I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Our God loves us. He cares more than we’ll ever comprehend. Because of his love, he expects us to follow his commands. He gives us the opportunity to do the right thing, to become the people that will bring Him glory. Unfortunately, sometimes we just don’t do the right thing.
In Ezekiel 11:19-20, we see a glimmer of hope after Ezekiel had been sharing how the Lord would destroy Jerusalem and its inhabitants or scatter them into other lands. The people in Jerusalem had set up idols and burned incense to them. They did not follow God’s commands. If they weren’t killed and were spared, they went into exile leaving behind their way of life.
Being in quarantine, in many ways has felt a bit like what the people in the first part of the book of Ezekiel must have felt. The feeling of getting destroyed can leave you empty because there’s just not much left. Our old ways of living had to be adjusted and changed to accommodate the new normal of social distancing, shopping and schooling online. When we have to go through change, it seems to me that we do the best we can while bewildered at the events taking place. I have a feeling that the people whose lived forever changed in Ezekiel also noticed that things won’t always stay the same.
In Ezekiel 11:19-20, we see God speaking hope to them letting them know what would be on the other side of the destruction. We must not forget, whatever collapsed, whomever tried to destroy you, whenever it happened, wherever the place, there is always a why. In the case of the people of Jerusalem, we see God’s heart when he tells them in Ezekiel 11:18 that they will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. They will return to accomplish His purpose and His plan. Could it be that when we return to a new normal that we will also have to remove some things?
Removing the old habits and ways that dishonor God is a first step to making things right with Him. Then, he will allow something better to replace the old. He says that he would give the people a new spirit, but before the new spirit, he would give them an undivided heart. He would take out their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Once we’ve been influenced by the ideas of the world which in most cases, do not honor God, our hearts get affected. The people’s hearts in Ezekiel’s time had allowed the worship of idols, bloodshed in their streets and injustices to occur. God had enough and allowed them to be destroyed or scattered to other lands. It truly is a picture of how God requires us to follow His commands and if we don’t, there will be hard to swallow consequences.
In the end, though, after the people would go through death of loved ones, destruction of their ways of life and exile to foreign lands, there would be an outcome that would allow them to start over. To begin again, they’d need God to replace their old spirit with a new one. They’d need Him to replace their divided hearts with ones that had one purpose: to worship God and Him alone.
It is my hope that our hearts will also be undivided and that we’ll have a new spirit. When we see the horrors of an outside enemy attack our land then watch as violence flooded our streets, we know that it’s time for a change. A change of heart requires a willingness to let God do the changing. After the devastation, God will help us to rebuild, recover and repair. The overhaul of our hearts means that the time we spent in exile will not be in vain. The choice is to stay in the old patterns of thinking or embrace the new spirit that God is offering.
It is my prayer that we will ask God to forgive us and ask him to give us an undivided heart and a new spirit. There’s nothing more fulfilling than knowing we are walking according to His design and following the path of righteousness. May we know Him and love Him. Let us turn away from the wickedness and the idols. Whatever used to hold us captive and cause us to value the things more than Jesus, let us be done with it. Let us accept the new beginning with joy.