Morning Light – Ezekiel 23

Today: [Ezekiel 23] Jerusalem and Samaria – Sisters in Harlotry. In this chapter Ezekiel receives the word of the Lord that equates the holy city with the polluted, sinful and now destroyed city of Samaria in the north, because the people of God have sinned after the example of the 10 vanquished tribes of Israel, now destroyed and led away captive. This wasn’t how they viewed themselves, therefore God declares their position before Him through Ezekiel. In reading this chapter we can only put ourselves in their place, would we be capable of the transparency and honesty in identifying accepted behaviors in our culture and our own lives that are actually a deep offense to God?
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[Eze 23:1-49 KJV] 1 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother: 3 And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity. 4 And the names of them [were] Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus [were] their names; Samaria [is] Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah. 5 And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians [her] neighbours, 6 [Which were] clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses. 7 Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them [that were] the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself. 8 Neither left she her whoredoms [brought] from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her. 9 Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted. 10 These discovered her nakedness: they took her sons and her daughters, and slew her with the sword: and she became famous among women; for they had executed judgment upon her. 11 And when her sister Aholibah saw [this], she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in [her] whoredoms. 12 She doted upon the Assyrians [her] neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men. 13 Then I saw that she was defiled, [that] they [took] both one way, 14 And [that] she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion, 15 Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity: 16 And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.
In this chapter Ezekiel by the word of the Lord continues his unrelenting condemnation of the southern kingdom. The primary charge against Jerusalem and the people of God is that in seeking treaties of war with Egypt, they have committed whoredom against their God. This has been taking place since the time of Isaiah when that prophet denounced this policy by saying in Isaiah 8:
[Isa 8:13-14 KJV] 13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary…
Verses 1-4 gives an allegory of 2 daughters who give themselves over to harlotry. To remove any doubt they are identified as Aholah (which is Samariah, the capital of the northern kingdom, now destroyed) and Aholibah (which is Jerusalem). To Ezekiel’s hearers this would have been a stining parallel. Samaria in the north was deeply hated and despised by the south – a hatred that lingered and evidenced itself strongly even 500 years later in Jesus’ day. The words could not have been more insulting to the elders gathered before Ezekiel to hear what God might say unto them. To press home the point in the most graphic language, the names Aholah and Aholibah mean “woman of the tent”, describing itinerant prostitutes of the day who travelled from place to place in order to maximize their illicit trade to as many clients as possible.
Israel in the north is described as committing whoredom with the Assyrians and thus they were invaded and destroyed by that very nation as history bears out. Verse 11 tells us that Aholibah (the southern kingdom with its capital in Jerusalem) saw the inordinate behavior of her sister nation in the north and rather than repenting, set forth to sin even more egregiously, prostituting herself to Assyria, Babylon and Egypt in turn. As Isaiah prophesied in Isa. 8:22 because the people looked to earth rather than to heaven for their deliverance, the nation would only find trouble, darkness and anguish. What is the message for us? The message is that we cannot save ourselves, that our help only comes from God. We should be very cautious in looking to man, the institutions of men and the solutions of men for what we ought to be looking to the Lord for.
17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them. 18 So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister. 19 Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. 20 For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh [is as] the flesh of asses, and whose issue [is like] the issue of horses. 21 Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth. 22 Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side; 23 The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa, [and] all the Assyrians with them: all of them desirable young men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned, all of them riding upon horses. 24 And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels, and with an assembly of people, [which] shall set against thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set judgment before them, and they shall judge thee according to their judgments. 25 And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears; and thy remnant shall fall by the sword: they shall take thy sons and thy daughters; and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire. 26 They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair jewels. 27 Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee, and thy whoredom [brought] from the land of Egypt: so that thou shalt not lift up thine eyes unto them, nor remember Egypt any more. 28 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will deliver thee into the hand [of them] whom thou hatest, into the hand [of them] from whom thy mind is alienated: 29 And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy labour, and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy whoredoms. 30 I will do these [things] unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, [and] because thou art polluted with their idols. 31 Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup into thine hand.
