Discover His heart: He provides a sanctuary for His people – anywhere.
The prisoner slowly makes his way to the execution chamber with the knowledge that all will be over soon. Appeal after appeal has been denied, and now the end is in sight. It’s 11:59 p.m. and the straps have been tightened, the hood is in place and….a telephone rings. The Governor has issued a reprieve, and the prisoner will live! Dramatic I know, but I would imagine the exiles in Babylon felt a similar rush of relief at the news from the prophet Ezekiel, a reprieve if you will, that God would be with them in Babylon!
@ Ezekiel 11
Tragic prophecies had repeatedly been given to the Exiles about Jerusalem, their homeland, and all hope was gone in their minds for restoration because they were far from God’s Temple presence. Now, God was issuing a reprieve for those who had turned their hearts toward Him. “I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile.” (16)
Just like the Israelites, sometimes we find ourselves in a place that seems far from what we desire. Perhaps we’ve arrived there through no fault of our own, or maybe our deeds have put us there. Regardless, when we turn our hearts to God, He will provide a sanctuary where we can fellowship with Him. I like the way the KJV says it, “Yet I will be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.”
Most believe that little sanctuary is referring to a short period of time while in captivity rather than space, but I think of it also as a place where we can meet with Him, wherever we may be, whether in a huge church or in a tiny closet far from home. It doesn’t matter – He will be for us a little sanctuary while in the prison cell, on the hospital bed or in the work cubicle. “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!” (Psalm 139:7) God is omnipresent, everywhere, waiting for our cry for help, expecting to be our safe haven, our sanctuary.
“And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations.” (19-20) Some situations in life may harden our hearts, not only toward God but towards others as well. It is in His sanctuary where He softens us and makes our hearts tender like His heart.
Within this prophetic dream from Ezekiel is a promise to Israel as a nation, “I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.” (17) The Jews have lived in Israel periodically throughout history, but in 1948, it was recognized politically as a nation.
While nations around the world have fought hard to destroy this tiny nation, it remains! It is a testimony of God’s blessing on it and His miraculous power. However, this prophecy of Ezekiel will not be fully realized until the Second Coming of Christ, when the end-time believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, will inhabit the New Jerusalem. What a day it will be!
For all who follow God, both Jew and Gentle, He longs to give us one heart, undivided, tender and fleshy that is responsive to Him and one that follows His Word. “Then,” He says, “they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.” (20)
Moving Forward: I will enter His sanctuary today, wherever I am, with a tender heart and with a prayer on my lips for the nation of Israel.
Tomorrow @ Luke 13-14