November 17 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord. But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his.” ~Ezekiel 16:14-15

OLD TESTAMENT

Ezekiel 16 is an allegory of God’s faithfulness to His people and their unfaithfulness to Him. The city of Jerusalem is used as a metonymy for the entire nation of Judah. They were brought into this world with nothing and God set his love upon them, and over time He blessed them. They became a powerful nation. They wore fine clothing, expensive jewelry, and beautiful shoes. And then things went terribly wrong.

God’s people used their beauty for prostitution. In other words, they became unfaithful to the Lord in ways so outrageous that even surrounding nations were shocked by what they saw and heard. Idolatry was everywhere—from the city’s public entrances to the squares. Their practice of child sacrifice made God angry! They had become like Sodom, only worse. And what was the sin of Sodom? What comes to mind is sexual perversion, but that wasn’t Sodom’s real problem. No, they were “arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy” (Ezek. 16:49).

The theme of this chapter (and of the prophets in general) is relationship. God doesn’t want His people to have religion; He wants them to have relationship with Him. When we abandon Him, we have not “stopped going to church” or “become disinterested in spiritual things” (or whatever expression we adopt to describe our apathy). No, we have cheated on God and that would make any lover angry. God was not upset that His people had prospered. He was angry that after He had blessed them, they turned away.

It’s a pattern still being repeated today. God blesses us with so much, and we in turn fall in love with the blessings. We love the families, the houses, the cars, the sports, the vacations, and so on, and we “cheat” on God with all the blessings God has given us. How sad! Some of us have made our Lover angry, and it is time to repent.

NEW TESTAMENT

All Christians are historians in some sense of the word. Adam and Abraham, Joshua and Jesus—these are historical figures. Indeed, the cross is a historical event. Without history we would be like people with no memory. We wouldn’t know who we are, nor would we know where we are going. Memory and history are gifts from God meant to inform and encourage us.

Which is exactly why the writer to the Hebrews recalls their history. He then tells them that they are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” Imagine being in a great hall surrounded by real paintings of real people from the past. Think of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D. C. or in London. Except the people in these pictures are Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Samson, the prophets, and of course, Jesus. In my gallery, there are also pictures of Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Edwards, Lewis, and Graham. I’m surrounded by people of faith. People just like me who lived the faith life and did amazing things.

Now we are to find inspiration from these people. We are to “throw off everything that hinders” us from being the people of faith God wants us to be and “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1). And we are then to turn and really fix our eyes on our greatest hero, who endured the cross and is now exalted! We must leave the portrait gallery inspired by those who lived faithfully before us—and live strong! You are surrounded by faithful people, be inspired by them.


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.