Ezekiel 36 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. I found myself immersed in this chapter exactly sixteen years ago during a very difficult time in my life. I had been betrayed and deceived by someone very close to me, someone whom I trusted and loved dearly. The Israelites have been attacked, pillaged and scattered. “Thus says the Lord God: Precisely because they made you desolate and crushed you from all sides, so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations…” Ezekiel 36:3 (ESV). Without sounding too dramatic, that is how I felt. My world had been turned upside down and I wasn’t sure there was a way back to “normal.” I was lonely and I was crushed. The passage continues in beautiful, poetic language as God explains what he is going to do and why he is going to do it in order to restore his people.
God tells the prophet Ezekiel, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came…I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you…You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:22-28 (ESV)
As I read those verses daily, as I meditated on that passage of scripture and marinated on the word of God, I was transformed. Scripture is informative but more importantly it is transformative. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV).
I recognized that even though the individual who betrayed me might be like the nations that crushed and made the Israelite desolate I was like the Israelites. I was sinful as well. In my own way, I worshiped idols and I profaned the holy name of God. My sin was just as dark as the one who had sinned against me. God promised to restore the land, the homes, the gardens and the flocks to the Israelites because of his love for them, not because they deserved it, but “for the sake of my holy name” Ezekial 36:22 (ESV). If God, who is holy and just, was willing to show mercy, grace and forgiveness to Israel, wasn’t I commanded to show forgiveness to the one who had wronged me? If God restored his people, wasn’t I called to forgive and do my part toward restoration?
2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” This passage in Ezekiel did and still does bring me to my knees. The words challenge me to recognize my sin, to confess and repent of my sin. The words remind me that I am not to judge others for their sin. The words remind me that we serve a merciful, patient, loving God. The words remind me that God is the giver of all good things. The words remind me that I need a Savior.
I am not capable of getting myself to a place of redemption and restoration anymore than the Israelites where capable of getting themselves back to their land and their homes. Only because Jesus lived, died, was crucified, buried and rose again am I able to claim my inheritance. I am a daughter of the most High King because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. We, as believers, are called to share the truth of the gospel. We are to proclaim boldly the name of Jesus. We are to glorify God by how we interact and engage with others. May we reflect the love of Christ through the normal rhythm of life: in our churches, in our schools, in our day to day normal routines of life.
Ingram Link’s non-profit, Created for a Purpose, is a week-long creative arts program that teaches 3rd – 8th grade girls that they are a unique masterpiece created by God. Click here to learn more.