Ezekiel prophesied God’s judgment against Israel, but also God’s promised gift of a new heart and a new spirit.
The nation of Israel had begun to esteem the land above God. It had become an idol to them. They trusted it to provide for them, instead of trusting God, who gave them the land and made it prosperous. God was offended because they were worshiping creation instead of the Creator. God responded by promising to send them to exile, away from the land that they worshiped. Following the prophecy of exile, the Lord promised Israel that He would always be their sanctuary, that He would gather His people, and that He would give them land. All of these promises brought hope for a people who looked ahead to a time of exile. Even though they had sinned against God, He promised to restore them.
Read Ezekiel 11:13-21:
- What aspect of your life might most easily become your idol?
- How does God break our dependence on things other than Him in the world today?
- What promises did God make to Israel?
- God required nothing of Israel when He promised restoration. What does that say about God’s character?
- Can you name some things that commonly distract God’s people today? Which ones do you most easily get distracted by?
- Is there a difference between the heart and the spirit?
- In this passage, what are the results of the newness God promises His people?
- How do we see the fulfillment of God’s promise of a new heart in the New Testament?
Taking it home:
- What are some ways we might try to escape the discipline of God? How can we fight that tendency?
- What are the idols in your heart right now? How can we help each other tear them down?
- Can you think of some ways that the concept of the “old heart” versus the “new heart” impacts the way you interact with other people? How should it inform the way we share the gospel with others?
Ways to Pray:
- Adoration: Praise God for being a sanctuary for His people when they are weak and abused by others.
- Contrition: Confess any “detestable things and abominations” you’ve allowed to take root in your heart.
- Thankfulness: Express gratitude that God gives us the heart and Spirit we need to live lives that honor Him.
- Supplication: Ask God to move on the hearts of your “kinsmen” and neighbors, that they would follow Him.
Other Scriptures to Engage with this week:
- Ephesians 3:14-4:6
- Colossians 3:1-17
- Psalm 133
- John 11:47-52
- Jeremiah 32:36-44
- Romans 12:1-13