A New Heart and A New Spirit

by Kenneth J Price

"For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgements and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God." Ezekiel 36:24-28

These clear statements of predictive promise through the inspired pen of the prophet Ezekiel show us the heart of God towards His own created nation Israel. His desire is to gather His people, and this we are seeing Him beginning to do so that His purposes are being fulfilled. God is bringing about a new salvation for His people; they are going to be delivered from the nations just as He delivered them from the Egyptians so long ago.

They were set gloriously free; they were emancipated; they were delivered; they were saved from their taskmasters. Deliverance always speaks and is connected with salvation; God is going to save His people; they will be delivered from the nations where they have been scattered, and their great God will bring them into their own land totally. "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean."

No one makes it more clear than Ezekiel how deep went the terrible idolatry of the past, how terrible were the abominations of Jerusalem: the idolatrous image of jealousy in the entrance of the gate northward (8:3), and "every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel ... and you will see greater abominations that they are doing ... at the door of the north gate of the LORD's house ... women sitting there weeping for Tammuz."

Down the centuries the people soon fell to the worship of the idols of the nations among whom they lived, and despite the faithful warnings given by Moses, that they were never to forget, but always to remember his warnings, they were so often guilty of turning away from the great God of Heaven who had created them and brought them into being as a nation. Nevertheless, in spite of the clear evidences of guilt, the promise is made to them of salvation, of deliverance from among the nations back to the land of Israel, so that physically there would be salvation, but also there will be spiritual deliverance and therefore spiritual salvation, "for I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob" (Malachi 3:6).

However, this is not all. God also promises to Israel: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." We see this very clearly as a new sanctification, when God will separate His people so that they really will be a different people, separated from all uncleanness and all sin, and filled with new desires because of the "new heart" and "new spirit" that He puts within them. They will be separated FROM all previous desires not pleasing to Almighty God, and separated UNTO the One who has given them His statutes and His judgements. In them they will then walk and them they will do.

This is something only God can do. "Then you shall dwell in the land ... you shall be my people, and I will be your God." There will be a new stability, and there will be no more coming and going. It will be a new stability both physically and nationally, and a new stability in worship: "MY PEOPLE ... I ... YOUR GOD."

God's plan for Israel also includes the nations of the world, for He declares; "And I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD" (Ezekiel 36:23). God also states His reason. "But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went ... I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name's sake ..." (36:21,22).

The God of Israel, the God of the universe, the God of all creation will never go back on His word; He will keep His promises to the very letter. What a day is coming when all the world will realize, just as Asaph the prophet did when he prayed: "That men may know that you, whose name alone is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth" (Psalm 83:18).