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December 21 – The exile: The end?

“Thus says the Lord GOD to the land of Israel: ‘An end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land. Now the end is upon you, and I will send my anger upon you . . . and I will punish you for all your abominations.’” – Ezekiel 7:2-3

Scripture reading: 2 Kings 17:5-23

Under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites defeated the Canaanites and took possession of the Promised Land. By King Solomon’s day “Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They ate and drank and were happy” (1 Kings 4:20). God certainly fulfilled His promise to multiply Abraham’s descendants and give them land.

Tragically, just when things were as good as could be, they got worse than can be imagined. Solomon married foreign women, worshiped false gods and set Israel on a deadly path of disobedience. God sent one prophet after another to call His rebellious people to repent, but they refused to listen. God had to punish them. Ounce by ounce, the gold was stripped from the temple. Piece by piece the temple furnishings were carted away. Group by group, God’s people were carried far away from His presence. They became foreigners in a foreign land with foreign gods.

Why were they dispossessed so soon? Had God broken His promise? Certainly not. God reminded His people that He had not broken His promise, but they certainly had broken His commands.

It seemed like this was the end of the story, and that Israel was history. But God’s promise to send a Saviour was a “No ifs, ands, or buts” kind of promise. Through the very same prophets who prophesied punishment through exile, God promised that a remnant would return, and He restated His promise that the Saviour, Jesus Christ, would come.

Suggestions for prayer

Ask God to help you take sin seriously, and thank Jesus that He was exiled from the presence of God while on the cross so that we can forever be in the presence of God in Paradise.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God DevotionalRev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015.

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