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Ezekiel 36:24-32 (NIV) reads:

24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. 32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!

In particular, v27 talks about the role of the Holy Spirit moving the individual to follow God's decrees and laws. To me this sounds very much like the promise of the Holy Spirit for Christians in the new covenant.

Is Ezekiel 36:24-32 a prophetic promise for Christians in the new covenant? If so, what are the laws and decrees Christians are expected to follow? Notice that there are 613 commandments in the Old Testament and about 1050 commandments in the New Testament, amounting to a total of 1663 commandments to choose from. Which ones are the "decrees and laws" Ezekiel 36:27 is referring to?

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  • Where is Ezekiel 36:24-32 referenced as a prophetic promise for Christians? - Yechezkel as a Son-of Man (בֶן־אָדָ֔ם) prophesied for Yisrael (יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל). Oct 15, 2020 at 21:28
  • Good question. (Up-voted +1.)
    – Nigel J
    Oct 15, 2020 at 22:56
  • I love the list of 1050 commandments - it shows that there are more in the NT than the OT!! A bit silly but it makes the point!
    – Dottard
    Oct 16, 2020 at 1:35

2 Answers 2

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+50

First and very importantly, let me make the strident point that "Law" in the Bible does not exist by itself in a vacuum. Law never exists for its own sake. All law in the Bible is given in the context of a relationship of some kind. In Bible-speak this is called a "covenant". Any law is part of covenant relationship to help regulate the relationship.

There are many covenants in the Bible including between individuals (eg, David and Jonathon) and between nations (eg, Israel and the Gibeonites), etc. All these had an associated covenant law.

For this question, the ancient Israelite covenant, initiated by God alone, which completely dominates all OT morality is first described in Ex 19-24 and contains the moral law of the 10 commandments which were later expanded in places like the the "Book of the Law" (Deut 28:61, 29:21, 30:10, 31:26, Josh 1:8, 8:31, 34, 24:26, 2 Kings 22:8, 11, 2 Chron 17:9, 25:4, 34:14, 15, Neh 8:1-3, 8, 18, 9:3) with various support or "fence" laws.

The NT frequently quotes many of these as still binding, eg,

  • Eph 6:2, 3 --> Deut 5:16, Ex 20:12;
  • James 2:11 --> Ex 20:13;
  • Rom 13:9 --> Ex 20:13-15, 17;
  • Rom 7:7 --> Ex 20:17;
  • Acts 23:5 --> Ex 22:28;
  • Heb 9:20 --> Ex 24:8;
  • 1 Peter 1:16 --> Lev 19:2;
  • Matt 22:39, James 2:8, Gal 5:14 --> Lev 19:18;
  • 2 Tim 2:19 --> Num 16:5;
  • Matt 19:18, 19 --> Deut 5:16-20;
  • Mark 12:32 --> Deut 6:4;
  • 2 Cor 13:1 --> Deut 19:15;
  • Matt 5:31, 19:7 --> Deut 24:1;
  • 1 Cor 9:9 --> Deut 25:4;
  • Rom 12:19 --> Deut 32:35;
  • Heb 10:30 --> Deut 32:35, 36;
  • Acts 15:29 --> food sacrificed, no blood, no strangled animal meat, no fornication, etc

In addition, as the OP correctly observes, there are many more. Here is a further sample:

  • Regular and frequent prayer, 1 Thess 5:17, 1 John 5:16, 1 Chron 16:11, 2 Chron 7:14, Psalm 5:3, Mark 1:35, Eph 6:18, James 5:13, Matt 5:44, 26:41, Prov 15:8, Ps 17:6, 102:17, Rom 12:12, 8:26, Luke 18:1, Phil 4:6, Col 4:2, 1 Tim 2:1, 2, 8, 4:5, 1 Peter 4:7, etc, etc.
  • Discipling of new people, Mat 28:19, Acts 1:7, 8.
  • Celebration of the New Covenant via the Lord’s Supper/communion, etc. 1 Cor 11:23-29, Matt 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:15-23. Note that according to John 13:2-17, this Christian rite should include the foot-washing. (There is no mention of how often the Lord’s Supper should be practised.)
  • Baptism following conversion.
  • Being generous to the poor, Ex 23:11, Prov 3:27, 28, 11:24, 25, 14:31, 17:5, 19:17, 21:13, 22:2, 9, 16, 22, 23, 28:3, 8, 27, 29:7, 13, 31:9, 20, Isa 10:1, 2, 58:1-21, Jer 7:3-6, Amos 4:10, Micah 6:8, Matt 23:23, Acts 4:32-35, Gal 2:10, James 1:27. More specifically, feed the hungry and thirsty, be hospitable to strangers, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit prisoners, Matt 25:31-46.
  • Hospitality, 1 Tim 3:2, Titus 1:8, Heb 13:2, 1 Peter 4:9.
  • Providing the means, voluntarily, for the support of church ministry and outreach, Matt 10:10, Luke 10:7, 8, 1 Cor 16:2, 2 Cor 9:3-14 (including a believing wife, v5)
  • Being just and fair, 2 Chron 19:6-10, Micah 6:8, Matt 23:23.
  • Doing good to others, especially believers, Prov 3:27, 28, Prov 11:25, Luke 3:10, 11, 6:27-45, Gal 6:2, 9, 10, Col 3:23, Heb 13:16, 1 Peter 4:10, 11.
  • Obey civil legal laws, including paying government taxes, Matt 22:21, Rom 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17. See “Government (Civil)”.
  • Keeping in good physical health, Rom 12:1, 1 Cor 6:19, 20, 3 John 2.
  • Prohibition against eating blood, Acts 15:29, Gen 9:4-6, 17.
  • Regular Christian gatherings of believers, Heb 10:24, 25.

