Ki Tissa and Parah
For the week of March 6, 1999 / 18 Adar 5759
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 30:11-34:35 and Bemidbar / Numbers 19:1-22
Haftarah: I Kings 18:1-39
Replaced by: Ezekiel 36:16-38
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will
remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my
Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws
God promised Israel spiritual renewal. He said that he would change them from the inside out.
Their condition at the time these words were spoken was described as having a "heart of stone." The heart in the Scriptures is the place of desire and the will. It is the place through which love and worship are to come. Stone is a lifeless, non-responsive substance. To have a heart of stone is to not be able to lovingly respond to people or to God.
If someone literally had a heart of stone, they would be dead. The people here are in fact spiritually dead.
We wonder at the kinds of moral choices made throughout society today. More and more we are losing the ability to perceive the consequences of our actions. Infidelity, abortion, and violence are signs of our inability to perceive realities beyond our most immediate situations. These are signs of having hearts of stone.
But God through Ezekiel says that he would do deep spiritual surgery on his people: "I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Imagine doing a heart transplant on someone already dead. This is what God promised to do spiritually.
The result of this operation would be a total transformation in the people's relationship to God. "And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
Years ago when I was first told about Yeshua, I was told that God would never make me do anything I would not want to do. I have found this to be true, even though, looking back, I see that I have been doing all sorts of (good) things that I thought I would have not wanted to do. God changed my heart.
I am sensitive to things that at one time I couldn't care about. I long for things that I didn't know existed. I love things that I one time hated. And I detest things that I thought I loved.
This is all because of the change of heart that God gave me (and continues to give me!).
Notice that it is God that does this. There is no call here for the people to change their own hearts. How could there be? If someone has a heart of stone, he could not give himself a transplant. Only if God does it, could any change occur.
Does that mean that there is nothing for us to do? If we find ourselves in this deadly state, do we just accept our condition?
While I do not understand how this works, it seems that God has given one thing that we can do - prayer. We can ask him to change our hearts, that he would do the radical surgery we so desperately need to be truly alive.
Finally, while the above promise so well describes the experience of those who have come to know Yeshua the Messiah, we can expect that it will still be fulfilled one day among those to whom it was originally given. God said that he will bring this radical change to the people of Israel. He will. Expect it!
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