The Parable of the Unfaithful Wife
This is the longest parable in the Bible.
Last week we saw one of the shortest parables in the book of Ezekiel.
Chapter 15, only 8 verses long, the parable of the unfruitful vine.
But chapter 16, the longest parable, the parable of the unfaithful wife.
In chapter 15, we saw God as a gardener dealing with a vine.
In chapter 16, we see God as a husband dealing with a wife.
There was no emotional involvement in chapter 15.
A gardener is not emotionally involved with a vine.
If the vine is unfruitful, he simply cuts it down, burns it and plants another vine.
Itís all in a dayís work.
But not so with chapter 16.
While there is no emotional attachment between a gardener and a vine...
There is great emotional attachment between a husband and a wife.
In chapter 15, there is no mention and no vision of the heart of God.
But in chapter 16, you cannot help but see the bruised and bleeding and compassionate heart of God.
>This unfaithful wife is the nation of Israel.
She is addressed by the name Jerusalem.
In our culture and in our country there is no one city that represents all of our nation.
But Jerusalem is a representation of all of Israel.
As a matter of fact, the nation of Israel existed only as long as the city of Jerusalem existed.
When Jerusalem was destroyed, the nation of Israel ceased to exist...
And did not exist on planet earth until Jerusalem was reborn.
There are three vivid scenes in this passage of scripture and Iíll be very brief.
>In verses 1-14, we see the past glory of Israel, her golden past, her privileged past.
In verses 15-59, we see Israelís shameful present.
Now you have to put yourself in the day of Ezekiel...
And that would mean you would have to shift back in time about 25 or 26 hundred years from today.
About 2500 years ago Ezekiel was alive hearing these messages from the voice of God.
And this was Israelís present at that time, verses 15-59.
>And then in verses 60-63, we find Israelís glorious future.
Part of it has already been fulfilled, and part of it is still yet to come.
So letís think about those three scenes.
First of all, Israelís golden past.
God says, "Ezekiel, I want you to tell Jerusalem about all of her detestable practices, and remind her of the kind of city she was when I cam into her life."
God is using a parable.
Now you cannot make a parable walk on all fours.
If you try to look at a parable and analyze and study and make every part of it try to mean something important...
Youíre going to miss the purpose of a parable.
Usually a parable only has one main point.
There may be a couple of sideline points, but if you take a parable, if you take a chapter like this one...
By the way, Charles Spurgeon said concerning the chapter that Iíve just read for you, he said...
"A minister would scarcely read this chapter in public."
That lets you know the day in which he lived, a day of very conservative mindset morally...
And the day in which we live when having read this before you, no one was shocked.
No women fainted...no children started to cry...
This is mild...this would not even be PG rated in todayís society.
It would have been X-rated in the days of Charles Spurgeon.
But Godís word, this passage, is a parable so understand the major truths here.
>God says, "When I came into the life of Israel, when I came into the life of the city of Jerusalem,"
He said, "You were like a baby that had been born but then thrown out into a field.
The naval cord had not even been severed. You were just out there covered in blood. There was no possibility for you to live.
You had no future. You were a city that had been around for thousands of years, and yet there was no rich heritage.
There was no strong culture. There were no deep roots. You were a city that just existed with no purpose and no meaning.
Your mother was an Ammorite. Your father was a Hittite. There was just no value to you.
And when I found you, you were like an abandoned fetus out in a field dying. But I spoke the words of life to you.
I found you in that decrepit, pitiful, dying condition, and I spoke the word Ďliveí, and you began to live because I spoke to you the word of life.
It didnít matter how big your army may have been. It didnít matter how cultured your people may have been. It didnít matter how educated your people may have been.
You were dying like a fetus thrust out of the womb and thrown into a field. You were dying. You had no possibility of life until I spoke the word.
I said to you, Ďliveí, and you began to live."
>Folks, I want to tell you, thatís how it was when you got saved.
You were lost and hopeless and helpless and on your way to hell.
You didnít have a prayer.
You didnít have a ghost of a chance until you came to Jesus and he said, "live".
There is live in the name of God.
God said, Ďlive".
>Now once I gave you life, I took you as a little baby and I raised you up.
I took you from a little girl and brought you into being a young lady.
And then I married you...you became mine.
First he engaged himself to her.
