In Ezekiel 16, God tells a story to Ezekiel. Ezekiel, being a prophet, is supposed to retell the story to the people of Israel for their learning. God states in verse 1 that the purpose of the story is to “make known to [Israel] her abominations.” What had Israel done that was considered an abomination? If you read the first 15 chapters of Ezekiel and you get to chapter 16, you have a good idea of all the laws Israel had broken and the disloyalty to God that they had shown. So, you might be expecting for God to decry their actions and denounce their faithlessness by listing all of the things Israel failed to do correctly. But rather, God tells them a story of adoption, love, rejection, and redemption.
While I encourage you to read the text for yourself, the story goes like this:
A baby girl is abandoned in a field immediately after birth with her cord still uncut, unwashed, and unclothed. A man sees the baby in the field and decides to take care of her. The man cares for her her whole life and she grows into a beautiful woman. Now that the girl is grown, the man comes to love the girl and they get married. It is revealed that the man is a king! He continues to care for her and gives her all the finest clothing and jewelry there is. She becomes a queen and her fame spreads into the whole world due to her beauty. Then, the young woman began to trust in her beauty and her precious gifts and forgot the man with whom she was married and who had given her those gifts. She leaves her husband and sleeps with other men. She doesn’t sleep with just nobles or kings, but anyone who would show her attention, even sleeping with others just to anger her husband. She even paid them to do it! She also used the gifts from her husband to make herself images of other men and lusted after them. Yet, even though she did all this she still wasn’t able to find satisfaction. Upon the realization of the queen’s actions, the king is heartbroken and furious. He vows to punish the queen for her action and those who participated in her faithlessness. He punishes her by setting her up as an example of disgrace for the nearby nations. All the people of the area know that the king does not tolerate unfaithfulness. But due to the king’s love, he doesn’t completely destroy the queen. He remembers how they made a covenant of marriage to one another. The king decides to honor that commitment, despite her disregard for him and the covenant. He promises that he will atone for all the wrong she has done in the land and redeem her once more. As the king looks to the future, he knows that this is the only way that the queen will be able to see her own shame.
What does this story reveal about Israel’s relationship with God and their abominations? Israel was the woman who was faithless toward her husband. God is the saving, gracious King. Israel was guilty of abandoning her covenant with God (Exodus 19) and “sleeping with” false gods. God is the one who made Israel a public shame (the story of Ezekiel) and is the one who refuses to give up on His covenant.
We learn a lot about the character of God from passages like Ezekiel 16. He is loving, fatherly, gracious, compassionate, husbandly, just, righteous, and forgiving, among many other qualities. But, what seems to stand out is what this story reveals about how God operates WITHIN a relationship.
But, if you’re WITHOUT a relationship with God, then your story is much shorter than the one in Ezekiel 16. See, you are still the baby, abandoned in the field, wallowing in your own blood. God is willing to save, wash, clothe, feed, and care for you. He wants you to grow into His bride. He wants to have a covenant with you. He wants you to be a faithful spouse. In fact, he has already prepared to do those things for you, but you need to let him do what He sees best for you. Let God say to you “Live!” by hearing the message of the Gospel. Let Him wash you of your filth in baptism (Ezekiel 16:9). Let God provide your clothing (Ezekiel 16:10). Let God marry you (Ezekiel 16:8). Consider the passages listed below when considering how to put into actions these things.
If you are WITHIN a relationship with God He has already: saved and adopted you (Ephesians 1:5), washed you (Acts 22:16), clothed you (Colossians 3:1-17), and forgiven you (1 John 1:9). Also, God is your Father (Ephesians 4:6), your Husband (Ephesians 5:22-27), and your Redeemer (Ephesians 1:7). The danger for those who are within a relationship with God, is that we may become like the woman of Ezekiel 16 and spurn God. May we never leave our King! If we do realize we have “whored” after other things, may we change our hearts (Acts 3:19) and come back to the King who faithfully keeps His covenant with us.