It seems to me that today’s passage contains more than a prophesy for the exiles in Babylon and the other kingdoms. To my mind this passage is a vision of the Christian church in which we all have a singleness of heart for Jesus. Through our belief in him, The Lord Jesus has released a new spirit within us – the Holy Spirit. Clearly, those who were left behind in Jerusalem at the time of the exile, saw an opportunity to take possession of all the empty land left behind by their absent relatives. This kind of situation is still common to our time and to our faith today. But so too, are the words that The Lord tells Ezekiel to say to the worried exiles who faced losing all The Lord had once given them. These days, with all that is ungodly that goes on so freely in our society, it doesn’t take much to knock our faith out of line, and then before long, we can feel far away from God and our true home with him. Here though, in this passage, we can read a promise made thousands of years ago to an exiled people which still stands today for any of us who have heard about God through the gospel.
Ezekiel 11:14-21 NLT
Then this message came to me from the Lord : “Son of man, the people still left in Jerusalem are talking about you and your relatives and all the people of Israel who are in exile. They are saying, ‘Those people are far away from the Lord, so now he has given their land to us!’ “Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.’ “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
Today, as a goal, I would encourage anyone who feels far from God, or who has recently, to take to heart the promise that The Lord will gather you back from where you have been scattered. Not only will he gather you to him, but in so doing, he will even soften your heart which you may think is too stubborn and has become too hard. He will call you and make your heart responsive, and so he will help you to return to a life of simple obedience to his way. He will help you want to turn from those things in your life that you think you have come to love, but which have come between you and your God.
Ezekiel 10:1-11:25, Hebrews 6:1-20, Psalms 105:16-36, Proverbs 27:1-2