Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Prophecies of Wrath Abstained--Love Abounding.

Ezekiel 16 is a very harsh chapter of the Bible, describing many deplorable acts committed by Jerusalem (enough to make her sisters, Samaria and Sodom, look innocent by comparison). It starts by saying God found her out in an open field, having been abandoned, her umbilical not having been cut, nor having been cleaned or clothed. Left to die, forsaken in an open field.
"No one seeing you had enough pity on you to do any of these things for you — no one had any compassion on you. Instead, you were thrown into an open field in your own filth on the day you were born." (Ezekiel 16:5)

It says God found her, and clothed her, gave her a name, made her a princess; "'Thus you were decked out in gold and silver; your clothing was of fine linen, silk and richly embroidered cloth; you ate the finest flour, honey and olive oil. You grew increasingly beautiful — you were fit to be queen. Your fame spread among the nations because of your beauty, because it was perfect, due to my having bestowed my own splendor on you’ says Adonai Elohim." (v.13-14, CJB, as that is the version I've been cross-referencing with as of late)
It says that, at a certain point in her youth, God covers her, makes a covenant with her, declares her as His (" became Mine.")

She was beautiful. The most beautiful. Perfectly beautiful. And instead of appreciating what God had done for her, she went out and became, pardon the term (it's used many, many, many times in this chapter), a whore. She had sex with anyone who would have her, and instead of being like the typical prostitute, she would instead pay her clients (described as being the opposite of other women). This is how lowly she had become. The vilest, most perverse possible.

"The crimes of your sister S’dom (Sodom) were pride and gluttony; she and her daughters were careless and complacent, so that they did nothing to help the poor and needy. They were arrogant and committed disgusting acts before me; so that when I saw it, I swept them away. Shomron (Samaria) did not commit even half as many sins as you did. You committed many more disgusting acts than your sisters; in fact, in comparison with all the disgusting acts you have committed, they seem innocent!" (v. 49-51)

God speaks of punishment. He speaks of gathering all her "lovers" together, and stripping her bare before them so she is so set upon by shame as to probably wish for death. Then she would be stoned to death, the punishment of an adulterer and a murderer, and hacked to pieces with swords.

The last few verses really shocked me, though.
After having read nigh sixty verses about how adulterous she had been, I had forgotten something; the covenant He made with her.
“For here is what Adonai Elohim says: ‘I will do to you as you have done — you treated the oath with contempt by breaking the covenant. Nevertheless, I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl and will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your behavior and be ashamed of it as you receive your older and younger sisters and make them your daughters, even though the covenant with you does not cover that; and I will re-establish my covenant with you. Then you will know that I am Adonai; so that you will remember and be so ashamed that you will never open your mouth again, so ashamed will you be when I have forgiven you all that you have done,’ says Adonai Elohim.” (v. 59-63)

The promise made to Jerusalem in this chapter was because God alone had compassion for her.
A promise was made in Isaiah 54; “'Briefly I abandoned you, but with great compassion I am taking you back. I was angry for a moment and hid my face from you; but with everlasting grace I will have compassion on you,' says Adonai your Redeemer.
'For me this is like Noach’s (Noah) flood. Just as I swore that no flood like Noach’s would ever again cover the earth, so now I swear that never again will I be angry with you or rebuke you. For the mountains may leave and the hills be removed, but my grace will never leave you, and my covenant of peace will not be removed,' says Adonai, who has compassion on you."
Notice the key similarity here? Compassion. Even in His wrath, He is gracious and loving. That is His promise to us; that He will love us no matter how irreverently we act.

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