Ezekiel 5:5-12 Video Devotional

“Thus says the Lord God: This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. And she has rebelled against my rules by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against my statutes more than the countries all around her; for they have rejected my rules and have not walked in my statutes. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you are more turbulent than the nations that are all around you, and have not walked in my statutes or obeyed my rules, and have not even acted according to the rules of the nations that are all around you, therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, even I, am against you. And I will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations. And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the like of which I will never do again. Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers. And I will execute judgments on you, and any of you who survive I will scatter to all the winds. Therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, surely, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will withdraw. My eye will not spare, and I will have no pity. A third part of you shall die of pestilence and be consumed with famine in your midst; a third part shall fall by the sword all around you; and a third part I will scatter to all the winds and will unsheathe the sword after them.” (Ezekiel 5:5-12)

Going back to Abraham, God gives him a very particular promise that fits in with a particular blessing. Abraham would be blessed so that he could bless the nations around him (including the nation that would come from him). We know the full intent of this blessing is the coming of Christ into the world to save the world and that all nations would be blessed through Christ. However, as it fits with God’s nature, he sets up a “preview” of Christ’s blessing as the example of the people of Israel. They are to be a blessing to the nations around them. They are to bring people in (such as the foreigner and the sojourner) and live as examples of God’s blessing to them.

Obviously, they didn’t do it. As the above passage explains, the Israelites were no better (even worse!) than the nations around them and in no way showed or shared the blessing that God charged them with. So God acts (again) with an exile. They were scattered because they were not being the blessing they were supposed to be. In this story, forcing them to scatter wasn’t to force them to be that blessing (in a lot of ways, the nation seemed to refuse to be that blessing), but as direct punishment and, I believe as a chance for them to turn it around. A redirection, so to speak. Looking throughout history we can see quite easily that when people have it easy, they tend to get lazy. Be getting put back into a difficult situation is usually enough to get someone to shake the dust off and get back to work.

This was meant as a refining time for the Israelites; get them to remember their calling and get back to work. This holds a good warning for us as well, today. If we are going to continue to allow entitlement and expected power be our security blanket, I wouldn’t be surprised for God to shuffle things up under our feet. Who knows? Maybe even the current pandemic could be a version of that. The point is, though, again that God is all about getting His blessings out to everyone. If we aren’t doing our part (which includes actively being involved in sin and ignoring the call), we should expect to be shaken up and forced back on to our feet – because, as we pray, His will WILL be done.

Genesis 11:1-9 Video Devotional

“Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:1-9)

Have you ever wondered why this story is even in the Bible? It seems out of place in a lot of ways. It is a very small snippet of a story that seemingly answers one main question that affects us today – why we have different languages. Other than that, it seems a pretty small blip that is stuck in between two sets of genealogies. However, if we take a moment to look past the obvious, I think there are some really cool things that point us toward God in a way that shows the unity of His nature and plan.

To understand this story fully, it is best to go back a few chapters to Genesis 9, where we see the most recent command from God. “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). The rest of chapter 9 focuses on the end of Noah’s story and chapter 10 is a genealogy. While a LONG time passed between chapters 9 and 10, the command from God was clear and long standing – be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. That didn’t change.

This is why the Tower of Babel story is so important. It’s not about the height of the structure or human architectural abilities. That’s too simple of an understanding. The people had stopped expanding across the earth, ignoring the command to fill the earth. We were created to be the care-takers of this planet and this is exactly what these people were not doing – they were also stopping future generations from doing so by providing a large urban center to keep people in one place.

The problem is that God called them to expand across the globe, fill it and ultimately spread the blessing of humanity (as originally intended) to all corners. This would certainly not be the last time God asked us to spread the blessings He gave us, and He has shown consistently that His blessings are meant to be spread and He will make sure they are spread. Thus comes an appropriate punishment. He created languages and in their confusion, they spread out to fill the earth, thus accomplishing His original plan.

