Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 644 · 2 weeks ago

For My Name

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ezekiel 36:16-38

The reading of his word and the preaching of his word. Lord, we do ask that, as you speak to us this evening in your word, that your word would do all that you intend for it to do, putting to death and giving life, comforting and challenging, poking, prodding, opening, revealing, Lord, and all of these things. We asked that we would not miss here your word, that we would not give in to temptation and use your word to do justify ourselves and our own actions. But instead, Lord, we asked that your word would simply be at work in us and on us, and that we would be receivers of it, changed and made by it to greater degrees of glory. For the sake of your name, we pray this in Jesus name m hm, I mean standing. If you're able, and let's turn our attention to Ezekiel Chapter thirty six, Ezekiel thirty six Versus sixteen through thirty eight so verse sixteen, and then through the rest of the chapter. Ezekiel, Chapter thirty six, verse sixteen. The word of the Lord came to me, son of Man. When the House of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds, their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity. So I poured out my wrath upon them, for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds. I judged them. But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that the people said of them, these are the people of the Lord. And yet they had to go out of his land. But I had concerned for my holy Name, which the House of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came Verse twenty two. Therefore say to the House of Israel, thus, as the Lord God, it is not for your sake, o House of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy Name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great Name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares, the Lord God. When through you I vindicate 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 on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from your idols. I will cleanse you, 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. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your father's, and you shall be my people. And I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant, and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the dis race of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil...

...we Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God. Let that be known to you be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O, House of Israel, Thus says the Lord God. On that day I cleanse you from all your iniquities. I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled instead of being a desolate the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, the land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden. And the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left to all around you shall know that I am the Lord. I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord. I have spoken, and I will do it, Thus says the Lord God. This also, I will let the House of Israel ask me to do for them, to increase their people like a flock, like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people, Then they will know that I am the Lord. Amen, please be seated. One of the phrases that comes up a lot in Ezekiel, and then comes up a lot in my sermons is that they will know that you will know that I am the Lord. And it comes up a lot again in this passage um several times the Lord reveals his intentions, his aim for doing the things that he will do. He will make his name known the world, and his own people will know who he is. How's he going to do that? We does it through a very two great acts of power, great acts of strength, one in judgment and one in grace. And that leads to a particular point, which I'll mention in just a moment. The work of judgment we see in what has already happened right the house of Israel we read in verse sixteen, lived in their own land and defiled it. They ruined it with their idolatry, They ruined it with murder, They ruined it in all kinds of ways that Ezekiel, the Lord, through Ezekiel has recounted the Lord. In verse eighteen, we read poured out his wrath upon them. Why for the blood that they shed in the land, for the idols, which with the idols with which they had defiled it, Israel had done unholy things. Israel had made the land unclean, and they were judged for it. They were they were spit out of the land, they were scattered to the nations. And in all that we see the great strength of God in his judgment and his power. He doesn't wink its sin. He doesn't ignore it. He may be patient about it, he may be forbearing about it, he may be very merciful about it. But he will judge it. He will judge it, and he does, and he makes himself known this way. He doesn't allow...

...his people to act like they are God or they are in control forever. He will show that he and he alone is God. But then what happens, A particular dynamic in the whole world comes into con comes into play, and we read about it in verse twenty. When they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned My Holy name. Now, how is it that they profaned his name? He explains it. And it's maybe not what you might first think. In that the people said of them, these are the people of the Lord of Yahweh, And yet they had to go out of his land. So here God makes all these promises in the older parts of the Old Testament, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to bless them, to increase these uh this family, to make them as numerous as the stars, and to dwell and to live and dwell with them securely in this land. And yet they're not in the land, and yet they're scattered everywhere. This great, awesome, beautiful family that was meant to be held together and strong together and exemplify for all the world what love looked like, what it means to live as a community fully in love with God and out of that loving each other. That was not here. Instead you have, you know, a land that is desolate, cities wasted, people destroyed, crops dying, famine. I mean, it's it's a horrible place, not a place that you would want to live. As other parts of the scriptures say, that is the Israel became like a byword, right, like when we talk about Chernobyl. Right, what comes to mind when we think of places like this, with these places that are just have been just destroyed and made useless and places you don't want to go. The land of Israel was like that, the land where God said he would put his name and make it to dwell. And now because of their disobedience and and as a result the judgment that they received, the people are out in these other places and people and the nations are looking them and saying, aren't they as Yahweh's people? Some God, some people. Their sins were having repercussions. In other words, their sins were creating yet more problems and more sin. So God responds to it in verse twenty one. He says, I had concerned from my holy name, which the House of Israel had profaned, among the nations to which they came. And then what does he do? He just blasses them like crazy. He says, I am going to take this situation of desolation, of death, of of of idolatry, of uncleanliness, of impurity, um of and of scattering, and I'm going to take it, and I'm gonna fix it all, and I'm gonna make it so much better. Have you ever seen a video. I saw a video this week where, um, this really surprising thing happened where kind of something sort of came to life. It seemed like it was dead, and it named a life. Of course, the videos in reverse, right, um, you just reverse, you know. You watch your apple crumbling on your counter and becoming worse and worse. You play the video innivers it's like this gucky, terrible apple, right, and it's really cool. Well that's just a trick,...

