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A Story of Redemption
We want to bring before you the natural inheritance of all men; that is, we want to discuss what we were by nature, before grace found us.
1. We were sinners by nature. "In sin did my mother conceive me," is still true. Indeed, the words describe every son born of the Adamic race. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. There is no use to cavil about it. All are sinners by nature. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing."
2. We were children of wrath. This is true for the simple reason that "The wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Dare any of us think that we shall escape the judgment of God? If all have sinned, then all are under wrath, and there is no difference.
3. We were sons of disobedience. We are not only sinners by nature, but we are sinners by act. We have turned every one to his own way. We have together become unprofitable. There is none righteous, no, not one. There is not a righteous man upon the earth that doeth good and sinneth not.
4. We are guilty before God and without excuse. Men may be ever seeking to excuse their sin; but they are, in fact, inexcusable. They may seek to hide themselves away from God, but that is sheer folly, God has said, "That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."
5. We were under condemnation. Over the head of every sinner stands the fiat of God, "Condemned already." Men need not wait until the Great White Throne judgment to discover whether they are condemned they are now under condemnation. The handwriting on the wall, "Weighed and found wanting," is already there.
6. We were serving divers lusts. In the times past we walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. We lived fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. We were living in pleasure. We were given over to vile affections.
7. We were without hope, and without God in the world. Behind us was our life of sin, and before us was death, hell, and the judgment. We were strangers to the Covenant of promise; we were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.
We had no part and no lot in Christ. We were like some ship lost at sea, with no port in sight, no rescue boat at hand. To us was reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
All this we were, and much more, in the day that God found us in our sin, and spoke unto us in words of love and redemption.
I. THE HELPLESSNESS OF THE SINNER (Ezekiel 16:4-5 )
1. No eye pitied us. Think of it. In the day when we were born there was no one to wash our sins away to change our nature and make it holy and sinless. Our dearest friends, our parents in the flesh, were all helpless to do this for us. This picture drawn by the Spirit is a striking one.
Every babe is carefully cared for in all those natural rites that belong to them. The babe itself is helpless to do any of these natural, and yet necessary, things for its health and comfort, but almost without exception it is done, to the best of their ability, by those who love and care for babes.
However, in the spiritual realm, the whole world, in its wisdom and care, stands helpless to give spiritual washings or aid of any kind. They leave their babes cast out into the open field in their blood and sinful shame. Thus the words, "Thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all," stand forth before us in unmistakable meaning.
2. Thou wast cast out to the loathing of thy person. Just so. The open field suggests the great throbbing world into which a babe sooner or later finds itself cast upon its own. What a world it is! It is so unsympathetic, so helpless to assist, so hardened in its heart, and so warped in its vision of eternal realities and spiritualities.
There is where babes are cast to the loathing of their persons. How early does the sin of the heart begin to show itself! Even our dearest friends see in us the seeds of death. "Sin and decay in all around I see" is true in us as well as in the rest of the world of men.
3. None did any of these things for us. There is not in all the world enough righteousness to clothe one poor lost sinner and make him fit for Heaven. Their robes are soiled by sin. There is not enough wisdom in all the world to do these necessary spiritual things for the sinner.
II. I PASSED BY THEE! I SAW THEE! I SAID, LIVE! (Ezekiel 16:6 )
1. I passed by thee. Thank God that He did not place man in this lone world to spin out and on into space, neglected and forgotten. Nay, He passed by. In order to pass by, He had to come to where we were, and this He did. Indeed, Christ was made flesh and dwelt among us. He came forth from the Father, and came into this world.
2. I saw thee. Here is another word of meaning. He saw us in our blood. He saw us cast out to the loathing of our person. He saw us in our need. With what kind of eye did He look at us when we were yet in our sins? It was a look of compassion, of pity, of mercy, and of love.
What did He see? He saw our helplessness, our shame, our lost estate. He saw that there was no one to help. He saw, and immediately He set Himself to work out our deliverance, and to meet our need.
3. I said, LIVE. Here is the core of the matter. The Lord spoke a word of life. He found us dead in trespasses and sins, and He said, Live. He found us without life, and He gave us His life. Hallelujah! The sinner is not left to fit his old life into a new walk. The flesh, in its sinful nature, could not live a life Divine.
God knew that the only hope of the sinner was a new begetting a new life. Therefore He said, Live. How empty is a Christian experience apart from regeneration! To attempt to live a Christian life apart from this is altogether vain. "Ye must be born again."
III. I THROUGHLY WASHED THEE (Ezekiel 16:9 )
1.Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 16:8 says, "I * * entered into a covenant with thee." Here is one of the blessed truths of salvation, tucked away in Ezekiel 16:1-63 . This covenant signifies that God undertakes in behalf of those whom He saves. He gives them His promise that He will see them through. In Ephesians it reads this way, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of Truth * *: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the Earnest of our inheritance."
2.Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 16:8 also says, "Thou becamest mine." We are His; He is ours. Here is a union unbreakable. He calls us His own, His jewels, His inheritance, His joy. In First Corinthians it runs like this: "Know ye not that * * ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a price." All things are indeed ours. The ministry is ours, things present are ours, things to come are ours, Christ is ours all is ours excepting ourselves, and we are God's.
