Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 2 months ago

A Love Story

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ezekiel 16

We come now to the reading andpreaching of God's Word in Ezekiel, Ezekiel Chapter Sixteen. So turn with me, if you would there. This is a long chapter. You know,I am going to read all of it and you'll you'll see why once weget going. But might be helpful, excuse me, might be helpful forme to make just a few comments here at the beginning to frame a littlebit and give our ears some understanding so that as we listen, we canbe listening for for certain things and be listening with understanding. I'm Ezekiel Sixteenis the story of the city Jerusalem. It's the story of the people ofthat city. But instead of giving us an account of names and dates,which is not a bad thing to do, but the Lord does something different here. He gives us the history in the form of an allegory, astory that characterizes that history, that helps us to understand those people, thethings that happen, the things that God did. And, as you'll see, this chapter sixteen is powerful and memorable. It's even graphic in some spots.I can't remember the quote off the chop of my head, but Charlesspurgeon says something about warnings to even reading it in public. There are maybereasons you've not heard this chapter before, but you know how we roll hereand we we read God's word and we read it. I'm trusting that hehas given it to us for a reason, for a purpose, and so therewill be no reason to exaggerate anything or Jinet up beyond what's here,or any reason to downplay it or excuse...

...it. It's important for us tohear God gives us this story in this form of an allegory. You givein this to make it, I think, a powerful and memorable as you'll see, and you can look for this theme as we read, for throughouta remembering or failing to remember, is part of the problem that Israel isfacing. It is one of the reasons that things get so bad. Andremembering, well God's remembering any way, is as one of the reasons forthe surprising ending of the story. And over the course of this story wecome to know and see very clearly of the righteousness of God, the abhorrentsinfulness of man, and then also God's amazing and atoning grace. So Iencourage you to listen for all of those things and let's give our attention toGod's word. Now an Ezechiel, Chapter Sixteen. Again, the word ofthe Lord came to me. Son Of man, make known to Jerusalem herabominations and say, thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem. Your origin andyour birth are of the land of the Canaanites. Your father was an Amoriteand your mother a hittite. And as for your birth, on the daythat you were born, your cord was not cut, nor were you washedwith water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddlingclothes. No, I pitied you to do any of these things to youout of compassion for you. But you were cast out on the open fieldfor your abhorred on the day that you were born. And when I passedby you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you,in your blood live, I said to you, in your blood live.I made you flourish like a plant of the field, and you grew upand became tall and arrived at full adornment.

Your breasts were formed and your hairhad grown. Yet you were naked and bear when I passed by youagain and saw you behold, you were at the age for love, andI spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. Imade my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares theLord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water andwashed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed youalso with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you infine linen and covered you with silk, and I adorned you with ornaments andput bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck, and I puta ring on your nose and ear rings and your ears and a beautiful crownon your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and yourclothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flourand honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty, andyour renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it wasperfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. But you trust it in your beauty and played the whore because of yourrenown and lavished your hoarrings on any passer by. Your beauty became his.You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and onthem played the whore. The like has never been, never been, norshall be, nor ever shall be. You also took your beautiful jewels,of my gold and my silver, which I had given you, and madefor yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. And youtook your embroidered garments to cover them and set my oil and my incense beforethem, also my bread that I gave...

...you. I Fed you with fineflower and oil and honey. You set them before a pleasing aroma. Youset before them a pleasing for a pleasing aroma, and so it was,declares the Lord God. And you took your sons and your daughters, whomyou had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your hoharring so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and deliveredthem up as an offering to buy fire to them? And in all yourabominations and your warnings, you did not remember the days of your youth whenyou were naked and bear wallowing in your own blood and after all your wickedness, woe, woe to you, declares the Lord God. You built yourselfa vaulted chamber and made yourself a lofty place in every square, at thehead of every street. You built a lofty place and made your beauty andabomination, offering yourself to any passer by and to multiplying your wharring, youalso played the war with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, multiplying your hoharringto provoke me to anger. Behold, therefore, I stretched out my handagainst you and diminished your allotted plot portion and delivered you to the greed ofyour enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. You laid the horror also with the Assyrians, because you were notsatisfied. Yes, you played the whore with them, and you still werenot satisfied. You multiplied your horring also with the trading land of Chaldea,and even with this you were not satisfied. How sick is your heart, declaresthe Lord God. Because you did all these things the deeds of abrazen prostitute, building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street and makingyour lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute,because you scorned payment, adulterous wife who...

