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Amazing and Powerful Bible Passage (Ezekiel 16)

April 29, 2010

Daily bible reading: Ezekiel 16

I have been reading through the Old Testament since the start of the year.  This year I am trying to do it in chronological order, that is in the order the events occurred, not in the order they appear in the bible.  I have found that it is giving me a deeper and broader understanding of what is occurring and being addressed in the text.  I understand the background behind many bible passages more clearly now because I can relate the prophecies to the events and time in which they were given.

Anyway, yesterday I was in the book of Ezekiel and I came to chapter 16.  Here God is speaking to the prophet Ezekiel and telling him what to speak to the people of Israel.  He uses a graphic allegory of Israel being a fatherless bride that turns away from her husband to become a prostitute.  This is a common allegory in the bible about how God’s people are adulterous by running after other god’s and idols.  What was new for me this time was that I realized this was not only the nation of Israel, but it is also about me.  That may seem obvious, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t to me.  I’ve read this before, but this time I read it realizing that God was describing not only the Israelites, but that He was also talking about Jacob McWhirter.

I was so impacted by this realization.  The pain that God shows is so heart breaking.   The realization that it is I who has grieved him that much was powerful.  In this passage He compares this pain and grief to that of a good, loving husband whose wife has left Him and prostituted herself out and let all these evil men have her.  As I imagined how painful it would be to me if my wife did this, I was so grieved over the ways I have done this to God.

Whenever I choose to run after the things of this world over seeking Him, I am worshiping an idol.  Whenever I am unwilling to surrender anything to God, that is an idol.  One thing I found interesting is that this idolatry was committed by God’s chosen people.  This is addressed to the nation of Israel.  This passage describes a wife who chooses to become a whore after she is chosen by God and saved.  I believe this is applicable to Christians today who know God, have been chosen by Him, and yet decide to worship things of this world.  This is an allegory for Christians who exchange the worship of the creator God for the adoration of created things.  I think most of us do this all the time.  I know I do.

Looking at this passage through the lens of it being about me, something else amazing leaped out at me.  At the beginning of the chapter there is this vivid imagery of Israel (me) being the child of sin, abandoned at birth, left for dead in a field, and wallowing in my own blood.  God comes along, notices me, and speaks this amazing word, “LIVE!”  And immediately, I live and am adopted.

“Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.  And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.  “And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’  I made you flourish like a plant of the field.  And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment.” ~ Ezekiel 16:3-6

Wow!  That is amazing.  What a powerful, rich analogy.  There is so much gold to mine in there.  In the bible, blood always symbolizes our sin.  When I was born, I was in sin.   Indeed, I was in sin from my very birth.  All of us are born dead in our sin (Eph 2:1).  Regardless of who your parents were or if they were Christians, we are all born with no righteousness and no hope of being cleansed from our sin.  We lay there, completely helpless to save ourselves, wallowing in our own blood, our own sin.  We are fatherless because we are enemies of God (Rom 5:10, Col 1:21).

The helplessness of the new born baby lying alone in a field is hugely significant.  The baby cannot save itself.  It cannot find help.  It can’t decide to find a father or choose a mother.  While it is currently physically alive, it is in actuality as good as dead, unless it is rescued.  The act of rescuing is totally God’s.  The child doesn’t choose to make God it’s father.  No, it is God who notices the child, stops, and commands to child to “LIVE”!  Did you notice that this command is repeated?  This is to stress its importance.  This reminds me of other passages where life is given to people.  It reminds me of when God breathed life into Adam and when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

“When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out. . .” ~ John 11:43-44

This word from God to live is never an invitation, but rather, a command.  It is always God who gives life, both spiritual and physical.    This chapter in Ezekiel correlates the two (physical death and spiritual death).  When God tells the child (the nation of Israel) to live, it is made alive spiritually.  Abraham is gifted righteousness because of his faith (which was also a gift).  This apostle John calls this passing from death to life (1 John 3:14).  I live in Christ because (just like Lazarus and like the floundering baby in the field) God spoke to me in a loud voice and commanded, “Jacob . . . LIVE!”  This is why Paul says:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ . . .”  ~ Eph 2:4-5

Yes, we were MADE ALIVE by God.  I think too many Christians picture this process similar to how I was “made” an engineer by Washington State University.  Yes, the university pronounced me graduated and gave me a diploma, but it was I who chose to go to the school, attend the lectures, study for the exams, and learn the material.  In essence, the university provided the “opportunity” and an “invitation” for me to earn my degree by my choices.

This is NOT the picture portrayed in the bible.  When you think of God’s work in your salvation you need to realize that you are not the student choosing to attend the university, you are the baby dying in the field, drowning in your own filth.  You are helpless, incapable of making any decisions or choices to get to God.  You can’t even see Him through the filth covering your eyes (1 Cor 2:10-11).  It is only the outstretched arm of the Sovereign God that speaks you to life, picks you up, washes off your filthy sin, dresses you in the finest clothes, and makes you His child.

“I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine.  Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.  And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD.” ~ Ezekiel 16:8-14

It is only once we have this picture in our heads of God and his work in saving us that we really start to get the magnitude of His great love for us and what a precious gift grace truly is.  We are adopted (Eph 1:5).  In adoption, the child does not choose the parent, it is the other way around.

And yet, despite this amazing gift and His amazing, unmerited love for us, we continually choose to walk away from Him and whore ourselves out to all the things of this world, which are worthless in comparison to Him.

[Dear blessed wonderful Father, Thank you that you chose me when I was your enemy, dead, without hope, lying in my own filth, completely ignorant of my own state and your love.  Thank you so much that in your incomprehensible mercy and love you reached down, picked me up, breathed life into me, and washed away my sins through your Son’s death on the cross.  I never cease to be amazed by this act.  I can never understand why you would love a sinner such as I.  But, the fact remains that you do.  I want nothing else in life but to seek you.  You are truly greater than anything else in this world.  All of it you created and it is a pale reflection of your glory.  Please forgive me for the times I grieve you like the nation of Israel, like a unfaithful wife who seeks what only you can provide in the arms of another lover.  Please continually remind me of the time I was laying in a field, naked, in my own shame and guilt.  Remind me of how YOU rescued me, and how much you love me.  Remind me that you are truly the greatest lover my soul could ever have.  Amen.]

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicolas permalink
    April 7, 2011 2:32 pm

    Thank you for this lovely meditation.

    In addition, I’m always blown away by the gospel of free grace, further on in vv 46ff, where even Sodom is to be restored along with all the rest!

  2. April 29, 2011 4:17 pm

    Great Post, Thx!

  3. Bill permalink
    November 11, 2013 5:43 am

    Adonia refereed to us as human beings. I didn’t understand this change that corresponded with Ezekiel until this passage . Adonia speaks of all mankind . These words Adonia has given to Ezekiel overwhelm my heart and soul . I started studying the Bible in chronological order 8/3/13 . Thank your beautiful writing on this passage . I shall put it to memory to share with others .

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