Tuesday, August 28, 2012
the faithless wife
Because you have not remembered the days of your youth, but have enraged me with all these things, therefore, behold, I have returned your deeds upon your head, declares the Lord GOD. Have you not committed lewdness in addition to all your abominations?
The language of this chapter is some of the harshest in all of the Old Testament. God speaks an extended metaphor of Israel as a faithless wife. He speaks of His tender love for Israel, how He found the nation as a struggling abandoned infant in the desert. He loved her and helped her to thrive and grow. Later, in the flower of her full womanhood, He compassionately took her as His only bride. He clothed Israel with royal honor, wealth, and prestige.
But Israel dishonored her marriage vows to Yahweh. She despised her husband who had only shown her love and given her everything she was. She became enamored with foreign lovers, hiring them with gifts and giving away the wealth of her husband to all the nations around her. The adulteries committed by the nation come from a willing heart and a purposeful disrespect for God. Eventually she sacrificed her own children in lustful worship of her foreign gods. There was a shameless, brazen disregard for everything that God had given to her in marriage by the covenant. Israel forgot her past in addiction to adultery.
God was left to judge faithless Israel. He hurled all His displeasure and wrath at her adulteries with these vivid descriptions of her lewd behavior. He brought severe judgment on her for her shameless abandonment of Him. He reminded the nation of their orphaned youth and His tender love.
And then God does what only He uniquely can do. He extends grace after judgment. Israel would suffer horrible consequences for her faithlessness and adultery, but God would restore His covenant with beautiful Israel, taking her back as His bride again, upon her repentance (Ezekiel 16:61-63).