God tells the history of the Jews from His perspective.
Ezekiel Chapter 16
Lessons from the text
Grieving God God views His people as His bride. The Jews accepted a marriage covenant with Him in the wilderness. Yet they continued to be unfaithful to Him, serving other gods and doing as they pleased. Verse 43 states that this fretted God. As a husband is upset and worried for his wife when she is unfaithful, so, too, is God upset and worried over His people.
Although Christians are not yet marriage to God, Christians have accepted Christ’s proposal. The born-again believer is espoused to Christ, waiting for the day that He will come to take us to the marriage in heaven (II Cor. 11:2, Eph. 5:31-32, Rev. 19:6-7). Though Christians are not yet marriage to Christ, He is still grieved over our sins and unfaithfulness. Christ wants us to be found spiritual virgins, pure and faithful to God alone. Turning back to the world or sin is like taking God’s engagement ring and throwing it back in His face. Just like any human man would be deeply hurt by such behavior, even so God is grieved by people’s rejection of His proposal. Do you want to grieve the person who loves you so much that He died on the cross for you?
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-3 Instead of pointing to their biological father (Abraham), God points to their spiritual parents. This is stating that the sins that are found in the Amorites and Hittites are also found in Israel. Historically, this is referencing that the twelve sons of Israel were born in Canaan (Gen. 35:22-26).
4-5 When the nation was born, they were still attached to their mother through the umbilical chord (the navel was not cut). The baby is abandoned; no one cleaned the nation, no one had compassion on the nation, and they were hated. This is seen in that the sons of Israel moved to Egypt only to be persecuted and turned into slaves (Exo. 1:8-10).
6-7 Despite their pollution, God spoke life into the nation Israel. This is referencing that while in Egypt, God blessed the Jews and increased their numbers (Exo. 1:7, 12). This was the first time God passed by.
8-12 God passed by the Jews a second time. This is the Exodus. He washed them in water by the Red Sea (Exo. 14:5-31; I Cor. 10:1-2). He took away their blood by forgiving them of their sins through the sacrificial law of Moses (Exo. 19:5, 10-15). He anointed them by putting His presence in their midst (Exo. 40:34-38). He gave them goods through the Egyptians (Exo. 12:31-36). These things represent a proposal story; God came and loved them, He proposed to them (spread His skirt), and brought bridal gifts. The ten commandments were more than God’s law given to Israel; they were a marriage covenant that Israel accepted (Exo. 24:1-7).
13-14 After the Exodus, God went with Joshua conquering the land of Canaan for the Jews (Josh. 1:9). He established them as a unified kingdom through David (II Sam. 8:15). By David’s military victories and Solomon’s wealth, the nation earned a name above the other nations of the time (II Sam. 8:13, 10:19, I Ki. 4:29-31).
15-21 The Jews neglected God’s gifts; God took them when they were wounded, healed them, blessed them, and they claimed that they had healed themselves and magnified themselves. Deluded by pride, they began to worship other gods and their own glory. The very things that should have gone to God as offerings in the temple were given to false gods.
22 The main problem with the Jews is that they forgot their past; they forgot that God had delivered them, and therefore that they owed their blessings to God and not themselves. When one remembers that God is the source of all of one’s provisions, one avoids the temptation to believe that one has somehow earned them.
23-26 God lists all the sins of the people. The idolatry spread to every street corner, and then the people began to adopt any religion that happened to pass by through traders. This warns that when a nation rejects God, it opens itself to believing any false religion.
27 God has to address the people’s sin. Not only have they sinned but also they have sinned after God has intervened in their lives.
28-34 God explicitly calls the Jews harlots. Spiritual idolatry is equated to physical adultery. Both contain the concept of unfaithfulness, lust, and the search for pleasure over righteousness. God exposes their adultery as being doubly sinful in that instead of having relationships as a means to make a living, they are doing it just for pleasure; the Jews are giving away their gold, honor, and material goods to foreign gods and foreign countries. Instead of the harlot being paid for her services, the harlot is paying the guest for her pleasure. This disgusts Gods. If even the Philistines, an ungodly nation, are ashamed of the Jews idolatry, how much more is God ashamed?
35-41 God is going to expose Israel’s sins to all of her lovers. All those who have taken pleasure in her will suddenly be disgusted and turn against her in judgment. A woman who commits adultery is worthy of death (Lev. 20:10). In the same way, the countries and people with which Israel have formed a relationship will turn against it to destroy her. This is especially seen in Egypt. Beginning with Solomon, Israel traded with Egypt for its gold and chariots (I Ki. 3:1, 10:28-29). Yet Egypt came up against her to conquer her (II Ki. 23:31-35). It is destructive to form alliances with the ungodly. Only in God and His righteousness is there safety and eternal life.
42 God’s wrath will not be quieted until justice is served.
43 The Jews fretted God. Because He loves people, people’s sins grieve Him. See Ephesians 4:26-30.
44-45 God refers back to the beginning of this chapter. Israel has loathed her husband, God, by leaving Him for other gods.
46 Samaria’s sin was worshipping golden calves and later accepting Baal (I Ki. 12:25-30, 16:30-32). Sodom’s sin was pride and extreme sexual confusion (vv. 49, Gen. 19:1-38). Samaria and Sodom are Israel’s spiritual sisters because Israel has adopted their ways.
47-51 God states that Judah has gone above and beyond the sins of Samaria and Sodom.
52 Instead of learning from the judgments God passed on Sodom and Samaria nations, Israel became self-righteous against them, believing that those nations deserved their punishment. Israel is unable to see that they themselves are worse; their sins are so atrocious that Judah makes Samaria and Sodom appear righteous.
53 Since God will never remove His judgment from Sodom and Samaria, God will not remove His judgment from these inhabitants in Jerusalem. God has promised to spare of remnant of Israel from among the captives that are in Babylon, but of these Jews He makes no such promise (Jer. 24:1-10).
54 God’s judgment is based from God’s righteousness; the Jews must pay the penalty for their sins.
55 See verse 53.
56-58 See verse 52.
59 God enacts justice by returning one’s actions on oneself. As they have broken the covenant with Him, He will break His covenant and deliver them to destruction.
60 Despite the harshness of the former judgments, God says that He will establish a new covenant with Israel. As the Jews of Jerusalem are to be delivered to the sword, pestilence, and famine until they are consumed, this promise is to the nation as a whole and not to the Jews of Jerusalem (Eze. 5:1-17). Jesus provided this new covenant through the shedding of His blood on the cross (Lk. 22:17-20).
61 The children of Samaria and Sodom (the remnant of the other tribes and the Moabites and Ammonites) will turn to Judah as subordinates; Judah will be in authority over them to instruct and guide them to righteousness. This will not be accomplished through the new covenant that He will establish with Judah.
62 See verse 60. 63 After God’s wrath is accomplished, the Jews will be ashamed of the sins of their fathers. The time reference of this verse is unclear. It could be referring to after the captivity is accomplished. It could mean that the Jews are ashamed after the new covenant (Christ’s blood) is established. It could also refer to the time when all of Israel accepts the new covenant, which will not be accomplished until the Millennial Reign (Rom. 11:25-27, Isa. 59:20-21, Rev. 20:6). Regardless, Israel will be so humbled that no Jew will dare to open his mouth anymore.
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