...right, This is video running the thing in reverse. But that's what God actually does and better. We read in verse thirty five, this land that was desolate has become like the Garden of Eden. And the waste and desolate, the and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited. Imagine that land. Imagine it with just broken walls and you know, wheel barrels slaying around places, maybe somebody wandering somewhere, and wild animals just moving around. A ghost town, a desolate town, a wasted town, and not just who knows what happened. Maybe the jobs went away. Everybody knows what happened, like a sodom and gomorrah. God judged these people. And now plants literally, plants are growing, rain is falling, swalls are rising, women are pregnant. The there are people being gathered in, people worshiping God. The whole thing is like running in reverse. But it's not a trick. It's the real deal. It's an amazing thing. And so in this way, God makes himself known, right, like I said, he makes himself known in his judgment, and he makes himself known in his grace, in amazing grace. The song that we just sang, three we sang it twas grace that taught my heart to fear, Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. Right, God pours out his grace in such a way on these people so that they would see He is God, they would see him and know him as he is and fear him. And at the same time, through all of this blessing that He's poured out on him, he's removing every need that they would have to fear anything else, to fear desolation, to fear defilement, to fear the attacks of enemies, to fear a hunger. It's all going away. God's taken care of it all. God makes himself known, and in particular, and here's the truth. I want to hang on to this evening and really impress is that what God makes known to us is that there is glory in God, glory, life, shining, magnificent, wondrous, eden like and better things, but it is in God alone. There's glory in God, there's life in God, but it is in God alone. And God makes that point in this passage by doing two things in particular. He tells us what he is going to give, and he tells us what he is going to take away. And I want to just go through those with you briefly. Well, there's a lot to think about here, and you know, we could, um, I could preach a sermon on each one of these things, but we're just going to list them for now. So what does God give? What kind of glories does he pour out on his people? It starts in verse twenty four. He says that he is going to gather them in from the nations. Instead of them being scattered and dispersed a family all over the map, He's going to gather and bring them back together. Number one. I won't continue numbering them because it's a long list and I don't have them numbered here. Um. Number two, though I can do that one number or two is in verse twenty five. He says he's...

...going to sprinkle them clean. This is baptism language, and it is one reason why in case anybody's wondering why we sprinkle, are uh we sprinkle in baptisms? What's one reason that that might be legitimate? This is one reason is Ekiel, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses and from your idols. I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and a new spirit. Right. This language of new life, of rebirth, of resurrection, right, themes that we think of very often when we think of baptism. They're all here, the work of the Holy Spirit cleansing from impurity. And he talks about it in terms of sprinkling clean water on them, which is why that is one legitimate mode for baptism. Now that's an aside the point here. The main point is that God promises one to gather them in to sprinkle them clean instead of defiled anymore. They are going to be a clean people from all your idols. I will cleanse you. Verse twenty six tells us that in addition to gathering them, in addition to sprinkling and cleaning, them. He is going to give them a new heart. A fundamental change in who they are is going to happen. He's not going to just tell them some new things to do, or give them some more instructions, or sit them down again and say, listen, maybe you didn't understand the law of the first time. He's not going to do that. Instead, he's going to just change their heart completely. An amazing picture, a new heart. I will give you a new a spirit I will give you. I will remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. This is rebirth, this is life, This is resurrection, language, new man, new people. All right, gather sprinkled, new heart, new spirit, Remove the heart of stone. Verse seven. He then says, on top of all these things, I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You couldn't do it before with your old heart. With your old heart, I would command you to do things and you wouldn't do him. But now I'm going to give you a new heart, and I I the Lord God, will cause you to walk in my rules. You will be careful to obey them. Does a new life does a new heart produce godliness, absolutely, because that's what hearts. God hearts do, God given hearts do. When God begins and he works the new life in us, he does it in such a way that we now walk in that life. It's his work in us. We keep going. In verse twenty eight, he says, you shall dwell on the land I gave to your fathers and mothers. I shall be your God, You will be my people. Here we have communion. On top of this, They're not just going to be individually walking, walking, and UH with the Lord individually obeying, individually leading lives that are directed towards love of Him and love of each other. But they're gonna do it together together. There they will. They will come into this land as a people with God over them, ruling them and loving them. The curse will be removed. We read in the next few verses, like I talked about that great sort of reversing video. Um, here the fruit of the tree will increase, The field will be abundant, and never again will you discuss UH suffer the disgrace of famine. On top of that, they will express this new heart and repentance. This new heart will lead to an attitude that instead of saying I...

