This series of posts pertains to our identity as members of the church, made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). They lift up Jesus as “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3).
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:1-2, 32 ESV
God is often described in the Old Testament, especially by Psalmists including David, as one of tender mercies and loving-kindness. God desires to reveal Himself to His people as the God of tender love.
That tenderness and gentleness was shown in its fullness in the person of Jesus Christ during His ministry. For example, when a leper came to Jesus, imploring Him, kneeling before Him, asking Jesus to make him clean if He willed it, in tenderness, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched this outcast, saying, “I will; be clean,” and he was instantly healed (Mark 1:40-41). Jesus wills to show the tender love of God to all who will receive it.
In His parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus taught the same kind of tender love regarding God’s command to love one’s neighbor. A neighbor who displays the tender love of God goes out of their way to completely care for the wellbeing of others. Neighbors are not just those within the body of Christ, family, workplace and neighborhood, but anyone that God loves, even one that might be considered an outcast or an enemy. With God, there are no outcasts, only beloved ones.
In the passage above, the Apostle Paul urged the church to be gentle and tenderhearted in its love, as God is in His love. This is in keeping with Jesus’ command to His disciples to love others as He has loved (John 15:12).
As God’s church, let us not be restricted by our own affections, but instead ask the Spirit of God to widen our hearts (2 Corinthians 6:12-13).
Prayer: God, I praise You for the tenderness of Your divine love shown in Jesus Christ. I thank You that I am in Christ, and His divine power has given to me all things that pertain to Life and godliness. Spirit of God, as a partaker of Your divine nature, give me the sense of the tenderness that is in the Son of God. Enable me, Lord, to manifest Your love to Your beloved ones at will.
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”
Matthew 9:35-36 KJV
Compassion is the love of God in action. Jesus was its perfect demonstration. God has enabled His children to love as He does through the transformation and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus has met the needs of the world as one who showed what the love of God is like, one who preached about the gospel of the kingdom, one who taught openly about what was true, one who healed every sickness and disease, and one who cared for the masses as a good shepherd does for His sheep. He saw what was wrong, enabled by the Spirit of God, and He made it right.
The goodness that He has shown has been meant to lead all men and women to repentance (Romans 2:4), turning themselves over to the love, care, and call of God. To repent means to change one’s mind in a way that leads to action. Seeing the love of God in action through Jesus, men and women would believe in the goodness and the love of God. They would trust in Him. Many would obey Jesus’ call to follow Him, pursuing the will of God and the glory of God rather than their own will and their own glory.
Jesus has given His Holy Spirit to the church, which leads men and women to be moved into compassion to do the whole will of God. Jesus has collectively empowered the church to continue the mission that He started, to be carried out according to the ways of God that Jesus showed. Christ is in His church, the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
The steadfast love of God in action is irresistible.
And so we are known by our love. In particular, if the love of God controls us (2 Corinthians 5:14), it is apparent to those we encounter who see and experience God’s selfless, giving love flow through us in deed (1 John 3:18).
Prayer: I praise You, God, for Your beautiful compassion that has brought me to the point I am today of trusting You and loving You. Thank You, my Shepherd, for Your active love for me as a child of God. Spirit of God, move me with compassion as Jesus has been moved in order to care for all of those whom You love. As part of Your body, I commit to be Your’ feet and Your hands to go and to love.
“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.”
1 Corinthians 2:6-7 ESV
The Almighty God is praised for the depth and breadth of His wisdom. We have observed it in the creation and sustainment of life and the Universe. He has also given bits of wisdom to His children via natural and supernatural means. The passage written by the Apostle Paul refers to natural wisdom as “a wisdom of this age” whereas supernatural wisdom is “a secret and hidden wisdom of God.”
The “wisdom… of the rulers of this age” is the type of wisdom King Solomon sought in order to judge and govern well, and God answered His prayer, making Him incredibly wise. He led His people in a rare time of sustained peace. This kind of wisdom is of benefit for all who are affected by the one made wise. God provides wisdom for the affairs of life.
