Question: Please comment on Ezekiel 11:19-20.
Answer: Ezekiel 11:19-20 reads thus: And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Before entering into a discussion on these verses, let me couple them with some similar verses. 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. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Ezekiel 36:25-27.
These two passages refer to the same situations. The Israelites, by consorting with the heathen nations around them and engaging in their idolatrous worship and immoral practices, had incurred the wrath of God. He caused them to be overcome by the heathen nations, carried away and scattered among the nations. But He was not willing that they remain in such a condition. In these passages He offers hope to them that He would gather them out of the nations (Ezekiel 36:24) and that they would dwell in the land He had given to their fathers. (Ezekiel 36:28). Also read Ezekiel 11:16-18. We read in II Chronicles 7:14, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. It is evident He never intended to cast them off forever. Jeremiah 3:12 says He would not keep His anger forever. Oh, how wonderful it is to know that God is merciful, and will not hold His anger and continue to punish us on and on, when we acknowledge our transgression, repent and plead His forgiveness and mercy. So it was with the children of Israel. When they had sinned and God punished them by allowing them to be taken captive, He was still offering them mercy and proclaiming He would gather them out of the nations where they had been scattered, and return them to their own land where they would be one people again.
In these verses God is announcing that He will change their hearts and put a new spirit within which would cause them to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments. He could then dwell among them again and be their God and fight their battles as before.
But there are more to these verses than that. That was the short-range fulfillment of the prophecy. The long-range fulfillment and terminus of this prophecy extends beyond their time into this gospel age of full salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and our faith in the merits of His shed blood to make an atonement for our sins.
Let us realize that Israel after the flesh is a type of Israel after the Spirit. Many of God s dealings with them and His relationships with them were a type of His dealings with us and His relationship with us in the Spirit. This is confirmed in Romans 2:28-29 where it is said, For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Circumcision in the flesh is a cutting off of something. The circumcision in the Spirit is also a cutting away of something from the heart. We read in Colossians 2:11, In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. Ephesians 4:22-24 says, That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. The New Testament abounds with many scriptures describing this work of salvation.
The verses we are considering in this question deal with the heart, so let us consider a little now what the heart is. Heart is defined in the dictionary as (1) a. Emotional constitution, disposition, or mood. b. Capacity for sympathy or generosity; compassion. c. Love; affection. (2) Inner strength or character; fortitude. (3) A person esteemed as lovable, loyal, or courageous. In short it is the sum total of the affections and passions that motivate and control all the activities of an individual s life. Proverbs 4:23 says, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Jesus, in His teaching, said in Mark 7:21-23, For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. Again Jesus said in Matthew 12:35, A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
In this last text the two hearts are presented as for what they are, and what comes out of them and is manifested in the lives of those who have these kinds of hearts. In the verses we are discussing in this question, there are two kinds of hearts presented the stony heart and the heart of flesh. The heart of stone is a hard heart that is entirely irresponsive and impervious to the Spirit of God, His admonitions and will. Consequently, that individual cannot perform the will of God in his life. The salvation that Christ provided for humankind through His sacrifice and shed blood provides a change of heart the taking out of that hard, irresponsive, impervious heart and replacing it with a heart of flesh that is responsive to the voice of God and His will, and can be actuated by His Spirit. One of the verses being considered in this discussion says God will remove the old stony heart and give us a new heart (completely renovate and change that old corrupt, defiled nature) and change us from nature to grace; and then give us a new spirit to actuate the new affections and passions that flow from that new heart of flesh. And more, it says that God will give us His Spirit (the Holy Spirit which will cause us to walk in His statutes, keep His commandments and do them). This is the full and free uttermost salvation justification and sanctification (filled with the Holy Spirit) that is provided for us in Jesus Christ our Lord.