November 13 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you.” ~Ezekiel 5:7

OLD TESTAMENT

Sometimes a preacher has to do strange things to get people’s attention. At God’s command, Ezekiel pulls out all the stops. First, he uses a clay tablet (wet clay was commonly used for writing or drawing) to draw a miniature of the city of Jerusalem and adds siege ramps around it. Then he lays on his left side for 390 days, tied down so that he stays fixed in place. He holds a cooking pan between his face and the city and “besieges” it, preaching against the sins of the house of Israel with all his might. Finally, after 390 days, he takes a break, then turns over on his right side, and preaches for 40 more days. What a sermon series this must have been.

The days appear to correspond to the number of years between Solomon’s reign and the fall of Jerusalem. The nation was largely in period of moral decline during the entire period. For the duration if his “siege,” Ezekiel prepared his meals laying down, cooking simple “siege food” and using cow manure for building a fire. (When your city was under siege you used whatever you could get your hands on.) God told Ezekiel to use human excrement—probably for shock value—but Ezekiel was so grossed out that he asked to use an alternative and God shows the prophet some mercy!

God’s message to the people is that Jerusalem fell because of their sin. From a prone position, Ezekiel makes a compelling case for how thoroughly sin can bring you down. The city and the people scraped to find food to eat, taking desperate measures and using human excrement to make cooking fires (some even resorted to cannibalism inside the besieged city). Sin reduces you to acts of desperation and desolation. The people placed in the center of the world to be a light to the nations are more corrupt than their neighbors. (See Ezekiel 5:5. Jerusalem is often depicted as the center of the world on ancient maps.)

What a great reminder of how sin destroys people’s lives. We have all witnessed it; perhaps you have experienced it. But there is hope even for those who have been brought down by their own failure and for those suffering in exile. The Father longs for the return of His people!

NEW TESTAMENT

Once again the preacher calls his people to hang onto their commitment. This is a call to persevere, to stay with the faith journey. Hebrews is a warning to all of us not to become lazy or lax in our faith. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love” wrote the hymnist, Robert Robinson. It is so true. We must remain true to our faith and resist the temptations that assault us, from false religions to false pleasures. We must hold true to Christ, and we’ll need each other’s help (Heb. 10:24-25).

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.