Who can declare all your praise?
(adapted from Psalm 106:2)
Jerusalem has been an adulterous wife, as had her sister Samaria and Sodom. [Tangent: Note the sins that Sodom committed: not the ones we usually think of; Ezekiel refers to their failure to share with the poor and needy.] They will be subjected to a penalty, but the Lord will forgive all that they have done.
Jacqueline E. Lapsley, in the Women's Bible Commentary, discusses the feminization of Judah/Israel, a metaphor that would be shaming to the readers (presumed to be male), but would have resonated with their situation as "emasculated warriors."
[T]his offensive language was meant to be offensive...for a reason: to shock them into realizing the gravity of their own situation; to convince them that they had hit rock bottom, and that only YHWH could save them.We continue in our own time although in less dire situations to see this metaphor used to shock and stir; e.g., athletic coaches addressing their teams as "ladies" or "girls."
Chapter 17 has a more favorable metaphor for Israel, a vine. The Lord will plant a vine that will produce boughs that will bear fruit and shelter nests. The Lord can knock down high trees and make low trees high, can dry up green trees and make dry trees flourish.
Note the quotes from the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
Verses 19-23 recount a specific sin. During that forty-year exodus, they made a graven image to substitute for God, whom they had forgotten. God said he would destroy them, but Moses intervened.
How do we forget God? What do we substitute for God in our attention, our loyalty, our trust? What do we expect God to do when we turn to other sources of protection and guidance? Who intervenes for us?
Then, turn all those questions to be about people around you who have not been showing that much loyalty to God? Does it occur to us to intervene on their behalf by asking God's forgiveness for them?
The sated appetite spurns honey,
but to a ravenous appetite even the bitter is sweet.
Like a bird that strays from its nest
is one who strays from home.
Perfume and incense make the heart glad,
but the soul is torn by trouble.
Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, we acknowledge that we have not always carried out your will. Forgive us now. Turn our attention, our loyalty, our trust away from false substitutes. Encourage our growth. Amen.