An Allegory of Faithfulness

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B_Rachel

It is a tale of grief and restoration, tragedy and redemption. And it is a tale of warning. It is a precious passage of scripture tucked away between woe, condemnation, despair, sacrificing children and graphic imagery of donkeys’ sexual organs. When was the last time you lingered over Ezekiel 16?

It is an allegory of God’s unwavering faithfulness to unfaithful Jerusalem, whose people prostituted themselves to false gods. It is also a tale of beauty hidden and revealed, beauty esteemed and abused.

The story opens with a birth. A baby born to foreigners, unwelcome, uncared for, unwashed. No one pities the baby, no one feeds it or clothes it. The baby is neglected, thrown into an open field and despised.

Abandoned. 

Unclean.

Naked. 

Rejected. 

Unwanted. 

Unloved.

But God.

Someone walks by and sees the baby kicking about in its blood. He says, “Live.” He feeds and clothes and watches the baby. She grows into a girl, then a young woman, until eventually she is ready for love. He covers her and makes an oath with her. He adorns her with jewels, costly garments, leather sandals, gold. He feeds her luxuriously sweetened foods.

“And her fame spread among the nations on account of her beauty, because the splendor he had given her made her beauty perfect.”

Created.

Seen.

Restored.

Dignified.

Chosen.

Washed.

Decorated.

Celebrated.

Known.

Elevated.

But humans.

She trusts in her beauty. The woman uses her fame to become a prostitute, lavishing her favors on any and every passerby. She uses the clothing to make gaudy whorehouses, her fine jewelry she fashions into idols and she offers her delicious food as sacrifices to these handmade images. She takes her own children and sacrifices them.

She doesn’t remember when she was naked and bare, she has forgotten that she was found, chosen, loved.

She falls into the hands of wicked men who abuse her and shame her. Violence becomes her new story.

The man who covered her turns away from her, for a time. But he does not forget the covenant he made, his oath that bound him to her, and her to him. She turns away from her sin, back to the one who had saved her before and he receives her again. He once again, washes her, restores her and dignifies her. He bestows his splendor on her so that again, she is beautiful.

Her problem, one among many, was that she thought the beauty was her own. She somehow came to believe that she deserved the fame that fell on her. She trusted in herself, not in the One who had given the splendor to her. She looked at her beauty instead of looking at the One who had bestowed it. She laid claim to her fame instead of laying claim to the One who ordained it.

Sisters, we are beautiful. Not because we have done anything to earn it. Because of the one who saw us laying in the open field, unchosen and unloved. 

Because He saw us and claimed us and said, “I will give you my own splendor.”

____________________

Image credit: Quinn Dombrowski

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Rachel Pieh Jones
Rachel Pieh Jones has written for the New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, EthnoTraveler, the Desiring God blog, and Skirt. She lives, writes, and runs in Djibouti with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.djiboutijones.com.
Rachel Pieh Jones
Rachel Pieh Jones

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