Day 310

It’s Who You Know

Wisdom Psalm 119:169-176
New Testament Hebrews 7:11-28
Old Testament Ezekiel 10:1-12:28

Introduction

During the American Civil War, as a result of a family tragedy, a soldier was granted permission to seek a hearing from the President. He wanted to request exemption from military service. However, when he arrived at the White House, he was refused entry and sent away. He went and sat in a nearby park.

A young boy came across him and remarked how unhappy he looked. The soldier found himself telling the young boy everything. Eventually the boy said, ‘Come with me.’ He led the dejected soldier back to the White House. They went around the back, none of the guards stopped them. Even the generals and high-ranking government officials stood to attention and let them pass through.

The soldier was amazed. Finally, they came to the presidential office. Without knocking, the young boy opened the door and walked straight in. Abraham Lincoln, standing there, turned from his conversation with the Secretary of State and said, ‘What can I do for you, Tad?’

Tad said, ‘Dad, this soldier needs to talk to you.’

In this possibly fictional story, the soldier had access to the President ‘through the son’. According to the New Testament, in an even more amazing way, in truth, you, certainly, have access to Godthrough the son’ – Jesus.

Many people pray, but not all prayer is Christian. Christian prayer is distinctive – it is Trinitarian. St Paul writes, ‘Through him [Jesus] we have access to the Father by one Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:18).

This is why prayer is such an immense privilege. You are able to speak to God, the creator of the universe, as your Father. You come to him through Jesus, the man who is God, our Lord, brother and friend. Your prayers are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, who lives within your heart.

Wisdom

Psalm 119:169-176

ת Taw

169 May my cry come before you, Lord;
  give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you;
  deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise,
  for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word,
  for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me,
  for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, Lord,
  and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you,
  and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.
  Seek your servant,
  for I have not forgotten your commands.

Commentary

Access… to the Father

When I first encountered Jesus, I was taught a model for prayer using the mnemonic ‘A.C.T.S.’: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (see also BiOY Day 61). Each of these is represented in this passage.

The psalmist’s prayer is addressed to God. Jesus teaches us to address God as our Father. As Psalm 119 draws to a close, the psalmist prays a variety of prayers, which include ‘A.C.T.S.’:

A |Adoration
||Praise God for who he is and what he has done.
||‘Let me live that I may praise You’ (v.175, AMP).

C |Confession
||Ask God’s forgiveness for anything that you have done wrong.
||‘I have gone astray like a lost sheep’ (v.176, AMP).

T |Thanksgiving
||Thank God for health, family, friends and so on.
||‘My lips shall pour forth praise (with thanksgiving and renewed trust)’ ||(v.171, AMP).

S |Supplication
||Pray for yourself, for your friends and for others.
||‘May my supplication come before you’ (v.170).

Prayer

A – Lord God my Father, I adore you. I love you Lord. I praise you that I have access to you, the Creator of the universe.
C – I confess my sins to you and ask for your forgiveness…
T – Thank you so much for all the blessings in my life. Thank you for my family and friends. Thank you for so many wonderful answers to prayer. Thank you for…
S – Lord, I pray today for…

New Testament

Hebrews 7:11-28

Jesus Like Melchizedek

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:

 “You are a priest forever,
  in the order of Melchizedek.”

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

 “The Lord has sworn
  and will not change his mind:
  ‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

Commentary

Access… through Jesus

Jesus ‘brings us right into the presence of God’ (v.19, MSG). Access to the Father is made possible through Jesus. You can ‘draw near to God’ (v.19). Jesus is the great high priest who makes it possible for you to ‘come to God through him’ (v.25).

Jesus is the Son, ‘who has been made perfect for ever’ (v.28). He provides you with a ‘better’ hope (v.19). The word ‘better’ appears numerous times in the book of Hebrews. The writer is constantly contrasting; not something bad with something good, but something good with something ‘perfect’ and therefore far ‘better’.

