In Ezekiel 16 God is trying to explain his frustration with Israel to Ezekiel in a way they can understand. He describes them as a bride that God had cared for and loved and showed mercy to. A bride who then cheated on God with anybody around.
“14 Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord. 15 But you thought your fame and beauty were your own. So you gave yourself as a prostitute to every man who came along. Your beauty was theirs for the asking.”
Now in Israel a woman cheating on her husband was grounds for the death penalty, and everybody in Israel would take this very seriously. While God is referring to the people of Israel intermarrying with other nations he is mostly angry about how the Israelites have given themselves over to the gods of the other nations and have offered sacrifices, even human sacrifices, and have strayed away from God’s teaching. For this, his anger will burn against them, but there is hope…
59 “Now this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will give you what you deserve, for you have taken your solemn vows lightly by breaking your covenant. 60 Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
62 And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. 63 You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you of all that you have done. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
Even while God is as angry as he can be at them and is ready to hand the Israelites over to be killed and exiled and humiliated in front of the whole world for their sins he is calmed by the thought of his plan for Jesus to come and for his people to be reunited with him.
There is great comfort in this knowledge that God can always forgive, even if we are deserving of, or even in the middle of experiencing his anger and frustration. It also reminds us of how serious our sins are and how hurtful they are to God, and that there can be very real and painful consequences in life for those sins. We will continue to see in Ezekiel though that even in the middle of the pain and suffering we must have hope in God’s everlasting covenant.
Chris and Katie-Beth Mattison
Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Ezekiel 16-17
Tomorrow’s reading will be Ezekiel 18-19 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan