Lord, You speak to us: ‘The Word of the Lord came to me’ (Ezekiel 3:16). We speak to You: “Ah, Lord God!’ (Ezekiel 4:14). We speak for You: ‘When I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, “This is what the Lord God says, Whoever will listen, let him listen…”’ (Ezekiel 3:27). How can we keep on listening to You, speaking to You and speaking for You? We need to be strengthened with the power of the Holy Spirit: ‘The Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet’ (Ezekiel 3:24). We thank You, Lord, that the Spirit is our ‘Helper.’He helps us to listen to You: ‘The Holy Spirit will teach you all things’ (John 14:26). He helps us to speak to You: ‘The Spirit helps us in our weakness’ (Romans 8:26). He helps us to speak for You: ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses’ (Acts 1:8).
‘Because you have defiled My sanctuary… I Myself will withdraw My favour’ (Ezekiel 5:11). To those who despise Your Word and treat the place of prayer with contempt, Jesus still speaks His Word of judgment: ‘My House will be called a House of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves’ (Matthew 21:13). Lord, You’re warning us: ‘You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Return to Me and change the way you think and act. If you don’t change, I will come to you and remove your lamp from its place’ (Revelation 2:4-5). When, Lord, You remove Your blessing, there is nothing left but ‘a desolate waste’ (Ezekiel 6:14). Help us to make sure that we don’t become like Samson – ‘“I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.”He did not know that the Lord had left him’ (Judges 16:20).
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the land of Israel: The end!’ (Ezekiel 7:2). Why, Lord, did You say, ‘This is “the end? ”’You had been taking a good look at what was going on among His people: ‘the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive Me far from My sanctuary’ (Ezekiel 8:6). You came to this conclusion – ‘This is the end of the road. It’s the end of the time of blessing. It’s now time for judgment’: ‘The end is now upon you and I will unleash My anger against you. I will judge you according to… all your detestable practices…’ (Ezekiel 7:3-4). Why did You say, ‘This is “the end”’ – the end of a time of blessing, the beginning of a time of judgment? The answer is clear: If there is no obedience, there can be no blessing. Disobedience can lead to only one thing – judgment. Teach us, Lord, to obey Your Word. Lead us on the pathway of blessing.
For many people, the time of blessing had come to an end and the time of judgment had begun. Some, however, would escape the judgment, They had been obedient to You, Lord. You protected them in the time of judgment: ‘Put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done… Do not touch anyone who has the mark’ (Ezekiel 9:4,6). They were marked out as Your faithful people. They had continued to worship You when so many others were turning away from You. For many people, life can be summed up in these sad words: ‘The glory of the Lord departed’(Ezekiel 10:18). ‘I looked and I saw…’ (Ezekiel 10:1,9): In a time when many show no interest in You, Lord, there are those who look to You and catch a glimpse of Your glory – ‘the glory of the God of Israel was above them’ (Ezekiel 10:19).
Lord, You speak to us about our sin – ‘Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people’ – and Your salvation – ‘I will… put a new spirit in them…’ (Ezekiel 12:2; Ezekiel 11:19-20). Show us, Lord, that we must receive’ with humility, the bad news concerning our sin – ‘The wages of sin is death’ – before we can receive, with gladness, the Good News concerning Your salvation – ‘The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). You want each of us to be saved: ‘The Lord… does not want anyone to perish; He wants everyone to turn away from their sins’ (2 Peter 3:9). To those who refuse to be saved, dismissing the bad news concerning their sin and closing their hearts to the Good News concerning Your salvation, You speak Your Word or warning: ‘…I will punish them for what they have done’ (Ezekiel 11:21).
‘Hear the Word of the Lord!’ (Ezekiel 13:2). Lord, Your Word warns us: ‘The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.’When, Lord, we see this happening, help us to commit ourselves to You. May we live as Your faithful servants: ‘As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry’ (2 Timothy 4:3-5). When, Lord. people are looking for a ‘feel good’ type of message, a message with plenty of entertainment and no real challenge, may we never forget that Your Word is to be used for ‘teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
‘Some of the elders of Israel came to’ Ezekiel. He spoke the Word of the Lord to them: ‘Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!’ (Ezekiel 14:1,8). This, Lord, may not have been what they wanted to hear. It was what You wanted them to hear. They did not want to hear this, but they needed to hear it. Lord, You were warning them what would happen if they did not make a real return to You: ‘I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful’ (Ezekiel 15:8). Your Word demands a response. What will our response be? Will we say, ‘We don’t want the Lord “to reign over us”’ (Luke 19:14)? Will we be, like Peter, who ‘took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him…’ (Matthew 16:22)? Help us, Lord, not to be like those who dismiss Your Word with arrogant pride. Help us to listen to Your Word – and be changed by Your Word.
Without Christ, we are naked and dirty. He covers our nakedness and washes away our dirtiness (Ezekiel 16:8-9). We thank You, Lord, that Jesus is our Saviour. Teach us to come to Him with this prayer: ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Saviour, I die.’Lord, You hear and answer this prayer. You have given us Your promise: ‘Whoever comes to Me, I will never drive away’ (John 6:37). When You have heard and answered our prayer for salvation, we have this joyful testimony: ‘I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness’ (Isaiah 61:10). May we rejoice in this: ‘He saved us by washing away our sins’ (Titus 3:5).
Lord, You call Your unfaithful people to listen to Your Word: ‘You prostitute, hear the Word of the Lord!’ (Ezekiel 16:35). You speak to them of ‘sin, righteousness and judgment’ (John 16:8). You show them their sin – ‘your filthiness and your nakedness’ (Ezekiel 16:36). You speak to them as the righteous God, the God of perfect holiness – ‘Your eyes are too holy to look at evil. You cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong’ (Habakkuk 1:13). You warn them that there will be judgment: ‘I will judge you” (Ezekiel 16:38). Why, Lord, do You speak to us of sin, righteousness and judgment? This is Your way of bringing us to repentance – ‘I will make you stop being a prostitute’ – and salvation – “My anger will be over, and I will be calm’ (Ezekiel 16:41-42). Lord, we know that our sin is great – but we thank You that we know something else: our Saviour is greater – ‘Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin… Praise His Name!’
To those who adopt a ‘rebellious’ attitude to You, Lord, You speak Your Word of warning – They shall ‘not escape’ Your judgment (Ezekiel 17:12,18). For those who abandon this attitude of rebellion, there is a way of salvation. We thank You, Lord, for the words of prophecy which looks forward to the coming of the Messiah, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ . We thank You for Your promise: ‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it’(Ezekiel 17:22-24). We thank You that You have fulfilled Your promise. You have sent Your Son to be our Saviour (Matthew 1:22-23). We now await the fulfilment of prophecy concerning Christ’s Return: ‘I will come gain’’, This same Jesus… will come back.’, ‘The Lord Himself will come down from heaven.’We thank You that Jesus has given us His promise – “I am coming soon.’We hear His promise, and we say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 22:20).
‘The soul that sins shall die’ (Ezekiel 18:4). ‘If a man is righteous… he shall surely live’ (Ezekiel 18:5-9) Lord, what hope is there for us? If we look, with honesty, into our own hearts, we discover this dark truth concerning ourselves: ‘None is righteous… All have sinned’ (Romans 3:10,23). Is there any Good News for us? Is there a way that leads to eternal life? ‘Suppose there is a truly good man, righteous and honest…’ (Ezekiel 18:4). Lord, is there such a man? Is there a man concerning whom You say, ‘That man is righteous; he will surely live’ (Ezekiel 18:9). Yes! There is! Who is this man? What does Your Word tell us about Him? He is Jesus Christ, our Saviour. He ‘died for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18). We put our faith in Him. He gives us ‘eternal life’. We ‘pass from death to life’ (1 John 5:11-13; John 5:24). Thank You, Lord, for Jesus, our great Saviour.
Lord, You look upon the sinfulness of His people – and Your heart is filled with sadness. If we truly love You, we will have great sadness when we see people turning away from You and ruining their lives. We have joy in You, Lord – ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’ (Philippians 4:4). There is also ‘great sorrow’ in our hearts when we think of those who refuse to come to Christ for salvation. This ‘sorrow’ leads us to pray: ‘My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved’ (Ezekiel 19:1,14; Romans 9:2; 10:1). Help us, Lord, to pray for our ‘dry and thirsty land.’We pray that You will come to our ‘wilderness’: ‘He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.’We pray that people will ‘return’to You. We pray that they will ‘press on to know’ You (Ezekiel 19:13; Hosea 6:1-3).
