Ezekiel 11:19
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:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19, 20) Here follows one of those germinant and ever developing prophetic promises which in fuller and fuller degree have formed from the very first, and still form, the hope of the future. True religion and a service acceptable to God must spring from a subjection of the affections of the heart to His will. Accordingly, the promise to Israel of old was: “The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 30:6). This, too, had been the prayer of the devout penitent, “Create in me a clean heart “(Psalm 51:10). But this change is necessarily the most difficult to effect in man, and consequently the promise, though with some degree of accomplishment as the ages roll by, still looks forward to the future. Ezekiel here, and with more fulness in Ezekiel 36:26-27, speaks of it as a part of the blessing of the restoration. A marked progress was then made towards it in the hearty abandonment of idolatry, and the better Appreciation of religion as a matter of internal heart. service; but the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:33, given about the same time, shows that it looked forward to the Messianic days for a more complete realisation. And certainly under the Christian dispensation a great advance has been made in this respect; but even the closing Book of Revelation still points forward to the future state of existence, when this promise shall attain its full realisation (Revelation 21:3). It is remarkable that this closing prophecy of the inspired volume follows exactly the plan here laid out, of adding to this glorious promise the warning to “the fearful and unbelieving.” What Ezekiel foretells of the time of the restoration must therefore be considered as not expected then to receive its ultimate and complete fulfilment, but only a fulfilment in a degree, to be ever after more and more realised, until it shall reach its consummation in the heavenly state.

(19) One heart.—Unity of purpose among the restored exiles was to be at once a consequence and a condition of their improved moral condition. The opposite evil is spoken of as one of the sins of the people in Isaiah 53:6 : We have turned every one to his own way.” Self-will, which leads to division, and submission to God’s will are necessarily contradictory terms. Hence the corresponding promise in Jeremiah 32:39 : “I will give them one heart and one way,” and the blessed realisation of this, described in the first fervency of the early Church (Acts 4:32): “The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.”

Stony heart . . . heart of flesh.—This phraseology is peculiar to Ezekiel, but the same thing is often described in other terms. The figure here seems to be that of a stony heart as unnatural, in the higher sense of that word, unfitting, and incongruous; this is to be removed, and in its place is to be substituted “an heart of flesh “—one that can be moved by the Divine appeals, and is suitable to the whole being and condition of the people. (Comp. Ezekiel 36:26.) The effect of this change will be obedience to the Divine will, and consequently a realisation of the covenant relation in a fellowship with God.

11:14-21 The pious captives in Babylon were insulted by the Jews who continued in Jerusalem; but God made gracious promises to them. It is promised, that God will give them one heart; a heart firmly fixed for God, and not wavering. All who are made holy have a new spirit, a new temper and dispositions; they act from new principles, walk by new rules, and aim at new ends. A new name, or a new face, will not serve without a new spirit. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. The carnal heart, like a stone, cannot be made to feel. Men live among the dead and dying, and are neither concerned nor humbled. He will make their hearts tender and fit to receive impressions: this is God's work, it is his gift by promise; and a wonderful and happy change is wrought by it, from death to life. Their practices shall be agreeable to those principles. These two must and will go together. When the sinner feels his need of these blessings, let him present the promises as prayers in the name of Christ, they will be performed.Compare Revelation 21. The identity of thought and language in Ezekiel, predicting the new kingdom of Israel, and in John, foretelling the kingdom of heaven, forces upon us the conclusion that the prophecy of Ezekiel has an ultimate reference to that climax which John plainly indicates.

Ezekiel 11:19

One heart - So long as the Israelites were distracted by the service of many gods, such unity was impossible; but now, when they shall have taken away the "abominations" from the land, they shall be united in heart to serve the true God.

Stony heart ... heart of flesh - The heart unnaturally hardened, and the heart reawakened to feelings proper to man.

19. I will give them—lest they should claim to themselves the praise given them in Eze 11:18, God declares it is to be the free gift of His Spirit.

one heart—not singleness, that is, uprightness, but oneness of heart in all, unanimously seeking Him in contrast to their state at that time, when only single scattered individuals sought God (Jer 32:39; Zep 3:9) [Hengstenberg]. Or, "content with one God," not distracted with "the many detestable things" (Eze 11:18; 1Ki 18:21; Ho 10:2) [Calvin].

new spirit—(Ps 51:10; Jer 31:33). Realized fully in the "new creature" of the New Testament (2Co 5:17); having new motives, new rules, new aims.

stony heart—like "adamant" (Zec 7:12); the natural heart of every man.

heart of flesh—impressible to what is good, tender.

