I’ve been using a One-Year Bible in my daily reading. I don’t see anything spiritually essential in completing the Bible in a year, but I like the idea of reading from cover to cover — however long it takes. I started in the spring or summer, and as Christmas approaches I find myself in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel’s vision of the glory of God departing from the temple in chapters 8-11 is incredibly powerful and haunting. The spirit of God, all whirling wheels and cherubim and fire and eyes and thundering wings, rises from the Holy of Holies, drifts over to the entrance to the temple, then travels up to the eastern hillside before the vision ceases. It comes on the heels of God’s revelation of several kinds of idolatry being practiced in secret and public ways. The pictures God gives Ezekiel leave the prophet aghast at the level of corruption eating at the heart of God’s chosen people.
Just before God moves from the temple doorway to the eastern hillside, he issues a promise to reassure Ezekiel: he will bring the exiles back, and they will remove all the 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.”
And that’s it. God departs and does not return until Jesus enters the temple.
What greater heart of flesh could there be? The Incarnation represents the heart of God himself made flesh. All those wheels and eyes and coals and wings reduce to a tiny, vulnerable infant who will offer salvation to all people.