The next eight blog posts could change your life.
My own study of the Bible passage I’m going to share with you reduced me to worshipful wows, gasps, and deep reflection. It moved me deeply—and it’s still moving me. Or rather, God is. There’s a mystery here, something so amazing that it will take a lifetime to uncover and digest, never mind live out.
At the same time, what you are about to read is graphic. As Victor Neufeld used to say, we’ve dry cleaned the Old Testament so professionally that it just doesn’t shock us anymore. But the Bible is gritty. It’s often violent, usually wild, sometimes even explicit. A literal Hollywood rendering of many Old Testament stories would rival the adventure and gore of swashbuckling flicks like Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. That’s why we dry clean it.
The passage I’m about to unpack, Ezekiel 16, will make some of you uncomfortable. Guaranteed. This isn’t for young ears. Adults only, please. But let’s remember that we are adults. Let’s get past all the Puritan poise and into the plucky meat of God’s message to us, simply accepting the fact that “God put it there,” that the truths directly spoken, the hints whispered between the lines, and the special implications mapped out for your life have been authored by God himself, as Ezekiel “spoke from God as (he was) carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21). Let’s all agree that ‘spiritual’ often means messy, even shocking.
Over the next week’s worth of posts, I’m going to be your tour guide through Ezekiel 16. To begin with, the broader context of the book shows us how God was mourning Israel’s falling away from faith. In a valiant attempt to woo them back, God essentially says, “I treated you like a young woman I was desperately in love with. How could you turn your back on me and reject my covenant?”
The part of the story I want to highlight in this booklet is God’s loving walk through memory lane as he recalls the lavish blessings he poured on Israel, his bride. God is likening Israel to a woman, using a figure of speech called personification to make a vivid point. This means his message to Israel is a window into how he sees us and loves us as people. If you can grasp the implications of this, it will literally blow your mind.
As the image is painted, remember that a picture may be worth a thousand words, but it can’t be taken literally. A metaphor is a word picture designed to touch our hearts by stirring our emotions. This passage does that masterfully if we’ll let it, but don’t get hung up on the literal implications. This analogy, like every analogy, can be taken too far. It can break down. Christ is the bread of life (the metaphor) but this doesn’t mean we worship a loaf of whole grain bread. So let this picture say what it says, no more and no less.
Some may say I’ve already said too much. That may be. Not only is this a metaphor, it’s only one metaphor among hundreds found in the Bible. My intention is not to put this one at the top of the heap, but rather introduce it as one small piece of the puzzle. To get you thinking.
And just for the sake of suspense, don’t read the whole passage yet. Let me take you through it bit by bit. It’ll be worth the wait. See you tomorrow.