Thursday, April 28, 2016

God's Grace Jerusalem's Unfaithfulness Part V & VI The Restoration of Judah

Restoration of The Harlot and Her Sisters

This is the fifth section of the parable and is covered in verses 53-58.

The Orgy by William Hogarth Cir 1733
The Orgy by William Hogarth Cir 1733
Ezekiel 16:53
53And I will turn again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, and the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them. (ASV, 1901)
Now God begins to give Ezekiel the assurance that Judah would be restored. Judah and Jerusalem have been associated with their “sisters” of Sodom and Samaria, both of whom God said sinned less than Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:46-47). In the process of restoring Judah and Jerusalem into His good favor, God says that He will include both Samaria and Sodom in the deliverance. The time of this deliverance is a subject of much discussion. God must be speaking of the Messianic Kingdom when the restoration of all things on this earth will occur. This has not happened any time before in history. The inhabitants of the Southern Kingdom of Judah came back to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, but there has never been a time when the sinful cities of Sodom and Samaria have been restored. God is saying that He will be fair and restore Judah’s “sisters” too. This means these cities will be restored in the Messianic Kingdom. It does not refer to the individual sinners who were within them because they will suffer the punishment of eternal fire. The wicked always receive their justified eternal punishment:
Jude 1:7
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (KJV)
The two cities of Sodom and Samaria, which were judged earlier in history, shall also be the first to receive God’s mercy and restoration. He will then restore Jerusalem along with the other cities of Judah. These areas are located within the area given to the tribe of Judah by God (Joshua 15). This is not a restoration to their sinful state, but to their original state before the massive sinning took place.

Judah Will Be Shamed

Judah and Tamar by Cornelis van Haarlem cir 1596
Judah and Tamar by Cornelis van Haarlem cir 1596
Ezekiel 16:54
54that thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be ashamed because of all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them (ASV, 1901).
Within the restoration there will be an element of humiliation for Judah. Jerusalem will be ashamed to realize that Sodom and Samaria have been “restored” to God’s favor with her. This will be a comfort to those who saw that Jerusalem’s sins were greater than the cities of Sodom and Samaria. Both of these cities will take comfort from the fact that Jerusalem, who had “looked down on them” received the greater punishment and was only restored because they were, in other words Judah’s misfortune was a comfort to Sodom and Samaria.

The Restoration

Ezekiel 16:55
55And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate; and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate; and thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate (ASV, 1901).

In the Messianic Kingdom God will provide them all a complete restoration, and this is described in Deuteronomy:
Deuteronomy 30:3-5
That then Jehovah thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither Jehovah thy God hath scattered thee 4If any of thine outcasts be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will Jehovah thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5and Jehovah thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. (ASV, 1901)
As a result of their repentance, God will exercise His tender compassion and gather the nation and bring her back to her land. He will restore all of Israel’s fortunes. This is a theme that He has frequently stated through His prophets (Jeremiah 30:18; 32:44; 33:11, 26; Joel 3:1). This great restoration to the land, which was promised to Abraham will not be fully complete until the return of the Messiah after the Tribulation, and just before the beginning of His millennial reign on the earth (Isaiah 59:20–62:12) (See also Jesus’ teaching of the regathering in Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27). This will be a time of spiritual unity under the Messiah, and material prosperity greater than the Nation Israel, or the world, has ever known (Deuteronomy 30:5).

Sodom’s Warning Ignored

The Eve of the Deluge by William Bell Scott Cir 1865
The Eve of the Deluge by William Bell Scott Cir 1865
Ezekiel 16:56-57
56For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride, 57before thy wickedness was uncovered, as at the time of the reproach of the daughters of Syria, and of all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, that do despite unto thee round about.  
At the height of Judah’s prideful existence, she did not consider Sodom’s fate as a warning of what could and would happen to her through God’s judgment. The depth of wickedness in Judah was revealed during the time of the reign of King Ahaz when Judah was subjected to attacks, and was defeated by both Syria and the Philistines: 
II Kings 16:5-6
5Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath; and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there, unto this day. (ASV, 1901)
II Chronicles 28:16-19
16At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him. 17For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives. 18The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the lowland, and of the South of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, and Aijalon, and Gederoth, and Soco with the towns thereof, and Timnah with the towns thereof, Gimzo also and the towns thereof: and they dwelt there. 19For Jehovah brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he had dealt wantonly in Judah, and trespassed sore against Jehovah. (ASV, 1901)
Before this time when kings sinned they has some sense of modesty to keep it concealed, but during King Ahaz’s reign it was shamelessly extravagant, openly displayed, and had become so flagrant that it spread throughout the entire country. If King Ahaz and the others had taken the experience of Sodom to heart, they could have avoided the tragedy they experienced. They caused the idolatry to increase to a level not known before, and that would result in their total destruction 140 years later by the Babylonians.

