A few months ago I was struck by the imagery at the beginning of Ezekiel 16. God describes Israel, and consequently us, as being abandoned and in a disgusting state. Our lives "pre-God" are actually compared to a baby who was birthed without being cleaned or having its umbilical chord cut.
Seriously - have you ever watched A Baby Story on TLC? The birthing part is my least favorite - not only does it look horrifically painful for everyone involved, but that baby comes out looking a straight mess.
What a description of our lives in sin: A straight up sick nasty mess. Oh, and let us not forget - we didn't even know we were a mess!!
Then God comes along, cleans us up, and teaches us to live in the way He intended in the beginning. This is where the chapter gets rough. It reminded me so much of the story of Ester because the women who were in the running to be the king's wife went through a beautification process - a long-term pampering if you will - before the king saw them. They eventually adorned themselves with jewels and fine clothes. Similarly, it says God clothed us with fine jewels and linens, blessing us abundantly with food and anything else you could imagine.
But being the sinners that we are, we decided we were good enough to make it on our own so we took our gifts and left...and found alliances elsewhere. The descriptions of Jerusalem betraying God in this particular chapter are brutal. Jerusalem has become a whore that makes Sodom and Gomorrah look like saints. You may not know the details of that particular story, but those cities were basically burned because of their fornication and impurities. You can find the unabridged version in Genesis 18.
Isaiah 64 says that our righteousness is like menstrual rags. Ezekiel 16 only makes that image clearer. Inevitably we betray our covenant (it's like an ULTIMATE promise - a promise before God and consequently with God) repeatedly. God gets angry, of course, because His people have chosen to fornicate with idols rather than live faithfully to Him after all He'd done, and as the JUST God, we are punished according to our sins..justly. Justice is served.
This entire chapter blew me away. I couldn't wrap my mind around the magnitude of God's mercy in cleaning me up in the beginning, let alone the idea of my betrayal of His love, trust, and blessing in the middle of the chapter.
It wasn't until today that I finally focused on the end of this chapter.
"God, the Master, says, 'I'll do to you just as you have already done, you who have treated my oath with contempt and broken the covenant. All the same, I'll remember the covenant I made with you when you were young and I'll make a new covenant with you that will last forever. You'll remember your sorry past and be properly contrite when you receive back your sisters, both the older and the younger. I'll give them to you as daughters, but not as participants in your covenant. I'll firmly establish my covenant with you and you'll know that I am God. You'll remember your past life and face the shame of it, but when I make atonement for you, make everything right after everything you've done, it will leave you speechless.' Decree of God, the Master." (59-63)