We continue with our series looking at” the Promise Keeping God” this time looking at how the promised New Covenant will be successfully implemented. As it is Remembrance Sunday we shall also be observing the traditional 2 minute silence.
Jeremiah has told us what the New Covenant would be like; Isaiah has revealed that who would implement it; now Ezekiel, the third of the Major Prophets, informs us how the New Covenant would be made effective in the lives of God’s people. But before doing this the prophet offers us the surprising reason as to why the New Covenant needed to be effective – “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name” (v 22.)
Israel had shamelessly broken the covenant and had been punished with exile. As a result among the surrounding nations God’s reputation had been sullied, his power called into question. So in order to restore the honour of his name, God needed to make the covenant work by enabling his people to be obedient to it.
God’s reputation continues to be in our hands in terms of the aroma of word and deed that we give off (2 Corinthians 2 v 15.) A pleasant fragrance enhances his name; while a stench diminishes it.
Challenge – What does the aroma that you give off do for God’s reputation?
God needed to reverse his tattered reputation among the nations, enabling his people under the New Covenant to spread his fragrance, so he promised two things:-
1 – The human spirit would be renewed (v 26.)
God was going to engage in some spiritual heart transplant surgery, as well as some spiritual brain surgery. The heart of stone, which was dead and stubborn, would be replaced by a heart of flesh that would be living and obedient; while the old spirit that was anti God, would be replaced by a new way of thinking with a Godly orientation, referred to in the New Testament as “new birth” (John 3 v 3) and “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5 v 17.)
Challenge – Has your heart and spirit been regenerated and renewed?
But further help would be required to fulfil the demands of the New Covenant, hence the second promise:-
2 – The Holy Spirit will be received (v 27.)
The third person of the Trinity would indwell God’s people, enabling them to be obedient to the demands of the New Covenant, as graphically illustrated in Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of the dry bones (Chapter 37 v 1 – 14.)
This promise of the internal presence of the Holy Spirit was predominantly new, because up until now the Spirit had tended to come upon people on a short term basis, thus enabling them to speak or to minister (Numbers 12 v 29 & Judges 14 v 6.) But under the New Covenant God’s people would possess the Spirit, a promise that would later be confirmed by Jesus himself (John 14 v 16 – 17), and then fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2 v 4.)
So God’s people are now indwelt by the Spirit (Romans 8 v 9); they need to be continually filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5 v 18); because it is he who enables and facilitates obedience to the demands of the New Covenant.
Challenge – Are you continually being filled with the Spirit, enabling you to be obedient and to walk in God’s ways?
Theme: “Internal power for external purity”
Reading: Ezekiel 36 v 22 – 32
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes