Every day during Advent 2020, we are sharing a short encouragement based around a promise in the Bible that God makes to His people. By faith, we can take hold of them to reflect on and present back to God in prayer; lifting our eyes to the hope of this season and drawing us close to the One who draws near to us.
Ezekiel 11:16 — Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile.
The exile was a dark time for the people of ancient Israel. Their sin had ripped the nation into pieces, allowing foreign powers to conquer and subdue them. Their people had been captured, enslaved, displaced, and scattered. Their temple, the centre of the nation’s spiritual life, lay in ruins. The promises God had made to them seemed very far from coming to fruition. Are you feeling a bit like that this advent? Have your hopes and fears for this year been left unmet by everything that 2020 has thrown at you? Take courage from the story of the people of God, a story you are caught up in.
In that season of darkness, there was a vital lesson for the Israelites to learn: that whilst God may have exiled them from their land, He had never exiled them from Himself. He was with them still. Wherever they were, they were not beyond His loving care, if only they would humble themselves and return to Him. The sanctuary of the temple was only a picture of the true sanctuary that is His presence; open and available even in exile. God Himself is a place of rest, of worship, of hope, of peace, of safety; open and available to all.
This advent season is a dark one for many of us — there are huge challenges in the world around us; health, economic and societal challenges to name just three. But this is a promise to encourage us too; wherever we wander, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, there is an invitation to know Emmanuel, ‘God with us’, our sanctuary and our refuge. Do we live knowing this as a daily reality? That’s the invitation held out to us in Christ. Come, today, and find home in Him again.