An interesting story, and on its own, could be just that. However, though God is creative, He is not random. He is very planned and purposeful and we see in the Bible two other situations that deal with people on a large scale that includes a command from God to spread His blessings – which the people disobey. He then responds with a punishment that forces them to comply with His plan. Looking at those 3 stories together shows us a very intentional and purposeful God that will stop at nothing to make sure the whole earth receives His blessings. Come back the rest of the week to learn about those other situations.

Leviticus 17:10-12 Video Devotional

“If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.” (Leviticus 17:10-12)

“The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head.” (Numbers 1:1-2)

Following up from yesterday’s post, we see that there was something keeping Moses out of the direct presence of God – sin. Moses was not able to come into the tent of meeting because His sins were not atoned for. However, by the time we get to the beginning of Numbers (see above), that problem has been dealt with and God speaks to Moses inside the tent of meeting. This is a key development, and the fact that these verses surround the book of Leviticus tells us the book contains a key understanding to the ability to be in the presence of God.

Leviticus foreshadows Jesus on Calvary. During this book, God sets up the rules for the day of atonement (among other things) and how His people are to handle sins. Blood, which is the life of the animal, is required for the atonement sacrifice. Someone (or something) must die to pay for sins – it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. However, we know now (thanks again to hindsight) that animals’ blood does not work for humans. It has to be the blood of a human.

“For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ[a] came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.” (Hebrews 10:4-6)

Jesus, as the perfect God-man, is able to make the sacrifice because of His righteous life, but also because He is human – and as a human can be a representative for the human race. As the Old Testament shows us, atonement is necessary for direct access to God (Moses being a great example). But we know that the only acceptable sacrifice for our atonement was Jesus. He is truly our only way, our only truth, and our only life.

Exodus 40:34-38 Video Devotional

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.” (Exodus 40:34-38)

“The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.”” (Leviticus 1:1-2)

Moses was definitely an important guy, but he was still a guy – sinful, fearful and prone to anger. He needed to be saved (just like us), but wasn’t able to look back at Jesus and the cross and know salvation like we do. He had to look forward towards a veiled promise that God would take care of everything. But Moses is saved through Christ, just like us; so God gives us that visual and shows us through Moses’ journey how that worked.

Tomorrow we will get into more of this, but with today’s passage above we see that there was a time, even after Moses had been used in incredible ways by God, where Moses was not allowed in the direct presence of God. We know he got there (after all, God talked with Moses face to face), but the power of this story is when and how.

At the end of Exodus and beginning of Leviticus, God speaks to Moses (after His glory filled the tabernacle) from outside the tent of meeting. God is inside, but Moses can’t come in. So Moses stood outside to hear the Lord. Then God starts talking about offerings and such. Interesting. This is a clear setup to what the book of Leviticus is about. We will discuss that more tomorrow, but today let us together celebrate the fact that Moses, a flawed character, yet faithful and loyal in his relationship with God was no better than you or me. He needed saved by grace through faith just like we do now, and we know that Moses does reach the direct, intimate relationship status with God – which with the ripping of the curtain of the Holy of Holies during the crucifixion, we can also have direct access to God and cry out to him intimately “daddy!”

Let us enjoy God’s gift to us of hindsight and the ability to see how intricately and powerfully He laid out the plan of salvation and the promise of Jesus. Blessings to you!

Genesis 50:24-26 Video Devotional

“And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” (Genesis 50:24-26)

The ending verses of Genesis chronicle the end of Joseph’s life and the last words he said to his brothers. Joseph knew Egypt was not their home, and with his unusual understanding of the time it can take for God’s promises to be fulfilled, seemed clear that their journey from Egypt would not happen for a while. But again, Egypt was not their home.

This was so clear to Joseph that he made his brothers promise to carry his bones with them when they left, a promise fulfilled in Exodus 13:19 by Moses. What is cool here is that Joseph had the future vision in his sights – he wasn’t focused on the immediate, he was intent to see God’s promises fulfilled despite how long it may take to come to pass.

This is consistent with his character throughout his story. God’s promises may take time (see Hebrews 11:39 – “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised”), but they are all fulfilled. Whatever situation you find yourself in, relax and be patient, for God’s promises will come to completion in Christ Jesus. We just don’t know exactly when. Blessings to you!

