Disgrace. Shame. These are things that can cling to a person, and more times than not, they are things that we have brought upon ourselves by our own choices and actions. In the midst of it all, we sometimes wonder how we can ever escape the trap that we are in. And it seems hopeless.
That’s what the women in verse 1 were facing. They had previously been women of wealth, with a good position in society, and yet utterly sinful along with their husbands. And when judgment came, they were left without husbands, who were now dead because of their sins. And now these women were desperate to find any man that would take them as their wives, even to the point of saying, “Just give me your name in marriage. You don’t need to give me anything else. You don’t even need to provide for me. I’ll provide for myself. Just take away my disgrace. Take away my disgrace as a woman unloved, with no family to call her own.”
But while these women were asking for husbands that would just take them in, God was offering them so much more.
And for the first time in scripture, we see a reference to the Branch of the Lord, which refers to Jesus.
In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who remain in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. (2-3)
In other words, Jesus would come and set apart the people for himself once more to be his bride. And it says in verse 4,
The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.
In other words, he would convict the people of their sin, and purge them of all the filth that was in their hearts. It’s very similar to what Paul wrote about Christ as the bridegroom, who,
loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle, or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain. (5-6)
Unlike the husbands the women of Israel were seeking who could not provide for them or shelter them, God was promising his presence, protection, and provision for them, just as he did for the Israelites in the desert as they were heading for the promised land. And he said over all the glory would be a canopy.
That word “canopy” in the Hebrew is the same one Jews use today to refer to a wedding canopy. And the picture here is very clear. God would purify his people, wash them clean of their sins, set them apart for himself once again, and be their husband. He would take away their disgrace, providing for them and being their shelter and comfort through the storms of life.
How about you? Are you covered by your own disgrace, ashamed of who you are and what you’ve done, seeking desperately to have even the veneer of respectability?
God can wash away the filth from your heart, and not only will he forgive you, he’ll take you in as his own, a bride radiant, without stain or wrinkle, or any other blemish, holy and blameless in his sight.