Read: Ezekiel 22-23
We’re nearing the end of the words against Jerusalem through Ezekiel, hard words to read for sure. Don’t miss Ezekiel 22:30 if you read nothing else.
Judgment on Jerusalem’s Sins
Chapter 22 provides a summary and list of offenses found in the holy city of Jerusalem, the choice place for the chosen people.
You city that brings on herself doom by shedding blood in her midst and defiles herself by making idols, you have become guilty because of the blood you have shed and have become defiled by the idols you have made. You have brought your days to a close, and the end of your years has come. Therefore I will make you an object of scorn to the nations and a laughingstock to all the countries. Ezekiel 22:3-4
Just in case they wanted to point the blame on the invading armies, Ezekiel makes it personal with eight examples, “in you,” statements: “‘See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood. (Ezekiel 22:6)
- In you they have treated father and mother with contempt;
- In you they have oppressed the foreigner and mistreated the fatherless and the widow.
- In you are slanderers who are bent on shedding blood;
- In you are those who eat at the mountain shrines and commit lewd acts.
- In you are those who dishonor their father’s bed;
- In you are those who violate women during their period, when they are ceremonially unclean.
- In you one man commits a detestable offense with his neighbor’s wife, another shamefully defiles his daughter-in-law, and another violates his sister, his own father’s daughter.
- In you are people who accept bribes to shed blood; you take interest and make a profit from the poor. You extort unjust gain from your neighbors. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord.
These attributes are part of the people of God. They are graphic and deplorable. I wonder how close they are to contemporary times?
In The Gap
One of the most profound verses in the Bible, wrapped in Ezekiel’s prophecy against Jerusalem,
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. Ezekiel 22:30
Who will stand in the gap? What gap is before you today? In his book, In the Gap: What Happens When God’s People Stand Strong, Wilfredo De Jesús provides a snapshot of nine people in the Bible that stood in the gap. It’s a quick read if you’re interested, probably a sermon series he published, and a good reminder that God calls us to stand in the gaps. Here’s the important piece: we have to see the gaps and be strong and courageous enough to stand with no guarantee of outcome in human terms. We have to deny ourselves for God’s purpose.
Chapter 23 — Two Prostitutes
This is really a harsh chapter to read. I pray that as you read this with young children, God will help you!!
- Samaria: “Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. They stripped her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword. She became a byword among women, and punishment was inflicted on her. Ezekiel 23:9-10
- Jerusalem: “Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister. Ezekiel 23:11
It gets worse, at least R-rated, I’ll let you read the rest, but here’s a preview:
When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her naked body, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister. Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. Ezekiel 23:18-19
Ezekiel must have had few friends in ministry, I can’t imagine people standing next to him as these words were spoken among the people. Did anyone ever say, “great sermon Zeek!” Not likely!
An end to this profanity:
And they slept with her. As men sleep with a prostitute, so they slept with those lewd women, Oholah and Oholibah. But righteous judges will sentence them to the punishment of women who commit adultery and shed blood, because they are adulterous and blood is on their hands. Ezekiel 23:44-45
I know Ezekiel is using adultery as a metaphor, but for a moment, I want to consider a very real thought on adultery. The atheist would have us believe that there is no morality based on the Bible, that we have merely built rules of acceptability out of some survival instinct. But as we read the Bible we see time and time again the sin of adultery is presented in the harshest of words, in analogy and in reality. God’s desire for marriage is consistently portrayed throughout scripture: one man and one woman, the two become one, to be stronger because of their bond, to share intimacy within the marriage covenant. Adulterous affairs must terribly displease God as they are so often used to make a point. Lord, keep us far from violating the sanctity of marriage.
Don’t let the world sway us from what you have designed from the very beginning. Help us to stand in the growing gap between your desire for your people and the world’s desire to tear us apart.
Thoughts about serving others
This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.
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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.