“And there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
I was just talking with my 10-year-old son about Ezekiel…
Me: I’m so tired of the heavy judgment oracles. They just seem especially… harsh.
Him: Is the whole book that way?
Me: No, only half. The last half contains visions of hope and restoration.
Him: Well there’s your explanation, Mom. The contrast is the point. If the judgment weren’t so dark, then the restoration wouldn’t seem as sweet.
I think he has a point. But it doesn’t make the first half of the book any easier to bear… at least for me.
In Acts, we begin the long narrative of Peter and Cornelius, the Gentile Centurion. This account lays the foundation for the inclusion of Gentiles in the church and the cessation of clean/unclean guidelines and other ceremonial laws – including festivals and circumcision.
All of these laws were established to make Israel unique among the nations and point to Christ as the ultimate sacrifice for sin. After Christ came and opened the Kingdom to people from all tribes and nations, the need to distinguish a nation through ceremonial laws was made obsolete. Christians are to be characterized by love for their neighbor that comes through a circumcised heart – not the external sign of circumcision.
The promise of Ezekiel looks forward to this Church age…
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
See… there is good news in Ezekiel ;)