Exact Ezekiel; Chapters 16-17
July 1, 2017

C. R. Oliver

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July 1, 2017

Exact Ezekiel
Chapters 16-17

           Ezekiel's prophetic word from God, in Chapter 16, is metaphoric in nature (it is an implied comparison). All of those he addressed were familiar with the prophet Hosea and God's comparison of Israel (10 Northern Tribes) to a prostitute and eventually the picture of an unfaithful wife to the prophet Hosea (Gomer). The two Southern Tribes often gloated on the fact Israel was taken into captivity and they were favored by God.

They knew how God pronounced judgment on Israel's profligate activity. They knew how God portrayed them as a wayward society and how the cultural mores of the Ten Northern tribes had become so blatant that God punished them with captivity. Ezekiel's message, in comparison to Hosea's indictment of Israel, was a searing blow; for now, Hosea's descriptions applied to Judah and Benjamin.

The kind words of Joel's prophecy directed to Judah, in 835 BC, were now overridden by Ezekiel's new appraisal from God.

(Background: In the chronological order of prophetic messages ensconced in the genre of "major and minor prophets," Obadiah [840 BC] was the first; he prophesied against Edom [a part of Jordan today]. Next came the prophet Joel, with the rich promise of a new day of "pouring out God's Spirit." Joel's word was directed to Judah. Then Amos [760 BC] arrived with a word to Israel [Ten Northern tribes]. Next, was Hosea's prophecy to Israel [755].)

Ezekiel's message to Judah (592BC) sounded like the antithesis of the beautiful Song of Solomon, which pictured the Shulamite becoming the bride of the King with all the chaste glory of her whole being.

Ezekiel's raw vision of Judah, a once faithful wife who philanders on her husband, was a portrait of fained love toward God, all the while embracing spiritual adultery.

By comparison, Hosea was commanded to marry a prostitute and to accept her wholesale trysts with outside lovers (in today's terms: an 'open' marriage). She, however, never put on the garment of faithfulness. She did not try to hide her infidelity. The children she bore were named "not mine." The "not mine" disclaimer was given to show she possibly bore them by other men, not Hosea.

Hosea 1:3-10:
So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. 4 And the LORD said, "Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu's dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. 5 In fact, I will put an end to Israel's independence by breaking its military power in the Jezreel Valley."

6 Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to Hosea, "Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah - 'Not loved' - for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I, the LORD their God, will show love to the people of Judah. I will personally free them from their enemies without any help from weapons or armies."

8 After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son. 9 And the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi - 'Not my people' - for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God. 10 Yet the time will come when Israel will prosper and become a great nation.

Adultery is not like a harlot's philandering. Adultery wears the face of piety, while harboring a hidden cuckold. It is filled with lies and misleading innuendo. In society, while faking love for her husband, she wishes to be in another's arms. Adultery captures the mind, which conceptualizes another's bedchamber. It accepts her husband's love, while covering her desire for a hidden "other." This game of "Charades" is played at a deadly level.

God was married to Judah. He blessed her and loved Jerusalem's Temple. Once, she loved Him with all her heart, but now was restless for change and liberation from the rules of covenant. Temple sacrifices were still going on. Temple services and feasts were maintained. Ritual "this and that" still occupied time and space but had lost its appeal. The sin of Balaam had reached her core.

She lived the lie that buoyed her infidelity. Publicly, she showered her affection on her husband, but inwardly betrayed their bonds. Could this be the case in Revelation, where the indictment, "you have lost your first love" was heard? Could the modern church ever be guilty of spiritual adultery?

The journey of 160 years from Hosea to Ezekiel proved fatal for Judah. Could a 2000 year journey be similar for the church?


God directed Ezekiel to address Jerusalem. (Mind you, Jerusalem was several hundred miles away, for the prophet was a captive in Babylon.) Ezekiel addressed the congregation who once lived in Jerusalem (It is the obligation of the prophet to give the word; it is God's obligation to see it gets to the appropriate ears).

The Lord's opening volley was an insult to his audience's piety. He called them Canaanites! Canaanites were despised. They were heathen, having no covenant. The Lord's intent was to reveal to Judah that they were acting like heathen with no covenant.