The secret and hidden wisdom of God is a gift of God given by the Spirit to those He has birthed in the Spirit. The first part of this wisdom is spiritual truth, the greatest of which is “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Christ was the major purpose of God hidden throughout the time of the Old Testament and still hidden today from any that don’t believe. He is the gift of God to those who believe.
Christ is in each member of His church, spirit, soul and body. When we are saved, we are each joined as one spirit to the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17). As for our soul, if led by the Holy Spirit, we can take on Christ’s mind, emotions and will. As for the body, we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones (Ephesians 5:30, KJV); the life of Jesus may be made manifest there, renewing us day by day (2 Corinthians 4:11,16), making us pillars of God’s temple (Revelation 3:12).
God also gives words of wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8, KJV) to some: supernatural revelations of the mind and purpose of God communicated by the Holy Spirit. These are pieces of God’s wisdom imparted to men and women. This explains any foretelling that is given in prophecy, including the prophecies recorded in the Old and New Testaments. In this type of revelation, God reveals part of His purposes, objectives and plans for His people. Each part is akin to a word in the true story of God’s love for the world that spans all of history and the future of time.
Prayer: I praise You, O Lord, for the depth of the riches of your wisdom. Your judgments and Your ways are past finding out. Thank You for showing me the depths of Your gift in Jesus Christ, who is in me. I am a doer of Your Word, and I will follow You in what You have revealed. I ask for wisdom from You, God, not doubting, but confident that you want to give it to me.
The mind of Christ
“”For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV
The human brain and mind are beautiful things. It’s been the new frontier in science to try to understand it all. Really our mind is separate from our brain, just as the software that runs a computer is separate from its hardware. Yet, unlike anything else on earth, we are spiritual beings.
When we are born again of the Spirit, we have within our spirit a new creation, the mind of Christ; but our own minds are not yet renewed. The renewing of our minds is our work (Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:22-24) in cooperation with the Spirit of God that dwells within us. We must be willing to put off the old and take on the new.
Connected in Christ to the True Vine (John 15:1), we must choose to take in the Word of God, believe it, and act on it in faith. Ignited by our faith, the Spirit of God provides a holy fire (1 Peter 1:7) and we are stirred up, separating out the dross from the pure gold of God. We cooperate to remove the impurities, over time changing us to become more like Jesus (Ephesians 4:13, Colossians 1:19,27).
This is divine transmutation, two minds coming to operate as one — Christ in you. This is God’s way, just as the Father fused Jesus’ consciousness into His by God’s Spirit.
How does our mind communicate with God?
It happens through our quickened spirit, which interfaces with our mind. With our mind (or in our soul), we make decisions, we experience the world, we feel emotion, we remember the past, we envision the future, and we pray. Some of us may pray also with our spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14-15). The mind and spirit are two different processing centers, one of them connected directly to the divine in Christ.
Aside from a place of communication with God, our spirit is a place of revelation that may come to us from Him (1 Corinthians 2:10). Discernment of the spiritual, the unseen, can also come through the Spirit from God (1 Corinthians 12:10).
According to John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, God’s purpose in our sanctification as His beloved is that we would have the mind of Christ and all of that mind.
What was Jesus’ mind like?
How did He cooperate with the Holy Spirit?
As the exemplar.
What was His communication with God like?
They were as one, united in the Spirit.
Prayer: Abide in me, Spirit of God, as I abide in You. Cooperating with your refining work, I have the mind of Christ and shall have all of that mind. Father, show me what is true that I may worship You in spirit and in truth. Fused into You, I seek not my own will but instead to demonstrate to the world Your good will to all.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20 KJV
In faith, God spoke words that created the world and everyone who has lived in it. When He speaks, He creates, He gives Life, and His words come to pass (Romans 4:17).
By faith, you spoke to identify yourself with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10). By faith, you believed that God made you a new creation (born again of His Spirit) at this confession, eternally His by way of a sacrificial act that Jesus accomplished 2000 years ago.
