Ezekiel 16

Ezekiel 16 has the prophet telling the story of the unfaithfulness of Judah.  He gives a long and colorful illustration of how the ancient nation was formed and how God “swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine”.  God saved a people who were unwanted and hated.  He gave them a chance to live.  He made her beautiful and her fame spread to all the nations.  But Judah was not faithful to God and their covenant with Him.  Judah became a spiritual prostitute and built idols and shrines and worshipped all sorts of false gods from other lands.

Ezekiel spends a lot of time telling the story of Judah’s unfaithfulness.  And then, he delivers the truth of God’s response.  “Because you have not remembered the days of your youth but have enraged Me by all these things, behold, I in turn will bring your conduct down on your own head….I have stretched out My hand against you…. will incite a crowd against you and they will stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. They will burn your houses with fire and execute judgments”.  You just can’t ignore God and do whatever you want.  There is a price for sin and disobedience.  And for the people of Judah, it will be severe.

According to ancient practice, the punishment for an adulteress (which was how God viewed Judah) was to be stripped naked, paraded in public and then stoned to death. Judah would therefore be punished, its countryside stripped bare and the nation destroyed by enemy invaders.  That’s how God “will calm My fury against you and My jealousy will depart from you, and I will be pacified and angry no more”.  Punishment has to come, and it will be severe and complete.  God sees Judah as worse than Sodom and Samaria.  Remember how thorough his destruction was of them?

But in spite of His anger and the punishing destruction He will deliver, God never gives up nor stops loving His people.  Ezekiel saw the day when a humbled and forgiven Jerusalem would exercise authority over all her neighbours. The granting of this authority would be a free act of God’s forgiving grace, just like the gift of grace He offers us today through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  “Thus I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, so that you may remember and be ashamed and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation, when I have forgiven you for all that you have done”.

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