What great things, Lord, You did for Your people, Israel. You ‘brought them out of the land of Egypt.’You led them to ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ (Ezekiel 20:6). We think of what You have done for us. You have brought us out of our sin and into Your salvation: ‘He called you out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:9). Lord, You saved Your people, Israel – and they were to live for You: ‘I am the Lord your God. Obey My laws and My commands’ (Ezekiel 20:19). You have saved us: ‘You have been saved by grace through faith. This is not your own doing. It is the gift of God.’You call us to live for You. We have been ‘saved… for good works.’ Our ‘good works’ are to ‘bring glory to our Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16). Help us, Lord, to ‘walk in the light’, rejoicing in our Saviour – ‘the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7).
You speak to us, Lord, about Your purpose for our lives: ‘Through you I intend to display My holiness for all the nations to see’ (Ezekiel 20:41). You want other people to notice that we are different. You want them to see that You have changed us: ‘As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him’ (Ezekiel 20:2 Corinthians 3:18). May this is to be our testimony: ‘What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart!… I have ceased from my wandering and going astray since Jesus came into my heart! And my sins which were many are all washed away since Jesus came into my heart!’Lord, help us to live as ‘a new creation’, being ‘renewed every day.’May we make it our ‘aim’ to ‘live’ for You and ‘please’ You (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:9,15,17).
Lord, we read about ‘the time of final punishment’ (Ezekiel 21:25,29). Your Word speaks to us about ‘eternal punishment’ as well as ‘eternal life’: ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not have life, but will remain under God’s punishment’ (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36). Lord, You love us. You sent Your Son to be our Saviour. You calls us to put our faith in Christ (John 3:16-18). You speak to us Your Word of promise – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ – and Your Word of warning – ‘How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3). Lord, You’re calling us to ‘flee from the wrath to come’ (Luke 3:7). Help us to turn from sin – ‘Turn away from your sins and live’ – and turn to You – ‘Turn to Me and be saved’ (Ezekiel 18:32; Isaiah 45:22).
‘I looked for a man…, but I found none’ (Ezekiel 22:30). Lord, You’re looking for people who will be faithful in prayer. What happens when Your people refuse to pray? Your Word leaves us in no doubt – ‘I will pour out My anger on them…, bringing down on their own heads all they have done’ (Ezekiel 22:31). What a tragedy! The people refused to pray – and there was no blessing from You, Lord: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask God’ (James 4:2). Things could have been so different: ‘If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14). Lord, You want to bless us. Help us to pray for Your blessing. ‘Ask and it will be given to you…’ (Matthew 7:7-8).
‘Because you have forgotten Me and turned your back on Me, you will be punished for all your sin’ (Ezekiel 23:35). Lord, help us not to forget You. Help us to remember You. Help us not to let Your Word ‘go in one ear and out the other’. Help us to be ‘doers of the Word’ as well as ‘hearers of the Word’ (James 1:22-25). May we put the past behind us and make a new beginning with You: ‘Return to Me, and I will return to you’ (Malachi 3:7). ‘Have mercy on me, O God… Cleanse me from my sin… Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation’ (Psalm 51:1-2,10-12). May this be the prayer of our hearts, and may Your blessing flow into our lives.
‘I will punish you because of the way you lived’ (Ezekiel 24:14). Lord, You’re calling us to think about the way we are living. You want us to leave behind the old, self-centred way of living. You want us to begin a new life, a life that is centred on You. Real change comes from You, Lord. We pray that You will change us – ‘Change my heart, O God. Make it ever true. Change my heart, O God. May I be like You’. We must pray for a deep work of the Spirit of God in our hearts – ‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me… Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me…’. We must pray that we will become more like Jesus – ‘Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all His wondrous compassion and purity. Oh, Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine, till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me’ (Mission Praise, 69,613,410).
Lord, we read about Your judgment upon sinful nations – Ammon (Ezekiel 25:1-7), Moab (Ezekiel 25:8-11), Edom (Ezekiel 25:12-14) and Philistia (Ezekiel 25:15-17). You speak to us. You say to us, ‘You will know that I am the Lord’ (Ezekiel 25:5,7,11,17). You speak to us as our Judge. You speak to us about ‘sin, righteousness and judgment’ (John 16:8-11). We are sinners. You are righteous. There will be a Judgment. This, Lord, is Your way of showing us how much we need Your love. You show us how much we need to be saved so that we might learn to be truly thankful to You for the Good News of Your love, the Gospel of our salvation – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’; ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’; ‘Christ died for our sins’ (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3). Teach us to ‘rejoice in God our Saviour’ (Luke 2:47).
