Wednesday, March 22
Chapter 14 gives us a picture of the heart of God. Elsewhere in the Bible it says that God is a jealous God. God loves His people Israel as a husband loves his bride. Israel turned away from God’s love, their hearts were no longer given to God. God wants more than anything else to recapture the hearts of His people who deserted him to pursue idols. God wants them to repent and turn back to Him.
God wants to have His people love Him exclusively. He will not let them worship idols, yet still come to him for prophecy. This would be similar to a woman who both goes to her lover but then comes to her husband as well. God will have none of this, no two timing wife. Israel must have a change of heart and that will only happen through judgment. The prophets were not permitted to prophesy for people who were also consulting idols. If the prophets did prophesy to those seeking idols, they too would be punished.
God tells Ezekiel that His judgment is certain and that no human being, no matter how righteous or faithful can stop that judgment. He warns that even if such great men of faith as Noah, Daniel or Job sought to keep Israel from judgment that their righteousness would not be able to save Israel.
In Chapter 15 God promises to make Jerusalem as desolate and useless as a dried up vine that has been thrown into a fire. Just as the vine will be totally consumed by the fire, so too, will Jerusalem be consumed by the fire of God’s judgment.
Chapter 16 is one of the most graphic passages in all of the Bible. If the Song of Solomon was rated PG-13, Ezekiel 16 would probably be rated R or NC-17. It is extremely disturbing to read. God compares Israel to an unwanted, discarded child whom God rescued from its disgrace. God later came along when Israel was old enough to be married, but she was naked and dirty. God cleaned her up, covered over her nakedness, dressed her up like a princess and made her his bride. Israel was blessed beyond imagination by God her husband. But then, tragically, Israel turned to prostitution. Here Idolatry is likened to a form of spiritual adultery. Israel had brought great shame upon her husband. In fact, she was worse than a prostitute in that she paid others her gold and silver to sleep with her. It’s such a disturbing picture. And it’s designed to give us a visceral reaction. It’s a gut punch.
The fact that God must punish Israel for her spiritual adultery is not surprising. Israel is only getting what they deserve. What is surprising is that God is going to restore Israel. Not because Israel deserves it now any more than it deserved it when God first cleaned her up and made her His bride. God is doing it because God is faithful to His Covenant promises. God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants, Israel. God does not forget His covenant or break his promises. God is filled with steadfast love for His people.
After punishing Israel, God will then make atonement for them. He will cover over their sin and guilt and forgive them and take them back. Then they will remember their vows and be ashamed of their guilt and will become a faithful wife and turn away from idols.
As Christians, we have been grafted into God’s family and we are now included as God’s bride. Through Jesus Christ God has found us in our sin, cleaned us up and made us His own. Are we sometimes guilty of idolatry? Do we ever act unfaithfully toward God and give our hearts to someone or something else instead of God? Remember, Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to Love God with all your heart. God wants All your heart. God is jealous when we give our hearts to another. May Israel’s spiritual adultery remind us that we must give our hearts fully only to God and no one else. Otherwise, God may have to win our hearts back the way he did Israel, and we can see how unpleasant that process was for them. Let’s always keep our hearts faithful to God alone.