My morning routine includes curling up in my pajamas with a blanket, a cup of hot coffee, and my Bible and paging through passages until I find something that inspires me or catches my attention. Yesterday my thoughts were snagged by verses in Ezekiel. I know I’ve read them before, but they never jumped out at me like they did yesterday. I’ve loved the prophets for years, finding gems hidden in them that make me want to laugh with glee… My friend told me once that she didn’t exactly understand this, but who can not love verses like these in Habakkuk, for instance?
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The prophets are so real to me—they are poetry, and they reflect all the pathos and struggle and pain of life here on this sin-cursed earth. But hope shines through—the love of God glimmering and pulling my eyes upward and to a Savior who isn’t seen but is coming all the same. In those dark years when Israel lay in ruin, it was probably hard to believe the Messiah was coming. Now we look back and see that He was coming, and He did come, and we can believe that He’s coming again.
The verses that caught my attention were the following:
“As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you…
And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful…
When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God...
“I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk… You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord God.
“But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it. You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourself, and played the harlot on them…
Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire? And in all your abominations and acts of harlotry you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, struggling in your blood…
I will judge you as women who break wedlock or shed blood are judged; I will bring blood upon you in fury and jealousy…
Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you… Then you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,” says the Lord God.
Always the hope comes through in the prophets. Always with the judgement and the bare truth comes the promise that God will save us… Nothing we do is effective, and none of us have chosen to do right, but God will provide an atonement.
The beginning of this passage made me stop, because the sheer beauty of it made me gasp. I’m a nurse, though, and sometimes I see beauty where other people say, “Ew, gross!”
I can picture it, the baby nobody wanted and the baby that was tossed out without any of the standard care given to newborns. I’ve seen babies when they first come out of the womb, and they are small and helpless and covered in mucus and blood. Sometimes they cannot breathe on their own and the pediatrician needs to give them a little help until they have the strength to draw life-giving air into their lungs.
Sometimes I have watched a new-born baby, one too weak to bathe and swaddle and give to its mother and thought–“Live! Breathe!” I’ve seen the babies from questionable home situations where you wondered if any eye would pity them, and I’ve prayed that God would speak life over them.
I see God’s compassion for the weak and the helpless. I see him watching over them, over me before I even knew it, and speaking words of life to sustain us, to sustain me.
In this passage, God is everything. He is the Giver of life, the One who makes us flourish. He covers us with the shadow of His wing in the role of Protector. He clothes us with His glory and enters into a covenant relationship with us… He is Husband, Friend, Lover.
Oh, the heartbreak that when we were perfect in His glory we would despise His love and commit adultery! He was everything, but we turned away from the One who gave us the very breath we breathe. He exposes us and judges us and no chastening for the present seems pleasant, but He is Father as well as Husband. He punishes us to show us how much we need Him.
And then He dies on a cross to provide an atonement, an everlasting covenant. He promises us that He can and will provide redemption. We again enter into a relationship with Him, made pure again through His blood, scarred but beautiful—chastened, redeemed.
This is the most beautiful love story I have ever read, so much better, so much stronger, so much purer and honest than any Grace Livingston Hill book that makes you roll your eyes and say that obviously there aren’t any people like the main characters, because nobody could resemble God like that.
Nobody could resemble God like that except Jesus. He, unlike any mere man, is everything to us. He sees and hears, and His compassion never fails. This is not just a love story—this is my love story and your love story.
This is what we are celebrating this Christmas season. An everlasting covenant. Love.
The following lyrics are from a Casting Crowns song called “Wedding Day”.
…She has danced in
And she has crawled through beggar’s dust
But today she stands before Him
And she wears His righteousness
And she will be who He adores
And this is what He made her for
When Someone dries your tears
When Someone wins your heart
And says you’re beautiful
When you don’t know you are
And all you’ve longed to see
Is written on His face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day…
Oh to live in His love, covered with His grace, and hear Him say on that wedding day, “Your beauty… is perfect through My splendor which I [have] bestowed on you…” Nothing here should be able to distract me from the amazing hope of that moment, and nothing here can separate me from a love like that.