September 3 (Daily reading: Ezekiel 23-24) The accusation of harlotry is repeated through an allegory of two sisters; Damascus is called Oholah, and Jerusalem is called Oholibah. God’s message to the Hebrew people through Ezekiel is the same one that Hosea gave by his marriage to Gomer (Hos. 1:3). God presented the image of a marriage between Himself and His people. But the people became unfaithful and adulterous, worshiping the gods of other nations. Israel first lusted after Egypt, and later Assyria. Judah’s adultery also began with Egypt and continued with Babylon. Judah was described by Ezekiel as being even worse than Israel. In both cases, they were destroyed by their former “lovers.” The prophecies against these sisters end with the same effect as seen over and over in Ezekiel: “Thus you will know that I am the Lord God” (23:49).
The allegory of cooked meat in a boiling pot was given even as Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem, showing that Judah’s fate was sealed. Their guilt was like blood, not poured out on the soil and absorbed, but “on the bare rock, that it may not be covered” (24:8). The rust in the pot represented their sin, which needed to be burned out. “So that…its filthiness may be melted in it, its rust consumed … Let her rust be in the fire!” (24:11-12). The destruction of Jerusalem was part of the cleansing of their sins.
God explained to Ezekiel the specific reason for the death of his wife, which would be seen in his response of not mourning. They would have to continue their life in exile even though the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. They would know once again that the God of Israel and Judah was the sovereign Lord (24:24). It is possible that we can learn more about God in the most difficult life experiences than we will learn when everything is going well!
– Al Gary