The Hope of the Return

Today's Bible reading: Ezekiel 20:33-38

During the long years of exile, the captives repeatedly receive words of assurance that God would again lead His people into the land He had once given them.  Isaiah's prophecies of a return through the wilderness were repeated by Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  God would gather His people from the nations and bring them back, a new people with a new spiritwashed clean of their idolatries.

At the moment, they might seem to be dead –  nothing more than a pile of dry bones on the floor of the desert valley.  But God would breathe into them new life with His Spirit – just as He breathed new life into each and every one of us through the waters of Holy Baptism. 

Ezekiel 20:33–38 stresses that God will graciously carry out a new Exodus.  As He once lead Israel out of captivity in Egypt “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (which we remember well as an Exodus phrase!) … so He would again show His power by rescuing a purged people from the present captivity.  The goal of all this would be that Israel might again be a holy nation … worshiping only the one true God.

At one point in the book of Daniel, we find a beautiful prayer that echoes the spirit of true repentance.  But it also makes quite clear that rescue will come not because of that repentance, but by God’s grace.  Jerusalem is still God’s city … Israel still His people.

Prayer: Merciful father, forgive my sins and restore me to a right relationship with your Son.  Amen.