‘I am against you, O Tyre… You will be no more… You will never again be found…’ (Ezekiel 26:3,21). Lord, Your Word is spoken against us: ‘There is no-one righteous… All have turned away… There is no-one who does good… All have sinned…’ (Romans 3:10,12.23). You speak Your Word against us ‘so that every mouth may be silenced’ (Romans 3:19). You want us to stop making excuses for ourselves. You want us to start listening to what You have to say to us. For the city of Tyre, the situation was hopeless. For us, there is a Word of hope. Jesus Christ has come ‘to seek and to save the lost’. Jesus Christ has ‘died for our sins’ (Luke 19:10; 1 Peter 3:18). We thank You, Lord, that ‘through faith in Jesus Christ’, we hear Your Word of forgiveness: ‘I will remember their sins no more’ (Romans 3:22; Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:17).
‘Your wealth… will sink into the heart of the sea on the day of your shipwreck’ (Ezekiel 27:27). Teach us, Lord, that we will sink if we don’t ‘keep our eyes fixed on Jesus’. Help us not to allow ourselves to get weighed down. Keep us from becoming ‘entangled’ in the world’s way of living. Help us to ‘throw off everything that hinders’ our spiritual growth. We thank You, Lord, that Jesus is ‘the sure and strong Anchor for our lives’. He will keep us from sinking. Teach us to look to Him and learn from Him: ‘Do not lay up treasures on earth… Lay up treasures in heaven’ (Hebrews 12:1-2; 6:19; 2 Timothy 2:4; Matthew 6:19-20). ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life…? We have an Anchor that keeps the soul , steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!’ (Church Hymnary, 412).
‘You were on the holy mount of God… You were blameless in your ways… You sinned… I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God’ (Ezekiel 28:14-16). This is much more than the ‘long time ago’ story of ‘the king of Tyre’ (Ezekiel 29:12). As we read these words, Lord, may we catch a glimpse of ‘the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms’. We read about ‘war in heaven’. We read about the downfall of ‘Satan’. Your Word is warning us: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood’. You’re showing us that we face a much more powerful ‘enemy’ – ‘Satan’. He ‘disguises himself as an angel of light’. Help us not be fooled by him. He is no ‘angel of light’. He is ‘a roaring lion’. He is ‘prowling about, looking for someone to devour’. We thank You, Lord, that we shall overcome him ‘by the blood of the Lamb…’ (Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:7-9,11; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Peter 5:8).
Lord, in Your dealings with Egypt, we see both Your wrath – ‘Egypt will become a desolate wasteland’ – and Your mercy – ‘At the end of forty years… I will restore the fortunes of Egypt’ (Ezekiel 29:9,13-14). Your wrath is Your response to Egypt’s pride – ‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it”, therefore I am against you’ (Ezekiel 29:9-10). In Your merciful restoration, You place Your restraint on Egypt’s pride – ‘It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and will never again exalt itself above the other nations’ (Ezekiel 29:15). Lord, we come to You as sinners. We confess our sins, praying, ‘In wrath, remember mercy’. You save us by ‘Your mercy’. Your way of salvation – ‘through Jesus Christ our Saviour’ – is a constant rebuke to our pride: ‘This is not your own doing. It is the gift of God’ (Habakkuk 3:2; Titus 3:4-6; Ephesians 2:8).
‘The day of the Lord is near… A sword will come against Egypt… The day of Egypt’s doom is sure to come’ (Ezekiel 30:3-4,9). Teach us, Lord, not to take You lightly. Show us that we can’t do what we like and get away with it. We must not ‘trample the Son of God under foot’. We must not ‘treat Christ’s blood as an unholy thing’. We must not ‘insult the Spirit of grace’. Help us never to forget this: ‘It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’. Lord, You’re speaking to us concerning ‘the Day of the Lord’, the Return of Christ: ‘He who is coming will come…’. You’re speaking to us Your Word of warning: ‘Those who shrink back are destroyed’. He speaks His Word of promise: ‘Those who believe are saved’ (Hebrews 10:29,31,37-39). ‘When Christ comes, will He find faith…?’. Teach us to pray, ‘Search my heart, O God…’ (Luke 18:8; Psalm 139:23-24).