Jesus’ priesthood is based on a superior promise. The writer quotes Psalm 110:4 to show how Jesus’ priesthood was established through a promise of God. Unlike the temporary former priests, Jesus’ priesthood was confirmed by God’s promise (Hebrews 7:20–21). Jesus perfectly meets all your needs (v.26).

  1. Jesus has defeated death for you

    It is ‘by the sheer force of resurrection life – he lives!’ (v.16, MSG). Unlike the former priests, Jesus lives for ever, and his priesthood is permanent (vv.23–24).

  2. Jesus is constantly praying for you

    Jesus continually intercedes for those who come to God through him: ‘He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with him and intervene for them’ (v.25b, AMP).

    Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813–1843) wrote: ‘If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.’

  3. Jesus is uniquely able to represent you

    The priests had to offer sacrifices for their sin first, but Jesus was ‘completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself’ (v.26, MSG). He is the unique mediator who is fully God and fully human.

  4. Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice for your sins

    ‘Unlike the other high priests he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people’ (v.27). When Jesus offered himself on the cross, it was only necessary for this sacrifice to be offered once, since it was totally effective: ‘He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered *himself’ (v.27).

Jesus’ qualities of a superior life, a superior promise, a superior ‘offerer’ and a superior offering, all demonstrate that his priesthood is totally effective in providing you access to the Father. As a result of Jesus’ permanent and perfect priesthood, you can ‘draw near to God’ (v.19). You can, ‘come to God through him’ (v.25).

Prayer

Father, thank you that I can draw near to you today through Jesus and that I can know that he is constantly praying for me.

Old Testament

Ezekiel 10:1-12:28

God’s Glory Departs From the Temple

10I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of lapis lazuli above the vault that was over the heads of the cherubim. 2 The Lord said to the man clothed in linen, “Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city.” And as I watched, he went in.

3 Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. 4 Then the glory of the Lord rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the Lord. 5 The sound of the wings of the cherubim could be heard as far away as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.

6 When the Lord commanded the man in linen, “Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim,” the man went in and stood beside a wheel. 7 Then one of the cherubim reached out his hand to the fire that was among them. He took up some of it and put it into the hands of the man in linen, who took it and went out. 8 (Under the wings of the cherubim could be seen what looked like human hands.)

9 I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like topaz. 10 As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 11 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. 12 Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. 13 I heard the wheels being called “the whirling wheels.” 14 Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

15 Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River. 16 When the cherubim moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the cherubim spread their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels did not leave their side. 17 When the cherubim stood still, they also stood still; and when the cherubim rose, they rose with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in them.

18 Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. 19 While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.

20 These were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the Kebar River, and I realized that they were cherubim. 21 Each had four faces and four wings, and under their wings was what looked like human hands. 22 Their faces had the same appearance as those I had seen by the Kebar River. Each one went straight ahead.

God’s Sure Judgment on Jerusalem

11Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the Lord that faces east. There at the entrance of the gate were twenty-five men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people. 2 The Lord said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who are plotting evil and giving wicked advice in this city. 3 They say, ‘Haven’t our houses been recently rebuilt? This city is a pot, and we are the meat in it.’ 4 Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man.”

5 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on me, and he told me to say: “This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, you leaders in Israel, but I know what is going through your mind. 6 You have killed many people in this city and filled its streets with the dead.

7 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: The bodies you have thrown there are the meat and this city is the pot, but I will drive you out of it. 8 You fear the sword, and the sword is what I will bring against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. 9 I will drive you out of the city and deliver you into the hands of foreigners and inflict punishment on you. 10 You will fall by the sword, and I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 11 This city will not be a pot for you, nor will you be the meat in it; I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. 12 And you will know that I am the Lord, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you. ”

13 Now as I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. Then I fell facedown and cried out in a loud voice, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel? ”

The Promise of Israel’s Return

14 The word of the Lord came to me: 15 “Son of man, the people of Jerusalem have said of your fellow exiles and all the other Israelites, ‘They are far away from the Lord; this land was given to us as our possession.’

16 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’

17 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.’

18 “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord. ”

22 Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. 23 The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it. 24 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God.

Then the vision I had seen went up from me, 25 and I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.

The Exile Symbolized

12The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.