The great evangelist Charles Spurgeon encouraged Jesus’ followers to “be great believers! Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your souls.” Jesus was ever teaching His disciples to stir up their faith in God. Being born again was just the beginning; it was just a foundation to build upon.
As His disciples, our faith in God is everything. Without faith, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).
The entire Bible is about lessons in faith and how God responds to faithfulness or faithlessness. Faith is the channel to the abundant goodness of God; so seek to open it wide! Faith activates God’s Spirit within us.
The Apostle Paul said that when by faith He was crucified with Christ, the Spirit of Christ came to live in him and through him. He had died, and so he lived by the faith of the Son of God. It was by Christ’s faith that Paul lived. This brought heaven to His soul and to the non-Jewish world.
Are you dead yet?
Insofar as we hold onto our own lives, we cannot be conformed into the beautiful image of Christ, led by God’s Spirit. If you have been born again of the Spirit, Jesus Christ is in your spirit, waiting to be let out. It is God’s will to confirm you to the image of the Son of God as sons and daughters of His.
According to Jesus, having steadfast faith in God moves great obstacles (He called them mountains) and causes our prayers to be answered (Mark 11:22-24). This is the faith Christ has; He is in us and we are in Him. In living by the faith of the Son of God, we come to will what God wills, seeking to make things right—the way He wants to make them right (Matthew 6:10). We seek to turn every situation into glory to God.
In living by the faith of the Son of God, we take up our identity as sons and daughters of God (kings) and loving servants of mankind (priests). We abandon our passions, dreams, and stories to pursue God’s passions, dreams, and story. This is what it means to follow Christ. This is the adventure that we seek and the only way we can find satisfaction. We pursue the life of God, the liberty of God, and to make Him happy, knowing it’s not about us at all.
Prayer: God, forgive me for living to please myself or please others when it’s You that I desire to glorify. Thank You, Jesus, for Your crucifixion because of Your great love for me and Your Church. Spirit of God, slay what is left of me, my pride included, and quicken me according to Your Word. Thank You for the examples of faith in the cloud of witnesses that have come before me. Spirit of God, ever increase my faith, causing me to walk in the faith of the Son of God.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18 ESV
Holiness is one of the words that best describes God. Holiness is the character of God; the substance of His being is purity. It’s also something God has made possible for men and women — being holy— but most of us don’t want it because we think it means the fun is over.
God called His people to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44). He wants men and women fully in love with Him, consecrated to Him as a bride to her husband and a husband to her bride (Revelation 19:7-9). This is His model relationship for us, the sacred marriage relationship, and He’s made us to understand it. We understand steadfast faithfulness, and we understand infidelity. We know what it is to try to keep secrets, to try to hold something for ourselves in the dark, or to bring everything into the light with our beloved (John 3:19-21).
The imperishable seed planted in us when God gives life (zoe) to us (1 Peter 1:23) only grows in the right kind of soil. The soil that is entangled in any sin or any of the cares of the world doesn’t nourish life and produce growth, yielding the kind of fullness and blessing God intends for His beloved children. Either we choose to abide in Jesus, the true Vine (John 15:1-2), or our choice to seek fullness of life elsewhere causes God to cut us off from it.
Jesus didn’t simply call people to be born again. Jesus called them to repent and told them the kingdom of heaven had come near. To repent is to change one’s mind in such a way that it affects one’s will and choices. Further, Jesus called them to leave everything and follow Him. He called them to stay ready for His return.
He taught that the ways of God’s kingdom are the opposite of the ways of the world; nothing is as it seems. He called all to have faith in God and His goodness. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).
Do you believe every good thing is from Him?
Do you believe that pursuit of godliness brings you good? Or are you holding back something of yours, believing it is life-giving?
