Morning Light – Ezekiel 16

Today: [Ezekiel 16] Proof of the Veracity of the Scripture. If there was ever evidence presented as to the inspiration of scripture, it is found in the fact that the bible is a brutally honest and transparent history of the transgressions of the people. In Ezekiel 16 we find a lengthy litany of the sins of the city of Jerusalem and the inhabitants of the southern kingdom. They are described in the most unflattering language, yet hope is still held out that there will be a remnant and an everlasting covenant established that ultimately finds its fulfillment in Christ.
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[Eze 16:1-63 KJV] 1 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, 3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity [is] of the land of Canaan; thy father [was] an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. 4 And [as for] thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple [thee]; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. 5 None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. 6 And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee [when thou wast] in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee [when thou wast] in thy blood, Live. 7 I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: [thy] breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou [wast] naked and bare. 8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine. 9 Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. 10 I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. 11 I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. 12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. 13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment [was of] fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. 14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it [was] perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD. 15 But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. 16 And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: [the like things] shall not come, neither shall it be [so]. 17 Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them, 18 And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them. 19 My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, [wherewith] I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and [thus] it was, saith the Lord GOD. 20 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. [Is this] of thy whoredoms a small matter, 21 That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through [the fire] for them? 22 And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, [and] wast polluted in thy blood.
In chapter 16 of Ezekiel the prophet rehearses a comparison of the extend of God’s goodness to the city of Jerusalem and the depth of the idolatries of her people. He describes the city as an exposed and abandoned child that nobody wanted, when the Father speaks life to her and causes her to grow as a maid to full maturity and beauty. When verse 8 speaks of God spreading his skirts over them, it is language that describes a marriage covenant whereby the Father is betrothed to Jerusalem as a man is betrothed to a bride. The reference in verse 9 says that they were washed with water and anointed with oil. This is familiar language to us when reading the teaching of Paul regarding the bride of Christ:
[Eph 5:25-27 KJV] 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
This passage is at once very practical and yet mystical at the same time. The water that the city of Jerusalem was washed with was the washing of the water of the word. Likewise Jesus when he came acted as a husband over the city of Jerusalem and the people of Israel saying to His disciples:
[Jhn 15:3 KJV] 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
This is part of the ministry also of a husband to his wife. The primary source of the ministration of the word of God to the family and specifically to the wife is to originate with the husband. I know of no school of discipline in the body of Christ historically that has trained husbands or prospective husbands to perform this duty. The primary reason for this lack is rooted in the fact that Christian culture functions with a professional clergy who want to be seen as the only source of doctrine and teaching, thus making the classical church the originator of verity and truth rather than being centered on the home as God intended.
Verses 1-14 describe the tender and delicate care that God took for the people and the city of Jerusalem, yet in verse 15 we see the response of the people is to walk in unfaithfulness and idolatry. The harlotry and fornications of the city were sexual in nature due to the fact that most of the pagan rites involved in the worship of her idols included profane sexual rites and ritual prostitution.
23 And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;) 24 [That] thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street. 25 Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms. 26 Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger. 27 Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary [food], and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way. 28 Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied. 29 Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith. 30 How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these [things], the work of an imperious whorish woman; 31 In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire; 32 [But as] a wife that committeth adultery, [which] taketh strangers instead of her husband! 33 They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom. 34 And the contrary is in thee from [other] women in thy whoredoms, whereas none followeth thee to commit whoredoms: and in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee, therefore thou art contrary.
In verse 24 we see the idolatry compounded by the people in the fact that they not only worshipped pagan idols in the high places away from the city, but after many years they now parade themselves in their ungodliness by literally erecting pagan images in every street of Jerusalem. The fornication so described in verse 26 also has to do with the nation of Judah and her people courting the favor of the Egyptians, in the hopes that they would serve as a mercenary force with her armies against Assyria and later the Babylonian invasion. The rebuke of Isaiah and Jeremiah in their writing is that the people and her kings in the line of David should have looked to God as their rescue and not man.
This gives us an understanding of what idolatry really is and how that it is more than practicing a foreign religion. The book of 1 John was written to a very devoted group of Christians that any pastor would be elated to be the leader of because of their deep devotion and commitment to God, yet the final verse is an ominous warning to them and to us:
[1Jo 5:21 KJV] 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
What is idolatry? It is all about what you lean on when you are under pressure. In Psalms 121:1 David poses the question regarding the high places when he asks “will I look to the hills, whence cometh my help?” In other words David is saying that our help comes from God not from any other source, in the instance of king David he was dealing with clandestine idolatry taking place in the remote high places around the city of Jerusalem. What do you lean on or resort to when you “press the panic button” in your life? When you are under attack and your thinking is “I know what the bible says – BUT…” In so doing you have exposed your idol and your high place. It can be money, people, relationships, ungodly tactics and habits we turn to when faced with insurmountable problems. Idolatry proposes the dwellingplace of God to be somewhere other than the human heart. Idolatry in our hearts involves looking elsewhere for what we should be looking to the Lord for. Idolatry is any outward dependence that takes the place in inward reliance upon God through faith.
35 Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD: 36 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them; 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 thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness. 38 And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. 39 And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, 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. 40 They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords. 41 And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more. 42 So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry. 43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these [things]; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon [thine] head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations. 44 Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use [this] proverb against thee, saying, As [is] the mother, [so is] her daughter. 45 Thou [art] thy mother’s daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children; and thou [art] the sister of thy sisters, which lothed their husbands and their children: your mother [was] an Hittite, and your father an Amorite. 46 And thine elder sister [is] Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, [is] Sodom and her daughters. 47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as [if that were] a very little [thing], thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways. 48 [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. 49 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. 50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw [good]. 51 Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done. 52 Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters. 53 When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then [will I bring again] the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them: 54 That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them. 55 When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate. 56 For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride, 57 Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of [thy] reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all [that are] round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about. 58 Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD. 59 For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant. 60 Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. 61 Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. 62 And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I [am] the LORD: 63 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 chapter is broken up into three sections. First God describes his goodness and mercy toward the people. Secondly the idolatrous betrayal of the people is described in her pagan practices and reliance of foreign governments and powers to protect the city and the nation of Judah from invasions from the north. Verses 35-63 complete the discourse as God declares what His response is to the nation of Judah after centuries of patience with this backsliding people. Verse 37 tells us that because of the compromise of the nation with “all her lovers” (i.e. Egypt, Ethiopia, etc.), these nations will now be witness to the destruction of Judah, Jerusalem and the temple. God’s dealings with the people of Judah will be as when a woman was publicly shamed after playing the harlot in her marriage. In her punishments Judah will be cast out and made subject to the cruelties of the nations around her until she is without inhabitant, hounded, rejected, savaged and brutalized. All of this an more took place in the final years before the ultimate destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the leveling of the temple. Jerusalem is compared as being a sister to Sodom and a sister to Samaria in the north, both civilizations in total ruin and destruction for many years at the time of the writing of these words by Ezekiel.
Nonetheless verse 60 gives hope to the people that even though the covenant of Moses would now be utterly broken and the nation become a dispersed people, there would nonetheless be a restoration that would take place on the basis of an everlasting covenant. This indeed found immediate fulfillment 70 years later when Cyrus authorized the restoration of the city and the building of the temple under Nehemiah and Ezra. The ultimate fulfillment however was in Christ, whereas only a sinless, eternal man could ever consummate an immortal and everlasting covenant with man, through the shed blood of Calvary.

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