“Parables That Pack a Punch” Sermon Series
Sermon #3 “Righteousness and Peace Kiss” Ezekiel 16 [Part Two] March 2, 2014
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Last Sunday: A Love Story Turned Sour:
God’s Love is Lavished and God’s Love is Spurned (Ezekiel 16:1-34)
I. God’s Wrath is Perfect and His Jealous Anger is Praiseworthy (vv. 35-52)
II. God’s Covenant Love is Indestructible and His Atoning Reconciliation is Incomparable
I. God’s Wrath is Perfect and His Jealous Anger is Praiseworthy (vv. 35-52)
Wrathful, jealous and angry: not the sort of characteristics we usually aspire to, and ones that we squirm when we hear them attributed to our God. Much easier to talk about God’s love, patience, and mercy, isn’t it?
Yet here in Ezekiel’s allegory, the Lord God clearly reveals Himself as One who is enraged at His idolatrous bride, Israel, who takes her to court and brings charges and witnesses against her, who pronounces the death sentence upon her, and who unabashedly proclaims His jealous anger at her unfaithfulness and promiscuity! What are we to make of all this?
A. The Lord is a God of righteous wrath; He gets enraged at evil and wickedness
People want to downplay the wrath of God. But if God loves all that is good and right, and all that conforms to His moral character, then it follows that He would hate everything that is opposed to His holiness and righteousness! For example, if you love your spouse and your family, you will “hate” someone who tries to harm or destroy your loved ones.
Wayne Grudem writes: “God’s wrath means that He intensely hates all sin,” and we could add that He hates all sin perfectly and justly.
We see this clearly in Ezekiel’s allegory. (vv. 35-42).
35 “Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the LORD! 36 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you poured out your wealth and exposed your nakedness in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children’s blood, 37 therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness. 38 I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring upon you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger. 39 Then I will hand you over to your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you naked and bare. 40 They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords. 41 They will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers. 42 Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.”
Notice how God intensely hates all sin, and how He hates sin perfectly and justly:
We see this in three ways:
i. God’s judgments are righteous:
The offended, shamed, and sinned-against husband- king brings his wife to court and presents all the clear evidence against her. He is both the prosecutor and the offended party. The charges against her are read out loud: “Adultery…prostitution… idolatry… murder of her own children…blasphemy against the Lord…pride…and ungratefulness.” No one can deny these charges. They are based on clear and consistent evidence. God is being perfectly just here.
The shameful queen stands there in the courtroom, and she is found guilty of every one of these crimes. She is stripped, exposed, and left naked in front of all her ex-lovers.
Therefore she is sentenced to death, both by stoning, as befits an adulteress, and by the sword, as is fitting for an idol worshiper. (v. 40) Her sentence is in perfect accord with the law; God is acting in a completely righteous manner, while at the same time, He is enraged and shamed at her behavior.
Most of us cannot be both angry and just; enraged and fair… but the Lord is both, perfectly. That is His righteousness, and it is worthy of our praise!
ii. God’s sentencing is just.
Further evidence of God’s wrath being perfectly just and righteous is seen in what Ezekiel tells us in vv. 43-52, where the woman’s family is introduced. We meet her “sisters” Samaria and Sodom, and both sisters had an international reputation for evil and wickedness. Yet now we hear that their sins pale in comparison to Jerusalem’s wickedness; in fact, the two sisters appear righteous in comparison to her!
Hengstenburg: “Her sins weigh heavier than even those of Samaria, because much richer means of grace were bestowed upon her.” To whom much is given, much is required. Lk. 12:48
Do you see how this evidence of Judah’s greater comparative guilt is another way in which God is being perfectly just in his sentencing of her? (In essence, He tells His wayward wife: “You ignored the warnings I gave you when I punished your evil sisters, and you went even further than they did. You put on a display of wickedness that out-did your sisters… and now, you must bear the consequences.”)
So we see that God is perfectly just in condemning Judah now, given that these other nations, whom Judah looked down upon, were in actuality less offensive than she was!
iii. God’s wrath is controlled.
We all know people who get very angry, and you never know when they will explode in rage; you don’t know what will set them off like a bomb. But God is not like that. His wrath is very much under control. We see this in v. 42 “Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.” You see His wrath and anger will stop and be finished. When? Only after unfaithful Judah has been stoned and put to death by the sword, so that her prostitution is forcibly stopped.
God’s anger against us was stopped when Christ took the wrath we deserved, upon Himself! So…we are this woman! We deserve the wrath she deserved!
Eph. 2:3 “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Consider the words of the songs we sing:
“Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied. For every sin on Him was laid, here in the death of Christ I live.”
“Objects of mercy who should have known wrath, we’re filled with unspeakable joy”
“This the pow’r of the cross; Christ became sin for us; Took the blame bore the wrath; We stand forgiven at the cross.”
B. God’s Jealous Anger is Praiseworthy
God is a jealous God, a jealous husband for His bride.
