Day 196 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 34 – Here is where we begin to see the magnitude of God’s love toward His people. Instead of judgment, the Lord now begins to effect a series of amazing reversals in the life of His people (Chapters 34–39). He gives them care in the face of abuse, life in the face of death, and victory in the face of defeat.In 34:1–10, God condemns the shepherds of Israel for exploiting the people—using them for their own gain and for their own pleasure instead of caring for them as they should have. In verses 11–16, God takes matters into His own hands, saying that He will shepherd His sheep. He will care for His people in all the ways their leaders have not.
Verses 23–24 contain another promise that God will restore the throne of David, even after it has been thrown down by the Babylonians. What is more, verses 25–31 promise that God will make a covenant of peace with His people, providing “showers of blessing” for their land, security from enemies, and His own presence. This is all reflective of His promises for an everlasting covenant in 16:59–63.
In Jesus, this everlasting peace is secured. It is secured by the greatest reversal of all, the climactic reversal of life out of death and victory out of defeat. On the cross, by all appearances, hell had won. Satan looked decisively victorious. Yet it was precisely that moment of public’s disgrace, shame, and tragedy that achieved the release of God’s people—restoration, forgiveness, invincible joy (Romans 16:20; Colossians 2:13–15). Through His great love and care for His people, God has indeed shepherded them—Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4).
How does the fact that these Old Covenant prophecies all point to Jesus, reassure your faith in Him?
Ezekiel 35 & 36 – In these next three chapters (35-37) God shows His people that He is able to grant them life out of certain and seemingly irreversible death. The note is first struck in chapters 35–36, which form a pair of prophecies to two mountains, first Mount Seir in the land of Edom and then the mountains of Israel. Edom has every reason to believe that she has defeated Israel. You can see her confidence in 35:10–12, and again in 36:2–3.
For Israel, the situation seems hopeless; she has no army and no king. She is all but dead. And yet, once again, God steps in and reverses the situation. He rescues Israel, gives her a new heart, and makes her desolate mountains explode with life (36:22–38).
A pattern that resounds throughout the Bible is that it is when God’s people are at their lowest, their weakest, their most despairing, that grace steps in. God is drawn to the needy, the hopeless, and the perplexed. This is His way. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
In 36:25–27 we see a powerful image of the new life that God gives to His people when they come to Him in faith. What is needed is not simply a new ethical direction or a decision to live a better life. What is needed is “a new heart, and a new spirit”—and not a new heart created in some self-generated way, but one given by God: “I will give you a new heart” (v. 26).
We are people whose hearts are naturally made of stony rebellion toward God. None are exempt from this. Our only hope of salvation is for God, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to perform the miracle of removing those stony hearts and giving us “hearts of flesh” instead (v. 26)—that is, hearts that respond to Him and love Him and desire to know Him. We are dead in our transgressions, and we need to be brought from death to life (Ephesians 2:1–7). As Jesus said, we need to be born again (John 3:1–8).
The new life that the gospel brings is not a new set of clever strategies, or spiritual rehabilitation, or fresh resolve to live in a new way out of our old resources. It is an utterly new and foreign importation of divine power that changes us at the very core of who we are. We are changed from the inside out. It is a transformation so profound that even our very desires are changed. The Bible calls this regeneration, or new birth (Titus 3:5). Here in Ezekiel 36 we see one of the Old Testament’s most beautiful and clearest anticipations of this inside-out change.
How has God changed you?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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