Ezekiel chapter 16 is one of the longer chapters, and if I do say so, a bit creepy in some respects (at least one commentary agrees with that). We are taken away through Ezekiel’s visionary experience into a long metaphor of the history of Israel.
Ezekiel paints a picture of a truly undesirable beginning. It’s a common story even today eg. wrong parents, undesirable lineage, bad neighborhood, no economic standing, bad hygiene, living in rags and poverty. No one would want her, Israel that is. We are told that God took enormous care and patience, long suffering to watch over Israel as she grew. All the growing pains, correcting measure by measure. This is a process that took centuries of history.
If we look at this today, it flies in the face of the modern accusation that the God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath and quick vengeance. Absolutely not true. Here we have a patient and nurturing God who forgives blatant imperfection. He see’s the potential of what could be. God planted the seeds of richness and watched them grow.
There is a line in this chapter that I really love – though it sounds so much better in the poetic text of the KJV. It says,
“9 Then washed I thee with water;
yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee,
and I anointed thee with oil.”
It is a promise to each one of us, spoken clearly into the middle of the mess we find ourselves living every single day.
What’s more, we see in this chapter that the neighboring nations are directly referenced, and this is for a reason. Ezekiel tells of God’s excitement about presenting his precious jewel of Israel to all the other nations. Why? Why is that?
I think it tells of us the intention to bring hope and improvement to the other nations – who are also of God’s creation – by showing Israel as an example. It’s almost as if He’s saying, “Look! Look at what I was able to do with the poorest of the poor, the weakest of the weak. I can also bring you closer to perfection if you come to my presence and forsake your pride and evil ways. Here is the example. Here is what is waiting for you”
Isn’t that what Jesus said in one of his sermons too, when He said “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, that there is such a huge connection between the Gospels and the Old Testament prophets.
It is the same message, but you have look closely.
From a personal perspective, does that mean you or I are supposed to hold ourselves out as examples? I submit to you that the answer is No. How do you know when you are perfect in God’s view? No, it was for God to decide the moment and time, and present His work to the nations. Similarly, it is for God to decide when to use you for an example
All we can do is present ourselves to our neighbors and community as imperfect creatures – a work in progress. And share that message that if God is willing to invest time and materials in me, then He surely is willing to do the same for you.
I find a certain amount of peace in this message – and this is the good news of the Gospel.
Next blog will traverse further into Ezekiel chapter 16 to see what happens next. What does Israel do, and how does the vision progress?