3 “Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious people. 4 During the daytime, while they watch, bring out your belongings packed for exile. Then in the evening, while they are watching, go out like those who go into exile. 5 While they watch, dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it. 6 Put them on your shoulder as they are watching and carry them out at dusk. Cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have made you a sign to the Israelites.”

7 So I did as I was commanded. During the day I brought out my things packed for exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands. I took my belongings out at dusk, carrying them on my shoulders while they watched.

8 In the morning the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “Son of man, did not the Israelites, that rebellious people, ask you, ‘What are you doing?’

10 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This prophecy concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the Israelites who are there.’ 11 Say to them, ‘I am a sign to you.’

“As I have done, so it will be done to them. They will go into exile as captives.

12 “The prince among them will put his things on his shoulder at dusk and leave, and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land. 13 I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it, and there he will die. 14 I will scatter to the winds all those around him—his staff and all his troops—and I will pursue them with drawn sword.

15 “They will know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. 16 But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the Lord. ”

17 The word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, tremble as you eat your food, and shudder in fear as you drink your water. 19 Say to the people of the land: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about those living in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel: They will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair, for their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there. 20 The inhabited towns will be laid waste and the land will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord. ’”

There Will Be No Delay

21 The word of the Lord came to me: 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’? 23 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. 24 For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. 25 But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious people, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord. ’”

26 The word of the Lord came to me: 27 “Son of man, the Israelites are saying, ‘The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.’

28 “Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

Commentary

Access… by the Holy Spirit

As you pray, the Holy Spirit, who lives in you, helps you to pray. It is an extraordinary privilege to be living in this time when every Christian has the Holy Spirit living within them. Before the day of Pentecost (which we read about in Acts 2), the Holy Spirit only came on particular people at particular times for particular tasks.

Ezekiel was one of those particular people. Extraordinary visions of God were given to him by the Spirit who lifted him up. Twice in this passage he says, ‘Then the Spirit lifted me up...’ (11:1,24). It was ‘the Spirit of the Lord’ who ‘came upon’ him and ‘told’ him what ‘to say’: ‘This is what the Lord says...’ (v.5).

Ezekiel went on to prophesy that one day the Spirit of God would not only be in him, but will be in all the people: ‘I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh’ (v.19).

God has given every human being a conscience. However, if we rebel against our conscience too often we become hard-hearted. If, for example, we have been hurt by others, we can harden our hearts in an attempt to block further emotional pain.

It is almost impossible to change your heart simply through a decision of the will. But God promises to give you a ‘soft heart’ – ‘a heart of flesh’ (v.19). He does this by putting a new Spirit in you (this is the Holy Spirit, see Ezekiel 36:26–27). The Holy Spirit now lives in you. He changes your heart. He replaces a heart of stone with a heart of flesh.

The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into your heart (Romans 5:5). He heals your hurts and wounds and makes your heart tender. He gives you a ‘soft heart’ that is responsive to his gentle touch and filled with love and sensitivity to the needs of others.

These prophecies of Ezekiel were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. In the book of Acts, the apostle Peter explains that the promises (including those in Ezekiel) have been fulfilled: ‘Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out what you now see and hear’ (Acts 2:33).

From that moment onwards, everyone who puts their faith in Jesus has the Holy Spirit living within them. This remains the same for all Christians today. He promises you an undivided heart, a new spirit and a heart of flesh. He says therefore, you will obey and you will be part of God’s people and he will be your God. It is by the same Holy Spirit that you have access to the Father through Jesus (Ephesians 2:18).

Prayer

Lord, give me an undivided heart. Help me today to be careful to follow your decrees and to keep your laws. Thank you that you help me to pray – to the Father, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.

Pippa adds

Psalm 119:173

‘May your hand be ready to help me.’

I have rather a lot to do today; I need God’s hand to help me.

Verse of the Day

Ezekiel 11:19

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Andrew Bonar, Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Banner of Truth, 1960), p.179.

Abraham Lincoln story from Graham H. Twelftree, Your Point Being? (Monarch Books, 2003), p.97.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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