S (Scripture): Ezekiel 36:24 “‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries; then I will bring you to your land. 25 I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave to your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and multiply it; I will not bring a famine on you. 30 I will multiply the fruit of the trees and the produce of the fields, so that you will never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil behavior and your deeds which were not good; you will loathe yourselves on account of your sins and your abominable deeds. 32 Understand that it is not for your sake I am about to act, declares the sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and embarrassed by your behavior, O house of Israel…
36 Then the nations which remain around you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken – and I will do it!’”
O (Observation): God witnessed His people wandering from their faith. They seemed to have forgotten all that God commanded. And yet, for God’s own sake, God redeems His people.
The shift God makes allows for the Spirit to enter the hearts of each believer. Not only this, but God wants to take their hearts of stone (callous, unresponsive) and replace them with hearts of flesh (not a bad thing here, most likely referring to hearts that will absorb God’s direction and respond appropriately).
Overall, God is acting NOT because the people deserve it, but because God wants to restore God’s own reputation amongst the nations. God will not give up on Israel, because God, full of benvolence, will stick to the covenant He made with God’s people.
God will do whatever it takes to bring God’s people back. Maybe even dying in a cross to cover even our deepest sins and to overcome our separation from God.
A (Application): The discipline of reading through the Old Testament via the Daily Moravian Texts has proven a worthy endeavor for me. Even having gone through seminary, and studying through Old Testament theology, I still find God freshly amazing and surprising.
I hear people talk about how we are a post-Christian society now…about how prayer is not allowed in schools, about how our neighbors don’t really care if people go to church or not…about the wars in the world…and all of this pointing to “the end times.”
I can’t help but read stories like Ezekiel’s and be filled with a renewed sense of hope…not because our situation is like that of God’s people in Ezekiel’s time. Rather, I’m hopeful because I see the lengths to which God will go to redeem us from our own selfishness and sinfulness.
Hell does not worry me…suffering I can endure…because our God is bigger than all of that, and will never let me go. I am free of the worries of salvation. Now, with that freedom, I can give and serve like no one else…for God’s glory. (Yes, I know…I’ll goof it up along the way…but of that, too, I have already been set free.)
P (Prayer): Lord, give me the courage to endure. Remind me of your actions with our ancestors in the faith. Amen.