Setting the scene: Most of Israel is in captivity and Jerusalem is about to fall. Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the remaining inhabitants of Jerusalem. “Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city: Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.” (Ezekiel 11.2-3 KJV) The inhabitants are saying that the stone walls surrounding Jerusalem will protect them like a cauldron protects the meat from the fire. In the end, they expect to be a delicious feast for the Lord. But God is not to be outmatched by their metaphorical meter. Ezekiel is directed to preach that the only good thing inside the cauldron are the carcasses of the prophets that they have refused to listen to and killed (v7). Subsequently the evil people will dipped-up and dropped into that same flame that is licking the cauldron.
These evil ones believe they are in God’s favor because of their location. They are under the impression that residing in their city makes them right with God, while those scattered abroad are on-the-outs, as it were. God’s reply to them is a wonderful warning for worshipers today. “Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them [in small measure] in the countries where they have gone.” (v16) God goes on to promise that one day His people will be assembled and clean the evil out of His city. He then promises them something we should desire. “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh…” (v19) While the remnant would return to Jerusalem, that heart part is for us!
In Acts 2 the Apostles preach in every language, calling to what will be the first converts! In Acts 4.32 we are told that “the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul…” God’s favor is not based on the external, but the condition of your heart. Notice the play on words? The evil people thought their place of worship made them “flesh” pleasing to God. But His recipe called for an ingredient they refused to add- a heart that loved Him above all else.