The poetic metaphors used by the Prophet Ezekiel in chapter 16 speak of sinfulness and idolatry of the people of Jerusalem. God describes himself as the spouse of Israel, who turns out to be an unfaithful wife. First, she is reminded of her pagan and idolatrous origins. Without God’s intervention she would have perished.
In a series of touching images, the prophet describes how God chose his people, cared for them, showered them with all they needed and how in the end they ungratefully abused all they had received. In spite of that he will not abandon them.
Israel’s beginnings were humble and poor. All nations were against her. Israel is described as an abandoned baby. There is no one to cut the cord, wash off the blood, rub the body with salt, all customary acts validating the birth of a child. There was no one to care for this child which lay, unloved and abandoned, considered repulsive and left in a field.
Then God came along, a prospective husband in search of a bride, and saw the helpless child still bathed in the blood of birth and growing like a wild plant until God gave his blessing of life and prosperity. From that moment Israel began to grow and mature. Yet, the girl was still naked.
So now God again passes by, “Your time had come,” he tells Israel, you are old enough for love, that is, for a covenantal relationship like marriage. God covers the girl’s nakedness with part of his own cloak, the sign of his intention to protect her as a husband protects his wife and provide for her. “You became mine,” he says, like a groom speaking of his bride. In time she grew into a beautiful woman, a queen, the Lord’s bride. And none of this was because of their own doing rather because of God’s generous love and care.
She was looked up to and admired by peoples everywhere for she was bathed in the very glory of the Lord, her spouse
Unfortunately, all this went to her head. It says in the text, you were captivated by your own beauty. She forgot the origins of all her glory. How often do we move away from the source of our gifts and blessings and depend only on our own strength? We start to believe we accomplish what we do because of our own efforts and rely only on ourselves or others.
But however unfaithful Jerusalem may be, her spouse, our God, will remain true to the covenant made forever. Jerusalem will remember with shame and repentance the terrible things she has done. In spite of everything, Yahweh’s people will be pardoned because of the loving kindness of our God.
When we sin, we turn away from God and separate ourselves from God’s steadfast love. We do that – not God. But if we desire to be reconciled again with our Lord, repent, and seek forgiveness for our shortcomings we can be sure that God’s love and compassion will be poured over us. Don’t wait another moment. Run to our Lord, the lover of our soul, our Bridegroom forever.