...don't need the Lord and I don't need God, and I'm fine and I'm independent, and my sins aren't that bad, everything changes in them and you have this picture instead Verse thirty one. You will remember your evil ways and your deeds that you were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. They are going to come to repentance. They're gonna see their sin for what it really is. They're gonna see the things that they have done, and instead of excusing them or denying them or downplaying them, they're going to hate them as God does. They're gonna loathe themselves. It's not a miner or a small thing. They're gonna look at their lives according to that old stony heart and say, ah, I hate that. I hate it, and I hate it so much. I loathe that. I despise it. I want nothing to do with it. He says, he will rebuild them, not only their hearts, but their cities. The land that was desolate shall be tilled, it shall be brought for it will bring forth life. It will become like the garden of Eden. And then, of course At the end in verse Versus thirty seven and thirty eight, he says, I this will for those of you who were discussing prayer with me this morning. I think you'll find this interesting when he says, I will let the House of Israel asked me to do for this for them. He's gonna let them ask it, and then he's gonna do it. And what is it he what is it that they will do? They will increase like a flock, like the flocks that were brought in for Jerusalem for the great sacrifices, where the city is just teeming with animals. God uses that picture of worship for a picture of his people not being sacrificed for their sins, but giving their lives in a sacrifice of praise, living their lives in the full knowledge and trust that He is the Lord and he alone. It's the Lord. That's what God is giving to them. I mean, this is this is everything right. He's going to gather them in, he's gonna clean them, he's gonna give him a new heart. He's gonna unite them in love. They're gonna have this great relationship with him. The place that they live is going to be secure and strong. They're going to be repenting of their old sins and just growing and beautifying and flowering. That's what God promises to give amazing grace. Yeah, I think that's fair. It is really amazing. And so this is the glory that God gives. This is what it means to live in His glory, to experience life in him. These are pictures of that for us. But as I mentioned, God not only gives something in this passage and explains what he gives, he also takes away. What does he take away? Well, as he gives his own glory to them, he takes away theirs, he takes away their's. Look at verse twenty two. Therefore, say to the House of Israel, Thus says the Lord God, it is not for your sake, o, House of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my Holy name. It is not for your sake, but for my sake and the sake of my Holy name. Now there is a way in which God is acting for their sake, for their benefits. So, for example, this morning we read in Titus one through four that Paul comes as God's servant um for the It says Paul a servant of God and apostle of Jesus...

Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth which accords with godliness and the hope of eternal life. So Titus Paul says, Paul, sent from God, says, I am coming for your sake, for your benefit, and he gives specific things which will talk about next Sunday morning. So what does the Lord mean here when he says it's not for your sake. Well, clearly it's for their benefit, right, because he's pouring out all kinds of benefits on them. He's not saying they received no benefit, just the opposite. But what he is saying is, at a fundamental level, he is doing this first and foremost for the sake of his name, and not for their name. For His glory, not for their glory. We see that in verse twenty two, and he keeps repeating it over and over verse twenty three. I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, my great name, he says, and the end of that verse, I will vindicate my holiness before their eyes, I I I. The Lord keeps emphasizing and underlining this point that it is about him. Look at verse thirty six is another example, and there are many. He says, then the nations that are are left around you shall know that I am the Lord. I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which is desolate. I am the Lord. I have spoken, and I will do it. I I I I am the one is really who is rebuilding. I am the one who is judging. I am the one whom the nations will look out and know that I am the Lord. In other words, they're not going to come into the land of Israel. Everything will flower and build up, and they'll say, man, those people finally got their act together. I finally finally started doing the right thing. What a glorious, amazing people, what an amazing kingdom. That's not what God is after. That's not the goal. Now, people say me, may say amazing things about Israel and Jerusalem and these kinds of things, but ultimately he wants them saying things about him, praising him, honoring him, glorifying him. We even see the flip side of this coin when he says in verse thirty two, um verse yes, verse thirty two, it is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord let that be known to you, all right. He's very clear about this. He then adds this amazing statement, be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O House of Israel. I don't know if that reaction, that particular reaction is always encouraged in our churches, being ashamed and confounded upon receiving the grace of God. Now there are other great reactions, right praising Him, having joy in him, celebrating in him. Those are also appropriate, being filled with gratitude. But I think it's fair to stop and say, for a moment, but this is also appropriate and even desired by God, to be in shamed and confounded for our ways. When God, let me read again those words from Amazing Grace towards grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. How do we come to a place where we stop giving glory to ourselves, where instead we look at ourselves and we feel a sense of shame. We look at the words of God and we say, I don't even know what to make all of this. This is too much, this is too good. I don't even have the words to describe what is happening to us right now,...

...as we see all of this judgment being reversed. The next chapter, the Valley of Dry Bones, God is going to raise this army out of death. Right, it's the same thing going on here. It's confounding. It's almost unbelievable, except of course, that it is the Lord who's doing it. And that's why it's believable. And that's why when we can look at our ways and we can look at we are are, we are changed. We are changed by the work of God in us. And so that's why I say what God is doing in this passage is he is telling us that there is glory in God. Absolutely, it's life giving, its life saving, and it will bring you much joy. But it's only in God alone. And when we recognize that, we begin to see ourselves new ways. Instead of depending on ourselves, we depend on Him. Instead of being proud of our works, we are ashamed of them, instead of being trusting, and the things that we do, we are confounded by them. Why by being confounded in a way by His grace. It's his grace that brings this about in us. It's his grace that brings about this change. Another way to put this is, in addition to raising us up or before raising us up, God takes us down. He humbles us, and he shows us who we really are, so that we and the rest of the world might know that he and he a loaned is the Lord. Why does God do this? I want to close with this. Why does God do this? Why does he give so much and then kind of humiliate us along the way? Why does God bless us with all of these blessings and then at the same time saying this doesn't have anything to do with you. It is kind of hard to hold all together. I think he gives us all of these things, and yet he just strips away our independence, just every last plank of it. He just won't let us have any of it, not a single shred are we left to hang onto and say, well, at least there was no nothing, no nothing, It is eye and alone. Why does he do this? There's so many reasons. I'll mention just a couple. One. I think one reason is because if he did leave us some measure of independence, even like the tiniest little bit of light, the tiniest little bit of of glory, then he wouldn't be the one true God. God. The God is the only God. It is impossible for there to exist. You know a billion or many billions of other gods who all get little bits of glory here and there. And He, the most God, is not on some sort of scale of being or scale of glory. He is entirely unto himself in an entirely unique way, in a way that's different from everything else. It is, in other words, impossible, according to his own divine being, to give glory anywhere but to himself alone. A second reason God makes sure to strip away all of our independence, all of our hope in ourselves, and to give all glory to him and to him alone, is because God loves you, and he wants you to have...

...real life, real hope, and real life and real hope does not come to us through our own glory. It does not come to us through our own good works, as the whole life of Israel hopefully has proven to you, as we have gone through these passages, and as we have seen a nation that had the law, that had they had the law, so clearly had God in these wonderful ways, and yet failed to obey him. Life only comes through faith in Him, not through our personal obedience to Him. And as long as we're hanging on to some measure of that we we lose something of him, and he doesn't want that for us. He loves us, He loves you, and he wants you to have the gathering in the communion and the life, even eternal life. He wants you to be clean, and so he's not going to leave you to yourself. Praise God, right, Praise God that he doesn't leave me, and say, all right, Christopher, go ahead and do your best again, try a little bit harder at this time, because he knows exactly what will happen. I will fail, just like I have time and time and time before. But because he loves me, and because he loves you, he steps into that mess of sin, that fallen man, that heart of stone, and he changes us, and he causes us. He acts on us in such a way that we now live for him and truly repent of our sins. If I could put it this way, in order to live, we have to first die. We have to come to an end of ourselves. And this, of course is all a picture of the cross. It's a picture of the work of Jesus Christ. When we look at Jesus and we see the work that God has done. We see exactly all the things that he's talking about here. We see that it's our sins that put him on that cross, And if we are honest about it, we can't. We don't have any excuse for that anymore. If the Son of God has to die in that way, well, then I have no no grounds for my own righteousness, right, I have no ground for that. When we look at the cross of Christ and we see what our Lord has to go through in order for us to be saved, all pride is gone. At least it should be. We should become ashamed and confounded about our ways. We should to remember our evil ways and see that our deeds are not good. And when we see the cross and think about what Jesus had to do, we loathe ourselves and we don't want to be us anymore. Get away from ourselves even we come to a point through God's gracious work in Christ, which begins here into other passages of the Old Testament, we see that work of Christ and we see that we have nothing to offer, and that He's offering us the world that in that same act of suffering there is victory. Colossians talks about the record of debts and its legal demands being nailed to the cross. It talks about Satan and all of our enemies being paraded in open shame at the death...

