For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord . Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel! – Ezekiel 36:24-32
Well today is the day….Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out in the theaters. As a teenager I was very much a part of the original Star Wars phenomena. I went to the first movie 15 times in the theaters and it transformed my outlook on the future to one in which we humans could one day travel and live in the stars. I remember sleeping out under the stars on our deck and dreaming about being a star voyager like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Of course we are still a ways away from the reality of travelling to the stars, but we have made amazing strides.
So in the words of Yoda, and in honor of star wars….”Interesting this passage is”. It comes on the heels of the last passage in Ezekiel about “Muddying the Waters“. This passage also contains language that would be right at home in the new testament, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you”. This sounds very much like the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to send (John 14:15-31). The water imagery is also very reminiscent of John the Baptist and Jesus baptizing with water along the Jordan River.
As I have floated through the old testament the concept of a heart has been used many times. Back in the Psalms God described “hearts that live” when trying to explain how to please God (Psalm 69:30-36) and in Joshua we explored how our hearts (read souls) can be like water (Joshua 7:3-9). In most cases, God has used the idea of our hearts to refer to our souls, the part inside of us that makes decisions and choices. God can “channel our hearts” but only if we let Him and His Holy Spirit into our souls.
I really like the imagery when God says that He will “remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” It made me ponder what it means to have a heart (read soul) of stone and how our souls would look different with a heart (soul) of flesh. As a geologist I probably think of “stones” differently than most “normal” people. In my mind they are durable, unchangeable, and fixed in their composition under most conditions. So to carry the analogy to a logical conclusion, to have a heart of stone is to have a fixed and unchangeable soul. The opposite of this is an organic and ever-changing soul (“heart of flesh”).
God explains how we achieve this heart of flesh. It is not by our own skills or might, in fact we are not even to take any credit for it. God warned the people of Israel that “I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord”. We need only allow God to “put my Spirit in you”. In other words to have a “heart of flesh”, we need to invite the Holy Spirit and God to dwell in our souls. This is something that all of us can do at any time or place. It does not require a college degree or special physical ability. It merely requires humility and a realization that for our souls to be connected to God we need to have an “adapter”, the Holy Spirit. God will save us from all our uncleanness. We do not need to do the heavy lifting, God has already done it.
Prayer: God thank You for giving us your Holy Spirit so we may have hearts of flesh and know You more deeply.