He said, "When you came into your flower of young womanhood"...
"I spread the corner of my garment over you."
That simply means, "I placed my shawl around you."
That was a way of getting engaged.
Today we give a diamond ring.
In that day they were much more practical.
They put a shawl around the girl.
God said, "I spread my garment over you. I engaged myself to you, and then I took you to my wife.
I let you become mine. And as my wife, I blessed you. I decked you out in the finest of apparel.
The finest clothing, you wore it. The finest jewels, you wore them. The finest reputation, you had it...
And it was all because of what I did for you.
You were dying...you were nothing...you were hopeless and helpless and condemned and doomed...
And I spoke the word "live" to you and you came alive. And I raised you and I married you and you became mine...
And I poured out my blessings upon you."
That was Israelís golden past.
>But then God says, "I want to tell you of their shameful present. I want you to tell them."
Look there in verse 15.
In spite of all that God had done for them, verse 15 says, "but".
Thatís a word of contrast.
Heís not comparing...heís contrasting.
"I gave you life...I gave you blessing...I gave you my name...
I gave you my heart...I gave you everything you could have possibly ever needed or wanted to be...
All that I wanted you to be or expected you to be. You had everything.
All of heaven was yours...all if it, but..."
And look at the mistakes she made.
In verse 15, "But you trusted in your beauty."
You see, she had a displaced faith.
Friends, the Bible teaches that it is in God and God alone that we are to place our trust.
You cannot trust a government...
You cannot trust a political party...
You cannot trust a financial system...
You cannot even trust a professing man of God.
He is not your redeemer.
He is not your savior.
He is not the answer to your prayers.
Our faith is only to be in the person of God.
We do not trust in horses...we do not trust in chariots...
We trust in the name of the Lord our God.
But you see, Israel had begun to trust in their own beauty.
It was a beauty that they had only because God had given it to them.
It was a beauty that they enjoyed only because of the good graciousness of God...
And they had begun to trust in the things God had given unto them...
Instead of the person of God himself.
And listen to me now.
When you begin to trust in the gifts rather than the giver...
Itís not going to be long until you forget who the giver really is.
When you begin to trust in the blessings of God and forget about the person of God...
It wonít be long until God is completely out of the picture.
And all of the blessings are the works of our hands.
All of the things we enjoy are the fruits of our labor and the accomplishments of our own self-determination.
Thatís what happened.
They had displaced faith.
You mark it down...it wonít be long.
Once you begin to trust in yourself and good old God is removed from the picture...
It wonít be long before you find yourself worshiping at a pagan altar.
Because they begin to allow idolatry to come into the land.
Thatís what he means when he says in verse 15 and again in verse 16...
And all the way through those verses where he talks about whore and whoredom...
He talks about playing the harlot.
Heís talking about idolatry.
The nation of Israel turned their back on their husband who was God.
They turned their back on him and they would open themselves up...
To any and every form of idolatry that would come.
If someone claimed to have some new teaching, they swallowed it hook, line and sinker...
Never thinking about God, never remembering the days when they walked with God...
Forgetting all about the time that God had loved them and blessed them and honored them.
They turned their back on him and opened themselves up to every form of wicked religious invasion.
>It started innocently enough.
They would simply bow down at pagan shrines, or give an offering at a pagan altar.
But you see, paganism is never satisfied.
Jesus said to the woman at the well, he said...
"Oh dear lady, if youíll just take one drink from this water that I have for you, you will never thirst again."
Friends, the water Jesus has satisfies.
But I want to tell you, the waters from the wells of this world, they never satisfy.
They always leave you thirsty for more.
And what began as simply offering sacrifices of animals began to be child sacrifice.
All of those other pagan lands had observed child sacrifice for years.
But the nation of Israel had never been involved in child sacrifice.
But now there was a new god on the scene, and his name was Mulak...
And the way you worship this god, Mulak, was by child sacrifice.
And so the nation of Israel, the children of Abraham, Godís chosen people...
Began to sacrifice their children.
Some of them, they would make pass through fire and many little children would be burned to a crisp.
Some of those children would be, their hearts would be cut out.
Some of them, their heads would be cut off.
Some of them would be punctured with a spear or a knife and allowed to bleed to death.
Thousands and thousands and thousands of little Jewish boys and girls...