And: this may be understood causally, and so gives an account how the reformation, mentioned Ezekiel 11:18, should be effected.

I; the Lord himself, and he assumeth it to himself thrice in this verse.

Will give: of free grace it is that this renewed heart is in any one; length, soreness, and multiplicity of troubles will not, cannot work it, unless God frame and renew it.

Will give them one heart: they were scattered abroad through the Babylonish kingdoms, were under various circumstances which might divide them, and keep them from each other, and from centering in a return; but I will stir up their heart, and with one heart they shall gather together, when the return shall be proclaimed. Cyrus shall first give them leave, and I will next give them a heart to return; and on their way shall there be great unity; and when come to Jerusalem, they shall own me, and my laws, &c.; they shall with one consent build Jerusalem, the temple, and restore true religion; as Jeremiah 32:39 Ezekiel 36:26.

One heart; that is, judgment and understanding, mind and will, affections and conscience; all fixed only on God, and their obedience to him, as Ezekiel 11:20. This one heart is called a new spirit. A new spirit; an excellent, regenerate, holy, and sincere soul; they were of a base, corrupt, and hypocritical spirit, dividing between God and idols; but when God brings them back, they shall be of another frame, quite changed, and made new.

The stony heart; that hard, inflexible, undutiful, incorrigible disposition which was in their fathers, who refused to be amended; I will take that away.

Out of their flesh: flesh in Scripture sometimes speaks an unrenewed, carnal, sinful state, as Romans 7:18, sometimes for the body, as Psalm 38:3, sometimes for the whole man; so Luke 3:6 Romans 3:20; and thus in this place speaks the persons and whole man.

An heart of flesh; not like the old, hard and stony, but counsellable, tractable, that will hear, consider, obey, do commanded good, and forbear forbidden evils, submit to my law, and reform on admonitions. All which in part, and so far as concerned those times, was fulfilled in the Jews that did return from Babylon, and is more fully made good to us in these gospel days.

And I will give them one heart,.... In opposition to a divided heart, Hosea 10:2; divided between the true God and idols, wavering and halting between two opinions, sometimes serving God, and sometimes Baal; a heart to pursue one way of worship, and to serve the Lord with one shoulder or consent, Jeremiah 32:40; a heart sincere to God and man, in opposition to a double or hypocritical one, Psalm 12:2; a heart single to the honour and glory of God, and firmly attached to his word and worship: also concord, harmony, an unity of affections to one another, so as to be of one heart and one soul, as the first Christians were, who were Jews, Acts 4:32; and an unity of judgment, an oneness of principle and practice, as there ought to be, 1 Corinthians 1:10; and all this is the gift of God, and flows from his grace and favour. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "another heart"; different from what they had before;

and I will put a new spirit within you; meaning either the Holy Spirit of God, the author of, regeneration and renovation: this is represented by the ancient Jews (p) as the same with the Spirit of the Messiah that moved upon the face of the waters, Genesis 1:2; or the spirit of man, the seat of this renewing work; or rather the work itself, called "a new man", "a new creature", Ephesians 4:24; and this is a new frame and disposition of mind, in which are new principles of light and life, grace and holiness; a new understanding of themselves and state, of God and of Christ, of divine things and Gospel truths; new affections for God, and all that is good; new desires after grace and righteousness, after God and communion with him, after his word and ordinances, and conformity to Christ; new purposes and resolutions to serve the Lord, and glorify him; new delights and joys, and in short all things become new. Instead of "within you", the Septuagint, and all the Oriental versions, read, "in them"; and to this the Targum agrees;

and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh; a heart hardened by sin, and confirmed in it; destitute of spiritual life, senseless and stupid as to spiritual things; stubborn and inflexible, on which no impressions are made by corrections, admonitions, and instructions of superiors; and so an impenitent one: this God only can remove; men cannot soften their own hearts; nor can ministers work upon them; nor will judgments themselves bring men to repentance: it is the work of God only; who does it by his word, with which he breaks the rock in pieces; by the discoveries of his love, with which he melts the heart that is harder than the nether millstone; by giving repentance to them, by working faith in them, to look to a crucified Christ and mourn, and all this by "his" Spirit: this is said to be taken "out of their flesh"; not their body, but their nature corrupted by sin, John 3:6; which shows that this hardness is natural to men, and rooted in them, and that it requires omnipotence to remove it;

and will give them an heart of flesh; a sensible and penitent one; a soft and tender one; a sanctified and spiritual one; one flexible and obsequious to the will of God; on which impressions are made; on which the laws of God are written; into which the doctrines of the Gospel are transcribed, Christ is formed, and the fear of God is implanted, with every other grace, all which are the gifts of God, and owing to his efficacious grace. The Targum of the whole is,