...receives strangers instead of her husband.Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all yourlovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your horrings.So you were different from other women. In Your horrings, no one solicitedyou to play the whore, and you gave them payment, while no paymentwas given to you. Therefore, you were different. Therefore, oh prostitute, here the word of the Lord, thus says the Lord God, BecauseYour Lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your horrings, with yourlovers and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of yourchildren that you gave them. Therefore, behold, I will gather all yourlovers with whom you took pleasure, all those who you all those you lovedand all those you hated. I will gather them again to you from everyside and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness, and I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood, are judged and bring upon you the blood of Wrath and jealousy, andI will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaultedchamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothesand take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bear they shall bring upa crowd against you and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces withtheir swords, and they shall burn your houses and execute judgments upon you inthe sight of many women. I will make you stop playing the whore andyou shall also give payment. No more so will I satisfy my wrath onYou, and my jealousy shall depart from you. I will be calm andI will no more be angry, because you have not remembered the days ofyour 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 loudness in the Obama...

...in addition to all your abominations?Behold, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you. Like mother, like daughter. You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed herhusband and her children. And you are the sister of your sisters who loathedtheir husband's and their children. Your mother was a hittite and your father anAmorite, and your elder sister, Sumeria, who lived with her daughters to thenorth of you, and your younger sister, who lived to the southof you, is Sodom, with her sisters or daughters. Not only didyou walk in their ways and do according to their abominations, within a verylittle time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways. As Ilive, declares the Lord God your system, Sodom and her daughters have not doneas you and your daughters have done. Behold this was the guilt of yoursister, Sodom. She and her daughters had pride, excess food andprosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughtyand did an abomination before me, so I removed them when I saw it. Sameria has not committed half of your sins. You have committed more abominationsthan they and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that youhave committed. Bear your disgrace you also, for you have intervened on behalf ofyour sisters, because of your sins, in which you acted more abominably thanthey, they are more in the right than you. So be ashamedyou also, and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appurerighteous. I will restore their fortunes, both the fortunes of Sodom and herdaughters and the fortunes of Sumeria and her daughters, and I will restore yourown fortunes in their midst, that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamedof all that you have done, becoming a consolation to them. As foryour sister's Sodom and her daughters, as...

...for your sister's Sodom and her daughtersshall return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughter shall return totheir former state, and you and your daughters shall return to your former state. Was Not your sister Sodom a by word in your mouth in the dayof your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered? Now you have become anobject of reproach to the daughters of Syria and all those around her, andfor the daughters of the Philistines those all around who despise you. You Bearthe penalty of your lewdness and your abominations, declares the Lord for. Thus,says the Lord God, I will deal with you as you have done. You have despised the oath in breaking the covenant. Yet I will remembermy covenant with you in the days of your youth and I will establish foryou an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed whenyou take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I givethem to you as daughters, but not on account of the Covenant With You. I will establish my covenant with you and you shall know that I amthe Lord, that you may remember and be confounded and never open your mouthagain because of your shame. Aim when I atone for you for all thatyou have done, declares the Lord God. God blesses reading as word to us, so I said. As I said at the outset of reading thispassage, it's an allegory about a city. It's the story of Jerusalem. I'mgoing to summarize it so that we can remember it and also understand it, and then draw a few applications as...

...we conclude. The story begins withvery beautiful beginnings, wonderful, tender moments, a sadness happens. I'm out ofCanaan, Jerusalem is born. I'm here, Jerusalem is characterized as aplace of Canaan, and that's exactly what it was before. Israel, thatis their Jerusalem, was an important city. Out of Canaan, this place wasborn. But she was neglected and left aside. But God made herto live. God did not let her die. He said live to herin this sad state of being left alone, and she grows in splendor and praiseshe she becomes a very beautiutiful and mature. Then I'm God passes byher again and when she is the age for love and he marries her,he is he clothes her with this embroidered cloth and fine letter leather, thematerials that are mentioned here, the things that she eats, all these thingsrelate and have echoes of life in the Tabernacle, of ways in which I'mZion and the temple and the or the Tabernacle were adorned. God blesses herin all of these ways. But then after this beautiful beginning in which thisthe Lord establishes this loving relationship with his bride, there is this terrible turn. She takes her beauty and trusts it instead of the one who gave itto her. She takes her life and trusts it instead of the one whogave her life, and she takes these things and uses them for idols,for idolatry and for murder. We are told, I'm here, in thehistories and kings, and in Jeremiah as...

