Reading through the Bible together
Like other prophetic books, the book of Ezekiel follows a basic three-step pattern. In the first section, judgment comes on Israel because of her persistent sin (Ezekiel 1 through 24). In the second section, judgment will fall also on the other nations surrounding Israel (Ezekiel 25 to 32). And in the final section, God promises restoration to His people (Ezekiel 33 through 48).
This chapter, Ezekiel 36, concerns itself with the restoration of His people. It explains the key ideas of this section and helps to form its theological core. The basic concept is that Israel’s sin and subsequent judgment has not only destroyed the nation, but because Yahweh is Israel’s God, His name has been shamed and profaned among the other nations. Specifically, it is Israel’s sinning that not only shamed the nation, but also shamed God. So God is going to remove that shaming. He will bless and renew Israel so that the people and the surrounding nations will know that “I am the Lord” (verse 23).
God will restore Israel to the land, wash her clean, and give her a new heart and a new spirit (verse 26). What is amazing is that according to Ezekiel, God does all this not because Israel has repented, but that the gracious acts of God will lead Israel to repent of their sins. God does all this because He desires His people to know who He really is and what He can do for them.
This calls to my mind the text in Romans 5:8 “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Have you realized God’s graciousness to you? Have you allowed His grace to draw you closer to Him and to leave behind the sin in your life?
Walla Walla University