Ezekiel 16 on How Sin Breaks God's Heart
Ezekiel 16, Jerusalem as an Adulterous Wife (NIV) / The Parable of the Unfaithful Wife (NLT), was the OT passage assigned for my Bible reading plan this morning. Wow. I’m sure I’ve heard parts of it preached before but I think it was my first time reading the whole Parable on my own. If you haven’t read it, it’s about Jerusalem’s unfaithfulness to God and God’s subsequent reactions. Here are a few verses.
VERSES 9 TO 15 I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord, and you became mine. I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewellery: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendour I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord. But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favours on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his.
VERSES 32 TO 34 You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband! All prostitutes receive gifts, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favours. So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for favours. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.
MY THOUGHTS When I read the beginning, especially v. 8-14, my heart was warmed. Wouldn’t we all love to be cared for in such a tender way? And then afterward, reading about the wife’s (aka Jerusalem’s) rebellion was sooo uncomfortable. (I encourage you to read the whole, uncomfortable Parable.) As it’s supposed to be. Because while prostitution may not be the most relatable example, the general themes of taking God’s love and gifts for granted probably are. As humans, even if we’re trying to walk closely with God, those feelings of selfishness, personal ambition, pride, independence, rebellion can still pop up. I pray that we learn to check ourselves, repent quickly, ask God to change our hearts to be in line with his views, and not proceed far down a wrong path. It’s too easy to do when we harden our hearts. Younger me often took sin too lightly. I knew God was loving, understanding and would forgive me of my sins when I asked. And I’d reason that I needed to learn by making mistakes and I “needed” to take my time, feel my emotions, and so on. That surely everyone disobeyed God so it was normal and not a big deal. So in a way I kind of wish I’d read this Parable then so I could be reminded of how truly ugly and heartbreaking sin is. Yes, God will forgive us if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9). God is truly gracious and merciful; he will choose to remember our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12). But it still hurts him and grieves the Holy Spirit. God knows what he’s doing though, maybe I wouldn’t have been ready to read this earlier.
I also pray that we can all continue to encourage each other to walk closely with God and love him with our whole hearts. We will never be perfect, we will definitely make mistakes but I feel the closer we are to him, the more we study his word and understand him in all ways, the more we ask him to give us clean hearts and not lift our souls to another … the less we are to let selfishness, pride, independence, whatever take root in our hearts and cause us to stumble badly. God’s love for us is so pure. Let’s passionately yearn to love and worship him like he deserves. #theyayproject
NOTES “Jerusalem’s sins were serious and had to be judged, but judgement was not God’s last word on Jerusalem. She had been comprehensively breaking God’s covenant and deserved the consequence of death, but God would remember the covenant he made with us in the beginning. God’s purposes for his people cannot be derailed even by their sin, for his covenant commitment is everlasting (Psalm 136). God’s forgiveness of her sins would finally bring Jerusalem to repentance.” (Commentary on v. 59-63 from my NLT study bible) Lyrics in the bubble from Vineyard’s Blessed Be The Name (my fave worship song).