God promised to give Israel what they most needed after they had long practiced idolatry and adultery — both spiritual and physical — and became stubbornly unrepentant. God promised to renew them, heart and spirit, saying through the prophet Ezekiel, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26)
When their nation had begun, they had answered God’s charge to be faithful — God had said: “I am the LORD your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My ordinances, and observe them.” (Ex. 20:19) and they had answered: "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” (Ex. 24:7). But as time went by, they fell shorter and shorter of the goal, and then seemed to cease even trying, and went on wearily and drearily in sin ignoring the prophets’ calls to return.
They needed a renewal, a rebirth, a new spirit. This is exactly what the great and gracious work of Christ gives His disciples, “a new and living way which He inaugurated for us” (Heb. 10:20).
And having received this, we then ay, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3). Only in this renewal can we hope to have the tender heart of purity and compassion that being a committed disciple of Jesus demands — just like God had promised through Ezekiel so long ago.