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The Heart of Flesh Restored

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God prophesied amazing changes that will occur after the Kingdom of God is established.  Deserts will bloom, harvests will be abundant, and animal behavior will change, among many other things. These are all good things. But without a change in human behavior, it won’t result in peace and happiness. God has a plan for that. He says: “I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20 Ezekiel 11:19-20 19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep my ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
American King James Version×
, New International Version). The restoration of compassion in the hearts of people will be critical to establish peace in the Kingdom. It’s so badly needed today.

My wife and I live in a farm and ranch community in South Dakota. Returning from a business trip one late winter night, I noticed a creek across the road had completely flooded my neighbor’s cattle yard. There was a tractor parked in an unusual place with its lights shining into the darkness where the cattle would be. Sensing something was wrong, I rushed into our house, changed clothes and drove down to the neighbor’s ranch to help if possible.

My friend quickly explained that one of his cows had given birth to twin calves. The first was born sometime earlier near the rising flood water. Sensing danger, the cow arose and moved about 100 feet away and gave birth to the other. The first calf was lying very near the cold flood water, had never gotten on its feet, and couldn’t live much longer without help. The cow was mothering her second calf. However, she would rush back to drive anyone away who approached the first one. While her mother’s instinct was good, it was keeping my neighbor from saving the calf’s life.

We devised a plan in which I would approach the first calf to attract the cow’s attention. I moved slowly towards the calf and the cow immediately came out of the darkness to keep me at bay. In the meantime, the rancher slipped around in the darkness, grabbed the second calf, and pulled it up on a snow bank.  As he did this, the calf bawled which caused the cow to immediately rush back to defend it. That was my cue to quickly pick up the first calf and carry it to safety. The plan worked! The cold, wet calf seemed more dead than alive. My neighbor immediately took it to a warm barn and used his skills to save it. Amazingly it still had a spark of life and survived!

I returned to our warm home, pulled off my wet boots and coveralls, sat down to warm myself and turned on the 10:00 p.m. local news. The lead story that evening was about a worker in a large discount store who found a newborn baby in a trash bin. No one had arrived soon enough to help the baby—it was dead.

It’s very hard to describe the emotion and stark irony of that cold evening. We had just risked health and safety to save a calf, the offspring of a dumb animal. At virtually the same time, a human baby, born in the image of God, had been discarded like trash to die. How could this happen?

Much of the answer lies in what Jesus said: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12 Matthew 24:12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
American King James Version×
). Are we living in a lawless society today? Yes! Are the hearts of men growing cold? Yes! How cold will this world become before God our Father determines the time has come to send Jesus Christ to save mankind?

We are to represent the Kingdom of God now. Have we become a little hardened by society around us? When we hear of people killed in terrorist attacks, babies aborted by the millions every year and the other tragedies we read in the news every day, do our hearts calcify a little bit more each time?

We would do well to consider the lesson of the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. It contains a stinging indictment against a priest and Levite who claimed to represent God, but failed to help a badly injured man. The person with compassion, a Samaritan, was part of a group of people that Jews (part of God’s chosen nation!) hated in Christ’s day. Who do we represent? Look deeply. How hardened have we become as we live in this increasingly lawless society around us? Be honest.

God’s promised to replace man’s stony heart with a tender one. He made this promise twice. Once in Ezekiel 11 and again in Ezekiel 36:26 Ezekiel 36:26A 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.
American King James Version×
: “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” (NIV).

We would do well to consider this trait of true Christians. Are our hearts and minds soft like flesh? Or have our hearts become a little like stone—hard and lacking compassion and outgoing concern? Not only for our brothers and sisters in the faith, but for mankind around us? Jesus Christ was compassionate towards all. We are to walk as He walked. Consider this as you press on in preparing for the Kingdom of God.