Note the emotions of the Judge: He is profoundly distraught by what she has done and what must now happen to her. He has a “jealous anger” for her, his bride. We see this on a human level in Proverbs 6:32-34: “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. 33 Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away; 34 for jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.”
This part of the allegory is meant both to drive home God’s truth to His people in Jerusalem, but also to reveal the Lord’s heart, as One who is our Husband, our King, our Lover, and whose heart is enraged by all our shameful and perverted violations of our covenant love to Him!
God wants us to feel His jealous heart and his righteous anger through this allegory.
Grudem: “God’s jealousy means that God continually seeks to protect His own honor.” It is perfectly right for God to seek to protect His own honor, for He alone is infinitely worthy of being praised, worshipped and adored. For us to be jealous for our honor would be sinful pride and arrogance, but God deserves such honor. Isa. 48:11 “My glory I will not give to another.”
The story of how I was counseling, years ago, with a married couple, and the husband seemed so unconcerned and impassionate about his wife… I wondered if he had an emotional pulse.
So one time I made up a story (please note that I did not really do what I told him) and told him that I was carrying on an adulterous relationship with his wife, in hopes that he would get angry with me, out of a righteous jealousy for his wife’s love! But he barely raised an eyebrow! Surely, that’s not the kind of husband… or the kind of God… that you want, right?
We see this aspect of God in the following passages:
Num. 25:10-11 The LORD said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them.”
Deut. 32:16 “They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols.”
1 Kings 14:22 “Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than their fathers had done.”
Ps. 78:58-59 “They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols. 59 When God heard them, he was very angry; he rejected Israel completely”.
So God’s wrath and His jealousy are things to praise and thank God for! For imagine what God would be like if He did not hate sin or hate evil. We would then have a god who either delighted in sin, or at least was unconcerned with it! Such a god would not be worthy of our worship, for sin is hateful and it is deserving of being hated. In fact, it is a virtue to hate evil and sin, and we rightly imitate God when we feel anger and hatred against great evil, social injustice and sin.
God’s Wrath is Perfect and His Jealous Anger is Praiseworthy
II. God’s Covenant Love is Indestructible and His Atoning Reconciliation is Incomparable (vv. 53-55, 59-63)
53 “ ‘However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them, 54 so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done in giving them comfort. 55 And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before….”
59 “ …‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. 60 Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. 61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you. 62 So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD. 63 Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign LORD.’ ”
Not only is Judah promised forgiveness, but so also are Samaria and Sodom. God has mercy on all His works. Hengstenburg: “If God pities the most notorious sinners among the heathen, how should He not pity all?” Even the greatest sinners may obtain free and full forgiveness through the infinite mercy of God.
A. God’s Covenant Love is Indestructible (vv. 53-62)
The tone here changes; the terrible language of the preceding sections gives way to the language of hope and to the divine promise of the renewal of the covenant. God is faithful to His covenant promises to His people, and even though they deserve nothing but destruction, He restores their fortunes and remembers His wedding vows to them. He even goes above and beyond what a good husband would do, for in v. 62 He promises to establish His covenant with them, and they will know “that I am the LORD.”
Though Israel had broken the covenant by her idolatry and immorality, yet God extends and renews His covenant with His people through His amazing and sacrificial love… which is most clearly seem in the death of Christ for us!
B. His Atoning Reconciliation is Incomparable (v. 63)
The Lord is righteous and just, and He is jealously wrathful, but He is also loving, merciful and forgiving…. and the only way He can live with all that… and live with us… is for Him alone to pay the awful price for our shame, our sin, and our perversions of idolatry and immorality, by taking the judgment we deserved. That’s why Jesus, God’s Son, was stripped naked on the cross and endured all the shame he did. That’s why He had to become an object of scorn and ridicule. That’s why we can sing: “Your blood has washed away my sin, Jesus thank You; The Father’s wrath completely satisfied, Jesus thank You; Once Your enemy now seated at Your table, Jesus thank You.”
There is no one, and no other so-called god, who makes such a costly atonement for His enemies, so that those who rebelled against Him are reconciled as His friends, even as His adopted children! Our God’s love is incomparable!
This allegory of a King’s love lavished, then spurned, by his wife, is meant to convey two things:
1. To open our eyes to see how grievously we have sinned against the Lord, our Rescuer, our Provider, our Covenant-Husband, and our Lord and King.
2. To reveal to us God’s heart, mind and will, as He works out the implications of His perfect character, given our perverted natures and actions. Here we see and feel His unconditional sovereign love (vv. 1-14); His heartbreak at our spiritual prostitution and perverse idolatry (vv. 16-34); we see and feel His perfect righteous wrath; we see and feel His loving jealous anger and his exacting justice and condemnation (vv. 35-52), and we see and feel as His covenant faithfulness, His restoring grace, and His provision of full atonement for our sins! (vv. 53-63).
It is only as our hearts are opened and as we enter into God’s heart that we understand the depths of our depravity, and that we are more fully astounded by God’s character and salvation.