26 And I will give a new heart to you, and a new spirit I will give into your inner parts, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and I will give to you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will give my spirit into your inner parts, and I will make it so that you will go in my rules, and my regulations you will remember, and you will do them. 28 And you will dwell in the land that I gave to your ancestors, and you will be to me as a people, and I will be to you as God.
Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Eze 36:26–28). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
26–27 Second, Yahweh will remove Israel’s fossilized heart and replace it with a sensitive fleshly organ. V. 26 is a virtual quotation of 11:19, as the following synopsis demonstrates:
|wĕnātattî lāhem lēb ʾeḥād
|wĕnātattî lākem lēb ḥādāš
|wĕrûaḥ ḥădāšâ ʾettēn bĕqirbam
|wĕrûaḥ ḥădāšâ ʾettēn bĕqirbĕkem
|wahăsirōtî lēb hāʾeben
|wahăsirōtî ʾet-lēb hāʾeben
|wĕnātattî lāhem lēb bāśār
|wĕnātattî lākem lēb bāśār
|I will give them a single heart;
|I will give you a new heart;
|And a new spirit I will put within them;
|And a new spirit I will put within you;
|I will remove the heart of stone from their body;
|I will remove the heart of stone from your body;
|I will give them a heart of flesh.
|I will give you a heart of flesh.
As in the antecedent texts, lēb and rûaḥ represent the person’s internal locus of emotion, will, and thought. Like Jesus, centuries later (Matt. 15:17–20), Ezekiel recognized the problem of rebellion and sin against Yahweh to be more deeply ingrained than mere external acts. Ezekiel concretizes the metaphor by describing the heart as stone, which speaks of coldness, insensitivity, incorrigibility, and even lifelessness (cf. 1 Sam. 25:37). Ezekiel knew whereof he spoke, having had to deal with the obduracy of his people from the time of his call. But God has been struggling with the problem for centuries. The present solution is more radical even than the circumcision of the heart prescribed by Deut. 30:6–8. The only answer is the removal of the petrified organ and its replacement with a warm, sensitive, and responsive heart of flesh (bāśār).
Concomitant with the heart transplant, Yahweh will infuse his people with a new spirit, his Spirit. On first sight, the present juxtaposing of rûaḥ and lēb in such precise, if chiastic, parallelism suggests that “spirit” and “mind/heart” should be treated as virtual synonyms. However, the synonymity is seldom exact in Hebrew parallelism, and here the terms are associated with different prepositions. The new heart is given to (nātan lĕ) the Israelites, but the spirit is placed within (nātan bĕqereb) them. This distinction is confirmed by the manner in which vv. 26b–27 elaborate on the two statements. The provision of the new heart involves a removal of the petrified organ and its replacement with a heart of flesh, the source of which is unspecified. But the new spirit placed inside Israel is identified as Yahweh’s rûaḥ (v. 27), which animates and vivifies the recipients. In customary Ezekielian style, the subject is not developed here, but will be picked up and afforded full-blown exposition in 37:1–14.
Third, Yahweh will cause his people to be obedient to himself. The construction of v. 27b is unique, highlighting the divine coercion: I will cause you to walk in my decrees, so you will diligently observe my laws (lit. “I will make [wĕʿāśîtî] that you walk in my statutes [ḥuqqîm] and observe my covenant standards [mišpāṭîm] and act [accordingly]”). According to M. Greenberg, “God will no longer gamble with Israel as he did in old times, and Israel rebelled against him; in the future—no more experiments! God will put his spirit into them, he will alter their hearts (their minds) and make it impossible for them to be anything but obedient to his rules and his commandments.”95 The declaration abandons all hope that Israel, in her present condition, can achieve the ideals of covenant relationship originally intended by Yahweh. The status quo can be altered only by direct divine intervention.
36:26–28. God will give the purified Israel a new heart and … a new spirit. In place of a heart of stone He will give Israel a heart of flesh (cf. 11:19; 18:31), not hardened toward the Lord, but alive in Him. With God’s Spirit indwelling them (cf. 37:14), they will be motivated to walk in (obey) His statutes and observe (keep) His ordinances (cf. 37:24).
God’s restoration will not be simply an undoing of Israel’s sin to bring her to a state of neutrality. Rather it will be the implanting of a new nature in the Jewish people, making them righteous. This is an application of the new covenant introduced by Jeremiah (cf. Jr 31:31–33) and initiated by the Lord Jesus with Israel through His disciples (Mt 26:26–32; Lk 22:14–20). Since the initiation of the new covenant at the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, any individual who trusts Jesus as his or her Savior can experience the spiritual aspects of the new covenant. However, in the future all Israel (all the Jewish people living at the time of the tribulation), when they call upon the Lord to save them and recognize Jesus as He returns, (Zch 12:10) will be saved and become partakers of the new covenant (cf. Rm 11:26). Implanting God’s Spirit in believing Israelites will produce a new spiritual relationship between Israel and her God. The Lord established a unique relationship with the Jewish people as His chosen people at the call of Abraham, a relationship based on God’s faithfulness to them, regardless of Israel’s obedience and spiritual condition (cf. Gn 12:1–3; Dt 7:6–8). However, in the future all Israel will recognize Jesus as the Messiah, and their spiritual condition will match their national status: then you will be My people, and I will be your God (cf. Ezk 11:20; 14:11; 37:23, 27).
