Yesterday evening i went to a small group Bible study led by one of the men who was my small group leader when i was in high school and still lost. Upon his texting me the info and address for the study, i texted him back saying,
hopefully I’ve matured a lil since the old days lol
The reason for talking about maturing over the past 8-9 years is what got me thinking about the passage i want to share with you today. You see, when i was in high school and immature, some of the guys in my small group, spurred on by myself, would make jokes about sexual verses in the Bible.
Verses about someone knowing someone else weren’t good enough for us. We preferred to talk about breasts and palm trees and climbing palm trees (cf. Song of Songs 7:7-8). But then we discovered Ezekiel 23:20…
Let me quote it in context. God says through Ezekiel in Ezekiel 23:19-21,
Yet she multiplied her acts of promiscuity, remembering the days of her youth when she acted like a prostitute in the land of Egypt and lusted after their lovers, whose sexual members were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of stallions. So you revisited the indecency of your youth, when the Egyptians caressed your nipples to enjoy your youthful breasts.
You see, Ezekiel 23:1 says, “The word of the LORD came to me again.” And then verses 2-49 are Ezekiel quoting God. So when we read the sexually explicit language in Ezekiel 23:20 it is straight from the mouth of God. Just like the main point of this post, God doesn’t use language flippantly. When He talks about prostitutes and the emissions of sexual members, He is speaking carefully.
So first, let’s dive into the context of Ezekiel. Ezekiel started writing in approximately 593 BC, after the first two deportations of Judah to Babylon, when King Zedekiah was ruling–the last king of Judah before Jerusalem was destroyed.
The exile happened because Judah has turned their backs on God. God had made a covenant with them at Sinai in Exodus 24:3, which the people had agreed to by saying, “We will do everything that the LORD has commanded.” The problem was it only took less than forty days for them to begin turning their backs on God (cf. Exodus 24:18, 32:1ff.). And then from the book of Numbers through the end of 2 Kings, we are repeatedly shown the fact that Israel is terrible at keeping their end of the covenant they made with God. So, since Judges 6:8, God sent prophets to convince the people they needed to get back on track and keep the covenant they made with God. Long story short, they ignored the prophets and preferred sin and idolatry, so God sent Babylon to take them away.
So when Ezekiel comes on the scene as a prophet, it is not so much to get the people to turn around (though the theme of repentance is present in his book), but rather to convince the people that God is behind their troubles. God is punishing them because they broke the covenant.
So when Ezekiel preaches his parable in Ezekiel 23, the second woman–discussed in verses 11-49–is metaphorically the kingdom of Judah. And when Ezekiel writes what he does in verses 19-21, which is sexually explicit, he is not only relating God’s utter disgust at their rebellion and sinfulness but also trying to shock the people into repentance.
It’s hard to read that verse as a 21st-century citizen who has been numbed to sexuality by society and media. Imagine how it would have been to understand it was referring to you…
And the fact of the matter is that the Jewish people probably would have said, “We’re not that sexually immoral!” and they probably wouldn’t have been lying. However, they were extremely idolatrous, throwing away the first two of the Ten Commandments. When it comes to worshipping God, idolatry is equivalent to prostitution. The people were called to be faithful to God, but they had deserted Him for a “more exciting” version or two.
Do you have ears to hear?
I referred to Ezekiel 23 as a parable. When Jesus preached parables, He would say, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen” (Mark 4:9). And if we only talk about Ezekiel 23 within the context of Old Testament Judah, then we are missing the point.
If Judah–the people represented by the immoral, fornicating woman in Ezekiel 23–was the people of God, and they could be described by God in this sense, primarily because the majority of them didn’t actually believe in the Messiah to come and didn’t look forward to His coming, then we must look at ourselves.
Do we follow God for reals?
Do we live according to His Word?
Do we trust His promises?
Do we sin with thoughts of, “God will forgive me,” in our back pocket?
Do we look forward to the return of Jesus?
If we give the wrong answer to these questions, we might be more closely resembling the woman described in Ezekiel 23 than the woman described in Revelation 19:7-8. If we are represented by the woman in Ezekiel 23, we must repent! If we are represented by the woman in Revelation 19:7-8 we must continue living in righteousness! We must never get comfortable where we are.
If we refuse to repent when being described by the woman in Ezekiel 23, then we will face the judgment described in Ezekiel 23:22-49a. This is more than half of a chapter describing punishment for sins that took less than half a chapter to delineate. God takes sin seriously, whether you think you’re a believer or not.
However, the good news is there is a hint of hope in Ezekiel 23. After the punishment they are told, “Then you will know that I am the Lord Yahweh” (23:49b). The question is: will you trust Him now and repent, or will you wait until you’re being judged on the last day when it’s too late to change your mind to find out that God is Yahweh?
I pray it’s the former. Trust Christ and repent.
(Read Ezekiel 16 for a similar parable with a much happier ending.)
I know sin is fun; i know following God is hard; but i promise you this: you will regret it if you refuse to repent!
Trust Christ! He died for prostitutes (whether spiritual, physical, or mental).
In this with you
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.