Punishment Must Be Meted Out

Conquering of Jerusalem by Titus Painting by Nicholas Poussin 1638
Conquering of Jerusalem by Titus Painting by Nicholas Poussin 1638
Ezekiel 16:58
58Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith Jehovah 
God says that they have been punished for their abominations. They have suffered the result of their extreme sinfulness. He is essentially saying to them that He has punished them according to the oath he made with them in the Mosaic Covenant (Leviticus 26), a conditional Covenant made at Mount Sinai with all the children of Israel:
Deuteronomy 29:11-13
11Your little ones, your wives, and thy sojourner that is in the midst of thy camps, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water; 12that thou mayest enter into the covenant of Jehovah thy God, and into his oath, which Jehovah thy God maketh with thee this day; 13that he may establish thee this day unto himself for a people, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he spake unto thee, and as he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (ASV, 1901)

God’s Everlasting Covenant

Verses 59-63 make up the sixth section of this parable.
Ezekiel 16:59-60
59For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will also deal with thee as thou hast done, who hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant. 
60 Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. (ASV, 1901)
In contrast to the Jews who did not keep any covenant with God for very long, God is now saying that He will keep His part of the covenant He made with the Nation Israel at Mount Sinai. God is steadfast in His truth and promises. “The days of thy youth” is a reference to the time between the Exodus and their entry into the Promised Land, also called Eretz Israel. Jeremiah also speaks of this:
Jeremiah 2:1-2
And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 2Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, I remember for thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; how thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. 3Israel was holiness unto Jehovah, the first-fruits of his increase: all that devour him shall be held guilty; evil shall come upon them, saith Jehovah (ASV, 1901).
The “everlasting covenant” found in verse 60 of Ezekiel 16 is the New Covenant, which will be fully activated when the Nation Israel has experienced a national regeneration, and entered the Messianic Kingdom:
Jeremiah 31: 31-37
31Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more. 

[God Will Never Forget Israel]

35Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirreth up the sea, so that the waves thereof roar; Jehovah of hosts is his name: 36If these ordinances depart from before me, saith Jehovah, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. 37Thus saith Jehovah: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith Jehovah. (ASV, 190, bracketed title added)

The National Regeneration of Israel

Entry into Jerusalem by Pietro Lorenzetti Cir. 1320
Entry into Jerusalem by Pietro Lorenzetti Cir. 1320
Ezekiel 16:61-63
61Then shalt thou remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder sisters and thy younger; and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. 62And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah; 63that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I have forgiven thee all that thou hast done, saith the Lord Jehovah. (ASV, 1901)
One of the principal reasons for the Great Tribulation is to break the will of “the holy people”, the Jews (Daniel 12:7). Their shame will be confessed according to Leviticus 26:40-42, Jeremiah 3:11-18 Hosea 5:15. The Nation Israel will plead for their Messiah to return (Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 23:37-39). Hosea chapter five says that Jews will confess of their sins. Hosea chapter 6 follows with the leaders telling the nation to confess their sins and repent:
Hosea 6:1-3
1Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. 3Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (KJV)
Israel’s leaders will finally realize that the entire Tribulation, and all their previous punishment, has come upon them due to their turning away from Jehovah and the Lord Jesus. In establishing the New Covenant with Israel, God will change the relationship between them and the “sisters” of Sodom and Samaria. Jerusalem will now be responsible for them in the Messianic Kingdom. God’s judgment and subsequent restoration would have a humbling effect on the nation, and their sins of pride and idolatry would be eliminated forever.

Daniel E. Woodhead


Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sandredin. Folio 109a. Retrieved March 19, 2016 from

Monday, April 25, 2016

God's Grace - Jerusalem's Unfaithfulness Pt IV The Convict Becomes a Proverb

The Convict Becomes a Proverb

Christ and the Woman of samaria by Pierre Mignard Cir 17th Century
Christ and the Woman of samaria by Pierre Mignard Cir 17th Century

Ezekiel 16:44
44Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter (ASV, 1901).
This begins the fourth section of the long parable and is found in verses 44-52. The actions of the queen were so repulsive that the people would describe them as a saying, a “proverb”, or warning to others NOT to do the same. This “proverb” is similar to what is said in modern or contemporary parlance, “like father, like son”, only here it says, “As is the mother, so is her daughter.” In keeping with the abandoned female infant who grew to be a queen, then descended into a harlot, the “proverb” takes the feminine character. Therefore how could Jerusalem, who was more depraved than ever, even consider that they would not be judged?

God Repeats Jerusalem’s Background

Ezekiel 16:45
45Thou art the daughter of thy mother, that loatheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, who loathed their husbands and their children: your mother was a Hittite, and your father an Amorite (ASV, 1901).
The Hebrew here for “loatheth” is better translated as “vomited out in rejection”. This describes the level of intense hatred Israel had for God and her children. This adds to the motivation she had to become a harlot, destroying herself and her children in the process. By being disloyal to her God-given destiny of holiness, she rejected God. By sacrificing her children at the Canaanite altars, she shows her “loathing” of them. This “vomiting out is in accordance with the Mosaic Law that stated God would not tolerate sin within the boundaries of the Nation Israel. Israel had been warned that if they did not live according to the Laws of God as laid out in the Torah, He would “vomit them out of the land” just as He rejected the Canaanites before them:
Leviticus 18:25-30
25and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomiteth out her inhabitants. 26Ye therefore shall keep my statutes and mine ordinances, and shall not do any of these abominations; neither the home-born, nor the stranger that sojourneth among you; 27(for all these abominations have the men of the land done, that were before you, and the land is defiled); 28that the land vomit not you out also, when ye defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29For whosoever shall do any of these abominations, even the souls that do them shall be cut off from among their people. 30Therefore shall ye keep my charge, that ye practise not any of these abominable customs, which were practised before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am Jehovah your God (ASV, 1901).

Jerusalem is Worse than Sodom and Samaria

Martin, John; The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; Scarborough Collections;
Martin, John; The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; Scarborough Collections;
Ezekiel 16:46-47
46And thine elder sister is Samaria, that dwelleth at thy left hand, she and her daughters; and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters. 47Yet hast thou not walked in their ways, nor done after their abominations; but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast more corrupt than they in all thy ways. (ASV, 1901)
The first part had been discussing Jerusalem as an adulterous wife, and this part compares Jerusalem to her “sisters” who historically preceded her. Two cities, Samaria (from the Northern Kingdom) and Sodom (from the time of Abraham) are described as her “sisters”. Both of those areas received severe judgment for their sins. The land of Canaan can be viewed as Israel’s mother because she grew up there in its bosom. The “sister” of Sodom (along with Gomorrah) was exceedingly depraved cities during the time of Abraham. Their sins are the prototype of depravity, embodied the pride of Satan, and were intolerable to God because they took place within the Holy Land (Genesis 19:5). This city was destroyed just as the Canaanites would be destroyed. God’s charge or complaint to them is as if He is saying, “Why have you behaved in this manner? Your mother Sarah and your father Abraham lived among the Hittites and Amorites without being influenced by them.”
The “sister” of Samaria was the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam when the civil war took place in 931 B.C. This was the center of pagan worship (I Kings 16:32-33). The Southern Kingdom of Judah should have learned from Samaria’s downfall. However, Judah’s transgressions were worse because their idolatry was in the Temple itself. We have seen the manner in which the elders worshipped the sun, and relieved their personal dung in the direction toward the Temple in defiance of God (Ezekiel 8:16-18).
Samaria is viewed as the bigger, or “elder” sister because when the split took place, ten of the twelve tribal regions went to the north, and only two stayed in the south. When one faces east in Israel, the north would be on the left hand and the south would be on the right hand. On the north side is Samaria’s and her “daughters”, which are the suburbs of Samaria (Numbers 21:25). Sodom is characterized as having fewer citizens than Samaria, and is situated toward the south. If Israel had not had sinned in a manner that exceeded the cities of Samaria and the city of Sodom then it would have been a small matter. But they were more corrupt and it became a very big issue to God.

The Iniquity of Sodom

Last Days of Pompei by Karl Briullov Cir 1799-1852
Last Days of Pompei by Karl Briullov Cir 1799-1852
Ezekiel 16:48-50
48As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. 49Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. (ASV, 1901)
Even the other cities (“sisters”) did not exchange their god for nothing as the inhabitants of Jerusalem had done. Sodom’s sin was pride, which is the basis of all sin, and he gave it to the world by his pollution of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Sodom’s sins were fueled by her pride, which led to her haughty unconcern for the needs of others in spite of her wealth. The Jewish non-biblical text of Tractate Sanhedrin 109a says that Sodom’s wealth came from its fertile fields that produced unlimited food, and the rich veins of gold and precious stones that ran beneath the earth (Babylonia Talmud, Folio 109a, ¶ 6). Their unlimited material wealth stimulated the bad habits of self-indulgence that led to abominations and sexual perversions. God says that because of this “therefore I took them away as I saw good.” We know from Genesis, and history, they were completely destroyed by fire and sulfur that rained down upon both Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-25). The sin of Samaria, though not specifically stated, was her idolatry.

Jerusalem’s Sins Worse Than Her Sisters

Ezekiel 16:51-52
51Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters by all thine abominations which thou hast done. 52Thou also, bear thou thine own shame, in that thou hast given judgment for thy sisters; through thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they, they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou also confounded, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters (ASV, 1901).

But Jerusalem’s sins were so vile (“more abominable”) that in comparison, the sins of both Sodom and Samaria seemed almost tolerable. Before her own moral collapse, Jerusalem looked down on the other cities in a “self-righteous manner”. God is saying it was as if Sodom and Samaria had almost been “righteous” in comparison!

 Daniel E. Woodhead

Monday, April 11, 2016

God’s Grace –Jerusalem’s Unfaithfulness Part III The Queen Becomes a Harlot

God Summarizes The Harlot’s Sins

The Eve of the Deluge by William Bell Scott Cir 1865
The Eve of the Deluge by William Bell Scott Cir 1865
Ezekiel 16:35-36
35Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of Jehovah: 36Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness uncovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers; and because of all the idols of thy abominations, and for the blood of thy children, that thou didst give unto them (ASV, 1901);
This begins the third section of the parable and is covered in verses 35-43. In this part of the parable the wronged husband is prepared to extract His vengeance from His faithless wife. Jerusalem the harlot is the queen that had become like a brazen prostitute who did not take any payment for her services to her lovers. She was an adulterous wife as well as a prostitute because she preferred strangers to her own husband. She had resorted to giving bribes to get the attention that earlier had been lavishly bestowed upon her by her admirers. God had tried to stop her descent into destruction but she would not listen to His warnings through His righteous prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel. So now God has had enough with the harlot’s behavior. He says, “thy filthiness was poured out” indicating the summary designation of all her behavior. Interestingly the Hebrew word for “poured out” is nechoshet and is used to describe the lower part of a female’s body which has the same root of nachash the word for the serpent. Hebrew’s play on words shows the source of her wickedness, Satan. Her wickedness included:
  • Exposing herself to her many lovers.
  • Worshipping pagan idols instead of her genuine husband.
  • Sacrificing her children to the pagan gods.
Now God, who is the faithful husband in this parable, will curse her as He had promised many years ago in His covenant with the Nation Israel:
Deuteronomy 28:15-23
15But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of Jehovah thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. 16Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. 17Cursed shall be thy basket and thy kneading-trough. 18Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, the increase of thy cattle, and the young of thy flock. 19Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out. 20Jehovah will send upon thee cursing, discomfiture, and rebuke, in all that thou puttest thy hand unto to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the evil of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. 21Jehovah will make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest in to possess it. 22Jehovah will smite thee with consumption, and with fever, and with inflammation, and with fiery heat, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. 23And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron (ASV, 1901).

The Lord Will Bring The Lovers Against Jerusalem

Titus Destroying Jerusalem by Wilhelm von Kaulbach Cir 1845
Titus Destroying Jerusalem by Wilhelm von Kaulbach Cir 1845
Ezekiel 16:37
37therefore behold, I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them against thee on every side, and will uncover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness. (ASV, 1901)
All the nations will join in the plunder of Jerusalem. Even former allies like Egypt, Assyria, and the Chaldean (Babylonians) will join together with their perpetual enemies such as the Philistines to plunder Jerusalem. The Jews bonded together with these pagan nations, and assimilated their despised religious idolatry into Jehovah God’s pure relationship with them. In the Mosaic Law a harlot’s punishment is prescribed and included tearing off the clothes, public humiliation in nakedness, public trial, public stoning till death, dismemberment of the body, and burning of their house (Leviticus 20:10–12; Deuteronomy 22:22). Israel will likewise be exposed to attack without any protection.

Disgrace Will Come Upon Her

Joseph's disgrace upon hearing that Mary was pregnant. By Gaetano Gandolfi cir 1790.
Joseph's disgrace upon hearing that Mary was pregnant. By Gaetano Gandolfi cir 1790.
Ezekiel 16:38
38And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will bring upon thee the blood of wrath and jealousy (ASV, 1901).
Israel’s guilt is now summed up and her punishment announced. It will correspond to the sins she has committed. Her sins are made the means of her reparation. She will be punished as the adulteress she is, and condemned to public shame. Because she had openly carried out her sin, she shall be openly exposed and made a spectacle to the world. God will disgrace before the world those who exchange the offer of a relationship with God for love of the world. The Babylonians hurled stones on Jerusalem during the siege, and slew the people with the sword thereby fulfilling the Mosaic Law’s punishment of an adulteress. God clearly states “I will bring upon thee the blood of wrath and jealousy”, which represents God pouring out His jealousy on Jerusalem, by shedding the blood of his unfaithful wife, Israel, by Him, her spiritual husband.

The Harlot’s Paramours Become Her Persecutors

Ezekiel 16:39-40
39I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thy vaulted place, and break down thy lofty places; and they shall strip thee of thy clothes, and take thy fair jewels; and they shall leave thee naked and bare. 40They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords. (ASV, 1901)
Those nations with whom she sinned become the instruments of His judgments. “Vaulted place” is the same high places that are cited in Ezekiel 16:24. The “vaulted place” is literally a fornication chamber. This is connected with the impure rites of idolatry, and spiritual fornication on the “lofty places.” During their invasions, the Babylonians treated these places as local sanctuaries, and laid them waste.
The clothes and the jewels are all outward tokens of stateliness and prosperity. They will take both clothes and jewelry from the harlot, and leave her naked. Stripped of the riches she had received from God, but had lavished upon her lusts, she should no more be able to gratify herself in this way. She had fully proved her Canaanite descent. The final punishment of stoning and being thrust through by the sword will destroy both city and kingdom and Jerusalem will be laid waste. This “stoning” and “thrusting through” will not completely annihilate the people, just Jerusalem, because other verses say the Jews will never be completely rejected by God (Leviticus 26:44-45; Jeremiah 31:35-37).

The City Will be Burned

Jerusalem Burning by David Roberts Cir 1850
Jerusalem Burning by David Roberts Cir 1850
Ezekiel 16:41
41And they shall burn thy houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women; and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou shalt also give no hire any more (ASV, 1901).
The punishment of death within the Mosaic Law was made more ceremonially severe by burning the corpse after it had been stoned or run through with a sword (Leviticus 20:14; 21:9). In a like manner, the burning of the houses can be regarded as intensifying the punishment. The judgment being executed is “in the sight of many women” refers to the many heathen nations surrounding Jerusalem, according to the description of Jerusalem, or Israel, as an unfaithful wife. It is a humiliating punishment to an adulterous woman to be exposed for this before other women. Accordingly the humiliation of Israel’s punishment will be to stand exposed in its sin before the eyes of all other nations. This is the way in which God will put an end to the fornication (“give no hire any more”), and appease His wrath and jealousy upon the harlot. It is His way to cause a person to cease to be or do anything. Since other passages discuss the burning of the city of Jerusalem, this prophecy had a literal fulfillment as well (II Kings 25:9; Jeremiah 52:13).

God’s Wrath Will End

The jealousy of the injured husband is appeased by the execution of the judgment. God had earlier declared this in chapter 5 before all the captives were in Babylon:
Ezekiel 5:13-14
13Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my wrath toward them to rest, and I shall be comforted; and they shall know that I, Jehovah, have spoken in my zeal, when I have accomplished my wrath upon them. 14Moreover I will make thee a desolation and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by. (ASV, 1901)
Ezekiel 16:42-43
 42So will I cause my wrath toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry. 43Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast raged against me in all these things; therefore, behold, I also will bring thy way upon thy head, saith the Lord Jehovah: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness with all thine abominations (ASV, 1901).
God, the husband of Israel, is now saying that He has been satisfied with the punishment they deserved that He personally meted out to them. The cause or source of Jerusalem’s sin was her failure to remember the Lord’s gracious favor. All her grandeur came as a result of His blessings. Therefore when she turned from Him she was cutting herself off from the only true source of blessing. He became enraged because it was Him who had raised her to greatness. As God said through Isaiah “they rebelled, and grieved his Holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them” (Isaiah 63:10). By saying in verse 43 that “thou shalt not commit this lewdness with all thine abominations”, He is saying He will leave them with a sense of guilt that revolts and shocks them.

