Our Faithful and Forgiving God.
“And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you of all that you have done. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” – Ezekiel 16:62-63 NLT
Judah was guilty. In fact, the southern kingdom was so guilty that God compared their sins to the northern kingdom and the city of Sodom and said, “You have done more detestable things than your sisters ever did. They seem righteous compared to you. Shame on you! Your sins are so terrible that you make your sisters seems righteous, even virtuous” (Ezekiel 16:51-52 NLT). Judah was so sinful and wicked that they made the city of Sodom look tame, even righteous in comparison. Now, that’s bad. And God pulls no punches in pointing out the various ways in which Judah had taken home the world record in sinful activity. What makes their story so shocking is that God had taken them from nothing and made them something. He had poured out His love, grace and mercy on them at a time when they were totally undeserving. He compares them to a newborn baby, unwanted and abandoned in a field to die. God rescued them, gave them life, and raised them up as His own. He made a covenant with them. He blessed them, cared for them, and allowed them to prosper and thrive. He took what was unwanted and undeserving and made it His special possession. And how did they treat their rescuer and redeemer? With contempt, callousness, and a degree if ingratitude that is hard to imagine. Instead of returning God’s affection, they rejected Him. They used the gifts God had graciously given them to buy the affections of other “lovers.” They acted like a prostitute who paid others for sexual favors. They gained nothing from their sinful encounters. “Prostitutes charge for their services – but not you! You give gifts to your lovers, bribing them to come and have sex with you. So you are the opposite of other prostitutes. You pay for your lovers instead of their paying you! (Ezekiel 16:33-34 NLT). Their unfaithfulness would prove to be unprofitable and extremely costly.
But amazingly, while God was forced to punish them for their sin, He was also faithful to forgive them. He reminded them, “I will give you what you deserve, for you have taken your solemn vows lightly by breaking your covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you” (Ezekiel 16:59-60 NLT). God would not overlook their sin. He would have to punish them for their indiscretions, but He would not forget the covenant He had made with them. In spite of their unfaithfulness, He would remain faithful. And there is a day coming when God will forgive all the sins of Judah. He will reestablish them as His own. He will return them to His favor and pour out His love, grace and mercy once again. He will set up His throne in Jerusalem where His Son will reign in righteousness. They will feel shame for all they have done to sin against God, but that shame will be short-lived. He will replace it with joy as they take in the magnitude of His undeserved grace and mercy. All of this should be a reminder to us that this is the God we serve. That He could forgive the sins of Judah should give us hope and assurance that He will forgive our sins. That He could love Judah in spite of their unfaithfulness should remind us just how much God loves us – even when we prove unfaithful. What an amazing, forgiving, gracious, loving God we serve.
Father, I am blown away by Your love and forgiveness. I have a hard time understanding Your faithfulness. That You could remain faithful to Judah after all they had done to sin against You is difficult to comprehend. My faith is so fickle. I give up on others so easy. But You don’t. Help me to grow in my understanding of just how great and gracious You really are. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men