November 14 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” ~Ezekiel 7:27

OLD TESTAMENT

The visions of Ezekiel are very much like vivid dreams, and they often border on the nightmarish. God is revealing what will happen to Jerusalem. Although the people have been judged, removed from the land, and transported to a foreign city, they remain stubborn and set in their ways. They assume their stay in Babylon will be short. They expect to return to Jerusalem soon and resume life as normal. God delivers a simple message through Ezekiel: “The End!” (Ezek. 7:2).

Ezekiel is in Babylon telling the exiles to turn from their sin, while Jeremiah is in Jerusalem telling those who remain to repent. Restoration of the land—and the people to the land—cannot begin until the people’s hearts are restored to God. At this time, their hearts are far from Him. In fact, in one of Ezekiel’s dreams, God takes him into a secret passageway where many of the elders are covertly worshipping false gods. The vision reveals the true condition of the elders’ hearts.

Ezekiel’s sermons are hard-hitting and sobering. Neither he nor Jeremiah would last long as ministers in a typical American church. Today’s pastors are expected to be part stand-up comedian and part inspirational speaker. Knowing and proclaiming the Word is a bonus, but it’s not essential! However, what we want and what we really need are often different. It is good for us to have someone who is willing to tell us what we need to hear for our own good!

This is where we must remember the heart of Ezekiel and of Jeremiah. They truly wanted to see God’s people changed. They were upset over the words they had to say and actions they had to take. Sometimes they feared for their lives. Sometimes they disliked their jobs. Sometimes they asked God to lighten up. However, no matter how frustrated they got with their stubborn congregations, the prophets longed to see the people blessed. That’s why they were so honest.

Here are some questions to ponder: Is there someone in your life who has permission to be honest with you? Do you long for your pastors to proclaim the undiluted truth for your good? Are you hearing the voice of God as you listen to the Scriptures and are you open to change? I don’t know about you, but I never want God to be so frustrated with me that He says, “The End.” Let’s listen to Him.

NEW TESTAMENT

If we are going to persevere, we need each other’s help. “And let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). Notice that doing well in this Christian life is a community effort. We need to spend time with each other. We need to worship together, have coffee together, pray together, study the Word together, and find ways to be together. “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing” (Heb. 10:25).  No wonder some people are so discouraged in their faith, if they rarely get together with those who can encourage them! As Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed, “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength for the believer” (Life Together).


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.