We cannot be holy in our own efforts. It’s impossible. But if you have been born again, you have already been made righteous and holy in God’s eyes. It’s part of a full salvation and the new spirit given to you by God’s grace. The one who is joined to the Lord in salvation becomes one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17), one flesh (Ephesians 5:30-32, KJV).
Christ in you empowers you to be victorious over sin, just as He was, led by the Spirit of God. And so in new life you can choose to be led by God’s Spirit. In so doing, you choose Life and you choose steadfast love for God.
Prayer: Thank You for Your forgiveness, gracious God, that has made me radiantly white in Your eyes. Thank You for the sacrifice of Your blood and Your broken body, Jesus, that made me clean and made me one with You. Holy Spirit, thank You for Your power to defeat sin. I consecrate myself and my home to You, God. I praise You for Your faithful, pursuing, selfless love.
“…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
Romans 5:5 KJV
The living Jesus Christ shows the perfection of God’s love offered to be received for all He created. Jesus’ love is a selfless, humble, serving, giving love that shows no favoritism in its offer.
Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on His own way, but instead on His Father’s way. He is not irritable or resentful. He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus’ giving love never ends for those who love God (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Jesus suffered and gave His life out of love for those who love God.
By this giving He was enabled to give the Holy Spirit to those who love God. When given over completely to God, the Holy Spirit fills one so full of God’s kind of giving love that they overflow with it.
As we give of God’s love, we are refilled with the love of God (Luke 6:38, Proverbs 11:24-25).
The greatest thing there is and the thing that everybody needs is the love of God.
(This love of God inspires the graphic shown above on this .church site. In sign language around the world, the way to say “I love you” is to extend the thumb, the index finger, and the little finger. The love of the Father is perfected in the love of Jesus Christ, now enthroned at His right hand. They have shed this love abroad through the Holy Spirit that is in the church, represented by the formation of the two hands coming together. This is the fullness of the love of God. -John 15:9,12, John 17:23, Romans 5:5)
Prayer: I praise You for Your abundant, steadfast love, God. I give myself over to Your love and commit to love You all of my days with all that I am—spirit, soul and body. You are my first love. Spirit of God, shed your love abroad in my heart that I may see and love everyone You made as You do.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
Righteousness may be the word that second best describes God as well as our life when we are in God and God is in us.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that Jesus Christ was made sin although He knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
When our spirit is given birth by His Spirit in identification with Christ, we are also made righteous, translated into the kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13). We are seen sinless as Christ is, and we know God’s great love for us.
Jesus Christ is righteous. With Christ in us and us in Him, we are empowered to be victorious over evil or any of its effects. We see rightly that His intent for us and others is to do good and to make things right; while if instead we were to try to choose life instead in the world, it would lead to death.
In Christ, we are empowered to put off our old self and to renew our mind, putting on the new self that is from God (Ephesians 4:22-23).
Jesus said we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6), and to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). This means that in ourselves, in our families, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our cities, and wherever else we are, led by God’s Spirit, we are to seek God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10) — not through our power and victory but through His. We come to want the same thing He does, and so we have turned ourselves over to Him, saying, “I give You all of me, Lord, for all of You.”
Prayer: Thank you, God, for righteousness through my life in Jesus Christ. I praise You for Your great mercy. I seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness by the power of Your Holy Spirit. I give You all of me, Lord, for all of You.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 ESV
Life may be the word that best describes God as well as our life when we are in God and God is in us.
Jesus said He came to give abundant life. What does that mean?
Our spirits are born dead, meaning we have no way for God to channel His kind of life into us.
As Jesus told Nicodemus, one must be born again of the Spirit in order to live (John 3:5). Most have heard those words: born again.
Do you profess to be born again of God’s Spirit? You would know that God’s word about being born of Spirit is true, and you would accept that He has done this for you. It is not a question. It is finished. This faith is the only foundation to build God’s kind of life upon — the eternal, abundant kind.
It’s the foundation. It’s just the beginning. God begins to remake us just by bringing Life to our spirit by His Spirit. We are quickened together with Christ (Colossians 2:13). To be quickened is to be made alive. It’s God’s business; it’s His will to bring more Life in response to faith.
