25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be cleansed of all your pollution. I will cleanse you of all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one, 27 and I will give you my spirit so that you may walk according to my regulations and carefully observe my case laws.
The prophet, Ezekiel, lived during the sixth century BCE. Exiled in Babylon, Ezekiel often spoke about God’s people changing their ways and then of God rescuing them. In fact, Ezekiel prophesied over and over about the people needing change, and that only then would God restore Jerusalem. Ultimately, Ezekiel’s message of repentance failed, because it is God who restores God’s people, and not the other way around.
God makes the change in us, first. Through the prophet, Ezekiel, God says, “I will sprinkle you with water…. I will give you a new heart…. I will give you my spirit….”
God’s words through Ezekiel are meant to be God’s message of hope. Doesn’t it sound like a spiritual heart transplant? What holy surgery is this? God is intervening through water and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we are getting a spiritual heart transplant!
In the New Testament, Jesus’ words will also remind us about the teaching of the Spirit that causes our hearts to change. As Jesus says in John 14:26, “The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you.” Ultimately, our salvation will not be because of what we do, but because of the change that God initiates in our hearts, first.
So, I guess Ezekiel got one important part right. We do need to learn to keep that change alive in our new hearts by walking in godly ways. We do that through living with the Spirit! Because God has given us new hearts, now we must learn to live in newly transplanted ways. (Thump, thump…thump, thump…).
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
We often react as if we need to change first for God to love us and to offer us salvation. Since God cleanses us and offers us a new heart through the Holy Spirit, what spiritual change or challenge most confronts (or comforts) you? How is your walking with the Spirit today different than yesterday?
Prayer: Holy One of God, you know our hearts and our unique ways to find life with and through you. Thank you for changing our hearts, first. We ask you to call us close to you, through the Spirit, particularly when we feel most unlovable. Help us grow into our hearts of change. Help us to grow and seek your change in all that we do in Jesus’ name. Amen.