‘Pharaoh, king of Egypt’ had the appearance of ‘majesty’ – ‘Who can be compared with you in majesty?’ – yet he was ‘brought down’ (Ezekiel 31:2,18). Teach us, Lord that there is one Majesty who will never be brought down. May we never forget our Lord Jesus Christ. He is ‘the same yesterday and today and for ever’. He will receive ‘glory for ever and ever’. To Him alone, You say, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever’ (Hebrews 13:8,21; 1:8). This is real Majesty! ‘Majesty, worship His Majesty. Unto Jesus be glory, honour and praise. Majesty, Kingdom authority, flows from His throne unto His own. His anthem raise. So exalt, lift up on high the Name of Jesus. Magnify, come glorify, Christ Jesus the King. Majesty, worship His Majesty, Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings’ (Mission Praise, 454).
‘Pride goes before destruction’ (Proverbs 16:18). ‘Pharaoh, king of Egypt’ was arrogant and ruthless: ‘You are like a lion among the nations;you are like a monster in the seas, thrashing about in your streams, churning the water with your feet and muddying the streams’ (Ezekiel 32:2). Soon, it would be ‘the day of his downfall’: ‘The sword of Babylon will come against you… Pharaoh and all his hordes will be killed by the sword’ (Ezekiel 10-11,32). Teach us. Lord, not to be like the rich fool – ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry’. He couldn’t have been more wrong! – You said to him, ‘You fool! I will demand your life from you tonight!’ Help us, Lord to hear and heed Your Word of warning: ‘This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God’ (Luke 12:19-21).
Ezekiel was to be ‘a watchman for the house of Israel’: ‘whenever you hear a Word from My mouth, you shall give them warning from Me’. He was to ‘warn the wicked to turn from his way’ (Ezekiel 33:7-9). This, Lord, is Your warning of love. You love us. It is because You love us that You ‘have no pleasure in the death of the wicked’. In Your love, You show us our sin so that we might come to You with a real confession of sin: ‘Our sins are upon us’. In Your love, You create in us a desire for Your salvation: ‘How then can we live?’ In Your love, You call us to return to You: ‘Turn back from your evil ways’. You love us. You do not want us to ‘die’: ‘Why will you die?’ (Ezekiel 33:10-11). In love, You show us our sin – ‘The wages of sin is death.’ We thank You, Lord, that You also call us to receive Your ‘free gift’ – ‘eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23).
Lord, You speak to us in love. You say to us, ‘I Myself will be the Shepherd of My sheep’ (Ezekiel 34:15). We rejoice in Your love. We say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1). We thank You that Jesus is our Shepherd. He is ‘the good Shepherd’. He laid down His life for us that we might receive the forgiveness of our sins. ‘Christ died for our sins’. We thank You that Your Son, Jesus – ‘the Righteous’ – died for us – ‘the unrighteous’ – ‘to bring us to You’ (John 10:11; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 3:18). He is ‘the great Shepherd’. He was ‘raised’ from the dead’. Through His resurrection, we receive eternal life. We thank You that He says to us, ‘Because I live you will live also’ (Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:4; John 14:19). He is ‘the chief Shepherd’. We thank You that He will come again with ‘the unfading crown of glory’ for His ‘good and faithful servants’ (1 Peter 5:4; Matthew 25:21).
‘You will be desolate, O Mount Seir, you and all of Edom. Then they will know that I am the Lord’ (Ezekiel 35:15). The people of Edom knew You, Lord, as their Judge. We thank You there is a much better way of knowing You. We can know You as our Saviour. Those who refuse to come to Jesus Christ, trusting in Him as Saviour, place themselves under God’s judgment. They are ‘condemned already because they have not believed in the Name of God’s one and only Son’. They will know the Lord as their Judge – but they could have known Him as their Saviour if they had submitted to Your saving purpose for their lives: ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him’ (John 3:17-18). Each of us must choose. You’re asking us a very important question – Do you know Christ as Saviour, or will you face Him as Judge? Give us faith, Lord – faith in Your Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
‘I will look on you with favour’ (Ezekiel 36:9). Through Christ our Saviour, You, Lord, look upon us with favour. Teach us to rejoice in the ‘wonderful grace of Jesus.’ It is ‘greater than all our sin.’ It ‘reaches us.’ We thank You, Lord, for Your wonderful grace: ‘Let me introduce you to a friend called Grace. Doesn’t care about your past or your many mistakes. He’ll cover your sins in a warm embrace. Let me introduce to a friend called Grace’. ‘His grace reaches lower than your worst mistake and His love will run further than you can run away’. ‘He believes in lost causes when common sense would just give up. He believes in lost causes and changes people with His love. There’s nobody too far gone, no one beyond His reach. He believes in lost causes ‘cause He believed in me’ (Phillips, Craig and Dean). Teach us to let Jesus be our Joy!