Genesis 49:8-12 Video Devotional

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up.He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.” (Genesis 49:8-12)

In previous devotionals, we have already discussed the undeserved nature of Judah’s blessing and promise. He certainly did not earn his opportunity to be in the line of kings. That said, He was the patriarch of the tribe of Judah, and that tribe is blessed in some serious ways.

What we see in this passage is basically a direct line to Jesus. Again, friends, Jesus is the blessing! He is the culmination of and the reason for all of the blessings of the Old Testament. The whole point is to get to Jesus. While this blessing incorporates more than just Jesus (Judah’s line of kings encompasses more than the King of kings), it clearly references Him. The peaceful kingdom full of plenty [hinting at the final kingdom full of peace and plenty – heaven]; the eternal kingship and reference to obedience of the peoples (referring to more than one people group); the hints at wine and grapes [His sacrifice] – these all foreshadow the Savior. 

Jesus is clearly the One who was prophesied about throughout Genesis and the rest of the Old Testament. Jesus is the blessing. Jesus is the gospel. The good news isn’t just about Jesus, it IS Jesus! He didn’t bring the message of God, He IS the message of God. The good news of our salvation is the life Jesus lived. We are blessed because of Jesus! Praise Him who gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)!

Genesis 45:4-8 Video Devotional

“So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:4-8)

Friends, this pandemic has been long and frustrating, testing all parts of our resolve, endurance, faith, strength, and patience. It is easy in times like this to ask why, and let our anger get the best of us. Stresses are high and if the news is any inclination, there is a strong mix in each person of fear to reengage mixed with strong desire to do so.

I encourage you to look at this time to Joseph. His suffering was longstanding and difficult. Yet he saw (without knowing the future) there was purpose to what God was doing and later on (as shown in the verses above) was able to see the connection between his suffering and the salvation of many.

We do not know or understand the purposes behind God allowing this COVID-19 crisis to happen. But we do now know a lot of people (each of us in our own circles) that are at the point of desperation, where they may actually be ready to listen. Are you ready to be a witness? Are you ready to show love through your words AND actions?

People are starting to see that they need God more than ever right now – the challenge is to us to take the opportunities given and return glory to God through our actions and discussions. Praise Him! And pray that He would use you for His glory, which He is working out in the minds and hearts of those around us.

Genesis 38:24-26 Video Devotional

“About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.” (Genesis 38:24-26)

What a mess. This whole story of Judah and Tamar (sandwiched in between and compared against the righteous Joseph) is an absolute mess of broken promises, schemes to destroy and a scandal of Hollywood proportions. While there is definitely righteous action and humble contrition, let’s remember that God makes it absolutely clear the line of kings and the promises of God have nothing to do with the quality of the character receiving the promise. Just as God walked alone through the covenant with Abram, God’s promises and unrelenting love and patience have everything to do with Him and nothing to do with us.

Simply put, if God is willing to work with a mess as nasty as this one, we should all feel comforted about His willingness to work with us. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive – which is a lot to be thankful about!

Genesis 37:5-8 Video Devotional

“Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.” (Genesis 37:5-8)

Isn’t it interesting that scripture doesn’t really tell us much in the way of negative things about Joseph? You could infer that he may have been a bit prideful, what with him being the favorite of Jacob and all, and with his dreams, but that is speculation. With the vast majority of characters we read about in the Bible, there are glaring negative flaws in their character. For example, Abraham trying to pass Sarah off as his sister (twice) and getting Hagar pregnant instead of waiting on God. You can also see Peter’s glaring flaws, such as sinking in the water, getting in Jesus’ way, and denying him before the rooster crowed. These are people who become good because God chose them and worked in them, but they are clearly human and sinful.

Joseph is just like that. We know for sure that he is sinful because he isn’t Jesus. He was, however, a foreshadowing of the rescuer. The plot of Joseph’s story in Genesis is clear – he was exiled and mistreated, only to end up in Egypt as the head administrator for Pharaoh. His actions, honesty and trustworthiness lead to everyone in that part of the world being saved from the severe famine. Joseph was the rescuer.