Their lives were snuffed out by their own mamas and daddies...
Because they were worshiping a pagan god name Mulak.
>By the way, if you ever wonder about the word "Gehenna hell" in the Bible...
Somebody would say to you, "Well you know that word "Gehenna" it just means a garbage dump."
Do you know where that garbage dump started?
There was no garbage dump south of Jerusalem for centuries.
There was a ravine there, a valley there.
But there was no garbage dump.
That valley of Hinnom was just a valley.
But when they began this child sacrifice, what are you going to do with all those dead bodies...
All of these carcasses of these little boys and little girls?
What are you going to do with them?
You donít bury them because theyíre sacrifices.
You donít bury sacrifices, and you certainly donít eat them because that would be cannibalism.
What are you going to do with all the bodies of these little boys...
Thousands and thousands of little boys and little girls...
What are you going to do with their dead bodies?
They decided to carry them down south of Jerusalem and throw them down there in the valley of Hinnom...
And set them on fire.
And all year around, day after day hundreds and thousands of little baby boys and little baby girls...
And little boys 5, 6 and 7 years old and little girls 5, 6 and 7 years old...
They were sacrificed and their bodies were carried down there to the valley of Hinnom and thrown into that valley...
And that fire constantly burned.
The smoke of that fire ascended up into the nostrils of God.
In time Josiah came to be the king of Israel when he was eight years old...
And the first thing Josiah said, "No more child sacrifice. Weíll never do that again."
And they never did that again.
But what are you gonna do with that valley?
It became a place where if a dead animal was found, you would carry that dead animal down...
And it would be burned there in the valley of Hinnom.
When criminals were executed, whether on a cross or by beheading or some other form of execution...
When criminals were executed their dead bodies were carried down to the valley of Hinnom to Gehenna.
Hinnom in Hebrew...Gehenna in Greek.
They would carry those bodies down to Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom, and burn them.
Finally it became a garbage dump for the city of Jerusalem...
And all the waste and all the refuge and all the castoff was carried there and burned.
And for centuries, centuries that smoke ascended into the nostrils of God.
And when God said, "I want to find something that will let people know how horrible eternal hell is going to be...
The Holy Ghost of God looked over the earth and his eye fell on that valley of Hinnom, Gehenna...
And he said, Ďthatís it. That has been a stench in the nostrils of God.
It has been a place where innocent children have been burned.
It has been a place where criminals have been burned.
It is a place of garbage, waste and refuge all time burning.
This is a picture of what hell is.
Hell is a garbage dump of those who have turned their backs on God...
Those who have rejected Christ, and they will be forever burned in the garbage dump of Almighty God.í"
>Israel had gotten so far away from God that they were worshiping idols...
And they were involved in a diabolical, devilish, demonic system of religion.
They made dangerous associations.
They began to run around with the Egyptians.
They began to run around with the Assyrians.
Godís people have been called to be separate from the world.
Godís people have been called not to be unequally yoked.
Godís people have been called to be unique and distinct...
Set apart for the work of God.
And yet the Israelites had forsaken him and his fellowship and his companionship...
And they were turning to the people of the world like the Egyptians and the Assyrians...
And even the Chaldeans and the Phoenicians.
Oh, that was the sins of the present and God said, "Because of it, Iím going to bring judgment."
Iím going to judge them with fire.
Iím going to judge them with war.
Iím going to judge them by stripping away everything they have.
Iím going to leave them as I found them.
They are going to be stripped of all their clothing.
Theyíre going to be stripped of all their jewelry.
Theyíre going to be stripped of all their renown.
Theyíre going to be stripped of everything, and Iíll leave them like I found them...
Cold and dead and covered with blood and useless and worthless."
And I want to tell you, friends, God did send that judgment.
>Just a few years after he spoke to Ezekiel, that second Babylonian invasion came...
And that judgment of God came.
And then in 70 AD, after Jesus had been crucified in the outer part of Jerusalem...
He had prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed and in 70 AD...
Titus of Rome went into Jerusalem and completely destroyed the city.
Josephus tells us that there was not one stone left standing upon the other.
Josephus, that Jewish historian, says there was not one tree left standing.
Everything that would burn was burned, and everything that would not burn was pushed over.
It was a complete destruction.
And when Jerusalem fell and was destroyed, the nation of Israel did not exist.
