Today’s reading: Ezekiel 16-17.
“But I thought the God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath and anger?”
I’ve written about it before, but one of the big secrets of the Old Testament is how often God expressed his love for his people. Yes, there were times of anger and conflict, but it’s because God loved his people so much, and cared for them so deeply, that he was moved to such strong emotions when they spurned him or when others tried to harm them. Here again, in Ezekiel, God tells a story of his undying love for Israel. Hearing it you can’t help but think of Pygmalion.
“I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: 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 fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD.” Ezekiel 16:10-14
Every one likes to be loved, to hear words of affection, to receive gifts, and be cared for tenderly. God did all these things for Israel, and it’s good for us to hear about it because he cares for us with the same abiding affection.
God loves us despite our past. Her ancestors, at least spiritually if not physically, were the immoral and idolatrous Canaanites. Still God chose Israel and loved her.
God loves us even though we have nothing to offer him. Israel was like a helpless baby when God first began to love her. No one else loved her, or cared for her, but God did.
God nurtures us. God said he took care of Israel like a plant of the field. He provided all the daily provisions and protection that were necessary for her growth.
God doesn’t force himself on us. God said that he didn’t make his declaration of love to Israel until she was “old enough for love.” In the same way he does not force himself on any believer. We must accept his offer of love by faith.
God keeps his promises to us. Knowing full well that she would later reject him, God pledged his unending love to Israel. She was unfaithful to him, but he remained faithful to her.
God blesses us with every good gift. In his description God mentions clothing, food, jewelry, and beauty that he gave Israel, but we know that his greatest gifts are spiritual, including eternal life.
God will cover our sins and receive us back when we spurn his love. Israel rejected God’s love in the most shameful ways. Yet God declared that he would make the provision to pay for her sin, and then renew his vows with her. He offers to do the same for us today.
Image by marazmova on Flickr, CC by-nc 2.0