Flesh for Stone
God’s interaction with man since the foundation of human existence has always incorporated covenants. It is a divine characteristic of having a relationship with Him. Due to Israel’s disobedience, the Old Testament covenant through the Law of Moses was just as hard and heavy as the literal tablets on which they originated.
In describing it, Paul states, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:19-20).
As a stepping stone in God’s great plan of salvation, God was preparing for a greater outcome. While the law established the sinful state of man, it was also paving the way so the coming Savior could be embraced. Paul tells us the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ who, “hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13, 24-25).
Understanding his words, we realize a great exchange had to take place. God was going to give us flesh for stone. Scripture prophesies of this transition into a new covenant and a better way, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Upon Jesus’ arrival on this land, He confirms to the multitude the great change that had taken place, stating the law was fulfilled in Him and that he was both “the law and the light” (3 Nephi 15:4-9). Through the new covenant, we were getting the light beyond the law, bringing a more glorious dimension to our walk with God, “...But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?” (2 Corinthians 3:6-8).
God’s plan was not to move our hearts for a moment — but for a lifetime. When Adam sinned, scripture tells us the supposed tragedy was, in fact, God’s wisdom at work, “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:22-25).
Without the fall and the need to be restored, there was no joy allotted to mankind. There is something to be said, then, for God’s design through the transition of His covenants so that men might comprehend their lost state and then obtain the full measure of joy in salvation through Jesus Christ.
Those who have experienced this change of heart know the power of this experience. When the realization strikes, it crashes over you with gratitude and conviction. The unburdening of being brought into the presence and purpose of Jesus is like the dropping of a heavy stone from your chest and breathing deeply for the first time.
The only appropriate response is to declare as Alma did, saying, “And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold: yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” (Alma 36:20).
May this change endure in you and I today, still beating vibrantly and powerfully in the newness of life we have received in Jesus, “And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26).
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.