God’s PROMISES for a ‘RENEWED’ ISRAEL: "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. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses." (Ezek. 36:26-29)
Ezekiel 36 parallels the ‘New Covenant’ that God had promised both Israel and Judah in Jeremiah 31. This covenant includes at least three specific elements: (a) restoration to the land (Ezek. 36:24; Jer. 31:27–29), (b) forgiveness of sin (Ezek. 36:25; Jer. 31:34), and (c) the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:26–27; Jer. 31:33).
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 concerning conversion to be found anywhere in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, 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 of God was fulfilled in Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–18, 23; 16:7–15), which was ultimately fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4). One day all of this shall also be true for repentant and renewed Israel as well.
One important aspect of purification from sin is the true repentance from the heart through 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 a new spirit to help them follow Him and do His will (see Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:17, 18; Rom. 7:7–8:11; 2 Cor. 3:3–18; Heb. 8:6–10:39). The theologian Keil in his book "Ezekiel" comments on this important passage in this manner:
“Cleansing from sins, which corresponds to justification, and is not to be confounded with sanctification, is followed by renewal with the Holy Spirit, which takes away the old heart of stone and puts within a new heart of flesh, so that the man can fulfill the commandments of God, and walk in newness of life.”
The cleansing of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of the new heart and new spirit, enabling the believer to love God with an undivided love, were here promised as clearly as possible before these gifts were actually bestowed. Instead of a heart of stone that is unable to respond to God with love and obedience, God will provide a new heart and a new spirit. This new heart will be pliable and teachable, the opposite of a heart of stone. This new spirit would be the Spirit of God transforming those in whom He dwells and enabling them to obey the law of God (see Gal. 5:16–18, 22; 1 John 3:24).
The prospect of God placing His own Spirit within His people to help them walk in His ways was an exciting new development during the time of prophet Ezekiel. We now know that the Holy Spirit has been gifted to the church for empowerment, and this prophecy has been actualized about 2000 years ago for both Jews and Gentiles. We are that ‘renewed’ Israel that God wishes to showcase before an unbelieving world today!