“Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”
One of the joys of following a disciplined and consistent plan of Bible reading is that you are led through the entire Scripture regularly and as a result you begin to pick up some of the powerful themes which run through the Word of God. Such has been the case for me recently. We have been recommending that our church follow the McCheyne reading plan which takes you through the entire Bible every year, and the New Testament and book of Psalms twice a year. It is a wonderful reading plan which I have now followed for the past four years. I have been amazed at how much this plan has helped me to grow in my understanding of the Scriptures. Every day brings a new discovery.
A number of years ago I added to my daily devotional readings D. A. Carson’s For the Love of God. I began to read first from volume one and then from volume two. These books are keyed to the McCheyne plan. In one reading Carson suggested that the text which is at the head of today’s blog entry from Ezekiel 18:30-32 is one that should be memorized by Christians. I agree with Carson. Here we are called to seriously repent, turning from our sin and seeking God’s forgiveness. But there is more here. That Ezekiel calls us to repentance is clear here, but he goes deeper in calling us to take what almost sounds like a New Testament doctrine. We are invited to “get a new heart and a new spirit.” An inner transformation is called for here. The implication is that this is something that must be done in us by God. It is in fact a work of grace.
This is made even clearer when we discover that at the beginning of this chapter Ezekiel quotes a popular proverb which he then disproves.
“The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” Ezekiel 18:2
This proverb Ezekiel writes will no longer be quoted in Israel because God is going to do something which will make every individual responsible for his or her own sin. The stage is set for real godliness to come into the world.
In Jeremiah 31:29 the same proverb is quoted and disproved but now on the basis of a promised new covenant which God is going to introduce in which each person will have the Law of God, that personal spiritual knowledge of God, written upon their heart. What Jeremiah describes here is the born again experience. We are called to memorize Ezekiel 18:30-32 because it is one of the clearest Old Testament promises of the new work which God is about to do in us through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a serious call to receive the life of God into our heart and souls.
Will you join me in seeking this new life?