Chapter 11:13-25 (ESV) - And it came to pass, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell down on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, “Ah, Lord God! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”
And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”
Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen went up from me. And I told the exiles all the things that the Lord had shown me.
Question to consider: How did God fulfill His promise to give them one heart and a new spirit?
Pelatiah was one of the rulers of Israel mentioned in yesterday’s passage who was being judged along with 24 others for wickedly telling those in Jerusalem that they were God’s favored and would be protected from judgment if they stayed within the city walls. As a young priest of Israel, it is possible that Ezekiel mentioned him and Jaazaniah by name because he knew them personally. If that was the case, it makes sense that his death would devastate Ezekiel such that he would ask if there was anyone in Israel who would be saved. His name meant Yaweh delivered, and yet he was not delivered from judgment.
It was no secret that those who lived within the walls of Jerusalem considered themselves closer to God and more blessed than those who lived outside of them. Thus, when those who lived in the other parts of Judah were taken into exile, their response was essentially “good riddance” because they considered them far from the Lord and not a part of the land that was given to those in Jerusalem as a possession.
God’s response to Ezekiel was that even though He had scattered the people among the nations, He was their sanctuary wherever they went. This is in line with God’s promise through Moses in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Outside of protecting and prospering those scattered among the nations, God gave them sanctuary through their synagogues, congregations that gathered to worship God through the reading and preaching of His word.
The promise to assemble them together in the land after the exile and give them a heart of flesh was fulfilled in Christ who walked in perfect obedience to God’s rules and statutes and grants us that perfect righteousness in His shed blood on the cross. Christ rules from Mount Zion in the heavenly Jerusalem according to the writer of Hebrews, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)
Today, people are looking for the land promise to be fulfilled in the place we call Israel in the Middle East, but Jesus gave this promise to the disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)
It is clear that the new testament apostles were not looking for an earthly land inheritance, but as Peter wrote to the Jerusalem church which scattered among the nations at the stoning of Stephen, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3-4, emphasis mine)
As heartbreaking as it was for Ezekiel to have to tell the exiled elders that the glory of God had left the temple in Jerusalem, he was also able to give them a wonderful promise that the Lord would dwell with them among the nations and gather them to Himself with an eternal inheritance.
Dear Lord, thank You for taking our hearts of stone and giving us a heart of flesh. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to dwell in our hearts and for giving us an eternal inheritance in which we can look forward to being with You forever. Amen.