Bible Reading Plan – July 9-15
Bible Project Reading Plan (July 9-15):
Ezekiel 16-36; Psalms 35-41
They didn’t know how good they had it –
for they had forgotten from whence they had come.
The nation of Israel had forgotten from whence it had come, the power of God displayed in her founding and the miracles by which he brought her forth. She forgot his kindness and mercy, allowing both to fuel and justify her insane desire for more sin. But, to simply state the reality of what had happened so many centuries ago doesn’t do justice to the truth, in a manner of speaking. For God to simply say, “I brought you up out of Egypt and drove out the inhabitants of Canaan for you, yet you turned on me” makes God sound like a banker or a warrior. But such images, as true as they might be at times, are not the primary way that God is pictured in his dealings with his people. He did not just pay their ransom, nor was he simply a strong arm for hire. Rather, he was a patient redeemer, filled with love, who in kindness took in a nation despised, and made her his bride.
Israel came from the stock of those they now look down upon (Ezek 16:1-3). She was unloved, abhorred, left to die (16:4-5). But God had mercy on her, gave her all she needed, and she flourished. When the time was right, God gave her covering, declared his love unequivocally, and made her his bride (16:6-8). No expense was spared, nothing good withheld. Her beauty grew along with her fame. And her pride.
The rest is the story of how every good gift God gave Israel, every beautiful piece of clothing, jewelry, every demonstration of love, was used simply as a way to gain other lovers. In doing this, her hatred of her groom grew to the point where she would even slaughter their children to the fire. After all these things, God simply reminds Israel:
In all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood.
Ezekiel 16:22 (ESV)
The 16th chapter of Ezekiel is long, not only detailing the past with such a beautiful metaphor, but carrying that metaphor forward, describing the pain and the destruction that will come to Israel because of her unfaithfulness.
The real beauty of this chapter is in its emotive power. The point has been made before: Israel has transgressed the covenant, has broken the law, has sinned grievously before God. But here, that point is made with such an honest and intimate portrayal, shinning with God’s careful, patient, and gentle love for his young bride, that it is only the hardest of sinners that cannot understand the frustration and anger of God. It is not simply a betrayal of a covenant, of an agreement. Israel did not simply forget to pay back a loan or not hold up their end of the proposed bargain. Their sin did not just point itself at God’s wallet, or his pride, but at his very heart.
Friends, see then the glorious patience and love of God! For even if Israel could forget from whence she had come, God would not forget this past. Israel will learn from her mistakes, when she sees the enduring love of God:
I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. . . . I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 16:60, 62-63 (ESV)
Do not be so foolish to see that such things do not belong to us as well. We have walked over the goodness of God. We have forgotten his graciousness in creation, his love in provision. We have seen the truth in the stars, and then worshiped the world. Yet, his love for us was not extinguished. Praise God for his mighty love! As I am preparing to preach just this weekend, the saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
1 Timothy 1:15
To save us! What mercy, grace, and kindness.