Ezekiel 36:26 ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.’
This Week’s Focus Passage: Ezekiel 36:26
‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.’
This glorious promise of Jehovah is frequently paralleled with that found in Jeremiah 31:31, which is expressly declared to be, by Jehovah Himself, a new covenant. And it is cited by the author; the writer/preacher of Hebrews, in his eighth and tenth chapters, being cited as both a ‘second,’ and a ‘better’ covenant. And while the promise alluded to above from Ezekiel is not surrounded with such a title as covenant, it is conspicuously a promise; and that a promise of the great ‘I AM,’ our Lord, our God, Jehovah of hosts. This promise is more fully contained in vss. 24-27:
For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them.
That which is denominated the ‘new covenant’ in Jeremiah 31:31ff, contains the like promises when it states, But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.
Now while this is actually somewhat less in content than that above from Ezekiel, not having as much detail, yet having, indeed, that glorious and oft repeated, throughout the Scriptures, perhaps the foundation of every promise, and comprising, we might say, the ‘everlasting covenant’ language itself. The underlying promise that ‘I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ This unspeakable promise is, in fact, repeated three times in Ezekiel; two of those occasions being in the chapter immediately following that promise which constitutes our focus passage of the week; that ‘famous’ chapter 37 of Ezekiel with the wondrous vision of ‘the dry bones.’ Our grand Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul himself, cites the words in his second epistle to the church in Corinth, chapter six and verse sixteen. This Apostle of the apostles obviously gloried in this reality of our being told that ‘we shall be His people.’ It is indeed almost more than our faith can wrap itself around.
But to return expressly to our passage from Ezekiel 36:26-27, Ezekiel, or Jehovah through Ezekiel, does most blessedly and accurately set before His readers, what, not surprisingly amount to the content of regeneration, or the new birth, that birth that Jesus first spoke of to the Pharisee, Nicodemus, in John, chapter three. Yea, is not regeneration the activity of God the Holy Spirit taking that stony heart out of our flesh, and giving us, in its place, a heart of flesh; a new heart? And putting His Spirit within us? Is this not the essence of the New Birth? Is this not what it is to be Born Again? Yea, is it not a grand and glorious and Spiritual heart transplant? Just how is this effected in the individual chosen from before the foundation of the world to a recipient of such an infinitely wonderful transplant? How does it happen; how does it take place in time? Jesus told Nicodemus when that was the very question this Pharisee put to Him; ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus informed the inquisitor in the following eternally magnificent words:
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew. The wind bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.—John 3:7-8.
This is how any person is born again, or born anew; they are born of the Spirit. It is completely and unequivocally the absolute and entire work of God the Holy Spirit. Is this not, most likely the reason behind the many ‘I wills’ of the words preceding the promise given in Ezekiel 36:24-27? Jehovah is making the point, we do believe, that the work of regeneration is His work alone, as is the entire activity of salvation.
Out of 198 ‘I wills' in the book of Ezekiel, there are no less than 25 in chapters 36 and 37; the chapter containing the promise of regenerating grace, and the glorious illustration of that regeneration in the next chapter, namely 37, with the dry bones. Our God would have us to know without question that our salvation is not of our wills, but absolutely of His gracious and sovereign will toward His chosen people.
Consider that awe-inspiring vision given the prophet in his 37th chapter, which begins with the language of Ezekiel, as follows:
The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Jehovah, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. And he caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry.
If we have any question about what we are being told; that they were very dry; what it means is expressed in the question next put to Ezekiel, Son of man, can these bones live? In other words, there is no doubt about the condition of this field of dry bones. In point of fact, the reason that they are ‘very dry’ is that they are very dead. It would not be asked, can these bones live? unless the fact was that they were not alive, but very dead. Ezekiel’s wise response in answer was, O Lord Jehovah, thou knowest !
This vision is surely a follow-up illustration for Ezekiel, after the promise of the previous chapter and verses, which, simply put, promised new life to the dead. And the life that was promised was more than physical life, for not only was a new heart promised, but the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit. This chapter, this vision, is all about the New Covenant and its gracious promises. It’s about regeneration grace; it’s about electing grace; being about all the ‘I wills’ pronounced by Jehovah. It’s about informing the natural man that he is dead in trespasses and sins; that he cannot make himself alive through his supposed ‘free will.’ He has no such ability; he is totally depraved. And that doesn’t necessarily imply that he is totally wicked; we don’t imagine that Nicodemus was totally wicked; he may well have been a rather nice guy by the scale of nicety of that day. But he wasn’t going to even see the kingdom of heaven apart from the regenerating grace of God the Holy Spirit blowing his way, giving him a new heart and Jehovah putting His Holy Spirit within him. Neither was he going to ever enter the kingdom of heaven through his make-believe Pharisaical self-righteousness. He, like every man, woman, and child, ever born, is in need of another birth; a birth from above; a new birth. Nicodemus, along with us all, must be born again. He must be given in that regeneration, the precious gifts of repentance (Acts 5:31) and faith, not the faith that many think man is born with and only has to bring it forward; but the God-given faith; the faith Paul has written of in Ephesians 2:8 and elsewhere. By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
More in This Week's Focus Passage
October 1, 2022This Week’s Focus Passage: Jeremiah 6:16 ‘But they said, we will not walk therein.’
September 24, 2022This Week’s Focus Passage: James 1:18 ‘Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.’
September 17, 2022This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 24:27 ‘He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things conce