Daniel E. Woodhead

Saturday, April 9, 2016

God’s Grace –Jerusalem’s Unfaithfulness Part II The Queen Becomes a Harlot

The Queen Becomes a Harlot

Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses, By John William Waterhouse, 1891
Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses, By John William Waterhouse, 1891
Ezekiel 16:15

15But thou didst trust in thy beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy whoredoms on every one that passed by; his it was.” (ASV, 1901)
This is the second part of the parable and covers verses 15- 34. It begins with the success and beauty of the “Queen”, which is a reference to the blessings the Nation Israel enjoyed under the reign of King Solomon. God says,” But thou didst trust in thy beauty.” Israel had wealth, culture and beauty because she had God. While outwardly brilliant, a society may be inwardly corrupt. This was the case with the old heathen nations, and is where America is heading. Civilized wickedness means elaborate and creative wickedness. It shows up in the cessation of moral behavior, to the point the immoral practices become law. This was the case with all nations who fell from some greatness, such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Sin becomes the norm, and it brought them down.
The Jews knew that their blessings came from God. Israel was supposed to be a light to the surrounding nations (Deuteronomy 4:6-8). But instead of trusting in God alone, she became narcissistic and thought she had achieved all her greatness by herself. King Solomon initiated alliances with heathen nations to strengthen his kingdom. It began when King Solomon made a marriage alliance with the Pharaoh of Egypt early in his political career by taking Pharaoh’s daughter to be one of his wives (I Kings 3:1). This practice continued and became the downfall of his empire:

Solomon's idolatry, Frans Francken II, Flemish, 1622.
Solomon's idolatry, Frans Francken II, Flemish, 1622.

I Kings 11:1-8
1Now king Solomon loved many foreign women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites; 2of the nations concerning which Jehovah said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go among them, neither shall they come among you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with Jehovah his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6And Solomon did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and went not fully after Jehovah, as did David his father. 7Then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, in the mount that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8And so did he for all his foreign wives, who burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.” (ASV, 1901)
These actions were in direct violation of the Mosaic Law (Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4). God said these practices would be a “snare” or “trap” for them, and God promised His anger would be kindled to the point of destroying them. Once the nearby nations desired the Jews, because of the blessings (beauty) they had, the Jews surrendered themselves to the pagans instead of teaching the pagans about God. Many of Israel’s kings after Solomon went formed alliances with foreign women to the chagrin of God and His Word. Some examples are listed here:

Asa King of Judah trusts Syria

II Chronicles 16:7-9
7And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and hast not relied on Jehovah thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thy hand. 8Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge host, with chariots and horsemen exceeding many? yet, because thou didst rely on Jehovah, he delivered them into thy hand. 9For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly; for from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” (ASV, 1901).

Ahab Marries the Daughter of the Sidonians

Jezebel and Ahab as lovers From the New World Encyclopedia, Artist Unknown.
Jezebel and Ahab as lovers From the New World Encyclopedia, Artist Unknown.

I Kings 16:31-33
31And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33And Ahab made the Asherah; and Ahab did yet more to provoke Jehovah, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” (ASV, 1901)

Amaziah Worships the gods of Seir

II Chronicles 25:14-15
14Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them. 15Wherefore the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, who said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which have not delivered their own people out of thy hand?” (ASV, 1901)

Ahaz Bows to Assyria

II Kings 16:7-8
7So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me. 8And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.” (ASV, 1901).
II Chronicles 28:20-21
20And Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not. 21For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of Jehovah, and out of the house of the king and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but it helped him not.” (ASV, 1901).
This spiritual failure, which God refers to as “harlotry”, is evident on at least three levels:
  • Political harlotry: which is turning to foreign governments for help and advice instead of God.
  • Spiritual harlotry: which is not worshipping God, but worshipping pagan gods, goddesses, and in effect, worshiping demons (I Corinthians10: 20).
  • Physical harlotry: which is defined as being unfaithful to one’s spouse, having sex with strangers, adopting the abominations of sacred prostitution, practicing human sacrifice, and forgetting justice, mercy and love.

The Harlot Makes High Places

Ezekiel 16:16
 16And thou didst take of thy garments, and madest for thee high places decked with divers colors, and playedst the harlot upon them: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.” (ASV, 1901)
High places” are areas of worship dedicated to idol worship, which were elevated above ground, or on raised altars in low lands such as a valley (Numbers 33:52; Leviticus 26:30). This was especially practiced among the Moabites (Isaiah 16:12). These shrines often included an altar, and a sacred object, such as a stone pillar or wooden pole in various shapes representing the object of worship (for example, animals, stars and planets, goddesses, and fertility deities). They were elaborately adorned. The words in verse 16 imply that the shrines upon “the high places” were adorned with multi-colored tapestries, much like that of a Persian carpet. The hangings, or carpets were the harlot women’s bed in the Proverbs designed to attract men to her house:

Proverbs 7:16-17
16I have spread my couch with carpets of tapestry, With striped cloths of the yarn of Egypt. 17I have perfumed my bed With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.” (ASV, 1901)
Ezekiel 16:16 closes with “the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.” Essentially God is saying this behavior is not proper, and should NOT be done.

