Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Why God Uncovers Us (Ezekiel 23)

By Benjamin H. Liles

          "The word of the Lord came again to me, saying: 'Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. They committed harlotry in Egypt, they committed harlotry in their youth; their breasts were there embraced, their virgin bosom was there pressed. their names: Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister; they were Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah...She has never given up her harlotry brought from Egypt, for in her youth they had lain with her, pressed her virgin bosom, and poured out their immorality upon her...Thus you called to remembrance the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians pressed your bosom because of your youthful breasts...Then I said concerning her who had grown old in adulteries, ‘Will they commit harlotry with her now, and she with them?’" (Ezekiel 23:1-4, 8, 21, 43, New King James).
          When it comes to dealing with all of us God deals with each individual on His terms, in His way and in His time. Throughout this chapter of Ezekiel God is calling out the two nations of Israel, the northern Kingdom of Israel now being Samaria due to her intermarriage with the Assyrians, which God addresses, as well as those in Judea -- Jerusalem, specifically. We read, "As soon as her eyes saw them, she lusted for them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea" (Ezekiel 23:16). It's as if the people in Jerusalem saw the sins of her sister in the north, her half-cousins, and said, "We can do far worse than you! Watch!" And so they did do worse.

The God who Lays Bare Sins

          To start, God has this right, not man. God is a just God. He is a holy God. He is the only God. When He came to save Israel and deliver her out from bondage to Egypt He performed mighty acts on her behalf to show the other nations whom He delighted in. And He made it evident who He would deal with. 

          "Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, 'Are you for us or for our enemies?' Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in'" (Joshua 5:13; 6:2-5). 

          God does this to show His righteousness so that others learn to fear Him. If we look at the life of Rahab, when the two spies came into Jericho, she tells them, "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death" (Joshua 2:9-13, New American Standard). 

Those Who Fear God

          Rahab perhaps epitomizes the essential believer in my eyes. She's scared because of the things she's heard the God of Israel is doing, and these two spies who came into Jericho have shown her God is indeed with them: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us...When we heard itour hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household." Talk about a great woman of faith! She put her faith and trust in the LORD God of Israel!

          That's perhaps the whole point of this article: God uncovers the works of sin to show how mighty and just and holy He truly is! "Those who fear Him have found wisdom and gain knowledge of God," says the writer of the proverb (Proverbs 2:5; 9:10). Even when these who believe do wrong against God they seek Him out first and foremost. God is quick to answer when we obey Him and give Him the worship He commands us to give. It's not because we're scared of Him, but because of who He is and how He deals with everyone. 

God of Justice

          In another portion of scripture God speaks through His Son, the servant--Jesus Christ of Nazareth, King of Kings and Lord of Lords--"But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28, New Living Translation). Is He being harsh here? On one hand I want to say that He is, but He's also calling a spade a spade: "Anyone who looks at a woman with lust..committed adultery."He is just. He came to show men how to be fishers of men. He called men who were steeped in faith and in the pattern of their fathers to go forth to a dead and dying world to renew everyone.

Renewal and Restoration

          James tells us, "But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death" (James 1:14-15, Holman Christian Standard). Don't miss this here, and I admit readily I am tempted all the time in the same manner, "By his own evil desires, each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed...after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when..grown, gives birth to death." James is telling us this so we can sidestep a potential pitfall.

          The real point to all of this is the fact that if we claim we belong to God through the shed blood of Christ we will do the best we can in Him to knock off the sinful acts, the sinful behaviors, those lifestyle choices. Yes, it's hard, but if we accept the message of salvation He works on us, our hearts, our desires and things are replaced and re-prioritized. Where we once indulged in and acted out in our flesh towards God, we now look at with new eyes of faith and find ourselves asking, "What was I thinking?"

Concluding Remarks

          I strongly believe the full reason we have God's word, the Bible, is to show us those who sinned greatly in His eyes. We are to follow a different path, a different pattern. Where we're told by God in His word, as David does, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10), He is able and abundantly equipped to do so. Paul says it this way, "It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 3:3; 5:17). Friend, this is for you, the one who needs God. You need this message because you are more than hurting, you need this because you feel fully bared, as if completely seen and naked. God does this so He can restore you. So don't simply give up and harden your heart. Seek Him out, understand God from His view. And then maybe you can do all those things the Spirit enables us to do. I pray this on your behalf in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.