Ezekiel 23 starts with the prophet saying, “The word of the LORD came to me, ‘Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. They played the whore in Egypt …’”. A graphic parable unfolds of the nation after it struggled to unlearn the decadence of life in Egypt. The two women, Oholah and Oholibah, represent the two nations which the Israelites divided into after the reigns of David and Solomon and Temple was built.
This parable, judging by the start of the next chapter, was given to Ezekiel less than two years before Jerusalem fell and the Temple was destroyed and nearly all the remainder of the people were taken into captivity. What would the people make of it? Ezekiel wrote his message and presumably it was circulated. It is a blunt portrayal of the unfaithfulness to the true God that had come to exist – and was enjoyed!
The meaning of the parable is plainly stated; “thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring …” (verse 35). Ezekiel is told to “declare to them their abominations” (verse 36). We wonder how the people reacted.
We see a close comparison with attitudes today, and how God’s word is ignored. Some of God’s words in this chapter are apposite for today, “the sound of a carefree multitude” (verse 42). They are told God’s actions will, “… make them an object of terror and a plunder … Thus will I put an end to lewdness … and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and you shall know that I am the Lord GOD” (verse 46,49).
One day our world shall know that there is a God, for it abounds with parallels to the godless behaviour in Ezekiel’s time. Jesus draws a parallel lesson in today’s chapter of Luke. Jesus is “the stone that the builders rejected” but ‘has become the cornerstone’” (20:17).
Let us make Jesus the cornerstone of our life. This reminds us of the vision in Daniel, when a stone (representing Jesus) strikes the image of human kingdoms on the feet, destroying them all to create God’s kingdom, “and it shall stand for ever” (2:31-44). May we so live now that, by his grace, we will be there.