“MAKE YOURSELVES A NEW HEART”
Our chapter (18) in Ezekiel offers us a change of focus, instead of describing the sins of God’s nation, the prophet is caused to express God’s encouragement to individuals in that nation to turn from their evil ways and serve him. This is also a chapter which stresses the divine judgement on individuals and shows that the word ‘soul’ does not mean some ‘spirit’ part of a person, often referred to as ‘the soul’ that is able to continue ‘living’ in some way – even though the body is dead. This is what the Greeks and Romans believed – and the Catholics believed and most other ‘christians’- under their influence - came to believe in later centuries – and, of course, the Muslims.
Twice in this chapter Ezekiel records the words of God, “the soul who sins shall die” [v.4,20]. The Hebrew word can be translated as ‘the person’ wherever it occurs. Ezekiel conveys God’s blunt words to the people, “Therefore I will judge you … every one according to his (her) ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.” [v.30] Godlessness is obviously going to be the ruin of our world today. Just as Jerusalem and its wonderful temple were destroyed in the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, so will our world experience an awesome judgement by God. Our present readings of the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke are making this increasingly clear.
The final verse in our Ezekiel chapter catches our attention; its appeal applies just as much now as it did then. “Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die …?” [v.31] This is equally a question for today, “why will you die” eternally – never again to see the light and experience and explore the wonders of existence? Many Scriptures ask this question, read Psalm 49 as an outstanding example.
Luke records Jesus’ parable about a lost coin. A diligent search is made and finally it is found – what rejoicing follows! “Just so,” says Jesus, “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Jesus is the only person who ever lived who has never had to repent about anything. Has there been “joy in heaven” over you? Or will there be when you “make yourself a new heart” and marvel in “a new spirit” of mind as you are baptised into the name of Christ and commit yourself to use your particular talents in the service of Christ – before he returns!