And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)
A little more than 100 years after Isaiah’s ministry ended, the kingdom of Judah fell into the hands of the Babylonians, just like Israel fell to the Assyrians earlier. This led to a 70-year period of captivity in Babylon called the Exile. During the Exile, God raised up two prophets to speak to the people who were forcibly ripped from their homes: Ezekiel and Daniel.
Much of Ezekiel’s writings are difficult to hear. He repeatedly uses strong, hard language to communicate with his Israelite brothers, who were taken into captivity as a judgment of God for their repeated, unrepentant idolatry. Yet in the midst of Ezekiel’s bitter messages, the LORD speaks this verse through him.
Humanity’s problem with sin runs deep. Jeremiah, who was old when Ezekiel began, said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9).” The Israelites (or anyone else) would never stop sinning until their hearts were fundamentally changed. Which is exactly what God promises. He promises to remove their sinful hearts and to give them new hearts that long to obey the LORD. This new heart is the effect of the Messiah’s sacrificial death. In Him, we are new creations (1 Cor. 5:17).
What evidences in your life do you see of having a new heart in Christ (for example see Galatians 5:22-23)?