In John 3:6 Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Is this the same spirit that God talks about in Ezekiel 36? I guess I’m trying to see where Nicodemus, someone I assume would know the Old Testament very well, should have seen prophecy in Jesus’ signs.
The focus of Ezekiel 36 is the restoration of Israel. Israel as a nation from its inception has been challenged but God has established it. Even though people attempt to overcome it, maybe even being effective for a time, they will lose it in the end. In this, God also is working to establish His kingdom on the earth. So before people get up in arms and say, “but Israel doesn’t always do right,” we have to remember that God is doing it for His purpose not theirs.
Now, in that restoration process in these scriptures we see Him say, “I will put My Spirit within you.” So yes, this is the same Spirit Jesus talked about in John. The problem with Nicodemus is the problem that most religious people have. They are so distracted by their religion, they sometimes fail to see God. Remember, Jesus dealt harshly with the Pharisees because although they were the teachers of the law, they never understood the heart of God. Even the disciples who had been with Jesus couldn’t really grasp what He was doing. At least not until some time after. In these scriptures in John, Jesus also questions, Nicodemus asking, “Are you not a teacher of the law and you don’t understand?”
This brings me to a point I want to express. I believe there are things that God has said, things in scripture, that we will not be able to understand without two crucial things. The first of these things is a right heart. That is, a heart right before God. Someone who doesn’t take time to really know God, will never have the right heart. Though there’s much I could say about this, I don’t have space for that here. Second, I believe there are things we CANNOT know until after they have happened. These are what would commonly be referred to as the mysteries of God. I’ll come back to that.
I have been a preacher who has often proclaimed things like, God DOES NOT work in mysterious ways. Now, while I believe that is true as it pertains to the way people are usually using it, I have adapted my general belief in it. There is a mystery in some of the ways that God often does things. There is a lot I could say about this as well, but again for the sake of length I will only address what I said at the end of the last paragraph.
People often argue biblical truths. If you consider things like the tribulation, the rapture of the church, gifts of the spirit, or things like this, there are a lot of ideas out there of what they are specifically. Now, while I do believe that all these things have some place in our understanding, I also believe that some of these things we cannot fully understand now. For example, and just briefly, there is a lot of argument about what is called eschatology, or what will happen in the very end. There is a lot of people that have a lot of arguments about what this prophecy of scripture, or that prophecy of scripture means. What I have found is that you can have an equal number of good points on both sides of an argument and still be confused. I truly believe in such cases these are things we will not fully understand until they have happened. God leaves them shrouded in a bit of mystery so that we have to live in faith until we see them come to pass. This is exactly what happened in Acts 1 when Jesus was asked about the restoration of His Kingdom.
Now there are some that may completely disagree with me, or even get mad at me for saying such things. And that’s perfectly OK with me, I guess we will just see when they happen. The overall point to what I am saying is, we would do best to simply seek God and to know Him the best that we can. I believe the reason that Nicodemus couldn’t completely see Jesus was for the same reasons that many people still cannot see Him. They are more concerned with their ideas of who He is than they are with who He really is. What we can learn from this is by what the other Pharisees didn’t do. Nicodemus seemed to questioned and then seek out the truth though He didn’t understand. He went beyond just stopping with his understanding, He sought.
To seek God with your whole heart is to be willing to be changed even when you find something that is hard to understand and to trust Him even when you just can’t get it. There is more about God than we could ever understand as humans. We will spend eternity learning about Him and being amazed in the process. While we are here is our job to look and listen and be open to what God wants to do and what He wants to show.