In many ways this passage reminds me of Hosea. Hosea cast Israel as an adulterous wife, and Ezekiel here casts Jerusalem as the same.
Ezekiel starts by showing the love that God had for Jerusalem. That though it had been founded by evil people (the Amorites and Hittites), and though it had been despised, God had cared for it and made it into something beautiful. When David took over Jerusalem, he had the ark of the covenant brought in, and Solomon later built a temple for God. During that time, God blessed the city and made it his. In fact, in Solomon’s day, the Bible says that Jerusalem had become so prosperous, silver was considered of little value (I Kings 10:21).
But then, starting with Solomon, things started going downhill. Solomon started marrying foreign wives, and they led him into idolatry. That idolatry spread throughout the nation, and soon, the things that God had given them were used to worship other gods. God’s temple itself was used for worshiping other gods at times.
They made treaties with the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, all the while adopting the gods they served and rejecting the one true God.
God said that unlike women who received money to prostitute themselves, Jerusalem was like an unfaithful wife that actually paid others to prostitute herself.
And while Jerusalem tried to deceive themselves into thinking they were not so bad, God said they were even worse than Samaria (the former capital of the northern kingdom of Israel), and Sodom, both of whom were destroyed for their sins.
Because of all this, God was bringing judgment on the land. But God also promised that the day would come that he would restore them and make atonement for them, taking away the shame they brought upon themselves.
So what do we take from all of this?
First, let us never forget all that God has done for us. That he snatched us from out of our sin and shame, and clothed us in his righteousness and beauty. Let us remember with thankfulness all that Christ did on the cross that we might be forgiven. And let us not return to the things that brought us shame, committing adultery against God.
Second, let us never let pride deceive us into thinking that we saved ourselves. That we are responsible for all the blessings in our lives. As James wrote,
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (1:17)
Even if you think that you have earned everything you have, remember who it is that gave you your life, your talents, and your strength. Everything is ultimately from him.
Third, don’t compare yourselves with others, saying you’re not so bad compared to them. We look through clouded glasses, and what we think is not so bad, often is. And like Jerusalem, in God’s eyes, we are often doing things that are just as bad, if not worse, than those around us.
Fourth, no matter how far we may fall, God’s promises never change. Though we may be unfaithful, he remains faithful to us (II Timothy 2:13).
Jerusalem would fall to the depths, but even so, God restored it. And he can restore you.
Lord, forgive me for the times that I’ve committed adultery against you. It’s so easy, being in this world to do so. Let me have a heart that is faithful to you, a humble heart that remains forever grateful to you.
Thank you that you sent Jesus to atone for my sins, and that no matter how far I fall, you forgive. Cleanse me. Purify me. Make me holy in your sight. In Jesus name, amen.