Observe: how God introduced the matter of spiritual adultery as a covenant breaking sin. They owed their whole existence to Him, yet they counted it as nothing. They had formally pledged their troth to Him, thus a marriage agreement. The commitment meant nothing to them.

Ezekiel 16:2-4:
3 Give her this message from the Sovereign LORD: You are nothing but a Canaanite! Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite!

Slapping the face of Judah and insinuating she was the offspring of a heathen unwed union was incomprehensible to them. Amorites and Hittites were their enemies. The Canaanites were considered the trashy residue of a disobedient Israeli army which had failed to eradicate them.

Ezekiel's reality check was to include not only where they originated as the unwanted child of an unwed union, but as an exposed infant. (In ancient times, it was customary to throw an unwanted child into a field and leave them for either death or rescue by another. Female babies were often gathered by "pimps," who raised them to be prostitutes. Today, abortion clinics take them for body parts).

Ezekiel 16:4-5:
4 When you were born, no one cared about you. Your umbilical cord was left uncut, and you were never washed, rubbed with salt, and dressed in warm clothing. 5 No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you. On the day you were born, you were dumped in a field and left to die, unwanted.

(Caution: The next few verses need to be viewed as the "whole picture" of Judah's subsequent condition. From a loving God--came loving care.)

Ezekiel 16:6:
6 "But I came by and saw you there, helplessly kicking about in your own blood. As you lay there, I said, 'Live!'

Ezekiel 16:9-10:
9 "Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. 10 I gave you expensive clothing of linen and silk, beautifully embroidered."

In other words, He cared for her, favored her with rank and dignity and clothed her with the best. As she grew up, she expected such treatment. She was pampered and spoiled as she eventually grew to a beautiful girl of marriageable age.

Ezekiel 16:7-14:
I helped you to thrive like a plant in the field. You grew up and became a beautiful jewel. Your breasts became full, and your hair grew, though you were still naked. 8 And when I passed by and saw you again, you were old enough to be married. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.

And (I gave you) sandals made of fine leather. 11 I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, and beautiful necklaces, 12 a ring for your nose and earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. 13 And so you were made beautiful with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods - fine flour, honey, and olive oil - and became more beautiful than ever. You looked like a queen, and so you were! 14 Your fame soon spread throughout the world on account of your beauty, because the splendor I bestowed on you perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign LORD.

Between God's early visitation, when He found her, and the late visitation, where He fell in love with her, she had grown into a beautiful young lady. She was not of His kin. She was not of His blood, so He took her to wife.

A cloak being thrown around an unmarried woman was a sign of betrothal (ie: Boaz and Ruth). She was His! He showered her with attention and luxurious appointments. (I believe this is a history of God's interaction with Judah and the period of time of Solomon, when the kingdom reached age, but they forgot His care in the heat of lust. When the world's compliments meant more to her than her marriage to Him, the covenant was broken.

(O church, Listen! The early and latter rain is a significant parallel here; it is like the early and latter visitation above.)

"Your fame soon spread throughout the world on account of your beauty, BECAUSE I bestowed on you perfected beauty, says the Sovereign Lord."

(Examine this verse. Let it talk to you. In establishing the church as the Bride for His Son, He will not allow it to prostitute itself, for He wishes "perfected beauty" to be the hallmark of His favor. What He could not do for Judah, He will bring to pass in the Church. Those churches that commit adultery with the world will pay the heavy price He exacts.)

Ezekiel 16:15-19:
15 "But you thought you could get along without me, so you trusted instead in your fame and beauty. You gave yourself as a prostitute to every man who came along. Your beauty was theirs for the asking! 16 You used the lovely things I gave you to make shrines for idols, where you carried out your acts of prostitution. Unbelievable! How could such a thing ever happen? 17 You took the very jewels and gold and silver ornaments I had given you and made statues of men and worshiped them, which is adultery against me. 18 You used the beautifully embroidered clothes I gave you to cover your idols. Then you used my oil and incense to worship them. 19 Imagine it! You set before them as a lovely sacrifice the fine flour and oil and honey I had given you, says the Sovereign LORD. NLT

The underlined passage above explains it all. Spiritual adultery is worse than human adultery because it involves the disruption of union between the people of God and their Maker! Many congregations can be characterized by, "you thought you could get along without Me." World recognition and societal acceptance is a tantalizing departure from filial commitment.

