Ezekiel speaks to a community in exile who’ve turned their back on God. He’d been taken along to Babylon with all the other exiles in 597BC, and his messages all speak of the holiness of God.
Ezekiel’s messages come before, and after, Jerusalem is destroyed. God has scattered the people and removed His presence from the Temple. Judgment has come. Can His presence ever be restored? The answer is yes, if people long for that and are willing to repent of sin. There’s hope for future restoration. God hasn’t given up on His great plan of salvation for the world.
God wants a restored relationship with the remnant of His people. How’s that going to happen? He’s going to allow them to start again with a new heart and a new spirit.
We could emphasise the sovereignty of God in giving them a new heart and spirit and taking away their heart of stone. ‘And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God’ (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you’ (Ezekiel 36:24-25).
‘And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you’ (Ezekiel 36: 29).
The whole community is called to repentance, but in Chapter 18 Ezekiel explains the responsibility of the individual. ‘The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself’ (Ezekiel 18:20).
We must take the message from Ezekiel Chapter 18 as well as Chapters 36 and 11. There’s a responsibility for the state of our own heart and we’re not to be passive. We need to first of all to understand God’s Father heart of love. How He longs for any small movement of our heart in the right direction, a humble acknowledgement that we don’t have what it takes to live a holy life and we need His help. ‘Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live (Ezekiel 18:31-32)’.
We can stand up against the wrong influences coming at us from the media, family and friends, maybe what we’ve always been taught in the past. We can think for ourselves, testing everything against what God says in His Word. We’ve been given the power of free will choice and minds to process information. We can humble ourselves and admit we’ve been wrong. The Bible says we can choose life, health and blessings and reject all death, sickness and curses.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, that Your heart is for us to turn and live. Help us to be active and not passive, and to make right choices before You. Amen.
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