Ezekiel 36:24-26 says, “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I 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 an heart of flesh.”  We learn from verse 22 that these verses are God’s message to “the house of Israel”. They are not a message to Israel returning to their land after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, since the Lord said in verse 24 that He would gather them “out of all countries”, not out of Babylon only. They are also not a message to Jewish and Gentile believers today, since we are all members of the body of Christ, not part of the nation of Israel. As we read in Ephesians 2:16, “And that he might reconcile both (Jew and Gentile) unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” The prophecy in Ezekiel 36:24-26 has not yet been fulfilled for Israel, but we can be certain of its fulfillment in a future day.

With this context in mind, let us look again at Ezekiel 36:25-26. Israel will be spiritually cleansed by the Lord in verse 25. In verse 26, the Lord will give believing Israel a new heart and new spirit, which is the Holy Spirit. Instead of a stony heart, He will give them a tender heart of flesh. A stony heart reminds us of the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:20-21, “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away” (NASB). In contrast, a good, tender heart reminds us of Matthew 13:23, “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (NASB). When the nation of Israel believes on their true Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, then they will bring forth fruit for God.

Although Ezekiel 36:26 is speaking about believing Israelites in a future day, there are certainly similarities to our own experience today. As the Lord Jesus said in John 15:3, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” The cleansing that we receive from God’s Word is also described in Ephesians 5:25-26, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” The new heart that the nation of Israel will receive reminds us of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The new spirit that Israel will receive is the same Holy Spirit that we receive when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. We see this in Ephesians 1:13, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvationhaving also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (NASB). (168.4) (DJ)