Fairy-Tale Gone Awry

Bible Reading: Ezekiel 15; 16; 17; 18 - Listen

In a rather bizarre portrayal of God's relationship with Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16), God tells of an unwanted infant who is so despised and hated on the day of her birth that she is thrown, naked and dirty, into an open field and left to die. The Prince of Peace passes by and, seeing the abandoned infant kicking in her own blood, says to her, "Live!" (16:6). He makes her "grow like a plant of the field" (16:7). Years later, the Prince passes by again and sees that the girl has matured into a young woman "old enough for love" (16:8). Though she is filthy and uncultured, he chooses her to be his bride. Promising his love, he cleans her up and lavishes her with exquisite clothes, elegant jewels and the finest food. Her touching Cinderella story causes her fame to spread quickly throughout the land. But her beauty soon goes to her head and, despite the love of a doting husband, she flaunts her favors to every man who comes along, turning into a common whore with an insatiable appetite for sex. After years of shameless immorality, the consequences of her lifestyle finally catch up to her. Her lovers eventually all turn against her until, in an angry mob, they violently strip her of her jewels and clothes, and burn her houses down. Raped and beaten, she is left, once again, lying naked and exposed in a puddle of blood. Her prince passes by, as in her youth, and tenderly picks up her battered body and brings her home. No longer angry, he remembers and renews his marriage vows to her. Though she must deal with the shame of what she has done, her husband forgives her for everything and restores her as the queen.

This sounds like a strange fairy-tale gone awry, but it illustrates the truth of how God loved the people of Jerusalem and how they lived as though he didn't.

God loves us in our most unlovable condition. When we have been despised, rejected and abandoned by everyone else, God rescues us in our helplessness and lavishes his love and care on us. When the deep wounds of our heart cause us to reject and destroy any genuine love we might receive, God patiently demonstrates what genuine love is. When we trust in beauty, fame, money, addictions, or any other thing to fill that empty place inside, he patiently waits for us to discover the true satisfaction of knowing him. When we blindly chase after the very things that will eventually destroy us, he urgently warns us of the consequences. When we've broken every promise we've ever made to him, he renews his promise to us. When we grieve over sins we can't even talk about, he forgives. When our life falls apart, he helps us pick up the broken pieces and start over.

To every victim of neglect or abuse who wishes she were dead, Jesus passes by and says, "Live!" To every vagabond covered in filth and dressed in rags, Jesus says, "Be mine." To every outsider who feels unwanted and unloved, Jesus says, "I'm here. Let me love you." To every addict shackled in the chains of self-destructive behavior, Jesus says, "I died to make you free." To every sinner left ruined and hopeless, Jesus passes by and says, "Come home."

Your Prince of Peace is passing by. What do you hear him say?