Ezekiel 16:35-63 presents us with two “poles” of human existence! Two “opposites.”
A nation (Judah by name) being far from God, VERY FAR, verses 35-59.
And that same nation, suddenly, being made close to God, VERY CLOSE, verses 60-63.
Alienated … due to her sins, iniquities for which she has no desire to repent, and … for which she is to be judged!
And Ezekiel, wordsmith that he is, paints some precise pictures.
In the ancient Near East, when a man divorced his wife, he often took her out in public somewhere and stripped her of all her clothing! To expose her, shame her, illustrate that he no longer is her provider, no longer her protector! (Or so the “Manners and Customs” experts are telling me.)
Watch God toward Judah in versed 37: “Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover (“galah” in Hebrew = “to uncover”) thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.”
Does this paragraph sound like “judgment” for sins? “And I (the Lord) will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. And I will also give thee into their (Judah’s enemies) hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place (the Temple), and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare. They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords. And they shall burn thine houses with fire.” Ezekiel 16:38-41, attack!
And by verse 44 Ezekiel has “liberty” for sure! Now he uses a “proverb” current in that day. “Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying … AS IS THE MOTHER, SO IS THE DAUGHTER.”
Whereupon Ezekiel says Judah is living like (really WORSE than) her Mother, who was a rank heathen! A “Hittite” Ezekiel says, a reference to Abraham’s idolatrous background, his Father Terah’s anyway. Or to the disobedient intermarriage in Judah’s past that partly led to such blatant sins in the first place.
Then God introduces us to Judah’s two “sisters.” One is Israel, the ten tribes (or sons) of Jacob. Also called “Samaria, Ephraim,” the northern kingdom that was captured and scattered by the Assyrians in 721 BC. Due to their sin, I might add.
Judah is like her! No, “more sinful!” See verse 47. “Thou wast corrupted more than they (the 2 sisters) in all thy ways.”
And Judah’s second “Sister?”
It’s “Sodom,” says the Lord!
Judah is committing sins worse than Sodom!
“As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.” Verse 48, amazing, startling!
God then here lists the sins of Sodom, specifically. “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination (here is the homosexuality) before me, therefore I took them away as I saw good.” Verses 48-49
Severe judgment for sin! God talking again, to Judah: “I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.” Verse 59, sort of “chastening” Judah … until she “breaks,” until she comes to the point of repentance.
God is (in his Grace) going to some day “forgive” these recalcitrant people!
“Nevertheless I will REMEMBER MY COVENANT with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee AN EVERLASTING COVENANT. Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters (even GRACE for Samaria and Sodom) thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant (rather, by God’s covenant). And I will establish MY COVENANT with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.” Verses 60-63, precious!
Then chapter 16’s last verse: God “pacified!” The verb is “kaphar,” meaning “atoned!” Better yet, “reconciled!” Or even “appeased!” Read it: “That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I AM PACIFIED toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.” The Bible truly is Book of Forgiveness!
Because God is gracious!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
The Lord willing, tomorrow we leave behind this longest chapter in Ezekiel (16) … and look at a story about an “eagle.” Chapter 17, of course.