'A New Heart'
The 5th Sunday after Trinity Sunday | 8 July 2007
“It's what's in the heart that matters.” This saying might well be true, but what is in the heart? What's in your heart? In mine?
The Bible answers that question for us:
Genesis 6:5-6 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
Genesis 8:21 The intention of man's heart is evil from his youth.
Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, "I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin"?
Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
So the Scriptures speak to us about our own heart, and you know it. You might not experience it, feel it, It's not a pretty picture. If the Lord would come around to judge this heart, sick, deceitful, and evil.
So we better get busy, fixing up our hearts, making them better, stronger, purer, more holy, acceptable to God. Right? You don't want to stand before God to be judged like that, with that dirty stinky heart, do you? So what are we going to do?
When your heart gets week or sick you take medicine, have surgery, a few bypasses, something like this. If you're sick you can work to get better. But there is a point, isn't there, where the heart is so sick that it's dead, and the only hope is a heart transplant, a new heart.
That's where the prophet Ezekiel comes to our rescue with the promise of the Gospel. I'm going to read the Old Testament text again, and I would like you to notice who is doing the work here. It's not we how are fixing up our bad hearts, but the Lord God who is doing it. Over and over Jesus says, “I will. I will.”
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”
The Lord Jesus is the one doing the work. Your conversion, your repentance, your trust in Him for life and salvation is all His, His work. It is in His hands, hot yours, and this is good news for us.
I remember on time when I was working in Australia, and I had to carry a large amount of cash to the bank. I remember that it was about $17,000 dollars or so, and as long as the money was in my hands, I was nervous, looking around to see who was going to steal it from me, worried I would drop it or lose it. But then I got to the bank, and deposited it, and when I walked out to there with no money in my hands, I thought, “This is better!” I knew it was safe because it was out of my hands.
Dear Saints, this it how it is with our salvation. It is in God's hands, not ours, and so it is safe and secure. We are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hands. As Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” [John 10:27,28] Your are His sheep, Jesus new-hearted sheep. You are in His hands.
Ezekiel, before he was called to be a prophet, was a priest. In the year 597 BC he was part of the second deportation of the Lord's people, as they were hauled from Jerusalem to Babylon. It was four years later, still in exile, that he was called to be a prophet, to speak for God about the impending doom of the nation Israel and the city Jerusalem and the temple there. “Because of your sins,” Ezekiel preached, “all this punishment is coming upon you.”
But for years the people were proud, expecting a quick return home. Their hearts were hardened, and they refused to repent and believe Ezekiel. But the promised destruction came. In the year 586 King Nebuchadnezzar brought the wrath of Babylon on the city, and it was utterly destroyed. The rest of the survivors were hauled off to Babylon, away from their homes, their land, and their church. The temple was in ruins, and the people were crushed.
And with the destruction of the temple and the city came, for many, the destruction of their pride and refusal to repent. Their was great mourning over their sinfulness. It is to these that the prophet has the wonderful duty to comfort with the Gospel, the promises of God and His mercy and goodness and the forgiveness of all sins.
The text before us is that message of hope and comfort. It brought consolation and comfort to the Lord's church in exile in Babylon, God grant that it would bring comfort to us, His church militant, as we continue to fight against sin, death and the devil, waiting for the Lord's return.
“25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”
And the peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller
Hope Lutheran Church | Aurora, CO