2 Samuel 7, Ezekiel 46, Mark 10

Today read 2 Samuel 7, Ezekiel 46, and Mark 10. This devotional is about Ezekiel 46.

This devotional is about Ezekiel 46:9-10:

“‘When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed festivals, whoever enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate. No one is to return through the gate by which they entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate.  The prince is to be among them, going in when they go in and going out when they go out.” 

Ezekiel 46:9-10

This chapter continued the lengthy vision Ezekiel received way back in chapter 40. The vision described how Israel should rebuild the temple and worship as a nation at some point in the future. 

Here in chapter 46, the Lord described how the people should gather and worship each Sabbath and during New Moon feasts (v. 3). The prince of Israel was commanded to bring a burnt offering as described in verses 4-7 and verse 8 described where he was to enter and exit the temple area.

Here in verses 9-10 we read these strange instructions. When the people came to worship in the temple on the Sabbath and the New Moons, God commanded them to enter by one gate and leave by the other. These gates were on the north and south sides of the temple. If you came in through the north gate, you were required to cover the rest of the distance and go out the through the south gate. If you came in through the south gate, you had to keep going forward and exit through the north gate. Just so nobody was confused, the end of verse 9 said, “No one is to return through the gate by which they entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate.” 

Verse 10 included the prince in all of this. He was required to use either the north or south gate and he must go out the gate opposite the one that he entered. He was not allowed to use some side entrance to avoid the people; the prince must travel in and out like everyone else did.

Why on earth would the Lord care about this?

We don’t know for sure because Ezekiel did not give any explanation for these instructions. But it is interesting to think about why the Lord might have commanded this. One commentator I glanced at said it was probably one of these reasons:

  • for crowd control
  • or because turning around and showing your backside might be offensive to God
  • or because “every detail in the worship of Yahweh was ordered.” [1] 

The first answer could be true, the second one is just weird and the last one makes decent sense. There were a lot of precise instructions given in these chapters; maybe this is just another one of those.

But think about it. You have two large groups of people. One came in from the North and is now facing South. The other came in from the South and is now facing North.  They are facing each other and have to cross paths with everyone else on the other side to get out. To me, it seems like crowd control would be easier if everyone turned around and left the way they came in. 

So it makes me wonder if God commanded this to make it harder for his people to avoid each other and for the prince to avoid the people.

In any large group of people, there were bound to be some who were estranged from one another. There were some who may have sued each other, married and divorced each other, or just generally didn’t get along with each other. This command made hiding from people you dislike even harder to do. Remember Jesus’s instructions in Matthew 5:23-24: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” That could literally happen if you had to either walk in with half the crowd or cross paths with the other half of the crowd on your way out.

These commands also emphasized that the prince was just a worshipper like everyone else. He had greater responsibilities and recognition, but he was just a man before God like everyone else, a sinner allowed by God’s mercy and grace into his presence.

These thoughts of mine are totally speculative and may well be wrong. But it is interesting to think about the principles.

Do you ever try to avoid someone on Sunday morning when you come to church? If we only had two doors open to the building and they were opposite each other and we wouldn’t let you leave through the door that you entered, don’t you think you’d see more people than you usually do? 

We can’t really be the church without socializing with others in the church. Do you come late and leave early or immediately after the service just to avoid people? Do you think the Lord is pleased if we act that way toward our brothers and sisters in Christ?


[1] Daniel Isaac Block, The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997–), 673.

Deuteronomy 31, Jeremiah 23, 2 Corinthians 7

Read Deuteronomy 31, Jeremiah 23, and 2 Corinthians 7 today. This devotional is about 2 Corinthians 7.

At the end of chapter 6, God’s word told us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (v. 14). One reason to obey this command is the promise of God in verse 16, “I will be their God, and they will be my people” and the promise in verse 18, “I will be a Father to you… says the Lord Almighty.” These are promises of a unique, personal, family relationship with God. What relationship with an unbeliever can replace that? There is no greater promise that could be made to a man or woman than this kind of love from God.

Today’s passage began with the word, “therefore.” What Paul says in verse 1, therefore, is a conclusion based on those last few verses of chapter 6 where Paul repeated these promises of God from the Old Testament. Given that God has promised us this, what is the best way we could respond? According to verse 1, “let us purify ourselves… perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” As believers, we learn to choose righteousness over sinfulness, holiness over unholiness by believing that God’s promises of fellowship with him will be better–far better–than anything sin can offer us, including the companionship of being yoked with unbelievers.

In the moment of temptation, this is one truth we can remind ourselves of to help us choose what is right over what is sinful. This isn’t the only thing we have to help us be holy, but it is a powerful motivator when the lure of temptation draws us toward sin. Since we reverence God, let us choose what is holy over what is unholy. May God grace us to do that today.

Leviticus 26, Isaiah 24, Acts 9

Read Leviticus 26, Isaiah 24, and Acts 9 today. This devotional is about Leviticus 26.

Great blessings continued to be promised here in Leviticus 26. If only Israel had believed God (vv. 1-3), they would have:

  • abundant rain in season yielding fruitful harvests (v. 4).
  • a consistent supply food (vv. 5, 10).
  • peace and security from wild animals and invading armies (v. 6)
  • military victory if war did break out (vv. 7-8)
  • growing population base (v. 9)
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: fellowship with God who would live among them (vv. 11-13).

Following those positive promises were promises that there would be consequences if they disobeyed God’s word (vv. 14-39). This is what Israel actually got, for the most part, because they disobeyed God.

But notice that God’s described these consequences in verse 23 as “my correction” and he said that the purpose of these punishments was to “break down your stubborn pride.” This is what God does for those he loves. He blesses us when we follow him in obedience and he brings correction, painful though it may be, to humble us and teach us to follow him.

