by Allan Knapp
I love lists and I love to nail down where Bible phrases come from. Have you ever wondered where “your heart of stone will be changed to a heart of flesh” comes from? Read Ezekiel 36:22–32:
22“Therefore say to the house of Israel, thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26And 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. 27And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
That stone-to-flesh miracle is just one of a great list of ways that God is going to act for His people! God will be doing ALL the work to…
- Vindicate the holiness of His great name, even before the eyes of the nations,
- Gather his people from multiple countries and nations,
- Sprinkle clean water and cleanse us, His people, from all our uncleanness,
- Give us a new heart and a new spirit,
- Remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh,
- Put His Spirit within us,
- Cause us to walk in His statutes and obey His rules, AND most importantly,
- He will be our God.
Why is he doing these marvelous things? Verse 22 makes it clear it is not because of anything we have ever done, but for the sake of HIS holy name. And verse 32, just past the passage above, confirms this idea: “It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you.” This is the same motivation that we see in Psalm 23:3 where David says, “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Our status as God’s people with His Spirit within us is well explained in the first Heidelberg Question and Answer:
Q: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A: That am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful savior Jesus Christ.”
There are many phrases for becoming a Christian – ‘Born again’, ‘come to faith’, ‘the moment you truly believe’, ‘saved’, ‘accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.’ I like ‘heart of stone to heart of flesh’ because it denotes the miraculous nature of what only God can do, and it is part of that long list of what God continues to do for his elect followers.