This new Life is an imperishable seed (1 Peter 1:23) planted in the soil of who we are. It’s not meant to stay as a seed.
The seed is meant to grow into fullness, if it is to become abundant Life. Naturally speaking, its world is dark though and there’s no water.
It needs to continue to be exposed to light. It needs to stay close to the flow of living water. Naturally speaking, these are impossible, but all things are possible for God (Matthew 19:26).
Our God is the Author of Life (Acts 3:15) and so He is also the fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:16).
Prayer: Thank you, God, for new life in Jesus Christ. Quicken me according to Your Word and Your lovingkindness, by the power of Your Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your steadfast love.
Visions of life from God to Ezekiel
(Day 40 of 40 in the Old Testament)
Here is the first of three readings from the prophet Ezekiel:
“Again the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born. “And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. “When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God... “For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.””
Ezekiel 16:1-14, 59-63 ESV
Israel was made into a people of God via Abram, who was renamed Abraham, a father of many. He was chosen by God on account of His faith. This people lived and worshiped among the Canaanites, Amorites and Hitities. Israel went through cycles of disobedience where they forgot about God and worshipped idols. Yet, in response to faith, God chose to take a people that had no worth and speak life to them by way of His Word: “Live!” Just as God spoke the beginning of time and all of creation into being, with words as His servants, the covenant-keeping God brought life (zoe) to God’s church through the nation of Israel, causing it to flourish and making it imperishable when God Himself atoned for what they had done through the blood and the body of Jesus Christ. God took one man of faith, Abraham, and created from him a redeemed people for Himself that has become the church, His treasured possession, His glory, His bride. He has made His people into royalty, sons and daughters of God. The church has become partakers of the divine nature, made at-one with God according to His original purpose and Love plan. As the Apostle Peter preached, God calls all people to “…“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Acts 2:38-39 ESV
Here is the second of three readings from the prophet Ezekiel:
“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” …then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.””
Ezekiel 37:1-14, 21-28 ESV
In Ezekiel’s vision, God commanded him to prophecy over a valley of dead, dry bones, telling them to hear the word of the Lord. Ezekiel obeyed what God told him to do to make the bones come to life, telling them “I will put breath in you, and you shall live.” Ezekiel watched God’s words come to pass after He spoke them as God’s ambassador.
God revealed to Ezekiel what will happen in Jesus’ second coming when He will reign over Israel in the millennium, forgiveness will be offered to Israel, and the bodies of God’s people will be resurrected. God’s people will be shepherded by the Good Shepherd and the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, and then they will enter into the inheritance God has for them in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1-7).
The Spirit of God is Life, and His words are life-giving. Jesus Christ spoke words that the Father gave Him to speak (John 12:49-50). He told His disciples to minister as He did:
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
Matthew 10:7-8 KJV
Jesus told His disciples that when they were obedient to go as His ambassadors, they spoke His words as though they were Him:
“The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
Luke 10:16 ESV
The same Spirit that God showed Ezekiel brought Jesus Christ back to life, and that same spirit lives within the bride of Christ: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Romans 8:11 KJV
Here is the last reading from the prophet Ezekiel:
“Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side. Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.””
Ezekiel 47:1-12 ESV
Starting in Ezekiel chapter 40, Ezekiel described the temple of God shown to Him by God’s Spirit in a vision. Flowing through the temple was water that became the source of a river swarming with life. Fish were plentiful. On each side of the banks were all kinds of trees for food. The leaves of the trees never withered, and they were the source for healing. The trees bore fresh fruit every month.
The Apostle John had a similar vision of the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and earth prepared for the church: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
Revelation 22:1-2 ESV
This river also coming from the temple of God contained the water of life. On either side of the river was the tree of life, also yielding fruit each month. It yielded twelve kinds of fruit. The leaves of the tree were also for healing — healing of the nations.
