Ezekiel 16 Commentary
Marriage and sexual intimacy, then childbirth and marital infidelities, Ezekiel Chapter 16 explores Israel’s landscape of unfaithfulness over millennia in a very strong language.
Fathered by an Amorite man and mothered by a Hittite, Israel is the product of unfaithfulness and rebellion. Probably Adam and Eve are meant. Humanity is born in sinfulness.
Ezekiel references Israel’s innocent yet sinful beginning. It cannot be a man’s mistake to be born to sinful parents – yet sinful a man remains. The compassion of the LORD is such that He picks up the sinful child and cleanses her of all the dirt. It is a new page! Israel is saved from helplessness and sure death.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The grown-up woman can decide by herself. And that becomes the source of real trouble. She scorns the love of the LORD and runs after other men. But it is all so stupid that you begin to question her logic. She leaves behind a life of affluence and runs after slavery and poverty.
Taking off the glory of the LORD and covering herself in shame instead, she decides to replace the worship of the Creator God with the worship of all sorts of self-made idols. She encourages her sons to do the same. It is all self-inflicted misery.
Ezekiel makes the point that humanity has taken gifts from the LORD and used them to worship idols. There is no profit gained from the transaction. It can be very basic. The gift of speech is used to praise the gods of wood and iron while at the same time cursing the Creator God in rebellion.
He brings it home by pointing to the many times of ‘marriage unfaithfulness’ with Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon among others. Ezekiel is broader than meets the eye. His mention of the Philistines takes you back to the Book of Samuel. In fact, David’s calling was to shepherd Israel to safety away from the aggression of the Philistines.
They may look like political alliances but the bottom line is the thought that the LORD God isn’t good enough. We won’t make it by ourselves. We need extra manpower. But we also have subtle alliances based on copied and pasted evil practices of the nations around Israel. Let us do what they do. Let us worship the gods they worship.
‘Larger genitals’ of the Egyptians may be a reference to Israel’s appetite for Egypt’s delicacies as opposed to the LORD’s menu. Ezekiel has expanded Israel’s love for “cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. Numbers 11. It is a warning to the saint to keep to what the LORD has provided and stop making mountains of imagined benefits. It is all lies. The alliances bring in nothing; they get paid instead!
The saint is drawn to the Garden of Peace and Tranquility where the LORD provided ‘fruits’ that were all “pleasing to the eye and good for food”. Yet and regardless of the generosity of the LORD, humanity decided to go for the one forbidden fruit – like the LORD had not provided equally great fruits for them. They didn’t starve; they had what they needed. Israel has all that she has needed!
Wickedness reduces men; it doesn’t increase them. So she reduces in values as she gives of what she has – gaining nothing in retain.
In the distant past is Sodom. Samaria’s grave is about a hundred years older than Judah’s. Ezekiel is referring to the entire humanity. Jerusalem is a picture of humanity. See it for what it is. She is in rebellion against her husband – it is you. But importantly, the LORD mentions a time of yet another covenant – like a renewal of marriage vows. The LORD Jesus Christ is the husband with another contract. You are the bride who should say yes. Sign in.
Chapter 16 is in the top 10 longest chapters of the Bible. You probably understand. It takes this size to unpack history using strong graphics of human intimacy.
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