God’s Gifts Given To Idolatry

Ezekiel 16:17-19
 17Thou didst also take thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest for thee images of men, and didst play the harlot with them; 18and thou tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them, and didst set mine oil and mine incense before them 19My bread also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou didst even set it before them for a sweet savor; and thus it was, saith the Lord Jehovah.” (ASV, 1901)
The very blessings that God had given the Jews were made into objects of their unnatural, raging sexual lust. They made phallic symbols out of gold and silver. Isaiah mentions autoerotic activity with cast metal phallic objects (Isaiah 57:8). Jerusalem was given over to sexual idolatry of the worst type. Additional disdain for the gifts from God included taking the embroidered clothes and putting them on the metal images of foreign gods and phallic symbols. This practice was done in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and Jerusalem was essentially just “doing what everyone else does” (II Kings 23:7). In addition, they took the provisions of fine flour, olive oil, and honey and offered it before these non-gods, as if they could actually provide for them as Jehovah God had done (Hosea 2:8).

Killing The Children

Sacrifice of Jephthah's Daughter by Rombout Van Troyen Cir. 1643
Sacrifice of Jephthah's Daughter by Rombout Van Troyen Cir. 1643
Ezekiel 16:20-21
20Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Were thy whoredoms a small matter, 21that thou hast slain my children, and delivered them up, in causing them to pass through the fire unto them.” (ASV, 1901)
Worse of all was their offering up their own children as human sacrifices to these idols of stone and wood adorned with jewels and elaborate tapestries. How deluded they had become to kill their own children! The practice gradually crept into the Nation Israel, and by Ezekiel’s time, child sacrifice was practiced openly in Jerusalem (II Kings 21:6; Jeremiah 7:30–31; 32:35). God asks, “Was your harlotry not enough that you slaughtered my children and made them pass through the fire for the idols?” In other words, He asks, “Your actions were heartbreaking enough, but did you have to include our children, too?” The practice of child sacrifice to the pagan god Molech included a ritualized slaughter followed by burning the bodies to ashes (II Kings 23:10; Leviticus 18:21; 20:2–5). Sometimes they just cast the infants into the red-hot ovens while they were still alive. God calls these children “my children” since all children are God’s. This phrase “my children” specifically meant either the first-born son, or a son older than an infant, who was going to be devoted to God in studying to be a priest.

How Soon They Forgot

Ezekiel 16:22
22And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast weltering in thy blood.” (ASV, 1901)

They did not remember all the acts of kindness that the great God of the Universe had given to them. Out of all the world’s population He had chosen them, and they were to be a demonstration of what He would do if only the world would turn to Him in love and obedience. He was kind to them in Egypt. Even though He knew what they would do to Him in disobedience, He brought them out of Egypt and into the Promise Land.
The spiritual adultery that will characterize the end of the Church age will be even greater than that of Jerusalem during this time. It will be practiced worldwide, in spite of the Messiah has been here offering salvation to those who will believe in him as their Saviour. The apostasy of ancient Israel will not compare to the rising of the final apostasy in which Satan’s chosen man, the Anti-Christ, will demand and receive the worship that rightly belongs to the Lord. The Antichrist’s characteristics are apparent in our present day, ultra prideful leaders who embody the man of sin. When he arrives, it will be the consummation of the greatest departure from, and defiance towards God, the world has ever seen, and will result in a judgment that also will be greater than what the Jews have ever suffered.

All Her Wickedness

Ezekiel 16:23-24
23And it is come to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord Jehovah) 24that thou hast built unto thee a vaulted place, and hast made thee a lofty place in every street (ASV, 1901).
God’s response was to cry, “woe, woe” to Israel, and is an expression of lament and horror that was given just prior to a disaster. God was horrified that they would not listen to His prophets, but increased their places of sinning. He says that because you were disloyal to Me, you will once again become naked and forsaken as you were in the days I called you out of the abandonment where I found you. Jerusalem developed an ever-increasing lust for idols. Her harlotry moved from the “high places” to the common places as shrines to foreign gods were erected at every location and on every street.

