God had poured His wrath out on Israel. He had allowed Jerusalem to be devastated. The nations all around them cheered at the catastrophes they faced. The Lord dealt with Israel for her sin. He dealt with the other nations for their hate. Now it was time to restore Israel, His people. He would restore Israel so that the other nations would take note. He restored them so that everyone would know He is the Lord.
Verses 7-9 read,
“Therefore thus says the Lord God: I swear that the nations that are all around you shall themselves suffer reproach.
8 “But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they will soon come home. 9 For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown.”
When God is for you, who can be against you? He dealt with all the nations that took advantage of Israel during her weakness and cheered over her hardships. He dealt with Israel who had defamed and defiled His name, who had worshipped idols, and been utterly despicable. Verses 22-24 say,
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”
The Lord promised to restore and heal broken Israel. He does the same today for His children. He brings the penitent to Him, He heals, He allows us to know Him, and He gives us the ability to walk in Him and glorify His name. The change He makes are visible to those around us. He glorifies His holiness, His love, His awesome name. Verses 26-32 read,
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.
He removes our old attitude of stubbornness. He gives us His Spirit so that we will be able to walk in faith. He rescues us from sin. He provides. He changes us completely from who we once were to become His. He transforms us to the image of Christ. He does all these wonderful things for us, so that all people will know He is the Lord, so that all people will have the chance to come to Him, repent, and be His.
God’s restoration of His children is not partial. It is whole and it is awesome. It is not for our fame or exultation, it is for His. His purpose is not so you can keep His love to yourself but so that everyone will know He is the Lord God. What He does in us is so big it has to be Him that does it. No self-help book, 12-step program, or self-discipline can bring about such an absolute change. Verses 35-36 read,
“Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. 34 And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. 35 And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”
When He does this for us, He also gives us the ability and even the desire to ask it for others, for those who hate us, for those who snub the Lord, and for those who wander lost and ignorant of Him. God salvation started with Israel but He also gave it to other nations through Israel. God saved you, but He will also save the people around you through the testimony of what Jesus Christ did in you. Verses 37-38 say,
“Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. 38 Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”