Here we find the prophet comparing Jerusalem before the fall to her two "sisters", Samaria and Sodom. For those confused on terminology, Samaria is the northern Kingdom of Israel, which fell before Judah (Jerusalem) did. Sodom I'm sure you're acquainted with, though maybe not as well as you should be. And as you read Ezekiel, he points out what Sodom's sin was- and we'll come back to that. But what was Samaria's? That you have to know a little Bible history.
When Jeroboam split from Judah, he had the problem of an ostensibly religious kingdom now cut off from their place of worship. So he set up two symbolic golden calves, one in the land of the tribe of Dan, one in the land of Ephraim. Now, the tribes' list traditionally removes Levi (as they had no land of their own) and splits Joseph into the tribes of his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. But in Revelation 7, you see that Dan and Ephraim have been removed from the tribe list for this sin, replaced with Levi and Joseph. The sin being, they set out to do their thing, rather than God's thing, and slowly (maybe not so slowly) drifted into Idolatry. Whatever the original intention, once they moved out of God's will, they lost it.
Sodom, though, everybody says, "Well, they were homosexual." But the sin Ezekiel reveals in 16 has little to do with that:
Eze 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and her daughters. Also, she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
Eze 16:50 Also, they were haughty and did abomination before My face, so I turned them away as I saw fit.
You see, Sodom was in a RICH land, so rich it was compared with both the Garden of Eden and Egypt (Gen 13:10). Pulling this verse apart further, there are three different words in the OT translated as "idleness"- one is out and out laziness, one is neglectfulness. This one, though, is akin to "repose"- they just kind of laid around in a leisure fashion, like you'd expect the rich to do. Not surprising then, even as wealthy as they were, that Abraham had to pull their fat out of the fire when Chedorlaomer and his buddies mopped them up in Gen. 14. But the third sin is really fascinating- they didn't "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy". If you research the words here, you literally get they didn't "enclose the open hand" of the humble and downtrodden. Didn't take the hand of the poor in spirit in their own.
And their disrespect of others was reflected in their v.50 sin against God- sinning openly, impudently, not caring whether God noticed or not.
Now there are a LOT of ways that I can point out that Sodom here, Sodom (also compared to Egypt, BTW) in Revelation 7, and the ship Tyre in Ezekiel and Babylon the Great in Revelation point right at something very much like our United States, but that isn't my point today.
Instead, I urge you to read farther down Ezekiel 16. Three points come out in the remainder of the chapter which are on my mind today.
First of all, Judah is told that its sins are worse because they justify what Samaria and Sodom did (v 52). They declare it clean.
Second, and perhaps the biggest personal point, comes from verse 56:
Eze 16:56 And thy sister Sodom hath not been for a report in thy mouth, In the day of thine arrogancy...
This was the closest to the way my Bible put it. Basically, Sodom and her sins should have been a proverbial saying among them, something they should have been able to mock.
In other words, THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.
They should have looked at what happened to Samaria and Sodom and learned from it. Instead, they went joyfully on with the sin, made worse by the examples set for them.
Which brings us to the third part, at the very end of the chapter. In his description of the day of Israel's salvation, they aren't going to get away without remembering their past:
Eze 16:60 But I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will raise up to you an everlasting covenant.
Eze 16:61 Then you shall remember your ways and be ashamed, when you shall receive your sisters, the older than you to the younger than you, and I will give them to you for daughters, but not by your covenant.
Eze 16:62 And I, even I, will raise up My covenant with you. And you shall know that I am Jehovah,
Eze 16:63 so that you may remember and be ashamed. And you will not any more open your mouth, because of your humiliation, when I am propitiated for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord Jehovah.
Okay, let me unpack that. Israel is going to be the people of the Kingdom of Christ, we know that. Other people will be under them- including counterparts of Sodom and Samaria, not as sisters/equals anymore, but as daughters, to be guided and led. But, the rub is, Israel is going to know that they were no better, were in fact worse than those now in their charge, and are going to feel a deep, mouth-shutting humiliation over it. The thing that will keep them humble is looking at these daughters that they once scorned, knowing that their past sins were far worse, because they should have known better.
So, to why the Sunday message has been quiet, I let God judge. Have I "made clean" my own sins? Have I been impudent in them before the Lord? We all have our "pet sin", that we give ourselves permission to commit, as if God needs to make a concession to us for all the good we do. Where are you, where am I, with that pet sin? Are we Samaria, starting out with good intent and ending with ashen rationalizations? Are we Sodom, impudently doing the pet sin, and "God can't stop me"?
Or are we just Jerusalem, knowing better, awaiting the day God removes our opportunity to speak for Him? Hopefully, I still have time to speak.