He had done everything for her. She had done all she could to throw it back in His face. He set her up for success. She foolishly determined to fail. He poured out His love. She responded with shameless displays of her lewdness. He made a promise to love her. And love her He did. Thus, the power of a promise.
I’m moved this morning as read again Ezekiel 16. Perhaps one of the most beautiful portrayals of God’s love towards His people as personified in Jerusalem. Perhaps one of the most disturbing accounts of her subsequent betrayal and adultery.
Through the prophet God portrays Himself as her great benefactor. From her unseemly birth He had His eye on her. Though she was abhorred by all from the day she was born, having been thrown in a field naked and covered in afterbirth, when He passed by and saw her “wallowing in her blood” He determined to give her life. And she grew up and flourished.
At a later time He passed by again. And though she had grown up, she was still naked and bare. So, having given her life, He now determined to also give her love. He claimed her as His own. And He gave to her a promise.
When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of My garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made My vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became Mine.
(Ezekiel 16:8 ESV)
With no merit or standing of her own, with nothing to bring to the relationship, He took her to be His. He bathed her. He clothed her. He wrapped her in fine linen. He adorned her in exquisite and costly jewelry. He fed her with the finest foods. And she blossomed!
You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD.
(Ezekiel 16:13b-14 ESV)
But as she looked in the mirror beholding her beauty, forgetting from where she’d come, it went to her head. And it spoiled her heart. She trusted in her beauty and lost sight of her Beautifier. Because of her fame and glory she started strutting her stuff and flaunting her beauty. And she fell, and fell hard. She “played the whore” giving herself away to any and every passerby.
And she suffered the consequences of such great infidelity. God is not mocked. What is sown will be reaped. The wages of sin is death. The beauty of Jerusalem destroyed by those who were once her lovers, now become agents of God’s wrath. The splendor of the bride-gone-bad but a faint memory.
But there is power in a promise.
. . . yet I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, . . . I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD.
(Ezekiel 16:60a, 61-62 ESV)
O’ glorious word, “Yet!” Though she deserved to be returned to the condition in which she was first found, abandoned in a field, wallowing in her blood, ready to die, YET, because of a promise, she would know anew her great Benefactor . . . she would never again know her shame . . . for He would pay the price and atone for all that she had done.
And her story is our story.
. . . but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 ESV)
Seen when no one else cared to look. Rescued when others considered us abandoned. Cleaned up, having had our sins washed away. Clothed up, having been given garments of righteousness on the merit of Another. Fed up, having been given a desire for the pure spiritual milk as newborns in Christ and then having tasted and developed a hunger for the solid food of the Word as we matured. Flourishing in the overflowing abundance of grace. A bride betrothed to her Bridegroom. And all this, not because of any merit of our own, but because of a promise.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? . . . in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
(Romans 8:31-32, 37 ESV)
Praise God for the power of a promise!
By His grace. For His glory.