GOD’S SAD STORY
God speaks to Ezekiel using an illustration to describe his people and what they’ve done. As a bloody newborn girl, the Israelites were abandoned and alone. God came to the child and spoke life to her. He watched her grow up into a young woman who was ready for love, yet she was vulnerable and naked. God clothed her beautifully, crowning her with jewels. But she became a prostitute, having sex with any and every man she could find. She exhibits the worst kind of immorality—paying others to use her instead of taking money for her services. But God promises to atone for her sins and make a new covenant with her that will last forever.
God explains a proverb that’s popular among the exiles. It says that children are punished for the sins of the parents. God clears things up: People will only face judgment for their own sins. But if a wicked person repents and turns toward him, God will forget all of the unrighteous things the person has done.
God sings two songs, one about a lioness and the other about a grapevine. There is a sad moral to both songs: God has removed his hand of blessing from his people.
The King’s Heart
God uses graphic words in Ezekiel 16. But they give an accurate description of what God has endured. God had to watch as his people willingly gave their souls and bodies to forces of darkness. In the illustration, God offered a love so precious that it would make the woman beautiful. But she chose to give herself to false gods whose only intention was to use and destroy her. The description is torturous. Yet God endured it as reality. He witnessed his love’s every betrayal.
Then, true to our God of goodness, God brought beauty into this terrible picture. But it was so kind that it’s difficult to accept. God remembered the covenant he made with his people; and although they had strayed far from it, he is going to make a new covenant—one that will last forever. And he is going to atone for, to cover over, their vile sins.
As God atones for his people, his tenderness will be so great that they will be silenced in shame for all that they have done. His goodness will be overwhelming.
When God symbolically “spread the corner of [his] garment” over his people (Ezekiel 16:8), it was a marriage proposal. God wanted this kind of relationship with his people. Boaz covered Ruth with the corner of his garment, symbolizing the same thing (see Ruth 3:9).
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