It was ‘a valley of dry bones’ (Ezekiel 37:1-2). Then, Lord, You changed everything – ‘I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live’ (Ezekiel 37:5). What a difference You make! ‘Breathe on me, Breath of God. Fill me with life anew’ (Church Hymnary, 103). What happens, Lord, when Your Spirit breathes new life into Your Church? – ‘The Church that seemed in slumber has now risen from its knees and dry bones are responding with the fruits of new birth’. ‘Holy Spirit, we welcome You. Let the breeze of Your presence flow that Your children here might truly know how to move in the Spirit’s flow… Holy Spirit, we welcome You. Please accomplish in us today some new work of loving grace, we pray. Unreservedly, have Your way. Holy Spirit, we welcome You’ (Mission Praise, 274,241).
We read, Lord, of Your judgment upon ‘Gog from the land of Magog’: ‘When Gog attacks the land of Israel, My hot anger will be aroused… I will execute judgment upon him…’ (Ezekiel 38:1,18,22). The names ‘Gog and Magog’ are also found in Revelation 20:7-10. There, we read of rebellion against You, Lord – ‘They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people…’ We read of Your judgment – ‘Fire came down from heaven and consumed them’. In this divine judgment upon ‘Gog and Magog’, we see Your final triumph over ‘Satan’: ‘The devil who had deceived Gog and Magog was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur’ to be ‘tormented day and night for ever and ever’. ‘Hallelujah! Our Lord God Almighty reigns’ (Revelation 19:6).
We read, Lord, about Gog’s defeat. Teach us to look beyond this to Satan’s final defeat (Ezekiel 39:1-6; Revelation 20:10). We look ahead to Your final victory over Satan. While we’re here on earth, teach us never to forget that Satan is a very powerful enemy. He will do all that he can to make us sin against You, Lord. We see this in the life of Your people, Israel. They allowed Satan to get the upper hand – and You were not pleased with them: ‘The nations shall know that the people of Israel went into captivity for their sin, because they were unfaithful to Me’(Ezekiel 39:23). We thank You, Lord, that Your Word assures us that – even when Satan has gained the upper hand – , we can be ‘brought back’ to the place of blessing. We thank You, Lord, that You will ‘have mercy’ on us. You will ‘pour out Your Spirit’ upon us (Ezekiel 39:25,29). ‘Restore us, O God…’ (Psalm 85:4).
Lord, You were revealing Yourself to Ezekiel. ‘The hand of the Lord was upon’ him. He received ‘visions of God’ (Ezekiel 40:1-2). You told him not to keep this revelation to himself: ‘Tell the house of Israel everything you see’ (Ezekiel 40:4). Help us to learn from ‘the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord’. Like them, we are to seek to bring ‘sinners’ back to the Lord, showing them ‘the error of their ways’ and pointing them to Your way of salvation. This work is to be done prayerfully. May we never forget that ‘the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective’ (James 5:10,16,19-20). We thank You, Lord, that You promise great blessing to those who are faithful in this work of winning others for You: ‘Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars for ever and ever’ (Daniel 12:3).
‘This is the Most Holy Place’ (Ezekiel 41:4). Here, Lord, You’re speaking about the Temple. The Temple was the place where Your people were to gather together to worship You. There is another ‘holy place’, another place where You are to be glorified: ‘Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit… Glorify God in your body’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We worship You, Lord, when we are in the place of worship. That is only a part of our worship. Our heart is to be a ‘holy place’ where You alone are worshipped. Teach us to worship Him in everything we do: ‘Be holy in all you do’. At the heart of our worship, may there be thanksgiving for Your love. At the heart of the holy life, there is love. Teach us to ‘obey the truth’ – to ‘love one another deeply from the heart’ (1 Peter 1:15-16,22).
