TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 23-24
“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. They played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms handled. Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.”
Ezekiel 23 is all about God’s people seeking political alliances with the nations of this world. And, if you seek political alliances with other nations, you are also seeking military alliances with other nations. For, politics and militaries and wars go hand in hand. They are inseparable.
The two sisters in Ezekiel’s vision are the two kingdoms – Israel and Judah – that once made up the single kingdom Israel.
Oholah, the older sister, symbolized the kingdom of Israel. Ezekiel said she represented Samaria. Oholah means her tent or she who has a tent. The Hebrew root word of this name translated tent is most commonly translated tabernacle, as in the tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness. Indeed, Samaria had built its own temple to worship in.
Oholibah, the younger sister, symbolized the kingdom of Judah. Ezekiel said she represented Jerusalem. The name Oholibah has the same root word, tent or tabernacle, as Oholah at the base of its name. But, Oholibah means tent in her or my tent is in her. While Samaria built its own temple, Jerusalem had the temple of God within it.
Both of these sisters played the whore we Egypt. To play the whore in Egypt means that both sisters sought after the gods of Egypt and made idols of them. (See my post Rest, Don’t Work; Or, Don’t Whore After Other Gods.) When both sisters were in Egypt, they sought the gods of Egypt. We know this because even after Israel left Egypt the threatened to go back to Egypt because they believe life was better there.
Most know that Egypt is a type of the world. But, more specifically, I think Egypt is a symbol of our body. That both sisters whored after the gods of Egypt symbolizes the lust of the flesh.
After Israel leaves Egypt and enters the promised land, they are not satisfied with God as their king. This means they were not satisfied living in God’s kingdom. Instead, they wanted a king, and a kingdom, like all the other nations around. In 1 Samuel 8, God said this was a rejection of him. Even here, instead of first seeking the kingdom of God and its righteousness, Israel sought after, or played the whore with, gods and kingdoms of the other nations. And whenever Israel and its king was attacked by one of these other nations, we see them turn back to Egypt in a political/military alliance.
Interestingly, God told Israel exactly what having a king like the other nations would be like. And, as you read through what living under a king like the other nations would be like in 1 Samuel 8, you see that every thing the king would do to the people would be about raising up an army and providing for that army to either maintain or extend his kingdom.
Is it any different today?
Is not the greatest part of many countries’ resources spent on their military to maintain their power?
Most certainly it is in the U.S.
So, Oholah, the older sister, Samari, she who has a tent, played the whore with Assyria just like she did with Egypt. Ezekiel says, “She did not give up her whoring that she had begun in Egypt.”
What did Samaria whore after with Assyria?
- “warriors clothed in purple”
- “governors and commanders”
- “desirable young men”
- “horsemen riding on horses”
- “the choicest men of Assyria”
All of these things that Oholah, Samaria, whored after have to do with political and military power.
While Egypt can be thought of as the body, Assyria can be thought of as the mind. Samaria’s whoring after the gods and political/military power of Assyria can be thought of as the lust of the eyes (the eyes are the gateway to the mind).
What was the result for Samaria of whoring after the political and military power of Assyria?
“These uncovered her nakedness, they seized her sons and her daughters; and as for her, they killed her with the sword; and she became a byword among women, when judgment had been executed on her.”
As Jesus said in Matthew 26:52, “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
And, Revelation 13:10, to those who have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, in other words taken on the character of Jesus and his kingdom, John writes, “If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword he must be slain.”
Now, Oholibah, the younger sister, Jerusalem, became even more corrupt. She saw how Oholah, the older sister, whored after the political and military power of Assyria. Oholibah should have known to stay away from these gods. But, Oholibah became “even more corrupt than her sister in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister.”
The meaning of Oholibah’s name reveals why her whoring after Assyria was even worse than Oholah’s. While Samaria had a tabernacle, Jerusalem had God’s tabernacle, his dwelling place, within her. Oholibah, Jerusalem, had a greater revelation of God than her sister and still whored after the political and military power of Assyria.
