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STONE COLD DEAD
Text: Ezekiel 36:24-28
Preached by Vicar Roy Askins

Stone cold dead. That’s how God describes the hearts of the Israelites. They had abandoned God’s ways and played the harlot with other nations (Ezekiel 16). They refused and failed to be obedient and walk in the statutes of God. How did God then respond?
STONE COLD DEAD
Text: Ezekiel 36:24-28
Preached by Vicar Roy Askins

Stone cold dead. That’s how God describes the hearts of the Israelites. They had abandoned God’s ways and played the harlot with other nations (Ezekiel 16). They refused and failed to be obedient and walk in the statutes of God. How did God then respond? He responded to their hearts of stone by turning His hand away from them and allowing the pagan nations to overcome them. There, spread among the nations and unable and unwilling to worship the Lord their God among the Gentiles, their hearts remained stone cold dead.

Stone cold dead. Those words also described you once. You possessed a heart of stone, not a heart of flesh. You were opposed to God’s Law and did not walk in His statutes. You were spread among the heathen nations as one of those Gentiles. You had no spirit within you at all.

Stone cold dead also described the God-man Jesus last Friday, but in a physical way. After His terrific cry, “It is finished,” He heart went cold in death. Sin had taken its toll. The Son of God had died. He died and was laid on a cold stone bench, in a tomb of stone, closed up with a stone, and sealed by the cold stone of Pilate’s seal.

Look closer a moment, though. Look closer and you’ll see He’s not laying there any longer. The stone surrounding Christ could not hold Him. His heart could not remain stone dead. On the contrary, His heart lives, and lives in order to give you and me new life. Even though it seemed for a minute that God the Father remained stone deaf to His Son’s cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He did not. The stones of death could not hold His Son forever.
This does not mean, however, that we pass lightly over His death. For by virtue of Christ’s death where He was surrounded in stone, God removes hearts of stone and replaces them with hearts of flesh. Where Israel had once abandoned the Father’s statutes and laws, now by the death of Christ they may be obedient to them. In light of the promised Messiah, God the Father could reach into their chests and remove their hearts of stone so that the stones of death could not forever bind them. Then He would restore them as He promised, with hearts of flesh and with His Spirit.

The story is the same for you dear Christians. While we prepare for the celebration of Easter yet to come, here at this Easter Vigil, we already know how the story ends. Ultimately, it culminates when Christ rises from the stone tomb. The gifts of His rising are given to you when God places in your chest a new heart. He rips out the heart of stone and gives you instead a heart of flesh. He sprinkles you with water and cleanses you from all your uncleanness. He washes away all your idolatries and sins. No longer now will the stones of death hold you forever.

Now you will walk in His statutes and obey His commands. The promise to Israel holds still as a promise to you this day. “ And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:27) The Holy Spirit dwells in you; you are His temple. He has exchanged your heart of stone, for one of flesh.

To Him be all glory. Amen.