‘The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God… The Word of the Lord came to Ezekiel’ (Ezekiel 1:1-2). Lord, You open our eyes to ‘see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). You, Lord speak to us. Help us to listen to You: ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening’ (1 Samuel 3:9-10). ‘The Spirit came into me… Do not be afraid of them or their words’ (Ezekiel 2:2,6). Through Your Spirit, we receive wisdom – ‘We have received the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand what God has freely given us’ – and strength – ‘God strengthens us with power through His Spirit in our inner being’ (1 Corinthians 2:12; Ephesians 3:16). ‘Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart… Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word… Be Thou my Battleshield, sword for the fight.’
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 Your 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 look 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 (Matthew1:22-23). Now, we await the fulfilment of prophecy concerning Christ’s Return: ‘I will come again’’, 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 Your 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 call 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).
Keep on praying for our troubled world – “ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
God bless you all.