The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. “ ‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked. “ ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord , and you became mine. “ ‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather 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 honey, olive oil and the finest flour. 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 16:1-14
Today’s passage recounts a stark (actually stark naked) beginning to the nation of Israel. Ezekiel is providing a rich word picture of the beginning of the people of Israel and their relationship with God. They were as a baby born with no one to care for it, an abandoned infant, unwashed and unclean. Tossed in a field to fend for itself. Not a pretty picture of the beginnings of a great nation…kind of like a king being born in a dirty stable full of animals I guess.
God intervened and took pity on this abandoned child and said “I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” “. God wanted this baby, thrashing about in its own blood, to have a home and a parent to care for it. He adopted the nation of Israel and cleansed it with water, “I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you”. God entered into a covenant relationship with the people of Israel when they had nothing to contribute to the relationship. It was God’s reaching arm that saved them rather than their own ability to reach out and “grab” God by the hand.
God then reminds the people that all the adornment and success that followed this initial adoption is a gift from Him – “you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen” Their “hairy crown” was a result of actions that God took to make them great rather than their own skill and knowledge.
I think there is a very important word here for all those who have accepted their status as adopted children of God. We were all no better than the early Israelites when God “found” us bleeding and thrashing about in the world without Him. He cleansed us with the living water of His spirit and clothed us with all the righteousness we need to stand in His presence. We, like the Israelites in this passage, must not forget that all the success and “adornments” that we obtain in this world are gifts from God rather than deserved privileges we have earned.
Prayer: Thank You God for adopting us, cleansing us, and clothing us with all the clothes we need to stand in Your presence.