I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:25-28 ESV)
After the exile Ezekiel describes how it is that God will bring them back. It is more than just a physical return that is described. It is a new birth. This is pointing us forward to the work of the Holy Spirit applying the work of Christ. God finds us in our sin as he sought the lost. He loved us just as we were. But he does not leave us as he finds us. He washes us clean and gives us new hearts with new desires. We become “new creations” as Paul describes.
Notice too this great imagery of baptism with the sprinkling with water. Could there be a more clear picture?