Friday, June 21, 2013

Heart Trouble

Any reader of scripture will catch on quickly to a recurring problem between God and his people. God is faithful and just throughout all times, yet his people have the tendency to forget God and go after idols. Their sin is called idolatry and it meets with God's judgment over and over again. The idols might be in the form of a golden calf or a false God, but God has decreed the He alone is God.

In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, there is an abundance of seemingly strange language of visions, being "lifted up by the Spirit," and events that are difficult to understand.  A lot of this is happening during a time when God's chosen people are openly devoted to idolatry.  The Bible chapter of Ezekiel 11 carries a topical title in my Bible that says, "God's Sure Judgment on Jerusalem."  The people which God had chosen as his own, were allowing other things to come between them and God. 

The first part of Ezekiel 11 paints a dismal picture.  God is extending his judgment on them by driving them out of the city. Further, battles will be brought against them and they will be delivered into the hands of foreigners.  The sad summation of God's judgment is seen in Ezekiel 11:11-12:

"I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel.  And you will know that I am the Lord, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.”

Even in our lives today, God sees and knows when we place other things before him.  Just as his heart was saddened with those mentioned in Ezekiel 11, he is saddened today when we allow our lives to be motivated by worldly things rather than God's goodness and love. Or sometimes, perhaps we want to have the world AND the things of God. But we know better than that. We cannot serve God and the world's riches.

I'm glad this isn't the end of the story. Ezekiel 11 continues under the topical title of the second half of the chapter, "The Promise of Israel's Return."  God promises to gather his people from the nations and bring them back to the land of Israel again.  He says they will return to Israel and remove all its vile images and detestable idols.  Look at verses 19 and 20:

"I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God."

That's what God wants with us, too. To give us an undivided heart and a new spirit.  You see, the heart that is divided between God and anything else, is an idolatrous heart.  The problem for Israel and for us, is heart trouble, but God is a fantastic spiritual cardiologist.  When we turn to him in love and trust and obedience, he blesses us with a new heart and leads us back to him. 


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