...well, of instances where of kingsand people at large sacrificed their own children. This terrible thing. As the wayGod puts it, he says, and after giving all of these thingsthat I have given you a way to your lovers, then you take mychildren and you sacrifice them to these idols. We have records of Ahas and theNASA doing this and others as well. And God describes this in terms ofprostitution. She is going after an adultery and giving herself away. Butyou notice how bad it is? Right? We have a similar story in thebook of Josiah. Perhaps you remember a similar allegory of that kingdom andall that happened there. But even there, in the northern kingdom, as badas it got, it's never described quite like this. Here, notonly does she go giving herself up, to these idols, chasing after otherhusbands, but she doesn't even take payment. In her poverty is she doesn't eventake payment. And said she is bribing the people, bribing these falsehusbands, these idols. I'm she is giving these things away. It justdoes. Her situation keeps getting worse and worse and worse, not only herplight, her heart being so sick, as Ezekiel says, as the Lordsays in verse thirty, but all the things that she does. You cansense the Lord's indignation at the abominations growing and growing and growing. There's aplace where God speaks around verse thirty nine and talks about temporary judgments that weregiven. He talks about the doucing of her provisions, the giving over ofof her to other cities, and we remember reading about these, perhaps inthe historical records, or Israel or Jerusalem.

Would enter into alliances with other places, often to her disadvantage, often paying more than what she was getting. God brought upon her this kind of judgment, and yet she did notturn alliances that cost her enemy success. They were even ashamed at her behavior. He says, so bad as what you're doing. The other nations arelooking at you, this place that's supposed to be a holy city, andsaying wow, we wouldn't even do that, much like Abimelech right when Abraham sortof tricks him with Sarah and the Abraham says our aboo. Milik saysto Abraham, we don't even do these things. Why are you doing this? There's this sense of righteousness even among the unrighteous, a sense of knowingthe law, as Paul Talks about it, written on their hearts, even thoughnot having the law of Moses. They know it simply by nature theway that God has made the world. They know it by virtue of beingmade in the image of God. They know that there are some things thatare just not right. Sodom is an example of this. We read inverse forty that Sodom and her daughters, a phrase referring to Sodom as acity, and then kind of surrounding villages around Sodom and her daughter's go Mourabeing one of those. They had, except they had pride and excess food, prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and the needy. Theywere haughty, they were prideful and they did an abomination before me, andwe know what happened. Sodom becomes this by word in the scriptures, aplace for for a place which it just which immediately calls to mind pride anddisgusting acts, and a place that was...

...ultimately judged by God. And whatdoes God say of Sodom? She doesn't even compare to you, Sodom tothe south and Samaria to the north. You make them look good when whenthese places look at you, Jerusalem, they're consoled, he says, notconsoled because their sins are forgiven, but consoled in the sense that they lookat Jerusalely go or not that bad. That's how dad things have gotten inJerusalem. They have at you have acted, he says in Verse Fifty Two,more abominably than they they are more in the right than you are.So be a shamed. Where is your shame? The hardness of Jerusalem's heartis so tough. She is going at these things in lewdness and in horrorand in murder with such intensity and fervor, without any care of cause, withoutany sense of God's coming judgment. Then enough is enough and the Lordsays that she will be judged. God warns her and then God's wrath comes. He speaks of her being exposed, of being cut into pieces, ofbeing destroyed. In this, of course, is language that applies to the city, the city, the the enemies come in and they ravage it,strip it, bear, they destroy it down, they leave it in pieces, in such a way that Jerusalem becomes the new by word. Like mother, like daughter, they say, and not in a pleasant or happy way. And so God's wrath comes, and...

...comes so strongly, the guilt ofher coming upon her head. This guilt, this judgment that comes upon Jerusalem,is not accidental. As we see, God is not being unfair. Hehad counts for the things that she has done and he's very clear thather punishments, her own deeds, will come upon her own head. Wehave a sense of God's fairness in this when he says in Verse Forty Two, that I will satisfy my wrath on you and my jealousy shall depart.When God pours out his wrath on peep, on his people for these things,there will be a time when it comes to an end, I willbe calm and I will be angry no more. God will have his judgmentand it will be fair. But of course, this judgment ends in death. This one who was dead, that was brought to life, is nowdead again, exposed naked, as she came into the world, not anand on account of her own unrighteousness. And then we would think we wereat the end of this long, sad story. But then things start toturn in after hearing God's warning and then his wrath, we begin to hearof His grace. He begins. I talking about restoring the fortunes not onlyof Jerusale Salem, but also Samaria and also even Sodom. Sodom which,as we know, was destroyed, destroyed. With the Fire of God coming downout of Heaven, Sodom will be restored. See, it's a Marriawill be restored and these sisters, the...