36:26, 27 The ritual of purification from sin would be empty and meaningless apart from true repentance and the regenerating and empowering work of the Holy Spirit on the inner spirit of individuals. God would not only restore the people physically to the land, but would restore them spiritually, by giving them a new heart and new spirit to help them follow Him and do His will. (11:19–20; 18:31; 37:14; 39:29; Jer. 31:31–34; Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:17, 18; Rom. 7:7–8:11; 2 Cor. 3:3–18; Heb. 8:6–10:39.)
36:26 — “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.”
God does not want remodeled hearts, but brand new ones. He doesn’t want a reform in character, but a new spirit that loves to do His will. He wants transformation, not mere accommodation.
36:25–27 I will cleanse you. Along with the physical reality of a return to the Land, God pledged spiritual renewal: 1) cleansing from sin; 2) a new heart of the New Covenant (cf. Jer 31:31–34); 3) a new spirit or disposition inclined to worship Him; and 4) His Spirit dwelling in them, enabling them to walk in obedience to His word. This has not happened, because Israel has not trusted Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior, but it will before the kingdom of Messiah (cf. Zec 12–14; Ro 11:25–27; Rev 11:13).
36:26–27 God’s initiative moves from external to internal with the gift of a new heart and new spirit (see 11:19; cf. 18:31). The outer purification will be no use without the inner disposition to live rightly before God (36:27). The connection of “water” (v. 25) and “Spirit” (v. 27) lies behind John 3:5. I will put my Spirit within you predicts an effective inward work of God in the “new covenant.”
36:27 The promise of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2:1–21) and in the giving of the Spirit to those who believe in Christ (Rom. 8:9–17).
36:26 a new heart to you, and a new spirit Develops the promise from Ezek 11:19–20. Yahweh’s cleansing entails a total transformation of heart and spirit. From a biblical perspective, the heart was the seat of the mind and will, not just emotion. Ezekiel seems to use heart and spirit in tandem to refer to a person’s whole being (compare 18:31).
I will remove the heart of stone See 11:19. The people’s arrogance and stubborn self-reliance had hardened their hearts, making them unable to respond to Yahweh as they should.
36:26 new heart … new spirit. See 11:19 and note on 18:31. Instead of a heart of stone, unable to respond to God with love and obedience, God will provide a new heart and a new spirit. Note that these come as the result of divine initiative and not human attainment. Jeremiah describes the new covenant in the same way (Jer. 31:33; and Prov. 3:3; 7:3; Rom. 2:15, 29; 2 Cor. 3:3).
36:26, 27 The promise of a “new heart” parallels Jeremiah’s vision of the covenant in the heart (Jer. 31:31–34). This is the clearest statement of the N.T. concept of conversion to be found anywhere in the O.T. In the N.T. a new heart is the result of conversion (Matt. 5:8; 22:37; Rom. 10:10; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 6:6; 1 Pet. 3:15). Receiving the “spirit” is also fulfilled in Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–18, 23; 16:7–15) and the ultimate fulfillment at Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4). One day all of this shall also be true for repentant Israel.
36:26 The statement I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you reflects the teaching of Dt 30:6–8—that the Lord will circumcise the hearts of his people so they may live in obedience. This radical new creation (Ezk 11:19; 18:31; Jr 31:31–34) was necessary to break the people’s bondage to the cycle of sin and retribution emphasized in Ezk 20. Regeneration is a secret act of God by which he imparts new spiritual life to dead hearts. Texts that address regeneration include Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; Jms 1:17–18; and 1Pt 1:3.
26. new heart—mind and will.
spirit—motive and principle of action.
stony heart—unimpressible in serious things; like the “stony ground” (Mt 13:5, 20), unfit for receiving the good seed so as to bring forth fruit.
heart of flesh—not “carnal” in opposition to “spiritual”; but impressible and docile, fit for receiving the good seed. In Ez 18:31 they are commanded, “Make you a new heart, and a new spirit.” Here God says, “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Thus the responsibility of man, and the sovereign grace of God, are shown to be coexistent. Man cannot make himself a new heart unless God gives it (Php 2:12, 13).
Vers. 26, 27.—A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. The third step in the progress of sanctifying Jehovah’s Name (comp. ch. 11:19, where a similar promise is made, and ch. 18:31, where the new heart is represented as a thing Israel must make for herself). This antinomy frequently occurs in Scripture, which never shrinks from holding man responsible for the production of that, as e.g. faith, for which he is incompetent without the help of Divine grace. Besides the cleansing of her guilt and her restitution in consequence to Jehovah’s favour, Israel is promised such an inward renovation of her moral and spiritual disposition as to secure that she shall in future adhere to the worship and service of Jehovah. This change is described in a fourfold way. (1) Negatively, as a removal of the old, stony, unsusceptible heart, which had remained impervious to all appeals and insensible to all higher feelings (Zech. 7:12). (2) Positively, as a new heart and a new spirit, called elsewhere “one heart” and “a heart of flesh” (ch. 11:19; Jer. 32:39), “a heart to know God” (Jer. 24:7). (3) Causally, its existence being traced to the indwelling of God’s Spirit, who writes God’s Law upon the new heart, and inclines it to a life of obedience thereto (Jer. 31:33). (4) Practically, by its manifestation, walking in God’s statutes and keeping God’s judgments (ch. 11:20). The account here furnished of the moral and spiritual change proposed to be inwrought on Israel corresponds exactly with that given in the New Testament of the regeneration of the individual soul (John 3:3–8; Rom. 8:2, 5, 9; Gal. 5:22; Titus 3:5, 6; 1 Pet. 1:22).
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