Read: Ezekiel 35-37
As I obediently work my way through the Old Testament, I’m so amazed how God speaks through our ancient ancestors. The lessons we are offered in God’s amazing Bible all point to a loving Father that looks forward to the day when we all live in complete unity. Crazy to think about. We’re nearly done with Ezekiel–hang in there, and listen for the lessons God has for you.
Hope for Israel: (Ezekiel 36)
The enemy said of you, “Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession.”’ Ezekiel 36:2
Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will also suffer scorn. “‘But you, mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. Ezekiel 36:7-8
God promises that Israel will once again flourish in the land they loved so much…one day “The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt.” This is a great promise for a renewed Israel that comes deep into the time of exile when it seems all is lost. At the end of chapter 33 we recall that Ezekiel is established as a credible prophet, so assuming these words come after 33:33, those who hear them must have been truly comforted, even if they can’t put a date on their calendars.
A New Heart
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27
This is a great and wonderful promise, one that is used often as we seek to spread the gospel. Whether we say these words or not, this is the message we are attempting to convey: Jesus will change your heart. When we invite Jesus into our heart, we are dramatically changed, we have to be since we are told that the Spirit himself dwells in us. For those of us who grew up in the church, this seems normal, but it’s nothing short of miraculous! Many songs carry this message and I’m confident that it’s accurate, but we often miss the purpose behind this change, at least I do.
Too often I want my heart changed so I will reap rewards, feel the connection to the Spirit and walk in confidence that the Lord is with me. This all sounds good, but let’s be clear:
It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. Ezekiel 36:22
That puts a different perspective on my desire to have my heart changed — it’s not about me, it never was!
The promise of a clean heart is overwhelming to consider and Ezekiel hammers the point home after promising the hope for Israel, “I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!” (Ezekiel 36:32)
I just read Lecrae’s biographical book, Unashamed, a gift I received for Father’s Day. I’ll write a post or two from some of the lessons drawn from the book, but suffice it to say, Lecrae’s title is not meant to say he was unashamed of his past, no sir, he is unashamed of his future. He doesn’t reference Ezekiel as he talks about his failures in the past, but he shows his scars to help us all recognize that scars are reminders of wounds that have healed. We all have wounds, some deeper than others, but Lord I look forward to the day that I can unashamedly reveal the scars from the wounds I feel today. Just being honest. Through many struggles it seems this man of God has found his identity in Christ alone, is not trying to please the world or the church, but rather he serves One God. A lesson for us all to draw from, even those who don’t understand hip-hop or appreciate the genre.
Israel’s Dry Bones Revived and Unity Restored (Ezekiel 37)
The imagery in this chapter is amazing to consider — resurrection for all!
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” Ezekiel 37:4-6
Again we are invited to receive the promise that the Spirit will indwell in us:
I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’” Ezekiel 37:14
Even more exciting is the promise that God will once again reunite all of Israel:
I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ Ezekiel 37:19
These are great promises given in the middle of overwhelmingly oppressive times. Hard to appreciate in my present day luxurious surrounds where I have little worry about what I will eat or drink or where I will sleep comfortably. I’m spoiled.
Lord, help us to soak in your words and stir our hearts to action for your glory and for your kingdom.