When the book of Ezekiel opens up, we see that Israel has been unfaithful to God. They have once again walked away from God and His ways, and chosen to worship other idols. As a result, God brings judgment on the nation, and allows neighboring countries to come in and destroy the people. The Israelites have been scattered among the region. But thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Hope is where the story lands.
One thing we learn in Ezekiel is that God was going to restore Israel not for Israel’s sake, but for His name’s sake. Israel had profaned the name of God to its neighboring nations. They’d given almighty God a black eye in how they were living. And so God was going to restore the nation for His own glory and fame. He was going to give the people a new heart, and put a new spirit in them, removing their heart of stone. He was going to restore the land, and where there was desolation, there would be life again. And the walls around the cities would be fortified again, and the nation would be rebuilt physically. And the people would be rebuilt spiritually
This, along with chapter 37 is a picture of what Christ does in salvation. Where we are completely dead without Jesus, but then when we believe by faith in what Jesus did, repent of our sin, and confess that He is Lord and Savior of our lives, when we do that, a new life, a new heart…the Holy Spirit is given to us. We are made alive in Christ.
Maybe your marriage seems a bit like the story in Ezekiel. It all seems bad. That the walls are torn down, and the land is barren, and there is nothing but dryness and famine. In marital terms, there is a lack of love and joy, or simply just a spirit of complacency or apathy in your marriage. Or maybe you know that if something doesn’t change, that is the direction you will be headed
But hear this, God is in the business of bringing new life out of death. Easter is a massive reminder of that. That death could not hold our Savior down. He promised there would be trouble in this world, but to take heart, that Jesus has overcome this world. That in Christ, we have the victory.
Maybe your marriage seems like it is all but lost, or that there are only ashes left, but I’m here to remind you that God is bigger. Our God is the God of hope. He is a God who overcomes, heals, restores, and reconciles.
Ezekiel 36:26: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
We are born with hearts of stone. We are bent toward hearts that are sinful, selfish, and have the best interests of ME in mind. There is something in us, that still says, I want to do it my way. I want what is in it for me. I want someone to serve me. I want them to have to change, not me.
We need to get honest before God and say, God, do I have a heart of stone?
Maybe your heart is turning to stone toward your spouse. It might be because of past hurt, or a past relationship, or you’ve allowed a bitter root to grow in your heart? Or maybe you’re about ready to throw in the towel, or on the flip side, you’re not going to get a divorce, but you’ve kind of given up on trying to make your marriage better. You’re thinking, well, this must be the way it will be. Maybe your heart has grown cold.
You might even think, well, we have a good marriage. The saying goes; good is the enemy of great. Apathy can creep its way into our marriages, slowly turning our hearts to stone. A godly, joy filled marriage takes a fierce commitment to the relationship, it takes work, and it takes surrender. Ask the Lord to search your heart…is there a spirit of apathy or coldness you have toward your marriage right now? Kind of a ‘just get by’ mentality?
Heather and I have had those seasons. Where the marriage has taken a backseat, and then God in His grace, shakes that up and calls us to repent of that apathetic spirit. We’ve had our fair share of valleys, and challenges, and obstacles, but we would both tell you that if submitted to Christ, those seasons can be the most powerful leading you to greater intimacy toward one another and dependence upon the Lord.
May we seek to have a heart of flesh toward the Lord and toward the one we are married to. Our God is a God of hope, a God who reconciles, restores, and rebuilds.