Ezekiel 16:15-22: Adulterous Idolatry

If the penalty for breaking the law of Moses is physical death,
what do you think will happen if you turn on God’s Son,
spit on the sacrifice that made you whole,
and insult this most gracious Spirit?
— Hebrews 10:28-29 (The Message)

Ezekiel took 14 verses to explain the helpless plight of the baby/young woman, and to show Yahweh’s overwhelming compassion for her. If this was preached in our churches today, heads would be nodding, people would be shouting, “Amen”, and tears would be welling up in the eyes of the more compassionate people. Ezekiel’s audience in exile might have started to think that God was about to renew his covenant with them—rescinding the harsh declaration of punishment.

Ezekiel dispelled this false hope quickly. Let me paraphrase what he said next: “You trusted in yourselves rather than God and whored yourself out to any stranger who would give you a second glance.” Ouch.

I don’t think I can adequately explain the shock value of verse 15. Ezekiel proceeded to say that the woman used the gold and silver God gave her to melt down and create male images to play the whore with. She dressed the images in the clothes God gave her. She offered the food God gave her to the idol she created. To top it all off, she took her own children, and sacrificed (slaughtered) them to please the god she had created.

. . .

God’s indictment of the woman is founded in Scripture. When God led Israel out of Egypt, he gave them the wealth of the Egyptians. They left slavery with gold and silver. A short time later, they used this jewelry—this gift from God—to melt down and mold a golden calf. Later on, the Israelites would be wooed by the worship of Molech, an false god who demanded child sacrifice. Evidently, some Israelites indulged it.

Let me ask you: which of the two stories gripped your heart more? Was it the metaphorical account of a cheating wife, or the historical account of idolatrous Israelites? The answer is clear to me. It is difficult to feel passionate about something religious and common. We all know Israel’s history, and the religious terms tend to wash over us like a dull sedative.

But how does God feel about Israel’s past? He feels just like the husband who rescued his wife from certain death and gave her every gift that would enable her to become a famous Queen—only to have her sleep around with anyone and everyone who would give her a second look.

Idolatry has the emotional impact of Adultery to God.

. . .

When you examine this part of the metaphor, we see the cause of the young woman’s problem in verse 15: “But you trusted in your beauty” (NRSV). Everywhere else in Ezekiel, the word trust is used to describe our proper attitude toward God alone. This is the only place where trust is misplaced. The consequences, as we have begun to see, are drastic.

Since the woman trusted herself instead of God, she quickly forgot “the days of [her] youth, when [she was] naked and bare, flailing about in [her] blood” (v. 22, NRSV).

We have the same problem. After trusting Jesus to rescue us from our self-centred lives, we tend to regress. We begin to trust ourselves again. We forget that everything good that has happened in our lives happened because God has rescued us from ourselves and set us free to truly live.

. . .

Dear Jesus, remind us again that we only exist because of you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 16:7-14 | Second Rescue

Ezekiel 16:23-43 | Paying Prostitutes >

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