The story of Oholah and Oholibah was never covered Sunday School. It is so graphic! As if chapter sixteen wasn’t clear enough, the LORD gives Ezekiel a further allegorical story of the sisterhood between Samaria and Jerusalem, chiefly concerning their wildly adulterous idolatry.
The anger of the LORD is palpable in this book. Ezekiel isn’t talked about much, and maybe for these reasons. The LORD is very upset. I’m reminded of chapter 4 when the LORD tells Ezekiel to cook over human excrement and he’s like, Please God, no! That was the pace being set, right there.
Ezekiel takes place during the various deportations. He is among the first deportees, and it is in Babylon that he sees the glory of the LORD. This glory, is supposed to be in Jerusalem, but, as you can remember, He tells Ezekiel why He had to leave, and show’s him the exit in chapter 10. Ezekiel’s word to his fellow man isn’t that Jerusalem will endure, but that it will fall. This is eventually announced in Ezekiel 33.
I felt it important, today, to re-orientate myself with the timeline. For whatever reason, the poetic has always been a bit much for me, and I’m always looking for somewhere to anchor myself. Thankfully, chapter 24 begins with a huge indicator:
“Son of man, write the name of the day, this very day. The king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day.” (24:2)
It is repeatedly mentioned in other exile-time prophets, like Jeremiah, that the people going into exile were the ones (like Ezekiel, Daniel, etc.) who still had a shred of righteousness in tact. These are among the ones Ezekiel is performing the signs and telling the allegories. Their hope, and pride and joy is still anchored in Jerusalem and it’s temple, but it’s about to be taken from them, and they are not to mourn.
Ezekiel has seen the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD and it has arrived to them in exile. It is no longer in the place they cherished it. This would be a hard thing to understand and accept. I think of Daniel, during the time of Darius the Mede, who still prayed facing Jerusalem (Daniel 6:10) long after it’s fall. That was what Solomon had instructed them to do during the temple’s dedication.
What is something you cherish because it is so tightly associated to the LORD in your mind? What would happen if you lost that thing? I don’t think this kind of affection is bad (as long as it’s not outright idolatry, of course). It’s important to always remember where exactly to plant our feet, and where to place our hope. What is your ‘Jerusalem?’