The old prophet told a horrible tale about a baby, despised at birth, left to die in a vacant lot, who was rescued and raised to become a woman of beauty. Her husband provided lavishly for her – “I dressed you in a colorful gown and put leather sandals on your feet. … You were provided with everything precious and beautiful: with exquisite clothes and elegant food, garnished with honey and oil. You were absolutely stunning. You were a queen! You became world-famous, a legendary beauty brought to perfection by my adornments.” (Ezekiel 16:10-14, The Message)
Despite being given all she could desire, she became promiscuous, giving herself and her honor away. Her sin led to her complete destruction and yet her husband did not ultimately reject her! You can read the entire allegory, which is graphic and stunning, in Ezekiel 16.
Who is Ezekiel describing? The city of Jerusalem, the people of God. They were beloved, yet they took other gods, rejected the Lord, and threw away their honor! Still, God pursues His people and the story closes with a promise of renewed love! “Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember with shame all the evil you have done. … 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 16:60-63, NLT)
You may be wondering if that old story has anything to do with you or me, at all? Yes, it does! We are created to be His own, made to love Him and enjoy His favor. Like Jerusalem of old, the Church is called “God’s wife.” We, individually, are promised to Him in love. Tragically, in spite of all of His goodness, so many chase after lesser gods and give themselves to sin. Our wandering leads us to broken places of sorrow, shame, guilt, and regret and yet God offers healing and restoration – made possible at His expense and mercy. Ezekiel’s graphic tale is really a story of grace. The same plot line repeats again and again in the pages of His Word. Jesus told parables of rescue that Luke recorded for us – a lost coin, a lost lamb, a lost son. God loves and seeks us. What amazing grace!
The Psalm celebrates the heart of the Lord – “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:8-14, NLT)
Nations, churches, even individuals who have spurned the ways of the Lord can find renewal, but will we? Or will we continue to substitute trinkets for treasure, cheap thrills for genuine love? God, Who loves us, is waiting for us to come home to Him. Will we? Or, will we believe the lie that He has rejected us forever? Another prophet, moved by the Spirit, extends the invitation. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” (Isaiah 55:1-3, NIV)
So, whether you are a Christian of many years or a seeker at the doorway looking into God’s love, here is a word from the Word. Let the wonder of grace bring joy to you this day.
“Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. …
We know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. …
Since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (Romans 5:1-11, NLT)
And Can It Be?
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me who caused His pain,
For me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love, how can it be,
That Thou my God shouldst die for me?
He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite, His grace.
Emptied Himself of all but love
And bled for Adam’s helpless race!
‘Tis mercy all immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray-
I woke – the dungeon flamed with light.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.
No condemnation now I dread,
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine.
Alive in Him, my living Head
And clothed in righteousness divine;
Bold I approach th’eternal throne
And claim the crown through Christ my own!
Charles Wesley | Thomas Campbell © Words: Public Domain
Jerry D. Scott, Pastor- Faith Discovery Church- Washington, NJ 07882