Like her sister, Oholibah whored after:
- “governors and commanders”
- “warriors clothed in full armor”
- “horsemen riding on horses”
- “all of them desirable young men”
Oholibah was consumed by the lust of her eyes and the lust of her flesh like her sister.
However, as Ezekiel says, “But she carried her whoring further.” Oholibah, Jerusalem, whored after Babylon Of course, Babylon represents the epitome of the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of Satan. If there is a defining characteristic of Babylon and Satan’s kingdom it would be pride. So, Oholibah, Jerusalem, had “all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life.” (1 John 2:16)
Oholibah’s whoring after Babylon and its gods, its political and military power, was just as gross and disgusting as it was in Egypt. And, to show just how gross and disgusting it was Ezekiel said, “Yes she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses.” Of course, these are euphemisms for Jerusalem’s lust for political and military power being like lusting after the penises of donkeys and the seminal emissions of horses.
You can read through the consequences for Oholibah, Jerusalem of her lusting after all the political and military power of this world and see that they were worse than those of her older sister.
Again, as Jesus said, if you live by the sword, then you will die by the sword.
We must always remember Jesus’ answer to Pilate when Pilate asked Jesus why his own nation and their leaders would have hand Jesus over to the Roman empire. In John 18:36, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
From Egypt to Assyria to Babylon, God’s people have always lusted after the political and military power of the kingdoms of this world. But, Jesus says that his kingdom, God’s kingdom is not at all like the kingdoms of this world. In fact, Jesus’ kingdom is not even of this world.
Therefore, whatever we see all the kingdoms of this world doing, we should know that God’s kingdom is not like that. Every kingdom of this world has a ruling hierarchy, an army to protect its border, its right to ruler, to provide for its elite, and to ensure its protection. Since every kingdom of the world does this, then we know this has nothing to do with God’s kingdom. And, based on Jesus’ own words, if we try to have a kingdom like, if we participate in a kingdom like that, one that rules by politics and military power with the sword, then that is exactly how we will die.
Of course, this is exactly what happened to Israel in 70 AD. And, if you study the history of how Israel was reformed in the aftermath of World War 2, then you will see that Israel hasn’t change in its lust for the political and military power of this world.
This should be a stern warning for the church.
For, Oholah and Oholibah can be seen as symbols of Judaism and Christianity, the Jews and the church. Both are sisters of the same mother, daughters of one mother. The church saw what happened to the older sister who had a temple, an external temple like Oholah and Samaria. However, like Oholibah, the younger sister, the church is the temple of God and has God dwelling inside her.
But, have we learned the lesson of not seeking political and military power after seeing what happened to our older sister?
I would argue not.
For, I have been in churches, and see it happen all the time, where political leaders, rulers and parties are worshiped. I have seen the military paraded in front of the church to be worshipped. I have seen all stand at the military fight songs. I have seen nationalism and patriotism taken to a fever pitch. All in a church service
If you think Christians can’t be Democrats or Republicans, then you are worshipping political parties.
If you think one side’s leaders are more evil and corrupt than the other, then you are worshiping those political leaders. And, as in in 1 Samuel 8, you have rejected God as king.
If you continually praise the military, military service, and those that “served” for you or “died for your freedom”, then you are worshiping the military. You are whoring after other gods. Only Jesus is God’s servant. Only Jesus died for you and your freedom. Those whom the son sets free are free indeed, Further, Jesus expressly said that his kingdom does not fight. If you are worshiping fighting, then have you thrown your full allegiance into God’s kingdom?
We need to listen to the words of Jesus about his kingdom. We need to take those words seriously. Ezekiel, even the whole Bible, gives us a grave warning about what happens when we disregard the words of Jesus about whoring after political and military power.
“My kingdom is not of this world.”
“If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”
“For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
All the words of Jesus. Listen to him.