13 August 2010

Ezekiel 16:1-15, 59-63

"Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant." (v.60)


You can't say that Ezekiel doesn't use vivid imagery to get his message over. Foetal blood, the nude in puberty - almost voyeuristic, pornographic - and lavish adorning of the female body, fit to be a queen. Through such imagery Ezekiel is trying to illustrate the feeling of the Lord God who is saying, "Look at what I have done for you and look what you have done in return. Sold that beautiful body into prostitution."

Jerusalem is likened to a newborn child, abandoned on the street. Hundreds of years earlier, the people of Israel came across this city of the Jebusites and, through the Lord's servant David, conquered it and made it their own. It became the holy city of Israel with the very presence of the Lord residing in its Temple. Now, says God, look what you have done to it.

And yet, I won't give up on you, says the Lord God. I will keep my covenant. I will still care for you as much as I did when I first found you. You will pay for breaking your side of the covenant but I will never break mine. That is how you will know that I am the holy Lord God.

There are times when images of children in distress caused by famine, warfare and disease draw enormous responses in charitable giving. In Ezekiel's vision of the lost and found baby, the Lord God reminds the people of Israel of the life-giving care that will always be available - no matter what the circumstances, no matter how much it is misused. This open ended, no strings attached charity is the way the Lord God wants us to deal with the plight of millions of under-privileged children in the world today.

To Ponder

When, if ever, is it appropriate to use images of children to get a message across?

What has been your response to the news reports showing children dying of malnutrition and disease? What practical steps can you and your church take to ease their plight?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr John CA Emmett

John worked as a research physicist in the nuclear power industry before ordination and circuit appointments in Swindon and Bath. He is currently director of programmes and research at Wesley College, Bristol.