What makes this more than just a rescue story is that other references and hints show this connects more than just as a similar story. First of all is the example of Joseph’s righteous life. Like Melchidezek before him, Joseph’s example in scripture is one of a righteous life. Regardless of the trails he is put through, he shined as the example. Him becoming the rescuer fits right in line as not just an example of a savior-type story, but also as the righteous example that is similar to Jesus. He was a good fit for his role because of his righteous life, not just because that was the role he was given by God.

Second, we bring in the verse from above. Joseph was not in the line of kings from Abraham to Jesus. So we know that his dream is limited to him and not prophetic generationally. That said, this is again an example of foreshadowing. They will bow down to Joseph as the rescuer – and we all bow down to Jesus, our rescuer. While I admit there is some speculation in my connections, it is common to see Joseph as the foreshadowing example of Jesus; thus, seeing how these connections are made don’t seem to be far off that road.

The point is this – God is clearly trying to get the point across that His plan for Jesus to be our savior is fully fleshed out in numerous and and examples, each covering different aspects of the plan. Enjoy reading and discovering some on your own. If you find any references or foreshadow examples, comment or let me know!

Genesis 35:9-15 Video Devotional

“God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.” (Genesis 35:9-15)

God’s promises follow through all the way to completion. That is true with these verses as well, where God promises Israel that kings will come from his body. That is obvious in David and Solomon, etc…, but it is also shown in Jesus, of whose kingdom we belong. But this promise is not fulfilled completely yet. Jesus is our Coming King. His bodily return is promised, meaning there is still a King to come to reign on this earth from Israel’s body.

We long for the days when all will be made right and justice will truly be justice. Those are His days – days that are promised to come when every tear shall be wiped away and we are fully in the presence of our King. No pandemics, natural disasters, or evils will befall His kingdom. “So, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2). He’s got this – this isn’t the end, because He hasn’t returned yet.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow and Jesus who died and LIVES for us!

Genesis 29:31-35 Video Devotional

“When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.” (Genesis 29:31-35)

Though often times missed or forgotten for the sake of the larger story, this passage holds some incredible truths about the promise of our Savior. This proclamation over Judah shows us that God has something special planned for him, regardless of who he is or what he does with his life (he definitely makes some questionable choices). While Judah does at times show himself to be a natural leader, this has no bearing on these words spoken over him at his birth. Judah was just a man – but he was a man given a promise from God. And kept keeps His promises – no matter what.

In this story, what he see is that with the birth of Judah, Leah finally turns to praise the Lord. Her actions have no bearing on the plan God laid out before creation, but is a glimpse, showing all who read this that, despite the three children born previously, it is shown that praising the Lord comes with the birth of Judah. Why? Because of the promise of our Savior!

While there is nothing special about Judah himself, he is the herald (ancestor) to Jesus, who is the One who makes it possible for us to praise the Lord. We see here the first mention that through Judah we will be able to praise the Lord. We know this now to be because of Jesus. Again, friends, even in these small, one-liners, we see how intricately woven God’s rescue plan truly is.

Want to know more about Jesus? Please comment or send me a message – I would be happy to talk with you anytime!

Genesis 27:26-29 Video Devotional

“Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,

See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed! May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” (Genesis 27:26-29)

This blessing is a truly undeserved blessing. Jacob was not a worthy recipient, nor did he achieve it honestly. He stole it from His brother. Yet, what is the gospel if not undeserved favor? The reality is, none of us are any better (or worse) than Jacob. As human, we just are. We are sinful. Nothing we can do will earn us the merit bestowed freely by God through Christ. And I think that was the point of this part of the story. If Jacob, in any way, deserved this blessing than Ephesians 2:8-9 would become meaningless.

Romans 5:8 says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. It is another example showing that there is nothing we can do to deserve or earn salvation. The gospel is a gift and only a gift. Enjoy that gift tonight and share it with someone you know. Blessings to you!