Scripture: Ezekiel 36:16-38
16 Then this further message came to me from the Lord: 17 “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by the evil way they lived. To me their conduct was as unclean as a woman’s menstrual cloth. 18 They polluted the land with murder and the worship of idols, so I poured out my fury on them. 19 I scattered them to many lands to punish them for the evil way they had lived. 20 But when they were scattered among the nations, they brought shame on my holy name. For the nations said, ‘These are the people of the Lord, but he couldn’t keep them safe in his own land!’ 21 Then I was concerned for my holy name, on which my people brought shame among the nations.
22 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. 23 I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord. 24 For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.
25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.
28 “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior. I will give you good crops of grain, and I will send no more famines on the land. 30 I will give you great harvests from your fruit trees and fields, and never again will the surrounding nations be able to scoff at your land for its famines. 31 Then you will remember your past sins and despise yourselves for all the detestable things you did. 32 But remember, says the Sovereign Lord, I am not doing this because you deserve it. O my people of Israel, you should be utterly ashamed of all you have done!
33 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I cleanse you from your sins, I will repopulate your cities, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The fields that used to lie empty and desolate in plain view of everyone will again be farmed. 35 And when I bring you back, people will say, ‘This former wasteland is now like the Garden of Eden! The abandoned and ruined cities now have strong walls and are filled with people!’ 36 Then the surrounding nations that survive will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted the wasteland. For I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I say.
37 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am ready to hear Israel’s prayers and to increase their numbers like a flock. 38 They will be as numerous as the sacred flocks that fill Jerusalem’s streets at the time of her festivals. The ruined cities will be crowded with people once more, and everyone will know that I am the Lord.”