Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 15, 2011

“‘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

In the middle of crisis, with Israel at its lowest ebb, Ezekiel declared God's intention to revive His people, to rally His Kingdom. Many years before, of course, God had redeemed Israel from Egypt. And by His transforming power, they had emerged not as a loose collection of families but as a nation, a kingdom of priests. And He was about to do it again.

The long night in Babylon would make another turning point in the life of Israel. They had been taken into captivity a proud nation, but they would emerge as a new spiritual entity, a revitalized remnant that would return home with a new and responsive heart, a transformed people who would possess God's Spirit within them.

What we are witnessing here is the forerunner of the New Testament church, God's messianic community. We are witnessing God's kingdom rousing from the appearance of sleep, yet marching (as always) to the beat of God's sovereign purpose and perfect timing. We are witnessing what happens when God revives us from our rebellion.

Revival always begins with a righteous remnant. We see this truth coming to vivid life in the prophecy of Ezekiel, through words and phrases that still have the power to renew our troubled souls. When we hear Ezekiel speaking to the people of Israel (Ezek. 36:24-38), promising them God's cleansing, His renewal, His empowerment, and His restoration to fruitful ministry, we can feel our own sins falling away, the tug of temptation lossening its grip, and our spirits taking deep breaths of hope, vision and freshness.

This is the kingdom, this is the power of God rushing through our veins, restoring our weak and damaged arteries, perfoming His sovereign act of revival so that His kingdom can pour forth through us in power.

Take a moment to let the truth of God's forgiveness penetrate your soul. Whatever your sin, god's promise is that you can be clean and a vital part of His kingdom.