Because the southern kingdom for decades now has courted the favor of first one nation and then the other for her own ends, she will now be cast into a bed of affliction by being given over the nations with whom she polluted herself. For us we must realize that all of this was brought about because of a foreign policy of appeasement to the various nations that threatened the nation of Judah. Does God get involved in foreign policy? Isn’t there a line drawn between church and state? Not from God’s point of view. We may think there is an impregnable firewall between God and the government, or the personal lives of the people but that is not a boundary God is required to respect. When a nations policies and cultural stance violates God’s word, if repentance doesn’t come, His offense will be registered in the withdrawal of His hand of protection over that nation. If this applied to the holy nation and the kings in the line of David, how much more so does it apply to our day? There are many who have said God will never judge America in such a way because 90% of the gospel and missionary work originates in America. This false assertion does not hold up in the light of God’s dealings with His people in the book of Ezekiel. Furthermore we must not only look at national policies but at our own personal behaviors and choices lest we make the arm of flesh our strength and bring consequences on ourselves that were never God’s first intent for our lives.
32 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister’s cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision; it containeth much. 33 Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister Samaria. 34 Thou shalt even drink it and suck [it] out, and thou shalt break the sherds thereof, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken [it], saith the Lord GOD. 35 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms. 36 The LORD said moreover unto me; Son of man, wilt thou judge Aholah and Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations; 37 That they have committed adultery, and blood [is] in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through [the fire], to devour [them]. 38 Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths. 39 For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house. 40 And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far, unto whom a messenger [was] sent; and, lo, they came: for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments, 41 And satest upon a stately bed, and a table prepared before it, whereupon thou hast set mine incense and mine oil. 42 And a voice of a multitude being at ease [was] with her: and with the men of the common sort [were] brought Sabeans from the wilderness, which put bracelets upon their hands, and beautiful crowns upon their heads. 43 Then said I unto [her that was] old in adulteries, Will they now commit whoredoms with her, and she [with them]? 44 Yet they went in unto her, as they go in unto a woman that playeth the harlot: so went they in unto Aholah and unto Aholibah, the lewd women. 45 And the righteous men, they shall judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood; because they [are] adulteresses, and blood [is] in their hands. 46 For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will bring up a company upon them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled. 47 And the company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire. 48 Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness. 49 And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD.
In verse 32 the Lord makes it abundantly clear what the future of the southern kingdom will be. As the 10 tribes to the north were obliterated and carried into captivity, so the southern kingdom will now be brought down, destroyed and taken into captivity in the north as well. They would drink the cup of their sister Samaria. The suggestion could not be more disappointing to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. The reason being (v. 35) because as far as God was concerned they had forgotten Him and cast Him behind their back. This is not what they believed they had done but from the perspective of divine justice this was the judgment and the sentence against them is now being conferred. In verse 36 Ezekiel is confronted for his apparent hesitancy to agree with God’s word. The question put to Ezekiel is will he pass judgment on Aholah and Aholiabah? Because they had defiled the sancturary? Because they had sacrificed their children to idols? Because they had committed whoredoms and played the harlot with other nations? Ezekiel is being compelled by God to equate in his mind the connection between Samaria and Judah and the suggestion of it is contemptable almost beyond Ezekiel’s ability to comply with.
The prophesy ends with God dealing with Ezekiel’s seeming reluctance to embrace these viewpoints by God saying to Ezekiel that if he didn’t agree with the pronouncement against the southern kingdom for her sins, then He would constitute himself equally guilty. When we see the hand of God moving in such a way we tend to want to simply opt out and avoid the calamity and the judgments, but God is saying we do not have that luxury. There is no third choice, no neutral position whereby we can say we just don’t want to get involve. We either see and accept the clear testimony of God’s word or we rank ourselves with the offenders and risk sharing the outcome they are facing for their transgressions. Neutrality is the one common standpoint that our country has made time and time again throughout her history. It did not serve us as a nation and it does not serve us as believers to stand back and not want to get involved. As Moses when He called the people to him we must determine where we stand in the day of judgment, on the Lord’s side or no.

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