Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations.
Ezekiel 36:22, NLT*
Israel’s ungodly behaviour caused the Babylonian exile in the first place. Set apart to be a holy people, living in fellowship with God as a light to the people around them, they copied their neighbours instead. They abandoned the Living God for idols of stone and wood.
God stated His case through the prophets—repeatedly—and then followed through on the exile as He’d said. He promised it would end, and the people could come home after 70 years. (Jeremiah 29:10)
Reading that, I assumed they’d be coming home because they learned their lesson and turned back to God. Today’s verse makes me not so sure.
They were still bringing shame on His name in exile. Still living by their own understanding and desires instead of wholeheartedly following His ways. And don’t we do the same, to a lesser extent?
We need what God promises His people later in this chapter: clean, responsive hearts, and His Spirit within us.
Then we need to listen to and rely on His Spirit. More and more, I see life coming back to this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5, NLT*)
Holy and mighty God, You save us when we don’t deserve it, and You change our hearts. You give us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our salvation. Forgive our waywardness, and draw us to love You more. Help us spend time with You to discover more of who You are. Forgive us for when we’ve brought shame on Your name. Help us live in confident trust in Your character and in Your love for us, so that others will see that You are our Good Shepherd.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.