“And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
Ezekiel 11:19-21, NLT
This is one of those complex portions of God’s scripture where several ideas overlap. In our English translation, we read compound sentences and knotty syntax. But the thoughts are God’s, and therefore significant. Without these truths though, I believe that we can quickly slip into a ‘comatose’ condition.
First we must consider who is involved.
- God [speaking through the prophet] declares His intentions.
- His repentant people [Israel] are acted upon.
- But there is a third bunch, those unrepentant ones who have decided within themselves that they will stick with their idols.
God is very decisive by this point. The prophetic ministry was supposed to work, many prophets and teachers have been sent out. But with very limited success. If we pick one out, it would have to be Hosea; his ministry was dramatic– but ultimately fruitless. The only real successful prophet was Jonah– preaching to Ninevah, ironically a pagan people. But God’s own people are living in flagrant sin. They remain untouched. They’ve chosen to remain in their sinful condition.
A solid and clear promise has been given. An interior work has been promised by God, if they can only show a minute sense of life. The nation is on “life support.” The prophets attend to the needs before them. They are very far from the virile and robust nation– they are in the ICU and are showing only scanty signs of life.
This promise is that a special work will be done inside. They will become both tender and responsive again. A new receptivity and awareness will come into being. The ability to obey will ignite within. We call this “revival.” Revivalists throughout history have carried this to every generation.
As I scan over my Christian life of more than 30 years, I simply see my own “cycles” of sin and revival. I wish I could have been more consistent. But I cling to the faithfulness of God. He stays true even when I’m not. He has promised me. I’ll take Him at His word.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Philippians 1:6, NLT
God will do what He can, His efforts are heroic. He fully intends to change us— if we’re only willing.
“A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.”
- Unwilling Prophets (godandgoodlife.wordpress.com)
- “Why did God tell Hosea to marry a prostitute (Hosea 1:2)?” (altruistico.wordpress.com)
- What is the definition of idolatry? (altruistico.wordpress.com)
- A New Heart (hemakesmefree.wordpress.com)