The first two-thirds of the Book of Ezekiel largely details God's judgment upon the Southern Kingdom of Judah because of her following after other gods and having a corrupt, diseased heart.
God called upon the prophet Ezekiel to be a "watchman" and to sound the alarm about the impending doom, giving them warning signs about their "heart disease" with a series of bizarre behaviors including:
- clapping, stomping, trembling
- laying on his side for over 390 days
- packing his baggage, digging a hole in the wall, and walking through
- shaving his head, and using a sword to slice through the hair
- baking bread over cow dung
- not mourning the death of his wife.
These heart attack warnings, of course, went unheeded, and Judah was carried off into Babylonian captivity. But in the latter third of the book, God begins to give Ezekiel visions of hope and revitalization of his people.
In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God makes this promise to his people:
"26 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. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
God's people have been unwilling and unable to follow him and keep his commandments due to their heart condition. And so God says, I am going to give you a heart transplant. I am going to give you a new heart, a new spirit--so that you can keep my commandments.
What God is promising is not just forgiveness for his people, but transformation. He will help them become what he calls them to be--a pure act of grace.
In the above video, a young woman named Abby tells of needing a heart transplant--and talks about how someone's son had to die in order for her to receive her new heart. Abby was incredibly grateful to this family's son because of what he gave her through his death.
I thought that this video was touching and filled with obvious Christian parallels. Christ died not only for our sins, but for our transformation. And through his death and the sending of his Spirit, we have received a new heart. Now, may we live our lives in gratitude to this Son who died for us and gave us a heart transplant!
What do you think of the heart transplant metaphor and video above? How does Ezekiel 36:26-27 give you hope and encouragement in your desire to follow God? How else would you approach this passage in preaching?