Thursday, October 27, 2016

Better? You’re Actually Worse!

One of the harshest methods to deliver condemnation is to place the guilty party in an equal relationship—even a familial relationship—with others deemed worse by that guilty party.  Through the prophet Ezekiel, God roundly condemns Judah for its sins.
Indeed everyone who quotes proverbs will use this proverb against you: “Like mother, like daughter!”  You are your mother’s daughter, loathing husband and children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children; your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.  Your elder sister is Samaria, who dwells with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who dwells to the south of you, is Sodom and her daughters.  (Ez 16:44-46)
What a scathing rebuke!  Judah, which prided itself on being the more faithful of God’s elect when the kingdom was divided, referred to as the offspring of pagan Canaanites with siblings of religiously, ethnically syncretic Samaria and proud, self-centered Sodom.  Such a comparison would have raised hackles on the self-righteous spiritual leaders.  One could almost hear voices responding in retaliation, “How dare we be put in league with those vermin.  We do not enter into their vile practices.”  True, they may not have performed the same actions, but the Lord had some devastating news for them.
You did not walk in their ways nor act according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you became more corrupt than they in all your ways.  As I live, says the Lord God, neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done.… Samaria did not commit half of your sins; but you have multiplied your abominations more than they, and have justified your sisters by all the abominations which you have done.  (Ez 16:47-48, 51)
Judah, who thought itself so good and honored for continuing as an elect people, was assured recompense for their covenant-breaking ways.  They who had the Law and the Prophets depraved themselves to an extent that made Samaria’s and Sodom’s grievous sins look like they had merely been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.  Despite the nation’s erring ways, God would show Himself faithful and gracious by committing to restore His people.  Those who had once spurned His commands and promises would enter into an eternal covenant established in the atoning work of the Almighty and no one else (Ez 16:60, 63).

Beyond the wonderful news to His ancient people, God also promises something new to Samaria and Sodom: these nations would have a new relationship with regards to the covenant.  Instead of running together with Judah into escapades of tomfoolery or depravity as siblings are wont, these two will be daughters receiving instruction and nurture in accord with godly practice (Ez 16:61).  No longer rushing into sin, they will remember their shame and in gratitude build up each other in righteousness because of what great things the Lord has done.  Jew and Gentile alike will be united into one family of God, receiving His righteousness so freely poured out in lavish grace.

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