Lessons from the Book of Ezekiel.
I breathed a sigh this morning as I wrapped up my ten-week study of the book of Ezekiel. A sigh expressing mixed emotions. A sigh of relief that I made it through 48 chapters. I did not give up! Such a tough book to read. Yes, indeed our sin leads to consequences. Often times extreme.
But mostly a sigh of relief for my stressed-out self, just knowing God IS in control. He has a plan; He has a purpose. And He longs for us to be part of this plan and purpose. He is constantly wooing us from the path of destruction to join Him on the path of peace and joy. Listen up!
If I must highlight one key lesson to summarize my time in Ezekiel, I choose the promises from chapter 36. The very heading of the chapter in my New International Version spoke to my heart. A Prophecy to the Mountains of Israel. Always on the tip of my tongue is the phrase “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” I’m listening!
The chapter begins by describing the destruction and desolation the nation of Israel suffered from nearby nations. God announces punishment for these offending nations and restoration for Israel.
In His jealous wrath, God scorns these mocking and assaulting nations. And He promises Israel they will possess and prosper on the mountain of Israel more than before. God also offers protection. Why would God offer such mercy to these people prone to wander?
All for the sake of His Holy Name.
God is about to show all of creation His holiness as He gathers these wayward children of His to showcase His power and might on the mountainside of Israel.
So, He gathers His people and now what? These are the verses that leapt off the page and filled my heart with such overflowing joy. Listen up!
24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Emphasis mine).
Look at everything the Lord promised and delivered! What did these wandering people do to deserve this? What’s the catch?
This passage impacted me deeply as it reminds me of my walk with God. For almost forty years I wandered around in religion. I was raised in the church. I knew of God, but I didn’t KNOW God.
Look at what He did for me and what He can do for you. Besides the fact that He restored my body, mind, and soul–He gave me a new heart and He put His Spirit in me. I wasn’t even asking for this gift at the time because truly, I didn’t realize what I was missing! He removed my unpliable and selfish heart and gave me a new heart of flesh. A new pliable and teachable heart. I now have an intimate relationship with Him just as He intended.
It’s crazy to me that He had this plan for me all along! As I reflect back on my wandering years, I do have regrets, but I don’t dwell on them. I won’t forget them though (Ezekiel warns about this in verses 31 and 32). These memories remind me daily of how far I’ve come in this joyful journey with Jesus. They keep me focused on Him. Daily abiding in His Word, trusting in His promises, and praising Him for His grace and mercy. God is now in control, not me!
He promises and provides the same for you! Allow Him to bestow His Spirit in you to live out your story for His glory. Trust me when I say, the view from this mountain is spectacular. Even the last words in the book of Ezekiel proclaim this truth, “The Lord is there!”