Thursday, July 10, 2014

Inspirational Thursday #4: Ezekiel 23:48

Here's the verse that the good folks at pointed us towards this week:

“So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.”
– Ezekiel 23:48
Taken in isolation, and assuming that "I" is God, this sounds something like a good old-fashioned call to "family values," as they are defined by the more priggish families.  It has a whiff of slut-shaming about it.  That's how it seems to me, anyway.

Let's look at it again in local context:
42 “The noise of a carefree crowd was around her; drunkards were brought from the desert along with men from the rabble, and they put bracelets on the wrists of the woman and her sister and beautiful crowns on their heads. 43 Then I said about the one worn out by adultery, ‘Now let them use her as a prostitute, for that is all she is.’ 44 And they slept with her. As men sleep with a prostitute, so they slept with those lewd women, Oholah and Oholibah. 45 But righteous judges will sentence them to the punishment of women who commit adultery and shed blood, because they are adulterous and blood is on their hands.

46 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Bring a mob against them and give them over to terror and plunder. 47 The mob will stone them and cut them down with their swords; they will kill their sons and daughters and burn down their houses.

48 “So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you. 49 You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.”

Now this is of course deeply unpleasant stuff, and an example of why, as I mentioned on Monday, an informed response to Old Testament prophecy would have to be more along the lines of the fear of a angry and jealous God, as opposed to an embracing of the love and mercy of God.  For the Sovereign Lord who proposes to give people "over to terror and plunder" is frankly not coming across as very loving, or very merciful.

Except, local context hasn't really clarified our verse of the week either, because Ezekiel 23 is actually a long political cartoon in which "those lewd women, Oholah and Oholibah," represent Samaria and Jerusalem in the time before the Babylonian exile.  God isn't condemning two women to terror and plunder, but two countries.  And the approximate meaning of Verse 48, finally, is that God plans for the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem to show that lewdness in a nation is not to be tolerated, and that the countries of the world will take note of this example and clean up their act.

These subtleties don't really come across in my inspirational image.

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