I hope you get heart surgery.
No not that kind of heart surgery, such as a transplant or an artificial replace of the organ that pumps your blood. Though we can be thankful that we live in a day and age when it is possible and highly successful, at least for physical heart surgery.
What I am talking about is the new heart that all people need. In this post we conclude our five-part series on Ezekiel chapters 35 and 36. In Ezekiel 36 verses 33-38, God recaps the promise he is making to Israel. The people and land will be restored and cleansed, and they will flourish. But this is only possible if they first allow God to give them a heart transplant.
As he has said numerous times throughout chapter 36, he will do it. They can count on him. He is true to his word. They were the ones that broke the ancient covenant, not him. He is there for them. They simply need to turn from their wicked ways and run into his open arms which are ready to embrace them.
If they do, what God says will happen will be no surprise to readers of this blog who have been following the Ezekiel series for that past six months. When Israel turns to God, and God gives them a new heart and new Spirit, restoring them to the land where they will flourish, then they will know that he is the Lord. Once again, he reminds them of his desire to be known by them, to be in relationship with them. This is the most repeated phrase in the book of Ezekiel. God wants to be close with his people, and it will require his work of heart transplant in their lives, enlivening them by his Spirit.
I find Ezekiel 36 to be an astounding chapter, and one of the most famous in the book of Ezekiel. In this chapter we see both God’s work in salvation (which we know was fulfilled in Jesus), and human choice to turn away from sin and live in light of that salvation.
Thinking about that ultimate fulfillment of the God’s promise in Ezekiel 36, we Christians can praise God that in Christ, and by his Spirit, we do have a new heart. So what does it mean for Christians to have that new heart, to have the Holy Spirit in us, living in light of that?
Larry Crabb says in his book, Inside Out, which has been a bit of a conversation partner during this five-part series, that we need the Word, the Spirit and the Community of the church.
In our study of God’s word, we learn what is true.
In our relationship with the Spirit, we receive conviction about how the truth applies to our lives, and we receive empowerment to live in step with the Spirit.
In our relationships in the church community, we receive accountability and encouragement.
We need all three. God is at work in all three. The new heart he promises is available to us. But it is not magic. It is a process of submitting ourselves honestly to the work of God.
So what will you do? Do you need a spiritual heart transplant? Turn to God, and embrace him in a new way.