The Degree of Sin

Ezekiel 16:25
25Thou hast built thy lofty place at the head of every way, and hast made thy beauty an abomination, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredom (ASV, 1901).
Now God says that they desecrated their holiness and opened their legs, or “feet” to every one that passed by. (In Hebrew leg and feet are both called regalime). This is an obvious expression of flaunting their lewdness in offering their spiritual fornication to everyone. It reflects their shameless abandon of going after idols and the open sexual behavior associated with it. The Israelites sought this out, and courted them all to increase her harlotry. The “multiplication of her whoredom” means the idolatrous nations yielded to her, and gave nothing in return. She had yielded so much that, like a worn-out prostitute, her tempters became weary of her.

Fornication With Neighbors

Ezekiel 16:26-29
26Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians, thy neighbors, great of flesh; and hast multiplied thy whoredom, to provoke me to anger. 27Behold therefore, I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, that are ashamed of thy lewd way. 28Thou hast played the harlot also with the Assyrians, because thou wast insatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet thou wast not satisfied. 29Thou hast moreover multiplied thy whoredom unto the land of traffic, unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith (ASV, 1901).

Her desire for idolatry drove her to seek out “lovers” other than her husband to satisfy her lust. Her whoredoms included Egypt (v. 26), Assyria (v. 28), and Babylon (v. 29). The fact that God mentions these nations implies not only Jerusalem’s desire for new foreign gods to worship, but also her foreign intrigues and alliances started by King Solomon continued and expanded under subsequent kings after the kingdom split in two.
The Jew’s desire for spiritual fornication with the Egyptians was not just for carnal desire. God says that they wanted to intentionally provoke Him to anger. He brought famine upon them as a result of their attitude toward Him such as in the days of the Judges (Ruth 1:1). Jerusalem’s abominations became so great that the daughters of the Philistines became ashamed of her lewd way. They “played the harlot also with the Assyrians” because they could not control their lust. Not only did they follow the basest and most corrupt idolatries that further degraded Jerusalem, but developed a corresponding moral degradation.
The Canaanites (“thy neighbors”) and the other nation’s most shameless and vilest practices of the flesh were performed in the midst of the idolatrous city. Isaiah commented on this saying, “How is the faithful city become a harlot” (Isaiah 1:21)! As is always the case with lust, it can never be satisfied as God says to them in verse 28, “and yet thou wast not satisfied.” They had made Judea as much the scene of abominations as the corrupt Canaanites, and the land had become utterly Canaanitish. They were dragging these practices with them on the road to “Chaldea”, or Babylon.

The Magnitude of Wickedness

Ezekiel 16:30-34
30How weak is thy heart, saith the Lord Jehovah, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an impudent harlot; 31in that thou buildest thy vaulted place at the head of every way, and makest thy lofty place in every street, and hast not been as a harlot, in that thou scornest hire 32A wife that committeth adultery! that taketh strangers instead of her husband! 33They give gifts to all harlots; but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and bribest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredoms. 34And thou art different from other women in thy whoredoms, in that none followeth thee to play the harlot; and whereas thou givest hire, and no hire is given unto thee, therefore thou art different (ASV, 1901).
Their heart has been completely cut-off from the wickedness of their ways. They were no longer able to discern good from evil. Their hearts were hardened to the point that they were ruled by lust and deceit. Normally, a harlot would down play the beautiful gifts given to her to obtain a better one, or to get more. God says the Jews however would make do with anything. Jerusalem was worse then a brazen prostitute. She was an adulterous wife as well as a prostitute because she preferred strangers to her own husband. Jerusalem was a corrupt spiritual adulterer. She had even resorted to paying bribes (rather than receiving a fee) to get the attention that earlier had been lavishly bestowed on her. Such a reversal showed her debased preference to idolatry and foreign alliances. As she left God and His protective laws, He then withheld His blessings that He had so freely given to them in earlier days.
Normally one would expect nations to be loyal to their own gods and denigrate the gods of another nation. Israel rejected their own God by denigrating Him and following after the gods of the nations surrounding them. The stress in this verse is the depravity of Israel in comparison to the nations that they chose to follow. Instead of realizing her sin and returning to the true God, she sought out still more gods and offered larger “bribes” to induce these other gods to bless her. Jerusalem was squandering her wealth on things that could not begin to bless her as the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had done. Israel prostituted herself, not merely for any small reward without demanding more, but for “no reward.”
Daniel E. Woodhead