I’ve been reading Ezekiel, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bit of a trip. It’s one of the books of the bible that make me wonder how the entire old testament can be applicable to our lives now, at least upon first glance. But I’ve continued reading it, and praying about it, because I got hooked on needing to find something to connect to after Ezekiel was given a scroll from God and told to eat it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in his mouth (Ezekiel 3:3).
Israel was not behaving itself. At the time that Ezekiel was called upon to speak for the Lord the people were worshiping idols, and if the passages are being literal in meaning, sacrificing their own children. The Lord was not having any of this. He told the people right off, and gave quite a few scenarios of how they would be killed by the sword, dead by famine, and scattered to the wind. But there is also, randomly thrown in there, a really devastating description of how the Lord loves Jerusalem.
“Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine… And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.” – Ezekiel 16:8, 14
As a female this description is beautiful and painful. I wish that I could correctly explain things in a theological sense, but I’m not thinking about the technicalities today. I’m thinking about how incredibly tender and loving the Lord is here, to cover his chosen one, to give a solemn oath and covenant that binds eternally, to be called mine by God… That is incredible. And to think, that in order to have beauty made perfect one simply soaks themselves in the presence of God… so simple. It’s so much love that it physically hurts me to think about it. Especially when I continue reading.
“Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom. You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done…Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.” – Ezekiel 16:46-48, 52
Oh, the black and wicked depths of my heart.
When we as christians sin we disgrace ourselves, yes. But what I’m really not happy about is that our impressions left on the world make our continual fight against darkness, constant struggle to spread the gospel and to exemplify Christ in the world just another cause. When someone doesn’t understand what it’s like to have a relationship with Christ they see our lifestyles, our choices, to be like one of a vegetarian. “If it makes you feel good… go for it, but I could never have that kind of self-discipline.” And when we sin and make a laughing-stock of our God we are judged so much harder than those that have luke-warm religious tendencies because we’re supposed to be setting the standard high for purity, not for depravity. We give the world a difference in our behavior to the extreme that they are disgusted by us. They aren’t the only ones. God wants us to do the walk of shame. He wants us to bear the consequences of our actions. He wants us to walk out of his city, carrying a rock in our chests, and to shoulder the weight of our sins. Our actions, and our hearts, disgust him.
I’ve had a strange day. I’ve been working a lot, stressing a lot, and there are a few places in my life where I’m feeling enormously unsure. Where I used to be able to say with confidence that I belonged I can’t talk about because the insecurity I feel makes me sick to my stomach. And reading this, and realizing how very much like these people I am, how many idols I have set up in my heart and how hard it becomes… I felt like shit today. But I went on some random website and they were posting up wallpapers of one simple verse, one simple fact that reminds me of what is important.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, thought for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:6-8
No matter where I stand in this world all that matters is whose word I am standing on. And according to the new testament, I have a hope of experiencing the beautiful love that was lavished upon the Lord’s chosen one.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5:1&2