My whole heart
We have been reviewing the prophets in Bible Study. Boy, did these guys have a tough job. Even though Israel refused to listen to their warnings of judgement, they remained steadfast. Isaiah was unsurpassed as a model for godliness. Jeremiah was passionate and faithful throughout his calling. He even wrote a book of sorrow and grief called Lamentations that manages to remind us that God’s mercies are new every morning.
Then I read about this dude named Ezekiel. Bless him. He’s the crazy kid who likes role playing and poetry jam sessions. My point? Zeke is straight up weird. Of course, I related immediately to his story.
When Ezekiel is 25-years-old, he is exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon with 10,000 other Jews. He lives and works at a refugee camp 750 miles away from his home. More importantly, 750 miles away from the temple where God dwells. He receives the commission to be a prophet and goes all out ministering to his fellow captives, relaying the prophet Jeremiah’s message: This isn’t going to end well. He acts out judgement with like street theater. He was a holy mime. He does all sorts of wacky things to get his point across. He’s faithful in conveying the Lord’s message. He begs them to turn away from other gods. He begs them to return to God.
Back in Jerusalem, the people start an anti-Babylon movement. King Nebuchadnezzar is no longer merciful. At this news, the king burns Jerusalem to the ground. A man escapes and manages to make it all the way to the refugee camp with the horrific news. There is no return to the Jerusalem they once knew. The city has fallen and the temple has been destroyed.
Ezekiel’s entire attitude changes at this realization. His message of judgement shifts to a message of hope. He explains to all the devastated people huddled together in captivity that one day, God is going to give His people a new heart. He will replace their hearts of stone with hearts of flesh! They should glorify Him for this gift they do not deserve! They can no longer pursue idols and get tangled in sin. They can’t be held captive to something else.
God wants your whole heart — not just a portion of it. This is a very hard message to hear when you are in your own personal exile.
In chapter 36 of the book of Ezekiel, God goes on to say this:
- I will take you out of the nations
- I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back to your own land
- I will sprinkle clean water on you
- I will cleanse you of your impurities
- I will give you a new heart
- I will remove your heart of stone
- I will put my Spirit in you
- I will be your God
- I will save you
- I will call for the grain and make it plentiful
- I will increase your fruit
- I will resettle your towns
- I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel
- I will make their people numerous
- Then you will know that I AM THE LORD
I live in a world where I believe that God can. With that said, it’s sometimes hard for me to believe that God will.
My focus is to live a life that glorifies Him, even during the dark days. Ezekiel did. I hope I can too.