. (9)

Ezekiel is shown a river flowing out from the temple that has the power to turn salty water fresh and make everything that it touches come alive – fish, fruit trees, and swarms of living creatures. Up in the New Testament, Jesus the Christ promised that anyone who believes in Him will have rivers of living water flowing out of their heart.

Continue reading

1 Year In God’s Word: Day 337 — Ezekiel 45-46, 1 John 2

year-in-Gods-Word-day-337

Ezekiel 45
Focus Verse: “‘When you allot the land as an inheritance, you are to present to the Lord a portion of the land as a sacred district, 25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits wide; the entire area will be holy. (1)

Before the land is divided out to all of Israel, a certain part is set aside and dedicated to the Lord. In all that we are given, whatever it may be, let us always remember to put God first.

Continue reading

1 Year In God’s Word: Day 336 — Ezekiel 42-44, 1 John 1

year-in-Gods-Word-day-336

Ezekiel 42
Focus Verse: Then he said to me, “The north and south rooms facing the temple courtyard are the priests’ rooms, where the priests who approach the Lord will eat the most holy offerings. There they will put the most holy offerings—the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings—for the place is holy. (13)

During his tour of the temple, Ezekiel is shown the rooms for the priests.

Continue reading

1 Year In God’s Word: Day 335 — Ezekiel 40-41, 2 Peter 3

year-in-Gods-Word-day-335

Ezekiel 40
Focus Verse: The man said to me, “Son of man, look carefully and listen closely and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the people of Israel everything you see.” (4)

Ezekiel is taken on a tour of the temple as it is measured. He is told to pay attention to everything he is shown so he can tell the people of Israel everything he sees.

Continue reading

1 Year In God’s Word: Day 334 — Ezekiel 37-39, 2 Peter 2

year-in-Gods-Word-day-334

Ezekiel 37
Focus Verse: My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. (27)

This phrase is repeated over and over again in the Old Testament as God makes His desire known. He wants Israel to be one people united under Him and faithful to Him, and He wants to be their God. God’s desire hasn’t changed much from what it was so many long years ago. He still wants all of us to be His people. He wants to be our God.

Continue reading