Rest, Don’t Work; Or, Don’t Whore after Other Gods

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 16-17

“But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his.” – Ezekiel 16:15

The Hebrew root word for whore is zanah. Zanah means to commit fornication, be unfaithful; to abandon someone to fornication. Words derived from zanah mean prostitution, harlotry and fornication. While this is the literal meaning of zanah, it seems to be that zanah is almost always used in the context of whoring after other gods.

Israel was considered God’s bride. Therefore, when they whored after other gods, it was as if Israel was committing fornication or adultery against God.

Although not necessarily the case in Ezekiel 16, presumably Israel, at least at some point, whored after other gods for what the other gods could potentially give them. But, these other gods require you to work for what you can get from them.

This reminds me of Adam of Eve. God had provided them everything that was good. God had even given them access to his life. Yet, they chose to go after another god. They failed to believe in God’s good provision and sought what they desired from another. They played the whore.

This also reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34. He said we are anxious for our life, what we will eat, drink, and wear. But, Jesus told us to look at the creation and see how God provided for what he created. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and you heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

The implication here is that the Gentiles were seeking after what they should eat, drink, and wear. In their anxiety, the Gentiles sought this from other gods. And to get these things from their gods, the Gentiles had to work for them. But, Jesus told those listening to him to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Don’t whore after gods for what you need. Seek the kingdom of God, and God will give you everything you need for life.

Jesus spoke to this another way in John 6:28-29. “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'”

Today, I think we have taken this to mean that God simply wants to have an intellectual belief in God and that doing any work is wrong. But, we must remember that Adam worked in the garden before sin. It was only after Adam sin, after he whored after another god, that his work became toil and striving, seeking the things he needed for life.

God wants us to work. But, the works are believing in God when the works are rooted in a trust that God will provide and produce the everything necessary for life. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And, Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

So, we are not to whore after other gods, seeking what is necessary for life. That work is toil and striving. But, we are to work believing that God has provided everything we need. He is in control of the outcome. That work is rest.

Besides what we have seen so far in Ezekiel 16 and the words of Jesus, the book of Ezekiel provides further confirmation of whoring after other gods being a striving work instead of seeking the kingdom and doing a restful work by trusting in the Lord.

The Hebrew root word for whoring is found 38 times in the book of Ezekiel. The number 38 symbolizes work or labor in the Bible. The 38th time the word Elohim is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 2:7, which says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” This was the completion of God’s most masterful work.

As we move through the lives of the patriarchs, the 38th mention of their names is often associated with work in some form. Further, Israel wandered in the wilderness for 38 years as they tried to work their way to God. Yet, the promised land was a type of the rest we receive from Jesus. Israel’s work ended after 38 years. We see something similar in the man who was lame for 38 years and was healed by Jesus in John 5.

So, 38 can be a period of striving work that at last becomes rest.

This is exactly what we see the 38th time whoring is mentioned in the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel 43:7-9 says, “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their whorings [the 38th mention] and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.”

This was said speaking from the temple, which was a place of rest. The 38th mention of whorings by Ezekiel said they will be put away, the striving work will end, and God will dwell in the midst of the people forever. There will be rest.

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