Thursday 19 May 2016

Bible Book:

“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.” (vv. 26-27)

Ezekiel 36:22-28 Thursday 19 May 2016

Psalm: Psalm 36


The prophet Ezekiel has the task of conveying God's word to apeople who see their land and lives devastated by invading armies.In chapter 36 the Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesyto the mountains; and so the prophet speaks. The words are meantfor both the land and the nation. Ezekiel conveys God's promise torestore and sanctify the house of Israel. The memorable imagery ofthe valley of dry bones, a metaphor of restoration andresurrection, follows in chapter 37.

Ezekiel's prophesies resonate with themes one finds in the wordsof Isaiah and Jeremiah. The nation is destroyed and her peoplescattered in exile by conquering armies. The cause of thisdevastation is not only the worldly ambition of powerful rulers innearby kingdoms, but the attitudes and actions of God's people.They have not honoured the Lord's name; they have worshiped idols;and, as a result of their unfaithfulness, they are unclean.

With sentiments reminiscent of Moses' pleading with God onbehalf of the Israelites in Exodus32:11-14, the Lord promises to make the restoration of thepeople a means of communicating God's power and glory. If God'speople remain devastated, then the nations will think that God isnot the true God. The restoration of the people will be a witnessto the whole world, as well as to the house of Israel, of God'sgreat power.

The spirit comes in this case as the one who restores thepeople. The people will receive a new spirit within them to purifytheir heart and flesh. The spirit ('ru'ach') will re-energise thepeople. Further, the text seems to echo that of Jeremiah 31:33 in the promise that the peoplewill internalise God's law and be obedient to it. Ezekiel says theywill receive God's Spirit within them, which will empower them tolive faithfully. The overall sense of the passage is that God'sSpirit does the work of restoration and renewal of God's people.This restoration is not for their sake alone, but so that the Lordwill be glorified through them as a witness to all the nations.

To Ponder

  • The emphasis of the passage is clearly on God's spiritrestoring a community. What is the relationship between personalspirituality and being rooted in a community of faith?
  • To what extent do faithful people understand themselves as ameans through which God's glory is represented in the world?
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