November 15 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’” ~Ezekiel 11:16

OLD TESTAMENT

Ezekiel’s vision of those who remain in Jerusalem reveal that they are boasting of having escaped God’s wrath! “This city is a cooking pot and we are the meat” (Ezek. 11:3). It’s a proverb roughly equivalent to our saying, “Save the best for last.” The people assumed that they were special since they had been preserved. They would inherit the city and all its blessings!

Isn’t it amazing how badly they misinterpreted the situation! The remaining Jerusalem citizens thought they were the lucky ones, but in fact, they would be hit hardest. Another Babylonian invasion would raze the temple to the ground and reduce the city to rubble. Ezekiel’s dream shows that God is departing from the temple, and the king and all who are in the city will endure the Lord’s wrath.

The message aimed at Jerusalem aside, this is Ezekiel’s message so it is primarily directed toward those living in Babylon, where he is ministering. Do not hope for a quick return to the homeland. More destruction awaits because of the people’s stubborn ways. Those living in Jerusalem and those living in Babylon must turn to the Lord right where they are. A heart change is demanded, and if they worship God, they can expect Him to restore them.

There is a turn of phrase in today’s reading that gives us insight into the evil practices of Israel. The people are judged because they have “conformed to the standards” of the nations around them (Ezek. 11:12). Violence, greed, lust, idolatry, slander, corruption, injustice—these things had become rampant in the land. In fact, the prophet says that the people had surpassed the surrounding nations in their wicked ways (Ezek. 5:5-7)!

The people of God are called to be different. Kindness, generosity, faithfulness, integrity, mercy—these are the virtues that please God! He offers us opportunities to choose His way of living over our own selfish pursuits, and when we fail to do so, He keeps prompting us to change our ways. We must not misinterpret His mercy as Jerusalem’s residents did. Seize the opportunity to turn from worldly ways and love Him and each other with all your heart, soul, and mind.

NEW TESTAMENT

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the great “hall of faith.” It’s not the best title since the writer did not intend to set these people apart as the elite or best God-followers in the Bible. However, the chapter is a helpful walk through a shared faith and series of portraits of those who lived it before us. It is an encouragement for those who come behind.

These portraits reveal our familial similarities. For example, from the days of Cain and Abel to the “Christian era,” salvation is by faith; however, real faith is marked by good works. Real faith is active in the world. As the Reformers often put it: “We are saved by grace through faith alone—but the faith that saves is not alone.” If we believe the promises of God, we will act. We will live our lives according to His Word. That kind of faith pleases God, and He will reward it (Heb. 11:6).


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.