“…And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes…then the nations will know that I am the Lord…And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:23-26)
For several years, the Discovery Channel aired a television show called, “Dirty Jobs.” In the show, the host worked in strange or unpleasant jobs. Examples included bat guano gatherer, road kill collector, and chimney sweeper.
Ezekiel was a prophet of God in Old Testament times. He had the messy, unpleasant job of pointing out the sins of God’s people and informing them of God’s anger.
Israel repeatedly sinned against God, ignoring his commandments and worshipping idols. In Ezekiel 2:4, God called Israel, “…a stubborn and hard-hearted people.”
In Ezekiel 36, the Lord says for the sake of his own holy name, he would bring his people back to their promised land. God promised to cleanse them of the sin that had defiled them and to remove their stony, stubborn heart, replacing it with a tender, responsive heart.
Moreover, when God’s people turned their hard hearts over to God, and he changed their hearts, the nations would see that the God of angel armies is the one true God.
When the hearts of God’s people change, nations are changed.
Here in America, we may not agree about everything, but almost all of us would agree we face challenges that can cause frustration, impatience, anger, or fear in our hearts. As God’s people, we must check our hearts and accept responsibility for times we haven’t followed God as we should. Our nation is affected by the attitudes, words, and actions of God’s people—and our attitudes, words, and actions all flow from what’s within our hearts.
We may have heard this verse hundreds of times, until we almost don’t listen to it anymore. Let’s open our hearts and really listen to this verse one more time: “If my people who are called by my name put away their pride and pray, and look for my face, and turn from their sinful ways, then I will hear from heaven. I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
You know what I read in that verse? I read that fixing my nation starts with asking God to fix my own heart. We must guard our hearts because God uses us—his people—to change families, communities, nations, and the world. How’s your heart?
Dear God, I put away any pride in my heart and ask you to give me a heart that is soft and responsive to you. I repent of any sin in my life and turn my heart toward you. Use me for your purpose. In Jesus’s name, amen.