sweet as apple pie
Always gets a
second look from fellas passin’ by
Everytime you see
her she’s with a different guy
that’s the reason why
— “Beautiful Delilah” © 1958 Chuck Berry
As this metaphor continues it grows more and more disturbing. To be frank, the explicit sex and brutal violence is overwhelming. Mercifully, most modern translations render the Hebrew euphemistically.
I don’t feel compelled to go into the details here. Buy a solid commentary if you’re interested (I recommend Block’s two volume NICOT). Just be assured that the words and images are the most shocking recorded in scripture. In this offensive context, let’s look at a few of God’s main indictments.
. . .
The main issue was Israel’s prostitution. She was no ordinary prostitute, though. Prostitutes (by definition) receive payment for their services. Israel had the whole idea backwards. She bribed her Johns to satisfy her. Instead of getting paid, she offered payment!
This inverted prostitution says a lot about the spiritual condition of Israel:
- She was acting absurdly: her actions made no logical sense.
- She was also desperate: attempting to fill her perceived needs through all the wrong sources.
- She was tremendously ungrateful: using the gifts that Yahweh had given her to bribe other people to sleep with her. Israel’s history of paying tribute to other nations is well documented.
Israel’s actions were so desperate, even the philistines were ashamed of her! Let that thought sink in. Israel was set in the midst of nations to show them what true godliness was. Instead they were acting so lewdly, even the pagan nations were ashamed of her.
How does this situation apply to the church today? Have we (collectively) done things that make the world we live in embarrassed for us? Maybe it’s time to stop blaming the media for their harsh treatment of Christians and start demanding accountability from those who supposedly speak for us. Responsibility in lieu of blame.
. . .
God’s response to the wickedness of Israel is to give her over to her Johns. God rounds up all the surrounding nations and allows them to kill and to hack up his rescued bride. Only then will his rage be satisfied.
The words God used: “gave you up to the will of your enemies” (v. 27, NRSV) sounds eerily like God’s description of judgment in the New Testament. In Romans 1, God repeats the way he judges wicked people three times: “God gave them up” (v. 24, 26, 28, NRSV).
I grew up expecting immediate punishment for sin. When I realized I had sinned, I asked God to forgive me and waited for the bad event that would signal God’s judgment. I have since learned a couple of things:
- God is merciful: God poured out his anger on Jesus who died for my sins so I wouldn’t have to face it. This does not mean that God will never bring storms into the lives of believers who cling to their pet sins. It means that the storms will have a purpose—to drive us to repent.
- For the evil people who do not turn to God, his judgment often takes the form of allowing them to be handed over to the consequences of their sins.
The words “God gave them up” are far more terrifying to me than an occasional storm that sends me running back to my Salvation.
. . .
Lord, help us to represent you properly. Your glory is too brilliant for our lives to darken. In Jesus’ name, Amen.