TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 9-12
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” – Ezekiel 11:19-20
This is the third day of reading Ezekiel. On the first day, we saw the start of Ezekiel’s ministry as a shadow of Jesus’ baptism and the start of his ministry. And, one the second day, we saw that the theme of Ezekiel’s ministry was the same as the theme of Jesus’ ministry – “know that I am Lord.”
“Know that I am Lord.”
How will Jesus do that?
How will God fulfill the theme of Jesus’ ministry?
Jesus will give us one heart.
Acts 4:32 says, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” This is a description of the first believers, the earliest of the early church. Jesus gave them one heart.
And, because they had one heart, there were one as a people and shared everything with each other. Acts 4:34-35 says, “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”
Paul says this same thing another way in Philippians 2:2-5, which says, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus will put a new spirit within us.
It was better for us that Jesus, in bodily form, would go back to the Father. Because then he could send his Spirit to live within each one of us. This had never happened before. And, so Jesus truly put a new Spirit within us.
In John 14:16-17, Jesus said, “And I will as the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
Further, in John 14:25-26, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that i have said to you.”
But, the Holy Spirit was not just for the disciples. Nor was the Holy Spirit just for the Jews. After the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 disciples on the day Pentecost, Peter said, “But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.'” (Acts 2:16-17) The Holy Spirit was to be poured out on everyone.
The author quotes from Jeremiah 31 about the new covenant God established through Jesus. Hebrews 8:10-11 says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me.”
Notice how similar this is to Ezekiel 11:19-20. “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This is exactly what Ezekiel says. “Know the Lord.” This was the theme of Ezekiel’s ministry. And, it is what Jesus did. Through Jesus’ giving of the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts we know the Lord directly without the need for any human teacher.
God will remove the heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh.
Israel’s law was written on stone tablets. They had a heart of stone. They lived by rules and regulations. This is mine. That is yours. No sharing everything in common. Life was just the opposite of what we saw above for the early church when they received one heart from God. God took out the heart of stone and gave them a heart of flesh.
What does that mean exactly?
In 2 Corinthians 3:2-6, Paul says, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
Paul goes on to say that law carved in stone of our hearts was a ministry of death and condemnation. But, this was brought to an end. It was brought to an end because there was a better ministry, a better way of living. This better way was to have the Spirit of the living God write on the tablet of our hearts. This is a ministry of life. This ministry of righteousness far exceeds the ministry of condemnation, the law written on stone tablets, in glory. Not only does the Spirit writing on our hearts far exceed the glory of that the law, which was brought to an end, the ministry of the Spirit writing on our hearts, the ministry of life, is permanent.
Jesus and God have indeed caused us to “know that I am Lord” just as Ezekiel wrote.