God’s will is to redeem and save, giving life to the spirits, souls and bodies of His people, making His church at-one with Him through the finished work of the atonement of Christ.
As His love plan has unfolded, God first gave life to mankind in the garden, present in person (Genesis 3:8). Next, He made a way to be quickened through the law and through faith, present through the tabernacle (Leviticus 26:12) and His prophets. Next, God gave Life through Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23).
Now God quickens through the Holy Spirit, present in each believer as a temple (2 Corinthians 6:16).
In the future, the church is forever alive, finally with Christ and with God the Father in person, experiencing the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7). This is the hope of the church.
(Day 39 of 40 in the Old Testament)
“Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.””
Daniel 2:20-23 ESV
“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God.”
Daniel 6:10-11 ESV
“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.””
Daniel 9:1-19 ESV
Daniel is a member of the cloud of witnesses of faith in God (Hebrews 12:1), a prophet (Hebrews 11:32). He is one who came boldy to the throne of grace, that he might receive mercy and find grace from God to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). The church can learn from the way he prayed.
In the first listed prayer, Daniel responded when God revealed Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to him, starting by blessing (praising) God. God is the source of the wisdom of the ages, and He gives wisdom and knowledge to whom He pleases. He is the Almighty God. He is sovereign over all of the rulers on the earth. Next, Daniel thanked God for the wisdom that God had given to him. He also thanked God for making him strong, for his remarkable strength came from God, although he ate only vegetables (Daniel 1:15). Lastly, he thanked God for answering his prayers regarding the revealing of the king’s dream that led to the salvation of the wise men of Judah in Babylon, himself included. When his life depending on it, Daniel trusted God and expected him to answer his prayer. Such expectation that God will act according to His Word, His nature, and His general will is perhaps the highest form of faith.
In the second passage, one learns that Daniel prayed three times a day and he prayed out loud. He gave thanks and he made petitions to God in his prayers. He was not dissuaded when his prayers were made illegal by men trying to undermine him. Having the faith of God, which was given to him by God (1 Corinthians 12:9), Daniel was confident in the protection God provided for him as a servant of God, even as his ancestor King David wrote about in Psalm 34:
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! …Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
Psalm 34:7-8, 19-22 ESV
Daniel spoke of God’s protection for him when he was thrown to the lions for praying to God: “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions… And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.”
Daniel 6:22-24 ESV
God protected the life of His servant by way of angels. The wicked were slayed instead. God’s Word is true.
In the passage from Daniel 9, Daniel, believing God’s word through Jeremiah that Judah would be restored after 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10), prayed at the proper time according to the will of God for that promised restoration, fulfilling what God had spoken: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:12-13 ESV
Daniel poured out his heart in prayer to the living God, starting with adoration of who God is: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” … “To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness” … “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness”
Next, Daniel took responsibility for his people, confessing both for himself and on their behalf: “we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.” Daniel was a youth at the beginning of the exile (Daniel 1:3), but he took responsibility anyway. He fasted, focusing on God, putting on sackcloth and ashes in mourning. Daniel saw the judgement that came upon Judah as part of the righteousness of God, who was just doing what He had said He would do: “And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity.”
Finally, Daniel made supplication to God on behalf of his people, whom he loved, appealing for forgiveness and restoration because of God’s great mercy: “for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
Daniel’s prayers reflect the instructions of Jesus for prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). As Jesus did, Daniel prayed regularly. His prayers included adoration for God, confession of sin, thanksgiving to God, and supplication (ACTS). As Jesus did, Daniel prayed for God’s will to be done, desiring God's glory. Furthermore, Daniel’s maturity was shown in taking responsibility not just for himself but also for the people around him—his people. Daniel didn’t pray for what He wanted for himself but instead clearly for what God wanted for His precious people. Jesus’ apostles have also been led by God’s Spirit to take such responsibility (e.g., Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2). God’s people need a love that will take their brothers’ and sisters’ need and pain as if it were their own: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”
Hebrews 13:3 ESV