Here in the church age, God’s blessings to us are not necessarily the material prosperity he promised to Israel. We will enjoy that when his kingdom comes to earth, but that is not always his will for his elect in this age.

We can, however, enjoy God’s fellowship (vv. 11-13) in this life while we wait for the kingdom to fulfill all the other promises he made. We also enjoy the conviction that God will not forsake us when we sin against him but that his correction is designed to humble us and to turn our hearts in confession and repentance to him.

How is this working out in your walk with God these days? Are you enjoying the comfort of his fellowship even if you may be experiencing some trials? Or are you stubbornly living in disobedience and, maybe, experiencing his correction in your life? If you are walking with God and not harboring any sin, then keep going. Don’t allow the lies that sin tells us to rob you of the blessings of God’s fellowship. If you need to repent, though, claim God’s promised forgiveness and have your walk with him restored.

Genesis 11, Ezra 10, Matthew 8

Read Genesis 11, Ezra 10, and Matthew 8 today and this devotional which is about Genesis 11.

The flood was over and back in Genesis 9 God renewed his original covenant with humanity. God had told Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” in Genesis 1:28b; in Genesis 9:1 God told Noah and his sons the same thing: “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.'”

Chapter 10 described for us in geneaological form how the three sons of Noah developed into three branches of the human family tree. Here in Genesis 11, the people in society decided they did NOT want to follow God’s commands to “fill the earth.” In verse 4 we learned that the people felt they had to build a city because “otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” The desire for human unity, then, was to unite against God and his commands.

The Lord confused their langauge in order to keep humanity from unitiing against him. In the words of verse 6, “The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” The phrase, “nothing… will be impossible for them” was not an expression of fear that humanity would gain omnipotence. Rather, it is a statement that the wickedness of humanity would know no boundaries if people could communicate freely. The language boundaries God created at Babel caused one language-group to distrust and fear the other language groups. That fear caused each group to seek safety in distance which “scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”

This passage does not teach that language or cultural or racial boundaries must be maintained. God did create humanity to be a unified group. It was sin that necessitated the boundaries that we read about in this chapter and that remain today.

When Jesus taught the disciples to “make disciples of all nations” (v. 19), he was re-establishing the basis on which humanity could and should function as a unit rather than as separate people groups. The basis of human unity is God. When humanity worships the true God, it can truly be one. But that “one-ness” is oneness in Christ, not in humanity or in common approaches to living in sin.

God wants the human race united but he wants us to be united in holiness, not in ungodliness. Babel is about dividing the world so that it will not be united in ungodliness. Jesus and his redemption is about uniting the world in him.

We can have great fellowship and genuine love, then, with people look different than we do, talk differently than we do, and have a different cultural heritage. When Christ returns and establishes his kingdom, all believers from every nation, language, culture, and race will be united in every aspect of reality because we are united to Christ spiritually.

So, don’t separate from others because they have a different language or skin color or whatever else. Instead, unite with other Christians from different culures, love them genuinely, and seek to reach others for Jesus regardless of human boundaries. “God does not show favoritism” according to Romans 2:10 so let’s not be guilty of that, either.

1 John 1

Today, read 1 John 1.

Our faith is primarily about God. He is our Creator; we belong to him and are accountable to him for how we live this life. Due to Adam’s choice to sin, none of us is capable of pleasing God by living up to his perfect righteous standard for how to live and worshipping him wholeheartedly. As a result, we are under his wrath and hopelessly lost for eternity. But, because of his love and mercy, God the Son came into the world to live a perfect life and die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Once we trust in him by faith, God credits his perfect righteousness to us–we call this justification. At the same time, he credits us with the death of Christ and, on that basis, forgives us for our sins based on the death and resurrection of Jesus for us.

More could be said, but that’s a basic outline of our faith. The major goal of it is to glorify God by reconciling us sinners to him through Christ. That reconciliation is the major benefit to us of God’s grace in the Christian faith and the end result of that reconciliation is eternal life.

But there are other benefits to being a Christian and John led off with one of them here in 1 John 1:3 when he wrote, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us….” To put this verse in other words, John wrote about the gospel so that (among other things) the readers might have fellowship with John and all other Christians.

The word “fellowship” is a much-used, little-understood word in Christianity. Its basic meaning is “sharing.” When we talk about it as a core result of being a Christian, it means that we share a new kind of relationship with other Christians. It is a kind of relationship that non-Christians are not capable of having because it is a spiritual relationship, a deep bond that genuine believers in Christ share.

And why do we share this deep bond? It is because we are all connected in a “fellowship” relationship with God. As John wrote in the latter half of verse 3, “And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” It is God’s grace to us in Christ that connects us to the Triune God, giving us a new fellowship–a family relationship with God that we never had before Christ and could not have without him. Because we all share that, we now have a basis for sharing a deep connection to one another in Christ.

The result of Christian fellowship is joy; according to verse 4, “We write this to make our joy complete.” The rest of this letter is going to spell out the marks of genuine faith in Christ, starting with truth (“…walk[ing] in the light,” v. 7a). But before describing what a genuine Christian looks like, John began with one of the motives Christians have for sharing the gospel–“so that you also may have fellowship with us” (v. 3b).

Do you want a deeper friendship, a stronger, more spiritual connection to other people? Then share the gospel with others! The salvation we share by God’s grace is the only true common ground that can unite humanity. It–and only it–can bridge cultures, languages, ethnic backgrounds, and anything else that divides humanity. This is not the only reason to give the gospel, or even the main reason, but it is an important one. Faith in Christ unites those who belong to Christ and gives us a basis for true fellowship. The more we reach others with Christ, the greater and broader and deeper our connection to other people will become.