That’s in the Bible?
Tasha’s sister and her family live just north of Washington, D.C. We’re here for a few days celebrating Christmas with them. Tasha’s parents flew in from Colorado Springs to be here as well. Tasha’s brother, a student at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, and his wife are on their way. It’s been awesome so far. Simply craziness – 3 toddlers and a kindergartner running around like maniacs – cartoons and movies going 24/7 – cheerios all over the kitchen floor – plastic swords swinging – well, you get the picture. But we love it.
These kids love stories. They love kids’ books and movies. Cars has been a big hit this week. Big kids, like moms and dads, love stories too. Stories connect with the emotions of human beings. That’s why when a preacher is rambling on about some abstract weirdness he loses his audience. But as soon as he begins to tell a story, his audience tunes back in. They reconnect.
Stories do that. Stories reach us on a level that abstract ideas cannot penetrate. And I think that’s because the whole redemptive plan of God is one big story. Creation – the Fall – Christ’s sacrifice to redeem us – His return someday. And somehow we fit in that story. Our lives are a part of God’s story.
Jesus understood that stories connect with people. So, he taught in parables. But I realized something today as I was reading through Ezekiel that hadn’t dawned on me before. God taught in parables before Jesus ever did. And He used his prophets as a mouthpiece for his parables.
I read one of God’s parables this morning that was really convicting. It’s one of those graphic stories that make you say, “Wow, that’s in the Bible?” There’s a lot of those. Especially in the Old Testament.
Alex, my six year old nephew, is reading stories from the Old Testament each night with his Mom out of the new Children’s Adventure Bible he got for Christmas. One thing you should know about Alex is that he loves anything to do with Army men, battles, swords, or killing. Well, the other night they began to read through the book of Judges. To Alex’s utter amazement and joy, he realized that Judges is full of the violent yet heroic stories that move his heart so much. The kind of stories that the average children’s Sunday School teacher would gloss over.
So, I read one of them this morning, that did more than make me blush or squirm. It convicted me. It took root in my heart. And I want to write it out in detail so you can feel what I felt. But be forewarned of it’s graphic nature. This is how God felt when his bride, Israel, left him for another man. Or other men, I should say. I tried to read it by imagining myself as the guilty party, because I know how my heart is. I know how my heart is bent toward sin and how it strays from God, my firstlove.
Ezekiel 16 (The Message)
1-3 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her outrageous violations. Say this: ‘The Message of God, the Master, to Jerusalem: You were born and bred among Canaanites. Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.
4-5 “‘On the day you were born your umbilical cord was not cut, you weren’t bathed and cleaned up, you weren’t rubbed with salt, you weren’t wrapped in a baby blanket. No one cared a fig for you. No one did one thing to care for you tenderly in these ways. You were thrown out into a vacant lot and left there, dirty and unwashed—a newborn nobody wanted.
6-7 “‘And then I came by. I saw you all miserable and bloody. Yes, I said to you, lying there helpless and filthy, “Live! Grow up like a plant in the field!” And you did. You grew up. You grew tall and matured as a woman, full-breasted, with flowing hair. But you were naked and vulnerable, fragile and exposed.
8-14 “‘I came by again and saw you, saw that you were ready for love and a lover. I took care of you, dressed you and protected you. I promised you my love and entered the covenant of marriage with you. I, God, the Master, gave my word. You became mine. I gave you a good bath, washing off all that old blood, and anointed you with aromatic oils. I dressed you in a colorful gown and put leather sandals on your feet. I gave you linen blouses and a fashionable wardrobe of expensive clothing. I adorned you with jewelry: I placed bracelets on your wrists, fitted you out with a necklace, emerald rings, sapphire earrings, and a diamond tiara. You were provided with everything precious and beautiful: with exquisite clothes and elegant food, garnished with honey and oil. You were absolutely stunning. You were a queen! You became world-famous, a legendary beauty brought to perfection by my adornments. Decree of God, the Master.
15-16 “‘But your beauty went to your head and you became a common whore, grabbing anyone coming down the street and taking him into your bed. You took your fine dresses and made “tents” of them, using them as brothels in which you practiced your trade. This kind of thing should never happen, never.
What a Sick Soul!
17-19 “‘And then you took all that fine jewelry I gave you, my gold and my silver, and made pornographic images of them for your brothels. You decorated your beds with fashionable silks and cottons, and perfumed them with my aromatic oils and incense. And then you set out the wonderful foods I provided—the fresh breads and fruits, with fine herbs and spices, which were my gifts to you—and you served them as delicacies in your whorehouses. That’s what happened, says God, the Master.
25-27 “‘And then you went international with your whoring. You fornicated with the Egyptians, seeking them out in their sex orgies. The more promiscuous you became, the angrier I got. Finally, I intervened, reduced your borders and turned you over to the rapacity of your enemies. Even the Philistine women—can you believe it?—were shocked at your sluttish life.
28-29 “‘You went on to fornicate with the Assyrians. Your appetite was insatiable. But still you weren’t satisfied. You took on the Babylonians, a country of businessmen, and still you weren’t satisfied.
30-31 “‘What a sick soul! Doing all this stuff—the champion whore! You built your bold brothels at every major intersection, opened up your whorehouses in every neighborhood, but you were different from regular whores in that you wouldn’t accept a fee.
Two Words: Solidarity and fidelity. Two words that have reattached themselves to my heart and have undergone a rebirth of meaning to me as I applied this passage to my own life.
Yep, that’s in the Bible!