...sister cities to the north and tothe south, will be given to Israel as daughters, in other words thatthese these cities, which had no part of the Covenant with the Lord,will be brought into this family, will be brought into immediate relationship. I'mcoming and falling under the blessings of Jerusalem. This is one of the many propheciesthat we have about the incoming of the gentiles, the promise of theGospel going out to the world, even beyond Jerusalem, and gentiles like usof being brought in. But nobody says. You know what he says in VerseSixty One. I will give them to you as daughters, but noton the account of the Covenant With You, and by that, of course,he means the Mosaic Covenant. God is going to give them as daughters, but not because Israel was so righteous, not because she fulfilled the obligations ofthe Covenant and now she gets to enter into her a glory. It'snot because of that. What the thing, one of the things that this passagemakes so crystal clear is that the salvation that we have in the Lordis not of our own doing. It is not of our own doing.We did not keep the covenant. Our forefathers are for mothers. They didnot keep the covenant. They didn't just keep it, they broke it,they burnt it to a crisp, they spit on it, they despised it, they ran after other gods, they hated God and filled that land withabominations. But God, remembering the promise that he had made before, apromise to Abraham, a promise that would be from everlasting to everlasting. Hepromises to establish a new covenant on the...

...basis of that one. He wouldestablish a covenant with you for this purpose, so that you shall know that Iam the Lord. If you've been with us, listening to these thesepassages and is Ekiel, hopefully you're hearing that phrase over and over again.God brings these judgments and he brings His grace so that we may know thathe is the Lord, but he is the ruler, that he is theking and that he is Yahway and there is no other like him. Donot go after false gods. They are false. There is no one likeme. We must know him, and we know him through his words andwe know him through his work and we know him through these things that heis doing. He wants us to remember. They God and all so much ofthis mess because they did not remember, they did not pay attention, theydid not listen, they did not trust him. Instead, they lookedat their circumstances, they saw their beauty and they said, I guess we'regood. Let's bank on this. God gives to us so many things,beloved, He provides for us, he gives us jobs and families, somany freedoms. List goes on and on and on, and they are goodand we should be thankful for them, we should smile and we eat themand drink them and experience them, but they are not our hope. Godis the only one that we give our praise to, the only one thatwe give our fear to, and when we remember that, when we trusthim, he protects us and he keeps us and he loves US and heclothes US. Well, Israel forgot this. They frowned all these ways. ButGod was going to do something new. He says, he was going toestablish a covenant. That his verse Sixty One says. Then, onthe basis of his works, you will...

...remember your ways and you will beashamed. In God's grace we come to a remembrance not only of his works, but also our lack of works, also our unrighteousness. He says thatnever again will you open your mouth because of your shame, and he meansthis in the sense of that selfjustifying mouth, that boasting mouth, that prideful mouththat says, well, I'm here because of this and this, andwell, look at these things I've done, look at these things I've achieved,or we've got the temple, or we've got baptism, or we've gotthis or whatever. No, these things, these works, the these things,they do not justify us. Only God, and God alone, who, as we read, promises to atone for our sins. And that's themost amazing thing of all of this. After all of these things, aftereverything that's been done, after so much wretchedness, God says, even aftertheir death, God says, I will atone for your sins, for allthat you have done. So that's Israel. Who Are we? We are thosewho live in the age of the fulfillment of these promises. We livein an era where the atonement has happened, the atonement that was promised, thisforgiveness of sins that would cover everything from the most disgusting, the mostembarrassing, the most shameful things forgiven. As we read earlier today, asfar as the East is from the West, so far will our sins be removed. He covers us and he cleanses...

...us, so that we are aswhite as snow, speaking of his bride, the bride of Christ, and EphesiansFive, we are told that we are cleansed and purified, made spotless, and perfect. We are those who stand as that bride. We arethose who belong in the fulfillment of these promises. That's the first thing weare. The second thing we are is very much like these people, similarto the Corinthians, as Paul describes them, and believe it's chapter ten. Hesays you were once sexually immoral, idolaters, drunkards, fools and more, but now you have been washed, you have been redeemed, you havebeen brought in to the family of God, brought out of the dominion of darknessinto the Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of the beloved Sun. Weneed to remember that when we come into worship to praise our Lord. Weneed to remember that we're not here for any other reason except that we've beensaved out of who we once were, that we've been saved out of ourold wretchedness, out of the old Adam, and have been brought into Christ.This should lead us to trust God more than anything else. This shouldlead us to flee from idolatry, sexual morality and murder and all the rest. This should lead us to trust him and trust him and trust him andkeep coming back to him over and over and over again. When you thinkabout this story on your way home or over this next week, think aboutthe Lord. So much of the story...

...is a condemnation of Jerusalem, butthink about how vindicated the Lord he is here, how good he is,how tender he is, how powerful he is as well, but how heultimately uses that power for the sake of his people. He does everything thathe does because he loves them. And so as we trust God and rememberwhere we came from, let's shut our mouths as well, not shutting ourmouths from praise and confession and repentance, but shut our mouths from that fool.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (575)