Scripture reading – Ezekiel 23

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Today’s Scripture reading is introduced with Ezekiel recounting, The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Son of man” (Ezekiel 23:1). “Son of man” reminded Ezekiel, though he was a priest by lineage, and a prophet by calling, he was nevertheless a man with the weaknesses and failings of men. “Son of Man” was also a frequent title Christ used of Himself (Matthew 8:20; 9:6; 11:19; Mark 2:28; Luke 19:10), reminding His followers that He was the “Son of God” by nature (John 1:14; 3:16; Galatians 4:4-5), and the “Son of Man” by birth (being conceived of the Holy Ghost by the virgin Mary).

Ezekiel 23 – Two Sisters Who Became Adulterers

A Parable of Two Sisters (Ezekiel 23:1-4)

The LORD came to Ezekiel with a parable of two sisters, and a mother (Ezekiel 23:2). As we read Ezekiel 23 it becomes apparent that the mother was symbolic of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 23:2). The daughters represented the divided kingdoms. Samaria was identified as the elder sister “Aholah,” symbolizing the ten northern tribes known as Israel (for Samaria was north Israel’s capital, Ezekiel 23:4). The city of Jerusalem was recognized as “Aholibah,” and symbolized Judah, the southern kingdom (Ezekiel 23:4)


The Sins and Wickedness of Samaria (Ezekiel 23:5-10) 

Samaria (i.e., Israel) and Jerusalem (i.e., Judah) were guilty of spiritual adultery, for they turned from the LORD to the gods of other nations. Forsaking her covenant with the LORD, Samaria turned to Assyria and embraced that nation’s idols with their wicked, immoral practices (Ezekiel 23:5-10; 2 Kings 15:19-20; 17:1-4).

From the Scriptures and history, we understand that the LORD delivered the northern ten tribes, known as Israel, over to Assyria.  That nation stripped northern Israel of its wealth, and her sons and daughters were taken captive (Ezekiel 23:9-10).


The Sins and Wickedness of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 23:11-21)

Jerusalem, portrayed in Ezekiel 23 as Israel’s sister, followed the sins of Samaria (Ezekiel 23:11). However, the people living in Jerusalem and Judah were privileged to have the Temple representing the presence of the LORD in their midst. Therefore, the sins and wickedness of Jerusalem were said to be greater than the sins of Samaria. Ezekiel, thus, declared that Jerusalem “was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she [Samaria], and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms” (Ezekiel 23:11).

Like Samaria, Jerusalem (i.e., Judah) turned from the LORD and sought Assyria’s favor (2 Kings 16:5-18; Isaiah 7:1-25). The people defiled themselves with the idols of that heathen nation (23:13). When Assyria fell to Babylon, Jerusalem then turned to the idols of that nation and lusted for the great men of the Chaldeans (Ezekiel 23:14-16).

Rejecting the LORD, the kings of Jerusalem flirted with Babylon like an adulterous woman (Ezekiel 23:15-16). Rather than favor, however, Babylon abused Jerusalem, shamed and humiliated the people (Ezekiel23:17-18). Failing to turn to the LORD for relief, the king of Jerusalem turned to Egypt for help and failed (Ezekiel 23:19-21; 2 Kings 23:26-24:2).

God Determined to Judge Jerusalem and Judah

God Determined to Judge Jerusalem and Judah (Ezekiel 23:22-35)

As with Samaria, so it was with Jerusalem, for the LORD determined that city would be judged for her wickedness and spiritual idolatry. Ezekiel prophesied that the LORD would bring a great army against Jerusalem (Ezekiel 23:22-24) and fulfill the judgment He determined against the city (Ezekiel 23:25-26). 

As Ezekiel foretold, Babylon’s soldiers showed the people no mercy and took their children captive (Ezekiel23:25-29). Jerusalem fell as God’s wrath was poured out (Ezekiel 23:30-35).


The Consequences of Sin, and the Righteous End of God’s Judgment (Ezekiel 23:36-49)

Ezekiel 23 concluded with the LORD questioning Ezekiel, “Son of man, wilt thou judge Aholah and Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations” (Ezekiel 23:36). The task of the prophet was not only to declare (i.e., “judge”) the sins of Samaria and Jerusalem (Ezekiel 23:36-42) but also state God’s judgment (Ezekiel 23:43-47).

Judah, represented as Aholibah (i.e., Jerusalem), was guilty of the sins that moved the LORD to judge Israel. Adultery, murder, idolatry, and sacrificing their sons and daughters were the sins of both nations (Ezekiel 23:37). Judah added to their wickedness by defiling the LORD’s Temple and disregarding His Sabbaths (Ezekiel 23:38). The hypocrisy of the people was profound for they would sacrifice their children to idols, and go “the same day into” the Temple! (Ezekiel 23:39)

The wickedness of Israel and Judah knew no bounds as those nations played the political prostitute with Assyria and Babylon and courted the favor of the heathen (Ezekiel 23:40-44).

The Consequences of Sin, and the Righteous End of God’s Judgment

Closing thoughts (Ezekiel 23:45-49)

We have observed the LORD’s longsuffering throughout our study of Israel and Judah’s history. He sent “righteous men” who declared His Word and exposed the sins of those nations, saying they were spiritual “adulteresses, and blood is in their hands” (Ezekiel 23:45). Therefore, the LORD determined to “bring up a company upon” those nations and give Israel and Judah over “to be removed and spoiled” (Ezekiel 23:46-47).  

Why did the LORD bring all this sorrow and suffering upon His people? All of this would come upon the people so that they might feel the weight of their sins, repent, and know the God of Israel is “the Lord God” (Ezekiel23:48-49).


An Invitation

Friend, the end of God’s judgment is that you might confess your sins, repent, and acknowledge that the LORD is GOD. There is none other to whom you might turn for deliverance and salvation.

Are you tired, weary, and troubled with the burden of your sins? Allow your sorrows to move you to turn to Jesus Christ, for He is waiting. I close with the assurance of the author of Hebrews:

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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