God spoke a parable about “two women” to further reveal the deplorable condition of both Samaria and Jerusalem. “They played the whore” from the beginning of Israel’s many years under Egyptian domination, and they continued in their unfaithfulness during the numerous centuries since they had entered the Promised Land.
In Ezekiel’s parable the Lord called Samaria and the northern tribes “Oholah” which means “her tent.” Jerusalem and the tribe of Judah had the name “Oholibah” or “my tent is in her.” The Hebrew word for “tent” is most frequently used in the Old Testament to refer to the tabernacle that God commanded Moses to construct as a place where they could have communion with Him according to His Law. The rulers of northern Israel had never followed the Lord’s command that they should bring their sacrifices only to the place that He chose in Jerusalem. Oholah had “her tent” in many places in the north, but none of them were ever approved by the Almighty. While the Lord had His authorized place of meeting in His chosen city, the people of Jerusalem worshiped other gods using all the sacred gifts that Jehovah had given to them. Like her sister to the north, “she lusted after the Assyrians” and then later sought out the Babylonians as “her lovers.”
Impressive imperial powers had often captured the admiration of the Lord’s chosen people. Kings in the line of David not only sought to win the favor of these large empires (see 2 Kings 20:12-19), they also were attracted to many foreign religious systems. God’s account of this spiritual disaster highlighted the violence and the filth of these dangerous pagan cults. Because Judah loved what the Lord prohibited, Jehovah declared to His people, “I will direct my jealousy against you.” God would force His children to “drink a cup of horror and desolation.”
The Lord had called His people to a life of holiness. In particular, they were to regard His tabernacle (and later His temple) as a most holy place where He alone would meet with those who would worship Him. Yet both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern territory of Judah had defiled the Promised Land. How vile were their practices? “When they had slaughtered their children in sacrifice to their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it.”
How would the Lord’s worshipers ever be cleansed from all their guilt? Jesus, the Son of God, would have to dwell in our midst with His own singular blessedness. According to John 1:14, our Redeemer “tented” among us. When His flesh was pierced for our transgressions, a “curtain” that stood between God and His elect was torn, granting us a new way of safe access to our glorious God. Through the blood of Christ our evil consciences have now been cleansed (Hebrews 10:19-25), for our Redeemer has made a full atonement for all our uncleanness. We are no better than Oholah and Oholibah according to our sin nature, but by the blood of the Lamb of God we will forever be the temple of the Holy Spirit and the spotless bride of the King of Heaven.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
O God, we have heard the Word that You have spoken. For generations Your people have ignored the true call to holiness. We lust after the world and display no spiritual wisdom. We have touched things that should be far from us, and have followed enticing adulteries. What possible godly reason could we have for our defiling affections? We are too easily impressed with the example of the world. We want what the powers of this evil age seem to offer, and we have little appreciation for the cross of Christ. Your Son will surely lead us out of our current disgrace. We turn away from the worldliness that is attacking Your church. Move us forward in the love of Christ. We thank You for Your abundant mercy and Your Son’s amazing grace.