...of Jesus as he conquers sin and death. When we see the cross, when we see God's work pointing towards that here in Ezekiel, we let go of our works, We let go of our sins, and we give ourselves entirely to God and to his work. I have rebuilt the ruined places. I have replanted that which is desolate. I am the Lord. I have spoken, I will do it. All glory be to God. And because all glorious to God. You are saved because you're not on your independent little self anymore, trying to live out your life and your own strength and your own righteousness and in your own scare quotes glory right. You are a son of God. You are a daughter of God, living in the riches of your Father and his love for you. In Holy, Holy, Holy, another hymn we sang this evening. We're saying, all thy works shall praise thy name, and that's what we are. I think. The hymn goes on to say something about creation, heaven, and earth. But it applies to us, doesn't it are we are His works. I have rebuilt, I have replanted, I have given the new heart, I have caused you to walk in my statutes and my rules, God's works, and so we are. Does our praise come from It comes from God doing this work in us. When we struggle to make our independence from God, our self sufficiency from God, and our sins against God. When we struggle to make those look like they're worthy of glory, to look like they're good enough, or to look like maybe we can earn something, we fall short of His glory. We fall short and do not receive the promises that are here because that's kind of what we want. We say, I want to do it on my own, and to be on our own means to be away from all of this. To be on our own means that we are self condemned and that we have all fallen short of the glory of God. But when we put our faith in Him alone, when we put our faith in Him and his work in his doing, then we're simply free, just free, free to just enjoy. It makes me picture this is really weird, but it makes me picture a guy on a beach in a in a box like a refrigerator box, right, and it's totally dark, and he's gonna he's gonna relax today, right, and he's he's gonna enjoy and soak up the rays. And he's gonna do it by commanding the sun into existence right there in his dark little refrigerator box. And he can yell and scream all day, he can wish and hope, and he can scrape. I don't know what you would do. I don't scrape the walls. Whatever. Nothing is going to happen. And it's sad, right, it's sad too, because he's on the beach, right. All he has to do is get out of his box. Stop trying to live in this place. Stop trying to say I will create the sun. Just stop doing that and go enjoy the sun.

That's what's being offered to you. It's like that for us as well. When God comes to us and he speaks to us and the cross, he's saying, just come and enjoy me. It's all a gift. It's all free. In fact, I'm telling you you can't do any of it. I will do it, and I will do it all for you. So don't stay in your box. Don't keep trying to do it on your own, don't keep waiting and relying on your own strength and on the things of this world. Just enjoy his and receive it. The scriptures say the righteous shall live by faith, faith alone, in Christ alone, to God alone be the glory. Let's pray, our heavenly Father, thank you for the work that you have done among us, your children. How loving you are, how strong you are, how gracious you are. You have given us new life and a life that will not die, life that is bound up in the very resurrection of Jesus Christ himself, the first fruits of the resurrection, the living from the dead. And Lord, as we see these works in ourselves and in our brothers and sisters, let's rejoice. Teach us to give you praise, to lift up your name and say, Wow, look what you're doing, Look what you've done. Lord. We thank you for the spirit that you have put into us. We thank you for the life that you have given to us, a life that allows us to truly repent and to truly hate that old man in us. Help us to put the flesh to death and to live life by the spirit of God who is in us, Let your ways be known to us, Let your character be known to us. Let your grace be known to us, that we might sing of it, that we might glory in it, that we might enjoy it, and that we might share it with others, that they too might live and enjoy the Son of God. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen,.

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