EZEKIEL CHAPTER 36
The purpose of the observation stage is to maintain focus on the text at hand within the normative rules of language, context and logic which limits the observer to the content offered by the book of Ezekiel. This will serve to avoid going on unnecessary tangents elsewhere; and more importantly, it will provide the framework for a proper and objective comparison with passages located elsewhere in Scripture.
Remember that something elsewhere may be true, but in the text at hand it may not be in view.
I) [Ez 36:24-27]:
(Ez 36:24 NKJV) "For I will take you [Israel, cf. Ez 36:22] from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.
(Ez 36:25 NKJV) Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols."
[God foretold that after he took Israel from among the nations and brought her into her own land, (Ez 36:24); He would sprinkle clean water on her to cleanse her from her filthiness and idols, i.e., from her sins, especially idol worship. Since the concept of sprinkling clean physical water over all of Israel would not wash away her sins, nor even clean away all of her external filthiness, then the phrase "sprinkle clean water" must be figurative, and represent a spiritual cleansing - the work of God, (the Holy Spirit), in the spiritual realm. Note that for God to cleanse one of internal filthiness, i.e., all their sins, it is implied that God must make payment for them through His Personal atonement, (through God the Son, Jesus Christ).
The concept of sprinkling the water of cleansing to make an individual ceremonially clean appears in Scripture. For example, it was to be done to Levitical priests to purify them as part of a symbolic ritual which would represent the actual work of God in the spiritual realm of purifying them from all their sins. This concept should have been familiar to Nicodemus:
1) [Compare Nu 8:5-7]:
(Nu 8:5 NIV) "The LORD said to Moses:
(Nu 8:6 NIV) 'Take the Levites from among the other Israelites and make them ceremonially clean.
(Nu 8:7 NIV) To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes, and so purify themselves' "
I) cont.) [Ez 36:24-27 cont.]:
(Ez 36:26 NKJV) "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."
[Furthermore, as part of the work of God which is figuratively referred to as "sprinkling clean water," God foretold that He would provide all Israelites with a new heart and a newborn human spirit. The word heart here does not refer to the physical heart but to the minds and attitudes of every Israelite being redirected toward a willingness to love and be obedient to God.
The term "heart of stone" in the phrase "I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh" refers to Israel's attitude of coldness, hardness and consequent deliberate distancing from God. The work of God in providing Israel with a "new heart," i.e., a "heart of flesh" refers to God's work of enabling Israel to choose to be faithful, obedient and close to God. The phrase "I will ...put a new spirit within you" refers to God providing all of Israel with newborn human spirits; i.e., a spiritual birth of all Israel - becoming born again from above. Note that this is done by God as part of His work of sprinkling clean water on Israel in her spiritual cleansing, (Ez 36:25)]:
(Ez 36:27 NKJV) "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do [them]. "
In verse 27, God further explains that He will put His Spirit - the Holy Spirit - to indwell all Israelites and enable them each to willingly choose to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments.
The concept of being "born [out] of water [figurative for being given a newborn spirit and cleansed from sins, (Ez 36:24-27)], and spirit [i.e., out of the spiritual realm]" is corroborated by the next verse, Jn 3:6, which stipulates that flesh gives birth to flesh, i.e., human beings give birth to human beings - a work exclusive to the physical world; but the Spirit gives birth to spirit, i.e., God the Holy Spirit gives birth to the new born again human spirit - a work exclusive to the spiritual world.