"and I will give them a fearing heart, and a spirit of fear I will put in their bowels (or in the midst of them); and I will break the heart of wickedness, which is as hard as a stone, out of their flesh, and I will give them a heart fearing before me to do my will.''

(p) Zokar in Gen. fol. 107. 3.

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the {i} stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

(i) Meaning, the heart to which nothing can enter and regenerate them anew, so that their heart may be soft and ready to receive my graces.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. give them one heart] Cf. Jeremiah 32:38, “And they shall be my people and I will be their God, and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever.” LXX. “another” heart (r for d). Some MSS., Targ. and Syr. read new, which is the prophet’s own term, ch. Ezekiel 36:26. Both “another” and “new” form a better antithesis to “stony heart” than “one” does. The old stony heart, unimpressible and obstinate, shall be taken away, and a heart of “flesh,” sensitive and responsive to the touch of Jehovah, shall be given them.

Verse 19. - I will give them one heart. The LXX., following a different reading, gives "another heart" (as in 1 Samuel 10:9); but the Hebrew, represented by the Authorized and Revised Versions, is, without any doubt, right. As in the symbolic action of the joining of the two sticks in Ezekiel 37:15-22, so here, the hope of the prophet, like that of Isaiah and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:37-39), looked forward to the unity of the restored people. Judah should no longer vex Ephraim, nor Ephraim Judah (Isaiah 11:13). The long standing line of cleavage should disappear. Oneness of purpose and of action would characterize the new Israel of God. So, in our Lord's prayer for his Church, there is the prayer that "they may be one" - made perfect in one (John 17:21-23). Left to itself, Israel tended, as all human communities have tended, to an ever-subdividing individualism, fruitful in sects and parties and schisms. Even the highest of those aspirations has remained as yet without any adequate fulfilment. The ideal unity of the Christian Church is as far distant as that of the Church of Israel. It remains for us to welcome any approximate fulfilments as pledges and earnests of the future unity of the true Israel of God in the heavenly Jerusalem. In the prophet's thoughts that unity was to be brought about by the Divine gift of a "new Spirit," loyal, obedient, unselfish. We note how distinctly, whether consciously or unconsciously, Ezekiel reproduces the thought, almost the very words, of Jeremiah 31:31-33; Jeremiah 32:37-39; how his words are in their turn reproduced in Revelation 21:3-5. The eternal hope asserts itself again and again in spite of all partial failures and disappointments. I will take the stony heart out of their flesh. The thought is, as we have seen, identical with that of Jeremiah 31:31-33, but the form in this instance is eminently characteristic of Ezekiel, and meets us again in Ezekiel 36:26. The "stony heart" is that which is "hardened" (Ezekiel 3:7) against all impressions of repentance, to all natural or spiritual aspirations of the good. So Zechariah 7:12 speaks of those who had made their hearts "harder than an adamant stone." So we may remember, by way of illustration, that Burns says of the sin of impurity that "it hardens a' within," that "it petrifies the feeling." Ezekiel had seen enough of that stoniness in others, perhaps had, at times, felt it in himself. Ezekiel 11:19Promise of the Gathering of Israel out of the Nations

