Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 13-16
Israel: “Time passes and prophecies come to nothing.”
God: “I will put an end to this proverb, and you will soon stop quoting it.”
New proverb from God: “The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled!”
God: “I am the Lord! If I say it, it will happen. There will be no more delays, you rebels of Israel. I will fulfill my threat of destruction in your own lifetime. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
Israel: “He’s talking about the distant future. His visions won’t come true for a long, long time.”
God: “No more delay! I will NOW do everything I have threatened. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” – Ezekiel 12:21-28
The Israelites had lost their fear of God. They were no longer taking Him seriously. They needed someone to paint a picture for them of their unfaithfulness and disrespect. In Ezekiel 16, the Lord used a parable to describe His people as a wife who is unfaithful to her husband. God had blessed His people and they had, in turn, put other things ahead of God, making idols of the very things God had blessed them with.
Reading through this parable, I could not help but see the resemblance of this kind of unfaithfulness in America, among Christians and non-Christians. We are so quick to fall in love with the things of this world instead of running after things that have eternal value. We are willing to sacrifice so much of what God has blessed us with in order to have more and more of what the world has to offer. We run after earthly possessions and accomplishments, instead of running after what God has to offer.
“On the day you were born, no one cared about you. Your umbilical cord was not cut and you were never washed, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in cloth. No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you. On the day you were born, you were unwanted, dumped in a field and left to die. BUT I CAME BY AND SAW YOU THERE, helplessly kicking about in your own blood. As you lay there, I said, ‘Live!’ And I HELPED YOU to thrive like a plant in the field…
“Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. I gave you expensive clothing…I gave you lovely jewelry…And so you were adorned with gold and silver…You ate the finest food…You looked like a queen, and so you were! Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord.
“But you thought your fame and beauty were your own. So you gave yourself as a prostitute to every man who came along. Your beauty was theirs for the asking. You used the lovely things I gave you to make shrines for idols, where you played the prostitute. Unbelievable! How could such a thing ever happen?…
“It seems you can never find enough new lovers! And after your prostitution there, you still were not satisfied. You added to your lovers by embracing Babylonia, the land of merchants, but you still weren’t satisfied.
“What a sick heart you have, says the Sovereign Lord, to do such things as these, acting like a shameless prostitute…so eager for sin…you are the opposite of other prostitutes. You pay your lovers instead of their paying you!” – (Ezekiel 16:4-16, 28b-34)
Oh, help us, Lord! In a book that describes the wrath of God and His severe punishment on a nation that was unfaithful after He had done so much for them, He uses a parable that could easily be used to describe us.
God blesses us with time and we spend it on ourselves.
God blesses us with money and we use it to buy more of what the world has to offer.
God blesses us with a television and we watch unwholesome programs.
God blesses us with beauty and we use it to bring attention to ourselves.
God blesses us with beautiful bodies and we dress immodestly.
God blesses us with a sense of humor and we participate in coarse joking.
God blesses us with intelligence and we make our own decisions.
God blesses us with talent and we allow pride to grow.
God blesses us with family and we gossip & complain about them.
Forgive us, Lord!
Forgive us for the importance we put on the things of this world and on our own physical beauty.
Forgive us for embracing “the land of merchants” and always wanting more (especially at Christmas).
Forgive us for thinking that our fame and beauty are our own.
Forgive us for thinking anything you have blessed us with is ours to enjoy.
Forgive us, Lord!
“I will be a sanctuary to you during your time of exile.” – Ezekiel 11:16
Wow, these words are so powerful. God was punishing His people by allowing Jerusalem to be destroyed, including the Temple – their place of worship. Why? To remind them that the Temple was never meant to be a place to BE worshipped but a place to worship GOD. Now the Temple is gone and they were far from their homes and all God had blessed them with, but they still had God. He was with them and He desired to be their sanctuary. He stripped them of everything so that they would fall on their knees and recognize Him as the only place to go to worship.
Lord, be our sanctuary. Do a work in our hearts as we look to you alone for our salvation. May your words in Ezekiel describe us as we return our attention to You and remove every trace of idols from our lives:
And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. – Ezekiel 11:19-20