Today you should read: Ezekiel 36
Ezekiel 36 contains one of the most well-known and important passages in the entire book.
22 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. 23 I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord. 24 For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.
25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:22-27
The main thrust is in verses 25-26, where it is talking about God’s people being made clean and new. Many scholars believe that these verses are what Jesus references is in John 3:5-6, where Jesus is discussing what it means to be born-again (regenrated) with the Pharisee Nicodemus:
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. John 3:5-6
Here are a few things to keep in mind from our passage:
- Salvation and repentance are a work of God. Verse 22 says that God is bringing them back. It is because of God’s grace and mercy towards us that we are able to be made new.
- God works because of his holiness. Verses 22-23 show us that there is an ultimate purpose of God’s work in our lives, and it does not primiarly have to do with us. Yes, we receive the benefits of salvation, and God absolutely loves us, but the primary driver of his work is His glory first, and then our good. This goes against our natural tendency to focus on ourselves.
- God graciously changes us. When you read verses 25-27 who is the primary, active worker: you or God? It clearly says that God is the one who: cleanses us, washes our filth away, gives a new, tender heart and spirit. This takes away any potenital for glory-robbing that we could ever attempt to take from God, and makes God look glorious as he graciously works in our lives.
Our salvation is not primarily about us, it’s about God. We don’t deserve anything from God, and yet because of his great love for us and his glory, he saved us. It is not bad to focus on God’s love in saving us; it is true! But don’t focus solely on God’s love for you without also focusing on God receiving honor and glory through saving you as well.
By: Graham Withers — Associate Pastor
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