Ezekiel 16:9-14 (NKJV)
9 “Then I [the Lord] washed you [O Israel] in water … and I anointed you with oil. 10 I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. 12 And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. 14 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.
The passage before us today describes the significance of God’s redemption of Israel. Though he found her helpless and unclean, He rescued her, protected her, drew her to Himself, washed her, and decked her with beauty. Following the Exodus from Egypt, He gradually raised Israel up to glory. He brought her through the period of the Judges; He gave her the Davidic and Solomonic ages; He gave her wealth, splendor, beauty – for she was His beloved, His bride.
A couple weeks ago we remarked that one of the lessons we as the people of God learn from the young women in our midst is the manner in which we are to long for the wedding day – the day when Christ shall return in glory to be admired among His saints. Today we learn a related lesson. For it is as a girl is transformed by God into a woman that her beauty begins to shine – and this beauty, God tells us today, is something He put there to teach us about the Church.
While the typical spectacle presented before our eyes in the animal kingdom is that the male species is endowed with color and beauty and awe, in humanity it is the beauty of the female that is routinely praised in Scripture. Men are strong; men are courageous; men are wise. But women are beauteous and fair. And this beauty that young women begin to manifest serves to picture for us what God is doing with His bride, the Church.
After all, the picture of God’s work among Israel is reframed by the apostle Paul in his admonition to the Ephesians, an admonition we have already considered. The Lord Jesus is sanctifying and purifying His bride, the Church, intending gradually to raise her up to greatness and glory – why? “that he might present her to Himself a glorious [radiant, beautiful] church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” In other words, the beauty which young women possess and which they endeavor to accentuate with perfumes, jewelry, special diet, and clothes is to remind us of the beauty of the Church for which we are to be laboring.
As we have seen in the book of Nehemiah, our calling as the people of God is to remove the reproach of Jerusalem, to make her more lovely and glorious, beautiful, as a bride adorned for her husband. Reminded that we have failed to do so, let us kneel and let us confess our sins to God.