Lord, this is not only about the glory of the Temple. It’s about ‘the glory of the God of Israel’. This is the greater glory – ‘the glory of the Lord filled the Temple’ (Ezekiel 43:1,5). Lord, You’re not only concerned about the creation of a beautiful place of worship. You want our lives to be ‘radiant with Your glory’. This happens when ‘the Spirit lifts us up’ and brings us close to You – ‘into the inner court’ (Ezekiel 43:2,5). We pray that Your glory will fill the place of worship: ‘May the fragrance of Jesus fill this place’. We pray that ‘the glory of Jesus’ will ‘fill His Church’. We are not only praying for Your glory in the place of worship. We are praying for Your glory in our lives: ‘May the beauty of Jesus fill my life… Fill my thoughts, my words, my deeds’ (Mission Praise, 462).
‘I looked and saw the glory of the Lord filling the Temple of the Lord…’ (Ezekiel 44:4). We look to You, Lord. We catch a glimpse of Your glory – and ‘we become more and more like You’. You’re leading us out of our life of sin, a life that ‘falls short of Your glory.’, You’re leading us into Your life of salvation, a life of ‘being transformed into Your likeness with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 3:23). We have not yet arrived at our full deliverance from sin: ‘When He appears, we shall be like Him’ (1 John 3:2). As we await the return of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, may we keep on praying: ‘Change my heart, O God… May I be like You’. Teach us, Lord to ‘turn our eyes upon Jesus.” May we ‘look full on His wonderful face.’ May ‘the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace’. (Mission Praise, 69,712).
We read, Lord, about ‘the sin offerings, cereal offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement for the house of Israel’ (Ezekiel 45:17). We thank You that all of this points forward to the single Sacrifice for sin made by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: ‘Christ died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18). ‘We have been forgiven and made clean through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ (Hebrews 10:10). Teach us to look beyond the many sacrifices to the one Sacrifice: ‘Christ has offered one Sacrifice for sins, an offering that is effective for ever’. Teach us to rejoice in our Saviour: ‘He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him’ (Hebrews 10:12; 7:25).
We read, Lord, about the ‘offering’ of ‘a lamb without defect’. This was to happen ‘morning by morning’ (Ezekiel 46:13). From these offerings , we look on to another Offering, ‘a single Offering’, the ‘once for all’ Offering of Jesus Christ as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’. Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God – has ‘offered for all time a single Sacrifice for sins’ (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:10,12,14). As we read about the many lambs, we hear Your voice calling out to us, directing our attention to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:36). We thank You, Lord, that ‘Christ’ is ‘our Passover Lamb’. We thank You that He ‘has been sacrificed’ for us. Teach us to rejoice in this – Through His ‘precious blood’, we are ‘redeemed’ (1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
We read, Lord, about the rising of the ‘river’ of Your blessing – ‘ankle-deep… knee-deep… up to the waist … deep enough to swim in – a river that no-one could cross’ (Ezekiel 47:3-5). This is the river of ‘life’ – ‘a great number of trees…. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows… large numbers of fish because… where the river flows everything will live’ (Ezekiel 47:7-9). We thank You, Lord, that ‘the Spirit’ brings ‘rivers of living water’ into our lives (John 7:38-39). Help us not to settle for a shallow experience of Your blessing – ‘ankle-deep’, ‘knee-deep’. ‘Deep calls to deep’. May ‘the Spirit’ lead us into ‘the deep things of God’. Teach us to ‘launch out into the deep’. May we ‘swim’ in Your mighty ‘river’ of blessing. May we ‘be filled with the Spirit’ (Ezekiel 47:3-5; Psalm 42:7; Luke 5:4; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Ephesians 5:18).
‘The Lord is there’ (Ezekiel 48:35). We thank You, Lord, that You are with us when we gather for worship: ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:20). You love to be among us when we are worshipping You: ‘He looks down upon us, delight in His face, enjoying His children’s love, enthralled by our praise’. Teach us to come into Your presence with joyful praise – ‘The King is among us. His Spirit is near. Let’s draw near and worship. Let songs fill the air!’ – and reverent fear – ‘Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here. Come bow before Him now with reverence and fear’ (Mission Praise, 650,50). When we leave the place of worship, may we take Your promise with us: ‘I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20).