Heart of (not Rolling) stone
For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!
From the perspective of the Hebrew prophets, the only true redemption for humanity can come through the total renewal of the human heart.
From Moses, they hold to the hope that “The Lord your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live!"
When Ezekiel writes the words above, the reality of a heart transplant is a few years away from being a reality.
In biblical Hebrew, the heart is where we feel feelings, think thoughts, and make choices motivated by our desires.
This aspect of humanity was corrupted from the moment that the serpent convinced Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. In so doing, humanity gained knowledge of that which was a) unknown and b) asked of us by God to be left to Him.
Interestingly, the serpent has been variously represented throughout mythology, and in a couple of instances - The Medusa and The Basilisk - those who engage with the snake are turned to stone. This turning to stone was analogous to "freezing" as in the "Fight, Flight or Freeze" reflex
When presented with knowledge of the unknown, humans tend to fight, flight, but most commonly, freeze. In gaining the knowledge of Good and Evil, humanity (amongst other things) learns about this place called "Tomorrow".
And Tomorrow is a scary place. Who knows what Tomorrow looks like. And so we get anxious. Anxiety concerns what might happen, not reality. And so we freeze. We turn to stone. We become unable to move or think.
When we turn to stone, we can't feel feelings, we can't think thoughts, we can't dream dreams, and we can't make any choices motivated by our desires. These are all issues of "the heart".
And so the intention of Yahweh as expressed by the array of authors throughout the Old Testament scriptures is an issue of the heart.
A heart transplant.
Stone for flesh.
As Paul writes "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."
And when the heart of stone is replaced, tomorrow does not need to be scary. Anxiety no longer has a home. Trust is restored.
Jesus unpacks this for us in his sermon on the mount. I'll leave it to him to wrap this up.
"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen colour and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."