Read This Week’s Passage: Ezekiel 16

Yahweh and Israel

At first glance, the Bible may seem like the perfect book for young children to read. Visit any children’s literature section and see the myriads of storybooks on creation, Noah, and the Christmas story. But Scripture paints a very real picture regarding these narratives that most children’s books dance around. The creation narrative gets awkward when we see that Adam and Eve were naked; hence children’s books have strategically stationed animals and plants just in the right places. Noah’s narrative unfortunately ends with a mysterious episode also involving nakedness; to what this nakedness refers has been debated. The Christmas story has in its background the innuendo of sexual scandal. In order words, the Bible tells it like it is, especially in the area of sexuality; how comfortable are we with it?

Why does the Bible do this? Why are there the narratives of Sodom and Gomorrah and the strange concluding chapters of Judges? How do we explain what a harlot is in the narratives of Rahab, Solomon, Judah, Samson, and even in the book of Revelation? In one way, sexuality is used as a motif to explain the depravity of humanity. It provides a backdrop of the evils that unfortunately exist and that God has to save us from. But in another manner, God uses human sexuality as a motif for His prophetic illustrations. Intimacy and pleasure connote an intense close relationship that, when betrayed, broken, or fragmented, results in the shattering of God’s heart.

The most romantic of relationships in Scripture is between Yahweh and Israel, the classic husband and wife couple found in both the Old and New Testaments. The only caveat in this relationship is that the female protagonist (that would be His people—us) struggles to remain faithful to the relationship. These dynamics are portrayed in the most vivid and graphic of narratives, especially in Hosea and Ezekiel 16. They are not gratuitous, but rather shockingly reveal the inner core of God: these nearly sensual accounts are not some form of erotic literature, but rather prophetic utterances of the most sobering kind.