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Summary: Idolatry within the Evangelical Faith.

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You trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passer-by; your beauty became his. You took some of your garments and made for yourself colourful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be. You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. Also my bread that I gave you—I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey—you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord GOD. And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them? And in all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood.

Eugene Peterson captures the raw power of Ezekiel’s words. Your beauty went to your head and you became a common whore, grabbing anyone coming down the street and taking him into your bed. You took your fine dresses and made “tents” of them, using them as brothels in which you practiced your trade. This kind of thing should never happen, never.

And then you took all that fine jewellery I gave you, my gold and my silver, and made pornographic images of them for your brothels. You decorated your beds with fashionable silks and cottons, and perfumed them with my aromatic oils and incense. And then you set out the wonderful foods I provided—the fresh breads and fruits, with fine herbs and spices, which were my gifts to you—and you served them as delicacies in your whorehouses. That’s what happened, says GOD, the Master.

And then you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had given birth to as my children, and you killed them, sacrificing them to idols. Wasn’t it bad enough that you had become a whore? And now you’re a murderer, killing my children and sacrificing them to idols.

Such unadorned language is no doubt shocking to some. However, Ezekiel writes in an earthy, pointed, plain fashion. In light of contemporary “entertainment” that floods our living rooms and fills our ears, I doubt that his words are terribly distressing in themselves. Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly individuals that wonder at the language, especially when it is read in a service of worship.

Perhaps it is because we have a paucity of prophetic preaching that unvarnished language shocks sensibilities and grates on our ears. Perhaps it is because the pulpit ministry has become a caricature of biblical teaching that strong words appal. Whatever the reason for being startled by the clear words of Scripture, God delivers a pointed warning to the people bearing His Name through Ezekiel’s cutting words. We will do well to hear what Ezekiel is saying and to take heed to his words.

Whereas the writers of the Old Testament speak of “playing the whore” or speak of “whoring” over one hundred times, Ezekiel is especially unrelenting and incessant in applying this opprobrium to Israel. Thirty-one times in the Book that bears his name, thirteen times in this immediate chapter before us today, the prophet accuses God’s holy people of “playing the whore.” He was unhesitating in describing their unfaithfulness to God as “whoring.” Perhaps if our nation had had such a plainspoken prophet in years gone by, we would not witness the descent into the unrighteousness that marks us as a nation today. Perhaps it is not too late to be confronted by the divine call to righteousness. Perhaps some will hear what God says through His prophet.

Ezekiel is addressing Israel. He addresses the nation as though she were a beautiful woman. The prophet tells how God passed by and saw her when she was but an infant—a newborn exposed to die; but God intervened and commanded life for her. The nation grew and prospered, and God saw that she had become a beautiful young woman. He bathed her, clothed her, and adorned her with gold and with jewels. God fed her and fêted her, and she became a beautiful young woman—a princess.

However, Israel, depending upon her beauty alone, forgot God’s mercies and also forgot her own dysfunctional roots. The words of the wise man could have readily been applied to the nation at the time Ezekiel confronted the wayward people.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout

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