It was gone from planet earth.
The Jews were scattered all over the world, and there was no nation of Israel on the earth.
And I want to tell you, if that had been all that had happened...
God would have been completely just and holy and within his right.
If God had let them burn forever in hell, God would have been within his rights.
If God would have turned his back upon them and never done another thing for the nation of Israel...
God would have been completely holy and justified and within his right to do it.
But I want to tell you, this God who is a God of holiness and wrath and vengeance and righteousness...
This God is a God of grace and mercy and love.
>And that brings us to verse 60.
In Ezekiel 16:60, he says: "yet I will remember."
What had God said?
God had said, "You will not remember.
You will not remember the days of your youth.
You wonít remember...you wonít remember, but I will remember."
>"Bro. Joe, do you believe that old Baptist doctrine of Ďonce saved always savedí?"
I believe something better than that.
I believe the Bible doctrine of once saved always saved.
"Oh, Bro. Joe, donít you think itís possible to forget what God has done for you?"
But I want to tell you, he never forgets.
God does not forget.
God says, "I will remember."
Look at it.
"I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth."
But he says, "I will establish an everlasting covenant with you."
You see, Godís first covenant was a temporary one.
But God says, "Iím going to establish with you an everlasting covenant."
Folks, I want to tell you, thatís where Jesus comes in.
Iím not a part of a covenant with Abraham.
I donít care anything about Godís covenant with Noah.
Iím not interested in Godís covenant with David.
Folks, I want to tell you, Iím in covenant with God through the blood of Jesus.
It is a Jesus covenant.
It is an everlasting covenant.
It is a covenant of grace.
It is a covenant in which all of my sin is going to be washed away.
>Let me tell you what else.
Itís a covenant that satisfies the holiness of God.
Look there in verse 63: you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation.
You know what that means?
It means, friend, when Jesus is Lord all the shame is gone.
"Bro. Joe, have you ever done anything in your life you were ashamed of?"
Oh yes. Iíve done a lot of things in my life Iím ashamed of.
But I want to tell you, every bit of it has been washed away in the blood of Jesus.
All my sins are gone.
They are covered by the blood.
Iíve been forgiven.
Iíve been set free from all that.
Thereís no shame as I stand before God.
>Look what it says there: then when I make atonement for you for all you have done...
The KJV says "pacified", donít get mixed up.
Godís righteousness has been pacified not because I cried crocodile tears and said. "Iím sorry I misled you."
But itís because of what Jesus Christ has done.
Jesus Christ by the shedding of his blood...
Isaiah said it like this.
"But it pleased the Father to bruise him."
What does that mean, "it pleased the father?"
It means that when Jesus died his blood pacified the holiness of God.
Jesus is my atonement.
Yes...he is the atonement of God.
But on the basis of my having been atoned by the blood of Jesus, God is pacified.
Godís righteousness is satisfied.
>Israelís past...Israelís present...Israelís future.
The hope of Israel is Jesus Christ.
The hope of Israel is not their leader.
The hope of Israel is not the military.
The hope of Israel is Jesus Christ because Romans 11 says that when Jesus comes back...
When the fullness of the Gentiles will come in and Jesus comes back...
He says, "all Israel shall be saved."
Now that doesnít mean every Jew that has ever lived.
But it does mean that every Jew thatís alive.
And those Jews of the land of Israel are going to all turn to Christ when he comes at the end of the tribulation...
And they are going to be saved.
All Israel shall be saved.
Because God remembered and God promised an everlasting covenant.
>Are there two covenants?
Is there a Jewish way to heave and a Gentile way to heaven?
There are many who believe that.
There are many who believe that only Gentiles are lost, that Jews are already saved.
I tell you, friend, you better look in the book of Romans.
You better read the book of Romans before you tell a Jew that they are right with God.
You better read the book of Romans that says they have no hope.
You better read the book of Romans.
It says they are "all under sin."
It says that before God they are guilty and condemned.
You better not give anyone false assurance.
No one has any hope outside the person of Jesus Christ.
A Jew has to repent of his sin and put faith in Jesus to be saved.
And a Gentile has to repent of his sin and put faith in Jesus to be saved.
Because thatís the everlasting covenant.
Thatís the final covenant.
Thatís the covenant under which you and I meet God.