Judah was guilty in several arenas of infidelity. Judah consorted with foreign countries for military protection (ie: Egypt). They adopted the idols of the heathen, and in their homes and Temple apartments there could be seen signs of their lust. They lusted after fame as "a nation among nations" instead of a spiritual theocracy, so they built a sizeable army. They consorted with demons on the "high places" and the plains, for shrines were evident everywhere, even places of human sacrifice.

(Remember: Ezekiel is addressing the people of Jerusalem, who were the Temple elite and those who prided themselves on spiritual prowess. These are they who supported and paid for such activity, whether active themselves or not. These are the captured of Babylon who kept asking, "How did we wind up here?" This scalding indictment from God was an affront to them-but it didn't matter. Exact Ezekiel confronted them!)

Ezekiel 16:20-22:
20 "Then you took your sons and daughters - the children you had borne to me - and sacrificed them to your gods. Was it not enough that you should be a prostitute? 21 Must you also slaughter my children by sacrificing them to idols? 22 In all your years of adultery and loathsome sin, you have not once thought of the days long ago when you lay naked in a field, kicking about in your own blood.

(Abortion is challenged in these verses. It is a sin, for God said so! It is the outcroppings of a society that had forgotten their first estate and removed the Lord from their equation. But, whether in a captive environment or the result of a revival from God---it must cease.)

Ezekiel 16:23-29:
23 "Your destruction is certain, says the Sovereign LORD. In addition to all your other wickedness, 24 you built a pagan shrine and put altars to idols in every town square. 25 On every street corner you defiled your beauty, offering your body to every passerby in an endless stream of prostitution. 26 Then you added lustful Egypt to your lovers, fanning the flames of my anger with your increasing promiscuity. 27 That is why I struck you with my fist and reduced your boundaries. I handed you over to your enemies, the Philistines, and even they were shocked by your lewd conduct! 28 You have prostituted yourselves with the Assyrians, too. It seems you can never find enough new lovers! And after your prostitution there, you still were not satisfied. 29 You added to your lovers by embracing that great merchant land of Babylonia - but you still weren't satisfied!"

Review the awesome prospect of competing religions in the land of Israel. God was obliged to share His space with idols and with a people of adulterous hearted acts of rebellion. I ask a simple question: "With what must He share today?" (Well, sharing was guaranteed to end by the Sovereign Lord. The current wide spectrum of religious idiocy will cease also, for what Judah became, the nations of the Christian world have become! The indictment of yesteryear is pertinent today, "It seems you can never find enough new lovers!")

Ezekiel 16:30-34:
30 "What a sick heart you have, says the Sovereign LORD, to do such things as these, acting like a shameless prostitute. 31 You build your pagan shrines on every street corner and your altars to idols in every square. You have been worse than a prostitute, so eager for sin that you have not even demanded payment for your love! 32 Yes, you are an adulterous wife who takes in strangers instead of her own husband. 33 Prostitutes charge for their services - but not you! You give gifts to your lovers, bribing them to come to you. 34 So you are the opposite of other prostitutes. No one pays you; instead, you pay them!

(Recently, Brent Strawn wrote a book entitled, "The Old Testament is dead." The premise of his research was "why?" He found that Bible folks didn't know the Old Testament, mainly because few preachers chose it for sermonic material. The church folk didn't know its relevance to modern conditions and had only heard rudimentary accounts of "Daniel in the lion's den," or "Ezekiel speaking over dry bones." They didn't know the content of the books, when they were written, to whom they were directed or what were the conditions of the times. [The more I considered Strawn's work, the more I realized why God has me writing commentaries on Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.] Imagine a pastor saying, "Today's message is taken from the 16th chapter of Ezekiel and is entitled, 'Gone a whoring.' ")

(An excerpt from Strawn's book:)
"The patient (OT) is experiencing death throes, and churches and church leaders are largely to blame."