Ezekiel 11:14. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 11:15. Son of man, thy brethren, thy brethren are the people of thy proxy, and the whole house of Israel, the whole of it, to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem say, Remain far away from Jehovah; to us the land is given for a possession. Ezekiel 11:16. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Ye, I have sent them far away, and have scattered them in the lands, but I have become to them a sanctuary for a little while in the lands whither they have come. Ezekiel 11:17. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, And I will gather you from the nations, and will collect you together from the lands in which ye are scattered, and will give you the land of Israel. Ezekiel 11:18. And they will come thither, and remove from it all its detestable things, and all its abominations. Ezekiel 11:19. And I will give them one heart, and give a new spirit within you; and will take the heart of stone out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh; Ezekiel 11:20. That they may walk in my statutes, and preserve my rights, and do them: and they will be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:21. But those whose heart goeth to the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will give their way upon their head, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - The prophet had interceded, first of all for the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 9:8), and then for the rulers of the nation, and had asked God whether He would entirely destroy the remnant of Israel. To this God replies that his brethren, in whom he is to interest himself, are not these inhabitants of Jerusalem and these rulers of the nation, but the Israelites carried into exile, who are regarded by these inhabitants at Jerusalem as cut off from the people of God. The nouns in Ezekiel 11:15 are not "accusatives, which are resumed in the suffix to הרחקתּים in Ezekiel 11:16," as Hitzig imagines, but form an independent clause, in which אחיך is the subject, and אנשׁי גאלּתך as well as כּל־בּית ישׂראל sa llew sa the predicates. The repetition of "thy brethren" serves to increase the force of the expression: thy true, real brethren; not in contrast to the priests, who were lineal relations (Hvernick), but in contrast to the Israelites, who had only the name of Israel, and denied its nature.

These brethren are to be the people of his proxy; and toward these he is to exercise גּאלּה. גּאלּה is the business, or the duty and right, of the Gol. According to the law, the Gol was the brother, or the nearest relation, whose duty it was to come to the help of his impoverished brother, not only by redeeming (buying back) his possession, which poverty had compelled him to sell, but to redeem the man himself, if he had been sold to pay his debts (vid., Leviticus 25:25, Leviticus 25:48). The Gol therefore became the possessor of the property of which his brother had been unjustly deprived, if it were not restored till after his death (Numbers 5:8). Consequently he was not only the avenger of blood, but the natural supporter and agent of his brother; and גּאלּה signifies not merely redemption or kindred, but proxy, i.e., both the right and obligation to act as the legal representative, the avenger of blood, the hair, etc., of the brother. The words "and the whole of the house of Israel" are a second predicate to "thy brethren," and affirm that the brethren, for whom Ezekiel can and is to intercede, form the whole of the house of Israel, the term "whole" being rendered more emphatic by the repetition of כּל in כּלּה. A contrast is drawn between this "whole house of Israel" and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who say to those brethren, "Remain far away from Jehovah, to us is the land given for a possession." It follows from this, first of all, that the brethren of Ezekiel, towards whom he was to act as Gol, were those who had been taken away from the land, his companions in exile; and, secondly, that the exiles formed the whole of the house of Israel, that is to say, that they alone would be regarded by God as His people, and not the inhabitants of Jerusalem or those left in the land, who regarded the exiles as no longer a portion of the nation: simply because, in their estrangement from God, they looked upon the mere possession of Jerusalem as a pledge of participation in the grace of God. This shows the prophet where the remnant of the people of God is to be found. To this there is appended in Ezekiel 11:16. a promise of the way in which the Lord will make this remnant His true people. לכן, therefore, viz., because the inhabitants of Jerusalem regard the exiles as rejected by the Lord, Ezekiel is to declare to them that Jehovah is their sanctuary even in their dispersion (v. 16); and because the others deny that they have any share in the possession of the land, the Lord will gather them together again, and give them the land of Israel (Ezekiel 11:17). The two לכן are co-ordinate, and introduce the antithesis to the disparaging sentence pronounced by the inhabitants of Jerusalem upon those who have been carried into exile. The כּי before the two leading clauses in Ezekiel 11:16 does not mean "because," serving to introduce a protasis, to which Ezekiel 11:17 would form the apodosis, as Ewald affirms; but it stands before the direct address in the sense of an assurance, which indicates that there is some truth at the bottom of the judgment pronounced by their opponents, the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The thought is this: the present position of affairs is unquestionably that Jehovah has scattered them (the house of Israel) among the Gentiles; but He has not therefore cast them off. He has become a sanctuary to them in the lands of their dispersion. Migdâsh does not mean either asylum or an object kept sacred (Hitzig), but a sanctuary, more especially the temple. They had, indeed, lost the outward temple (at Jerusalem); but the Lord Himself had become their temple. What made the temple into a sanctuary was the presence of Jehovah, the covenant God, therein. This even the exiles were to enjoy in their banishment, and in this they would possess a substitute for the outward temple. This thought is rendered still more precise by the word מעט, which may refer either to time or measure, and signify "for a short time," or "in some measure." It is difficult to decide between these two renderings. In support of the latter, which Kliefoth prefers (after the lxx and Vulgate), it may be argued that the manifestation of the Lord, both by the mission of prophets and by the outward deliverances and inward consolations which He bestowed upon the faithful, was but a partial substitute to the exile for His gracious presence in the temple and in the holy land. Nevertheless, the context, especially the promise in Ezekiel 11:17, that He will gather them again and lead them back into the land of Israel, appears to favour the former signification, namely, that this substitution was only a provisional one, and was only to last for a short time, although it also implies that this could not and was not meant to be a perfect substitute for the gracious presence of the Lord. For Israel, as the people of God, could not remain scattered abroad; it must possess the inheritance bestowed upon it by the Lord, and have its God in the midst of it in its own land, and that in a manner more real than could possibly be the case in captivity among the Gentiles. This will be fully realized in the heavenly Jerusalem, where the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb will be a temple to the redeemed (Revelation 21:22). Therefore will Jehovah gather together the dispersed once more, and lead them back into the land of Israel, i.e., into the land which He designed for Israel; whereas the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who boast of their possession of Canaan (Ezekiel 11:15), will lose what they now possess. Those who are restored will then remove all idolatrous abominations (Ezekiel 11:17), and receive from God a new and feeling heart (Ezekiel 11:19), so that they will walk in the ways of God, and be in truth the people of God (Ezekiel 11:20).

