Ezekiel 36:24-28 A new heart

The Israelite exiles were in Babylon because of their sin.  In the latter part of Ezekiel God promises to restore the exiles to their homeland.  But how can a holy God restore a sinful people?  Restoration would indicate forgiveness, and for God to forgive without repentance on Israel’s part would be a denial of his holiness.  There must be a change in the Israelites which only God can effect.  That is the theme of our text – a radical and all-pervasive change that God will bring about.  We consider Ezekiel 36:24-28 A new heart.

1. The new heart

Verse 26 is crucial: ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you’.  The ‘heart’ in biblical terminology is the centre of man’s being, his thinking, willing and feeling.  The ‘spirit’ is that which directs a man’s thinking and action.  Here we have a description of the re-creation of the sinner by the power and grace of God.  A new nature is provided.  Note – ‘I will give’ – it is entirely his work.  Sinners thus become new creations’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

2. The thorough cleansing

The Lord deals with our sin: ‘I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean’ (v25).  Sin is to be thought of not only as guilt, but also as defilement.  The Lord deals with both.  The cleansing is from ‘all your impurities and all your idols’.  How is this effected?  Not by the animal sacrifices of the OT.  Instead we read in Hebrews 10:14 ‘How much more, then, will the blood of Christ…cleanse your consciences from acts that lead to death’.  The promise given through Ezekiel has in view the atoning sacrifice of Christ.

3. The indwelling Spirit

The most wonderful aspect of the transformation God effects is – ‘I will put my Spirit in you’ (v27).  God personally indwells his redeemed people by the Holy Spirit.  This is a much richer experience than was known to OT believers.  The Spirit is our Counsellor/Advocate/Comforter (John 14:16), the evidence we are children of God.

4. The willing obedience

The presence of the Spirit is discerned through our willing obedience to God’s Word – ‘follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws’ (v27).  The grace of God makes the keeping of his law possible.  Obedience is the best indicator of our spiritual health and our love for the Lord (John 14:15).  He stirs greater love for God and greater obedience to him.

5. The gracious covenant

God brings sinners into a loving personal relationship which takes the form of a covenant by which he and his people are bound willingly in a mutual commitment – ‘you will be my people and I will be your God’ (v28).  The love and grace of God establish an unbreakable bond and we respond by loving and serving him.  It is an eternal bond of love.

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