Ezekiel's narrative continued, but we are not privy to what must have been the astonished reaction of those who heard it.

Ezekiel 16:35-41:
35 "Therefore, you prostitute, listen to this message from the LORD! 36 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you have exposed yourself in prostitution to all your lovers, and because you have worshiped detestable idols, and because you have slaughtered your children as sacrifices to your gods, 37 this is what I am going to do. I will gather together all your allies - these lovers of yours with whom you have sinned, both those you loved and those you hated - and I will strip you naked in front of them so they can stare at you. 38 I will punish you for your murder and adultery. I will cover you with blood in my jealous fury. 39 Then I will give you to your lovers - these many nations - and they will destroy you. They will knock down your pagan shrines and the altars to your idols. They will strip you and take your beautiful jewels, leaving you completely naked and ashamed. 40 They will band together in a mob to stone you and run you through with swords. 41 They will burn your homes and punish you in front of many women. I will see to it that you stop your prostitution and end your payments to your many lovers.

There is coming a day when that which was hidden will be shouted from the rooftops. Judah thought they had things undercover, functioning without traditional boundaries. They were the new progressives with the idea of "looking like all the other nations." Incorporating all the elements of the known world was causing Jerusalem and its territories of Judah and Benjamin to be more "cosmopolitan." After all, their "tolerance" would be cited as exemplary…UNTIL GOD!

Ezekiel 16:42-45:
42 "Then at last my fury against you will be spent, and my jealous anger will subside. I will be calm and will not be angry with you anymore. 43 But first, because you have not remembered your youth but have angered me by doing all these evil things, I will fully repay you for all of your sins, says the Sovereign LORD. For to all your disgusting sins, you have added these lewd acts. 44 Everyone who makes up proverbs will say of you, 'Like mother, like daughter.' 45 For your mother loathed her husband and her children, and so do you. And you are exactly like your sisters, for they despised their husbands and their children. Truly your mother must have been a Hittite and your father an Amorite.

The original indictment at the opening of this chapter is now explained. It is not "like father, like son," for that would be like Jesus and His Father. No, it is "like mother, like daughter."

Now that their parentage is fixed, God explored the family tree. It isn't a pretty sight, for those who heard this message must have been astonished at the Lord's appraisal. The question is, "What would His appraisal of the church and society be today?" His appraisal is the one that counts!

Ezekiel 16:46-50:
46 "Your older sister was Samaria, who lived with her daughters in the north. Your younger sister was Sodom, who lived with her daughters in the south. 47 But you have not merely sinned as they did - no, that was nothing to you. In a very short time you far surpassed them! 48 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, Sodom and her daughters were never as wicked as you and your daughters. 49 Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. 50 She was proud and did loathsome things, so I wiped her out, as you have seen. NLT

Samaria was known for its idols. The ten Northern tribes separated themselves from Judah and Benjamin, ordained their own priests, simulated the sacrifices of Jerusalem's Temple, despised their Southern brothers, and found themselves outside the protection of the Lord and subjected to the Assyrian captivity. They were carried away from God's territory and ultimately scattered abroad through all the nations.

Sodom, with its rampant homosexuality, was onerous to the Jews. Its example is known throughout history. As far back as Abraham's day, no worthy Israelite would want to be identified as a "family relative to Sodom." Yet, the sin of Sodom is now appropriated to Judah and Jerusalem. Verse forty-nine spells it out: pride (today's Gay Pride proponents date back to ancient times), laziness, gluttony and a heart of stone toward the person of others. Does this describe those who have "come out" and deem the Old Testament as irrelevant in modern thought? Note: the Lord took responsibility for the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, lest someone conclude it was a volcanic eruption and/or an act of nature.

The Lord says when He restores Samaria and Sodom, He will restore Judah and Benjamin.

Ezekiel 16:53-58:
53 "But someday I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and Samaria, and I will restore you, too. 54 Then you will be truly ashamed of everything you have done, for your sins make them feel good in comparison. 55 Yes, your sisters, Sodom and Samaria, and all their people will be restored, and at that time you also will be restored. 56 In your proud days you held Sodom in contempt. 57 But now your greater wickedness has been exposed to all the world, and you are the one who is scorned - by Edom and all her neighbors and by Philistia. 58 This is your punishment for all your disgusting sins, says the Lord."