Second - and just as important as the first, none of these makes any difference if these things are done to earn God's favor or love. God's salvation is Jesus is full and complete and nothing we do contributes anything to that perfect atonement, Gal 2:16, 3:21, Rom 3:20, 4:6, Eph 2:5, 8-10, Tit 3:5, Isa 64:6, Acts 4:12. We are saved by grace alone through the gift of faith.

Paul makes this point again and again. However, he also makes another point. The fact that we are saved by Christ's grace means we are to be like Christ - loving and lovable Christians, John 13:34, 35, Rom 13:8, 10, James 2:8, Gal 5:14, etc.

The law is not abolished (Matt 5:17, 18), “anyone who sets aside one of the least commandments and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:19), “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one jot of the Law to become void.” (Luke 16:17), the law is essential because “through the law we become conscious of sin” (Rom 3:21, 7:7, 13), “we uphold the law by faith” (Rom 3:31), “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good” (Rom 7:12), “the law is spiritual” (Rom 7:14), “the law is good” (1 Tim 1:8), keeping the law is to do right (James 2:8). “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Certainly not! Instead, we uphold the law.” (Rom 3:31). “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Certainly not!” (Rom 6:15); “we are now slaves of righteousness” (Rom 6:16), or, “slaves to God” (Rom 6:22).

APPENDIX - none of this suggests that we should still keep the ceremonial law or, more correctly, the Levitical Covenant (Lev 1-9, 16, 21-27 , Num 3, 4, 8, 18, 25:10-13, Deut 33:8-11) - such would be impossible anyway as there is no temple and no priesthood. The Levitical covenant and its associated law are now being fulfilled by Jesus as our great High Priest in heaven (Heb 4:14-16, etc).

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  • So, if I understand you correctly, Christians are still morally bound by a "new covenant law", and this law is a sort of mixture of some of the OT laws + all the NT laws. Correct? The criterion you use to decide which OT laws are still in effect is to check whether they are cited/validated or regarded as obsolete in the NT. If the NT cites an OT law as worthy of observance, it is still in effect, it if doesn't, or if the NT explicitly regards it as an obsolete ceremonial law, then it is no longer in effect. Does this accurately describe your position?
    – user38524
    Oct 16, 2020 at 2:19
  • In other words, to know whether a specific OT law is still in effect for Christians, we need to look at the evidence in the NT either backing it up or dismissing it. If nothing in the NT gives evidence that Christians should still obey a certain OT law, can we confidently dismiss it?
    – user38524
    Oct 16, 2020 at 2:24
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - That is another big question - ask that one too!
    – Dottard
    Oct 16, 2020 at 2:39
  • Now I have no idea how to ask that question while remaining on-topic.
    – user38524
    Oct 16, 2020 at 3:10
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - You are correct - I have gone as far as I can here but let me give you a strong hint. The Levitical and Davidic covenants are fulfilled in Christ. The Israelite covenant (Ex 19-24, which does not include the above two) was labelled eternal and Jesus said that he had not come to destroy that covenant. All the 10 commandments are repeated in the NT on several occasions and all the other 1000 or more can be seen as amplifications of those in some regard or another.
    – Dottard
    Oct 16, 2020 at 4:20
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This is not a prophetic promise for Christians in the new covenant. It is a prophetic promise for Israel in the coming kingdom.

The evidence for this is in the passage quoted.

  • It was Israel that was spread out among the nations in her captivity (Ezekiel 36:24).
  • It was idolatry that was the cause of Israel's dispersion (Ezekiel 36:25).
  • It was Israel's forefather Abraham to whom God had promised the land (Ezekiel 36:28).
  • It was the nation of Israel that had suffered from famine as punishment (Ezekiel 36:30).
  • They are called "the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 36:32).

The coming promised kingdom for Israel will be a true kingdom with its requisite laws and commands, with temple ceremonies (Ezekiel 40), but with the Spirit of God giving life and faith.

As Christians today can be enlivened by the Holy Spirit, making for peaceful and easy submission to the laws of their country or State, even so future Israel will joyfully submit to the laws of God's future kingdom by the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.