Today’s passage highlights two important things that we must all be aware of as we try to live life in the footsteps of Jesus. They are both related to the reality of our sinfulness. Firstly, it is foolish to look down piously on others we consider to be less worthy, because we are all sinners. Secondly, despite the forgiveness of our sins, won for us by Jesus on the cross, the consequences of our sins will always have to be borne. We have been forgiven and, as we beg forgiveness again in the future we will receive it, but the effects of sin do not disappear with our forgiveness. The Lord promises proper justice for the sins of Jerusalem, whom he is addressing in this passage, however, in his enormous grace, he also promises them forgiveness. But they will always feel the shame of their sins, and that is actually an essential part of repentance, for if you feel no shame, you feel no need of forgiveness or salvation.
Ezekiel 16:56-63 NLT
In your proud days you held Sodom in contempt. But now your greater wickedness has been exposed to all the world, and you are the one who is scorned—by Edom and all her neighbours and by Philistia. This is your punishment for all your lewdness and detestable sins, says the Lord. “Now this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will give you what you deserve, for you have taken your solemn vows lightly by breaking your covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember with shame all the evil you have done. I will make your sisters, Samaria and Sodom, to be your daughters, even though they are not part of our covenant. And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you of all that you have done. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
Jerusalem stands before The Lord, guilty of too much pride in it’s own righteousness, and of having hypocritically judged its neighbours, in particular the infamous city of Sodom. The punishment, in true old covenant style, seems to fit the crime very neatly – Jerusalem is now the one to suffer the scorn and derision of its neighbours. I think there is a parallel scripture from the New Testament, Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. (NLT) Another thing we can aspire to is simply to recognise our own sin, and in so doing, realise everyday our need for forgiveness. I am constantly striving to deserve my salvation, but I find I must try to remember that God has given us his salvation and our freedom by his own grace, because clearly, we can never be worthy enough by our own efforts.
Ezekiel 16:42-17:24, Hebrews 8:1-13, Psalms 106:13-31, Proverbs 27:7-9