Our home fellowship had a rousing discussion yesterday as we dug into the Torah portion (Lev. 9-11) and the Haftarah (Ez. 36:16-38). In the midst of the Haftarah, I had an ‘a ha!’ moment. Walk with me as we consider something very important in the restoration of Israel.
Ezekiel 36:22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25 THEN will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
While I have often focused on the knowledge that God is going to do this for HIS name’s sake and this closely parallels the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31, which we’ll discuss in a minute, this time as we read the word ‘THEN’ jumped off the page!
We are not cleansed and given a new heart until after we are in the Land! Interesting!! I needed confirmation!
Deuteronomy 30 seems to confirm this sequence.
“So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you [a]call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 2 and you return to the Lord your God and [b]obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the Lord your God will restore [c]you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are at the ends of the [d]earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will [e]bring you back. 5 The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
6 “Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your [f]descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.
This passage seems to agree to a faltering obedience that comes from a right heart attitude, but the circumcision of the heart does not occur until after we are back in the Land.
Again, this sequence seems to be confirmed in Ezekiel 37:24-28!!
The simple point is that we do not have to be perfect or walking in uniformity to be brought back. That is not to say that we don’t have to be trying, but rather our heart attitude is of utmost importance. We must have the desire and part of that desire will be evidenced in our love for each other instead of bickering over dates, phases of the moon and pronunciations!
Months ago I wrote a post titled Learning to Color Within the lines… Upon review, that article clearly and succinctly explains how and why we need to learn to walk in unity. Only after we are returned to the Land will the Mashiach replace our stony, albeit softened, hearts with circumcised hearts of flesh.
I know some readers are scratching their collective heads because I seem to indicate that I do not believe the New Covenant is in effect. If you are asking that, you are correct. Based on what the New Covenant text says, we cannot possibly be in the New Covenant. In fact, the ‘everlasting covenant of peace’ mentioned in Ezekiel 37:26 is the New Covenant, a covenant not yet ratified.
A simple reading of the New Covenant in Jeremiah or in its two quoted places in Hebrews demonstrates that we are not in the New Covenant.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law (Torah) within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Besides the glaring fact that the New Covenant is with the House of Israel and the House of Judah (no Gentiles mentioned here or anywhere else…. time to figure out who you are if you claim to be adopted or grafted in…), the Scripture clearly states in unambiguous terms that the New Covenant will write the TORAH on our hearts. Any idea that the Law has been or will be done away with is an utterly false man-made construct from the pit of Hell. (I hope I was clear enough, there…. 😉 )
The sign that we are in the New Covenant as stated in Jeremiah 31 and exactly quoted in Hebrews 8 is that ‘they will not teach again each man his neighbor….know the Lord, for they will all know Me…‘ Are we there yet? I think not, else I would be doing something besides trying to share this and other Scriptures with family, friends and neighbors.
I highly recommend Of Elephants and Theologians….
So, where are we in all of this? We are stumbling toward Jerusalem. We are learning, in however a faulty manner, to walk in His ways according to the Torah of Moshe and by the grace of our Messiah Who by His Ruach draws us to be obedient.
Let us walk in grace and humility showing compassion for those not yet awake and charity toward those who may exercise the freedoms in Torah a little differently that we do. Let us be a people who recognize where we are: we have not arrived. Rather, we are on a journey that has quite a bit yet to go and we need each other!! Let us walk in unity!