I dressed you in my splendour and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord. “But you thought y our fame and beauty were your own. (Ezekiel 16:14-15)


Today’s passage is addressed to the beautiful young virgin Jerusalem that The Lord rescued from filth and destitution and made his bride. The Lord cared for his bride, and beautified her with every good thing until she appeared like a queen. I cannot help but draw a parallel between the Jerusalem referred to here and the rich splendour and power that the medieval Church found itself blessed with. I say the church was ‘blessed’ only in the sense that it was rich beyond imagination. Sadly for Christians today, the medieval church was corrupted by its own sense of power and self importance. Verses 15-16 of the passage below seem to be a particularly accurate summary of the state of play in the church prior to the Reformation. But despite the Protestant Reformation, in the eyes of those who oppose the Church and God in general, the whole worldwide Church still carries the shame of having been unfaithful to her husband, our Lord Jesus.


Ezekiel 16:9-16 NLT

“Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather. I gave you lovely jewellery, bracelets, beautiful necklaces, a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. And so you were adorned with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods—choice flour, honey, and olive oil—and became more beautiful than ever. You looked like a queen, and so you were! Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendour and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord. “But you thought your fame and beauty were your own. So you gave yourself as a prostitute to every man who came along. Your beauty was theirs for the asking. You used the lovely things I gave you to make shrines for idols, where you played the prostitute. Unbelievable! How could such a thing ever happen?


It is terribly easy to blame large organisations like the Church or a whole city, for wanton corruption or our perception of their gross abuses of power and privilege. It is not so easy however, to own up to our own individual faults and failings, our lies and self-centred manoeuvrings, our sins. The language seems strong in the final verse. The Lord calls his bride a prostitute. But how many infidelities does it take before you can be called a prostitute? Does there have to be a financial transaction? The Lord is clear. There can be no unfaithfulness, only a pure faith. My goal is to confess my sins and look at how pure my faith really is. I hope and pray that The Lord will forgive my infidelities again.

Today’s readings:

Ezekiel 14:12-16:41, Hebrews 7:18-28, Psalms 106:1-12, Proverbs 27:4-6


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