Friday

01 July 2011

"I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh." (v. 19)

Background

Today's passage is the last of six parts to a vision that began at the beginning of chapter 8. In it we see a restoration promised to the exiles.

So here God chooses the exiles despite the understanding of the remnant in Jerusalem who had said, "They have gone far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession" (v. 15). So Ezekiel hears God saying that staying in the land is not enough for God to restore you.

On the other hand it seems that the exiles are not chosen because they have been more faithful. They will have to "remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations" (v. 18). Clearly they are not chosen for restoration for their behaviour.

It leaves me wondering why and how God chooses the people to become his people? If they are not chosen because they have stayed with God in Jerusalem and if they are not chosen because they have been faithful, then why does God choose the exiles?

It seems to me that we often fall into one or other of these traps: either believing we are chosen because of who and where we are, or that we are chosen because of our faithfulness. Ezekiel's vision somehow fits with the understanding we have of God's grace that we see in Jesus. We are saved because of God's grace (the love that we do not deserve either from our location and lineage or from our deeds).

Instead in this vision Ezekiel sees God reaching out to the refugees, to those who are seen as worthless or have lost everything. I wonder who we see God reaching out to today? Who are the equivalent to these exiles today?

The way that God restores is also beautiful: a united heart of flesh and a new spirit. Here is new life and a new chance expressed in a way that may remind us of Jesus describing being born again (seeJohn 3:1-21), including his insistence that it is only possible through the loving power of God.

To Ponder

Who might be considered the exiles by a modern day Ezekiel and why?

What do we pin our hopes on? Why might God choose to restore us? And how does this fit with God choosing the exiles?

What do you think the vision of "I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them" would be like and mean for you?

Bible notes author: The Revd Dave Warnock

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