Well, tell them this, ‘This is your Message from God, the Master. True,
I sent you to the far country and scattered you through other lands.
All the same, I’ve provided you a temporary sanctuary in the countries
where you’ve gone. I will gather you back from those countries and
lands where you’ve been scattered and give you back the land of Israel.
You’ll come back and clean house, throw out all the rotten images and
obscene idols. I’ll give you a new heart. I’ll put a new spirit in you.
I’ll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded,
firm-muscled heart. Then you’ll obey my statutes and be careful to obey
my commands. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God! Ezekiel 11:16-20 (TM)
When the girls were young and I had to punish them, there were always plenty of tears and wailing. Yet, there was always a point, when the punishment was over, when I pulled them on my lap and reminded them of my love. My paternal judgment was done. The lesson had (hopefully) been learned – and I initiated restoration in the relationship.
In the midst of God’s proclamation of judgment, through Ezekiel, there is a similar message of our Heavenly Father’s love. Yes, the punishment would be carried out. Yes, Israel would suffer as a consequence of its sin. But there would be repentance, restoration and a renewed life. What’s more, we see in His message a foreshadowing of the ultimate restoration. Through Christ’s sacrifice, once for all, our "hearts of stone" are transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit into a living, blood-pumping, loving heart of flesh.
In the midst of the pain, there is always hope.