The Promises of God Proclaimed Anew

Ezekiel 36:23-28, 37:24-28

The Biblical text from the NRSV is always found in the first column.

The reflection by Fr. Dennis Chriszt, CPPS is always found in the second column.

I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.


My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes. They shall live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, in which your ancestors lived; they and their children and their children’s children shall live there forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations shall know that I the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is among them forevermore.

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God renews the covenant with Israel. Once again, the people have been in exile, and God send a prophet to encourage them and give them hope. Once again, the people are reminded of the promises of God, of God’s side of the covenant. God not only promises to return them to the Promised Land, but God also promises to give them new hearts, to put God’s spirit within them, to reestablish the covenant they had forsaken, not because they had turned back to God, but because God had once again turn to them. This is God’s initiative, God’s willingness to restore the covenant which they had broken. God wanted to put the pieces back together, but not just back together the way they were before, but back together into an even more glorious future for God’s Chosen People.

Too often, today, Christians think that they are saved by their “personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” The opposite is actually true. We are not saved because we have a relationship with God in Christ, but precisely because God had chosen to have a relationship with us. It is God’s initiative that saves us, not ours. God chose to send Jesus Christ to be our Savior. We did not. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves.

A number of years ago, some evangelical Christians came to our house. They asked me if I had been saved. I answered them quite simply, “Yes, and I had nothing to do with it. It happened some two thousand years ago.” God saved me, not because of my choice(s), but because of God’s choice. If I think I had anything to do with it, I will be tempted to arrogance. If I know that it is all God’s working, pure grace, then I can only respond with gratefulness.

The promises of God made through the prophet Ezekiel invite the same response, gratefulness for all that God has done, is doing, and will do for us.

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