That Which Was Desolate
I’ve been thinking more about what I spoke about on Sunday (ie, the first of the four soils from the parable of the sower). I introduced the idea that the main reason the soil of our hearts becomes hardened is because we stop listening to God, and instead, listen to others’ voices. That’s Satan’s strategy for ruining our lives and unfortunately, it’s very effective – and it always has been. We see it working as far back as the Garden of Eden (“did God really say…?”).
As we turn the ears of our hearts away from God, the soil – and our hearts – grow hard, dry, and lifeless, like a compacted walking path.
The seed can’t go in: no root, no fruit.
On Sunday, I mentioned that famous scene from the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 36 – where God looks out on his people who have largely stopped listening to God, and instead, have tuned their ears to the voices of other gods and their idols. It’s an amazing scene. We could have spend the entire morning on Ezekiel 36.
Remember, their hearts haven’t just grown hard. They’ve become made of stone.
God knows what they need: new hearts.
Remember what he said in verse 26:
“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.”
He goes on to say, through Ezekiel, that He will make the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field abundant again…in fact, he goes on to say that when God ‘tills’ the “land that was desolate”, people will see it, and it will “become like the garden of Eden”.
The people (“the nations”) who see the renewed heart of God’s people – soft, fleshy, compassionate, and fertile for life giving, fruit bearing faith to grow – will see the fruit of their faith and according to verse 36,
“shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate”.
Amazing, inspiring, challenging.
The way it’s all meant to work is like this: we listen to God, trust in and believe Him – and follow Him. As we do, our heart grow soft and fertile for faith as it grows deep roots in us – and our life of faith ends of bearing fruit…fruit for the hungry in the world to eat! When they see the fruit of our faith, when they dine on the abundance that our faith produces, then they will know that the Lord is the one who had done it, then they will know that it is God who gives life, then they will come to know and see and follow the Lord too – and then they will gain new hearts, soft, fertile for faith to grow, from root to fruit, and on, and on, and on.