Ezekiel 36: A new heart (part five)

This is week three of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us starting from Monday’s post.

Today, we’re finishing off our look at Ezekiel chapter 36: the new heart God promised via Ezekiel, and then delivered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We saw that if we’ve joined God’s people, we’ve been given that heart transplant, too.

Living with our new heart

So what are the post-operative instructions? How do we make sure our body doesn’t reject the transplant?

Simply this: get on board with what God is doing.

Continue reading

Ezekiel 36: A new heart (part four)

This is week three of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us starting from Monday’s post.

Yesterday, we saw how Jesus turned up announcing good news: the new heart promised in Ezekiel 36 was coming. A donor heart was on its way! Today, we see how that happened, and how we fit in to the story.

How did the transplant happen?

Well, just like with any heart transplant, someone first has to die. And this is where Jesus separates himself from every other religious and philosophical guru who’s ever tried to show us how we should live. He doesn’t just paint this Utopian picture of a people living with changed, obedient hearts—and then call us all, somehow, to live up to it. To change ourselves. No, he paints that picture and then makes it possible.

Continue reading

Ezekiel 36: A new heart (part three)

This is week three of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us starting from Monday’s post.

We finished yesterday with the realisation that Israel didn’t deserve their new heart—and neither do we. Our only hope is to become part of this reboot God’s preparing to perform on his people, and to share in that new heart. Let’s continue the story:

God himself performs the surgery

Ezekiel 36:24 ‘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.’

Continue reading

Ezekiel 36: A new heart (part two)

This is week three of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us starting from Monday’s post.

Yesterday, we saw God prepping the patient for the coming heart transplant: he was preparing the land for his people’s return from exile.

The patient doesn’t deserve a transplant

Not that they deserve it, of course. I mean, the next part of the chapter reminds them of this quite graphically:

Continue reading

Ezekiel 36: A new heart (part one)

This is week three of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us today.

On the 3rd of December, 1967, a team of doctors in South Africa performed the world’s first successful heart transplant. The recipient was a 53 year old man who was dying from chronic heart disease. He received his new heart from a young woman who died in a car accident, aged 25. They took out his old, dying heart—and put a new one in. And for 18 days the new heart functioned perfectly.

Continue reading

Ezekiel 34: A new leader (part five)

This is week two of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us starting from Monday’s post.

We finish chapter 34 this week by asking the question raised by Ezekiel’s description of “the coming Era of Good Shepherding” (34:17-31), the just reign of God ushered in by the Good Shepherd. What does that just reign of God look like? I suppose it should be obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be said, so I will.

If we, the church, are God’s new people; if we have Jesus as our new leader, the new face of our rebooted movie franchise, our new shepherd; and if Jesus’ shepherding is characterised by justice and fairness—shouldn’t the church be the place where justice can be found; where everyone has enough; where the weak are nourished and the sick have their wounds bound; where the strong get out of the way so the weak can drink from clear water and eat from fresh pasture?

Continue reading

Ezekiel 34: A new leader (part four)

This is week two of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us starting from Monday’s post.

The last few days have focused on the leaders of God’s people. But it’s not just the shepherds who get a word from Ezekiel; the sheep get a message, too. Let’s look at the rest of the chapter now.

The flock judged with justice

Ezekiel 34:17 “As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats.”

Although the whole flock is addressed, it’ll soon become clear that it’s the wealthier ones who are about to be critiqued for their failure to share with the poor.

Continue reading

Ezekiel 34: A new leader (part three)

This is week two of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us starting from Monday’s post.

Yesterday, we saw how clearly Jesus was the antidote to Israel’s bad shepherds: God himself, doing all the things his shepherds were supposed to do, to the point of laying down his life for the sheep. What’s more, we are now the ones who are led by the Good Shepherd—God’s new people with a new leader.

So in one sense, Ezekiel’s critique of the bad shepherds is not directed at us. We’ve got that new leader he promised, so we don’t need a human king or priest to represent us before God anymore. We have direct access to the shepherd.  

Continue reading

Ezekiel 34: A new leader (part two)

This is week two of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us starting from yesterday’s post.

In the place of the bad shepherds we read about yesterday, God promises that one day he himself will be their Good Shepherd. But how will this take place?

The Good Shepherd

Now I know you know the answer’s Jesus because—well, that’s always the answer. But I want you to notice how clearly he’s the answer:

Jesus critiques the bad shepherds

Firstly, Jesus critiques the bad shepherds; he calls Israel’s leaders to account for failing to lead the people well. He does it a lot. But have you noticed how he does it in the famous parable of the Good Samaritan?

Continue reading

Ezekiel 34: A new leader (part one)

This is week two of a series in Ezekiel 33-37, about God’s promised reboot of his people. If you’ve just joined, you can either go to the start of the series, or simply begin the new chapter with us this week.

A series reboot

When it comes to blockbuster movies, this millennium has been the age of the reboot. Fresh out of creative ideas? Never mind, just find something that worked a generation or two ago—cast a new lead actor, sprinkle in the latest in CGI—and you’ve got yourself a reboot.  

The most obvious ones are the superhero movies: Superman; Batman; Spiderman. Each time going back and telling the origin story all over again. With a shiny new lead to be the face of the franchise.

Continue reading