But many who are first will be last; and the last, first. (Matt 19:30 NASU)
Life is full of changes. The big ones, which often force us to be last, often bring about the best. Paul was in prison and out of prison and back in prison (2 Tim 4:9-13). His companions left him, perhaps because they needed to continue the work of spreading the Gospel while he was locked up. From their viewpoint, it may have been a very difficult decision to leave Paul with only Luke to take care of him. However, change can often force us out of our comfort zones to do something that we wouldn’t have otherwise done. Illnesses, death in a family, divorce, children leaving home, loss of work, and many other changes may be a wakeup call. We may discover through these things that we have been putting ourselves first instead of last.
Change doesn’t always happen in the way we want it. The disciples wanted change but didn’t’ want Jesus to be crucified; they didn’t understand the change that must be made (Matt 16:21-23). Even after Jesus’ resurrection, they still thought Jesus was going to bring change the way they wanted by restoring the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). Just like the disciples, we often think that political changes are what our country needs.
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezek 36:26 NLT)
Jesus’ plan for change is something that is much more important than any political agenda. Judah had been carried off to Babylon and Ezekiel was a prophet to the exiles. The exiles wanted to go back to Judah and God told them that He would bring them back; however, it wasn’t in their timing. Before their ultimate return, which is still in our future, He would change their hearts. They were idol worshipers and far from being true God worshipers. The same is true for any nation. Until the people of the nation have new hearts by being born again, there will be no lasting change.
It is also applicable to individuals. Unless we get a new heart through faith in Jesus, all our changes are only temporary and not eternal.