In the previous study we had a reminder of how the historical record of the bible can be confusing sometimes. But more importantly, we saw how God can choose that which is rejected and despised of men, something even left for dead, and love it and nurture and bring to maturity and fruitfulness.
So if you feel rejected and worthless, or even if you feel close to death, God can still enter in and make your life meaningful and fruitful. Praise God!
We continue in this prophecy:
‘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 naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.
‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewellery: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendour I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.’
Even before we read the next verses we know what is going to come. The general theme since the first prophecy of his ministry was for Ezekiel to be prophesying against Jerusalem because of her idolatry and evil practises. But before we reach that point, let’s look a bit more at this lovely section of the prophecy and see what we can learn.
Of course, the prophecy is related to actual history. Last time, we saw that there were some problems about identifying the origins and beginnings of Jerusalem, and that there are differing accounts. But the period of history that this section of the prophecy refers to is rather more obvious.
We are seeing here the description of a woman reaching maturity and being adorned for marriage. Being presented with beautiful and rich things, and full of beauty.
Surely this is speaking of the time of Solomon, when Jerusalem had become the most wealthy city of the region (and some say, of the world). When visitors and rulers from many nations would come and visit, bringing gifts and tributes.
This was a time when the city was no longer only a strong fortress from which to rule and bring order, as it has been before (and when it deservedly earned the nick-name of ‘city of David’). In a country rightly governed by a King with great wisdom, the economy thrived and the whole nation rejoiced in increased wealth, peace, and growing stature among all nations.
This king was not perfect. It can easily be seen in the record of the number of wives and concubines – and pretty much all agree that these did not exist only for political purposes. But this was the man who brought about the building of the first temple in Jerusalem, and saw the shekinah glory of God fill that place.He properly funded the military and made sure that they only had the best, so that the nation could be strong and at peace. He honoured and love god, and ruled in wisdom – also loving his people.
But look at the record of the prophesy. We see clearly that the declaration is that it is God who brings the wealth, the beauty, and the good things. It is not to the credit of man
Solomon asked for wisdom and recognised that he received something from god. He describes wisdom in his writings, like a person that needs to be courted and cared for. He realised that this was not of himself, but from God.
Solomon also recognised and learned that it is easy to become distracted by worldly things and to lose sight of what really matters – to honour and to love the Sovereign Lord.
It is from love that the Lord our Father wants to care for us and to wash away from us all of the disgrace and dirt and hurts of the past. The prophecy begins with the new-born babe, unwashed and with uncut cord, rejected and despised, slowly dying while thrashing about in its own blood. And it seems strange at first that this dirt, in the words of the prophecy, is only washed once this babe had reached the age for marriage.
It could be just a reference of all that happened in Jerusalem to prepare it for the building of the temple. Even the fact that David and all the war-chiefs that were with him had to pass away before the work on the temple could begin, because of the word of God to David that it should be built by hands that had not shed blood. So there was a sense of washing away the old before these new things could be done in Jerusalem.
It could also refer to the great number of sacrifices and many acts of cleansing that happened before the building of the temple and again before the opening ceremony itself.
And that opening ceremony – this can surely be the equivalent of a marriage. So this can match with the words of the prophecy where the Lord says, “You became mine” and later, “you rose to become a queen.” This was surely the time when the Israelites best experienced how life could be to live under the blessing of almighty God!
What I want to bring to you from this is quite simple: God has not changed! Think about this and let it sink in.
Yesterday we saw how our god can take that which was rejected and despised by the world and left for dead. He brought life, and cared for the helpless, and made strong. He brings health and the nourishment needed for development and increase in strength. He can take the person that was rejected, and care for this person, bringing meaning and usefulness to that life.
But there is much more than that. The Lord loves those he cares for. He wants to give good things. He wants to see you clean, with all the last remnants of the past disgrace washed from you.
In the prophecy, this is washing the blood stains from the body. But we all know that it is not only the outward parts that need to be washed clean. We all have the memory of the shame and disgrace, and we feel this in our hearts and minds. No matter how clean we may be on the outside, we can still feel unworthy on the inside.
And that is because our thoughts are true! In the natural we are unworthy. We are not clean, and we are not even clothed properly to approach the royal throne. Like the words of the prophecy, we are naked and dirty…. We needed to be washed and made clean. We also needed to be clothed in beautiful and acceptable clothes. Only then are we able to be joined at that wedding feast.
Surely this prophecy shows us the beauty of the gospel. We do not come before the Lord clothed in our own filthy rags, but we are given royal garments that we did not buy nor could ever afford.
Only the righteous enter in and enjoy the presence of the King of heaven. But none among men are worthy of this. This is why Jesus came to die on that cross. So that, being cleansed by the working of his shed blood, we become clothed with the righteousness that is not our own, but that of Jesus. Having been unsightly and rejected, we are now made beautiful and clean and sweet-smelling. Wonderful god! Wonderful salvation!
So, do you place yourself in his hands, and allow his love to care for you and to cleanse you and to clothe you with the royal garments of love?
This is our god – and he loves us! He will bless us and make us beautiful so that others notice and acknowledge that god is our Father and cares for us.