22Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. 24I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.
The prophet Ezekiel presents another view of God’s promised restoration because it bears repeating. Despite our flaws and failures, despite our wandering from God’s way, God is always at work to return us to the promise, renewing us with a new Spirit. Maybe we could consider this as a kind of promise of Pentecost. The book of Ezekiel is itself a kind of imaginative, prophetic glimpse of God’s restoration of Israel following their exile. It would have been a familiar concept to those waiting disciples, sitting in Jerusalem and looking for signs of God’s Spirit. God’s promise to Ezekiel shows that we will know what the Spirit will look like, because it will be like something within us. All of a sudden our hearts of stone are beating and alive, vulnerable to the suffering world that God has died to love.
Gracious God, let the same heart that was in Christ Jesus become alive in us, awakened to your compassion and love, to all you have called us to serve, in Christ’s name. Amen.