The fulfilment of this promise did, indeed, begin with the return of a portion of the exiles under Zerubbabel; but it was not completed under either Zerubbabel or Ezra, or even in the Maccabean times. Although Israel may have entirely relinquished the practice of gross idolatry after the captivity, it did not then attain to that newness of heart which is predicted in Ezekiel 11:19, Ezekiel 11:20. This only commenced with the Baptist's preaching of repentance, and with the coming of Christ; and it was realized in the children of Israel, who accepted Jesus in faith, and suffered Him to make them children of God. Yet even by Christ this prophecy has not yet been perfectly fulfilled in Israel, but only in part, since the greater portion of Israel has still in its hardness that stony heart which must be removed out of its flesh before it can attain to salvation. The promise in Ezekiel 11:19 has for its basis the prediction in Deuteronomy 30:6. "What the circumcision of the heart is there, viz., the removal of all uncleanliness, of which outward circumcision was both the type and pledge, is represented here as the giving of a heart of flesh instead of one of stone" (Hengstenberg). I give them one heart. לב אחד, which Hitzig is wrong in proposing to alter into לב , another heart, after the lxx, is supported and explained by Jeremiah 32:39, "I give them one heart and one way to fear me continually" (cf. Zephaniah 3:9 and Acts 4:32). One heart is not an upright, undivided heart (לב ), but a harmonious, united heart, in contrast to the division or plurality of hearts which prevails in the natural state, in which every one follows his own heart and his own mind, turning "every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). God gives one heart, when He causes all hearts and minds to become one. This can only be effected by His giving a "new spirit," taking away the stone-heart, and giving a heart of flesh instead. For the old spirit fosters nothing but egotism and discord. The heart of stone has no susceptibility to the impressions of the word of God and the drawing of divine grace. In the natural condition, the heart of man is as hard as stone. "The word of God, the external leadings of God, pass by and leave no trace behind. The latter may crush it, and yet not break it. Even the fragments continue hard; yea, the hardness goes on increasing" (Hengstenberg). The heart of flesh is a tender heart, susceptible to the drawing of divine grace (compare Ezekiel 36:26, where these figures, which are peculiar to Ezekiel, recur; and for the substance of the prophecy, Jeremiah 31:33). The fruit of this renewal of heart is walking in the commandments of the Lord; and the consequence of the latter is the perfect realization of the covenant relation, true fellowship with the Lord God. But judgment goes side by side with this renewal. Those who will not forsake their idols become victims to the judgment (Ezekiel 11:21). The first hemistich of Ezekiel 11:21 is a relative clause, in which אשׁר is to be supplied and connected with לבּם: "Whose heart walketh after the heart of their abominations." The heart, which is attributed to the abominations and detestations, i.e., to the idols, is the inclination to idolatry, the disposition and spirit which manifest themselves in the worship of idols. Walking after the heart of the idols forms the antithesis to walking after the heart of God (1 Samuel 13:14). For 'דּרכּם וגו, "I will give their way," see Ezekiel 9:10.

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