Edom was the subject of the first prophet in the major or minor line of prophets (Obadiah, 840BC). He declared Edom would become a city of Jackals, wild beasts and fowls. The thriving city fell and is characterized to this day as "desolate." Verse fifty-seven is a severe rebuke, with long standing implication. Consider the plight of the Jews in history.

From verse fifty-nine to the end of the chapter, the Lord offers hope. He did send a redeemer, His son, as a sacrifice for their sins. He has grafted in the heathen (Gentile world) and made sinners of every sort able to obtain forgiveness. He has made a covenant that supersedes the Old Covenant, a covenant that shall not be broken or changed. He has carried out every promise made to Israel from their infancy in the new covenant. Hallelujah, what a Savior.

Ezekiel 16:59-63:
59 "Now this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will give you what you deserve, for you have taken your solemn vows lightly by breaking your covenant. 60 Yet I will keep the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. 61 Then you will remember with shame all the evil you have done. I will make your sisters, Samaria and Sodom, to be your daughters, even though they are not part of our covenant. 62 And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD. 63 You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silence and shame when I forgive you of all that you have done, says the Sovereign LORD."


Ezekiel received another graphic from God. It involved two great eagles: Babylon and Egypt.
(Remember: this is close to the time of demise for the city of Jerusalem. Zedekiah is still King and Jeremiah is still functioning as the lone prophet in the land.)

When Zedekiah took office as King, being from the royal family, he pledged allegiance to Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah understood this and cautioned him not to rebel against his captors. Zedekiah was obstinate, even though Jeremiah was his kin. He, and the counselors of his administration, sent letters to the King of Egypt seeking to employ him in a pact to defend Israel. For the money involved, Egypt agreed. Egypt was the second eagle and with all their resources, they could not keep Israel whole. Nebuchadnezzar eventually conquered Egypt as well. Babylon took revenge on Zedekiah by taking him to their country, beheading his two sons and blinding him after that event. They burned the city of Jerusalem, destroyed their Temple and tore away sections of the wall surrounding it. Most of the defenders perished in battle. Those that were captured were taken to Ezekiel's camp where they still maintained their rebellious attitude, much to the amazement of those who preceded them. Stupidity is bone deep.

This graphic is about what will happen in history-future while Jerusalem was intact. It is to be shown to the "rebels."

Ezekiel 17:12:
12 "Say to these rebels of Israel: Don't you understand the meaning of this riddle of the eagles? I will tell you, says the Sovereign LORD. NLT

God said all the following would happen because He is punishing Israel for breaking His covenant.

Ezekiel 17:15-18:
This man of Israel's royal family rebelled against Babylon, sending ambassadors to Egypt to request a great army and many horses. Can Israel break her sworn treaties like that and get away with it? 16 No! For as surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, the king of Israel will die in Babylon, the land of the king who put him in power and whose treaty he despised and broke. 17 Pharaoh and all his mighty army will fail to help Israel when the king of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem again and destroys the lives of many. 18 For the king of Israel broke his treaty after swearing to obey; therefore, he will not escape.

Ezekiel 17:20-21:
I will throw my net over him and capture him in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and deal with him there for this treason against me.

The Lord of mercy then gave a promise which was fulfilled by Jesus.

Ezekiel 17:22-24:
22 "And the Sovereign LORD says: I will take a tender shoot from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel's highest mountain. 23 It will become a noble cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter beneath its branches. 24 And all the trees will know that it is I, the LORD, who cuts down the tall tree and helps the short tree to grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives new life to the dead tree. I, the LORD, have spoken! I will do what I have said."

Jesus is that tender plant in dry ground (hard place to grow). Earlier, Isaiah gave a prophecy in this form:

Isaiah 53:1-6:
Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Chapter 17 has another interesting facet in that God expects man to honor his covenants, whether to Him or to man. Oaths of office are a bond to be carried out to the letter before the Lord. Somehow, in my life time, that fact has been eroded and man's word is now carelessly given.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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