“Although I sent them far away. . . yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone. . . . I will gather them . . . and I will give you back the land of Israel again. They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. . . . They will be my people and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:16-20)
Sometimes God removes us from the sanctuary we’ve always known to give us a sanctuary in a new place, to see with fresh eyes and learn a new dependence on Him. But He always brings us back to what He has promised: when we are faithful, He is faithful to His purposes and promises.
Here, the exiles have been removed from Jerusalem’s temple and the idolatry that had been polluting it for decades. When God does bring the faithful of His people back, they will be a cleansing wave that washes away the unholy. God has set them apart so that He can do a heart transplant; removing hearts that had become hardened, and replacing them with hearts beating in rhythm with His. He will give them hearts that are not divided — one part for Him, and the rest for the world — but are wholly devoted to Him.
These will be hearts that eagerly follow God and know the wisdom of keeping their boundaries well-marked. They will know that the lines God draws are for our protection; not to deprive us, but to keep us from harm.
These are hearts that know that our sanctuary — our holy place, our place of security, the location of our peace — is God. It’s an important reminder that He is our sanctuary, wherever we are.