3.Ezekiel 16:9; Ezekiel 16:9 says, "Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed * * thee." Saints wear a robe washed in the Blood of the Lamb. We are made white, and are without spot or blemish or any such thing. This is true by His grace. There is, also, another truth. We are saved and then washed from our old blood. We are saved and delivered from the old way and walk. Our new man is created in righteousness and true holiness; our old man is now to be put off; he is to be reckoned dead, he is no longer to rule and reign in our lives.
Hearken! He who saved us, and washed us, wants us to keep ourselves clean. He says, "Little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous."
When Lazarus came out of the grave, Christ said, "Loose him, and let him go." The Lord wants us to be freed from the old graveclothes. Let us therefore get this twofold message: first, we have His washing through His Blood, His imputed righteousness; then we have His deliverance from the dominion and power of sin, lest we quickly stain our raiment.
IV. I ANOINTED THEE WITH OIL (Ezekiel 16:9 , l.c.)
That the oil signifies the Holy Spirit, all Bible interpreters agree.
1. We are begotten by the Spirit. We are familiar with the Scripture, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." We read of how the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her, therefore that Holy Thing which was born of her was called the Son of God. A similar word may be said of us: the Holy Spirit came upon us, and God's power overshadowed us, and the new life begotten within us, acclaims us a son of God. Yes, we are the children of God because we are begotten of God.
2. We are indwelt by the Spirit. The Spirit which gave us birth enters in to dwell with us. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His."
Again it is written, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you * *?" Because we are sons, God hath sent forth His Spirit to dwell in us.
The indwelling Spirit is the key to every advancement in Christian living. He is our Teacher, our Guide, our Helper. He walks at our side; He fills us with the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, etc.
3. We are anointed with the Spirit. In Christ's final messages, He told the eleven to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high.
This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost, when they were all filled with the Spirit. Peter gave the promise of the Spirit unto the converts at Pentecost, and to all that were afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God should call.
The truth is that saints are commanded not to be drunk with wine, wherein is riot, but to be filled with the Spirit. All believers have the indwelling of the Spirt, but only yielded believers, who have received the Spirit by faith, have the infilling of the Spirit. Let every one who takes up this study ask himself this solemn question: Have I that filling of the Spirit that anointing from God? It is thus alone that we may be prepared to serve.
V. I CLOTHED THEE (Ezekiel 16:10-13 )
1. He clothes us with His own righteousness. The lovely robes of our verses speak of those Divine attributes which are His, and which He puts unto us.
First, therefore, we suggest that the robes which He puts upon us stand for His own righteousness. This is ours by faith in Christ.
2. He clothes us with all those virtues which are the beauties of His own holiness. He puts His character on us. His love, joy, peace, goodness, long-suffering, patience, and all the things which are pure, and holy, and good, He places on us.
The result is that we are arrayed in beauty, because, as Ezekiel 16:14 says, "Thy beauty * * it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon, thee, saith the Lord God."
3. What was the result of our being clothed with His comeliness? Here it is, "And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty." Herein is a holy truth. We, as Christians, are nothing within ourselves. We neither parade our own glory, nor do we tell of our own greatness. The new man finds the Lord his "All in all." We are robed with His peace, for He said, "My peace I give unto you." We have His joy, for He said, "That My joy might remain in you." His love is our love, because it is written, "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Where is boasting then? It is excluded, because, by the grace of God we are what we are. We have nothing except it be given us of God.
VI. I FED THEE (Ezekiel 16:13 )
Here are the words of our verse: "Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil."
1. He Himself is our food. Just as He was our beautiful robes, He is also our flour, and honey, and oil. Do we not remember the words of the Lord, "I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven." Again He said, "I am the Bread of Life." And yet again, "Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life * *. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed."
As we gather around the Lord's Table, from time to time, we do so in remembrance of His body and His Blood. This is also significant of the fact that He is our Bread and Drink. The bread is His body; the wine, His Blood, in sacred symbolism.
The slain lamb at the Passover Feast was also typical of Christ's broken body and shed Blood. The blood of the lamb was sprinkled on the doorposts, and the carcass of the lamb was eaten after its cooking.
This all teaches us that Christ is not only our Life, but He is also the Sustainer of our life.
2. The Word of God is our bread. The Bible says, "Desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby." Again it is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Thus Job said, "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."
Thus we are able to know the deeper meanings of the expression in our key verse, "Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil." Here is flour nourishment for bread is the staff of life. Here is honey, for His Word is sweet to the taste. Here is oil, for His Word is Spirit-filled, and meets every spiritual need.
VII. THOU HAST PLAYED THE HARLOT (Ezekiel 16:15 )
It is sad that after all the beauty of the picture of redemption, we have the balance of the chapter portraying the perfidy of Israel. God had done everything for her; now she goes out and plays the harlot with the people of the world. The result of this is seen by us all today. Israel is at this moment in deepest distress, all because she cast off the Lord her God and followed after other loves.
1. Her renown, and God-given glory caused her to become proud and self-centered. God gave her beauty and she used it to lure the world. God gave her beautiful raiment, and she wore it seeking the world's admiration. God gave her honor, and she sought the honor of men. God gave her wealth, and she wasted it on the world.
Let us mark some of the Divine statements:
1. "Thou didst trust in thine own beauty."
2. Thou "playedst the harlot because of thy renown."
3. "Of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours."
4. "Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of My gold and of My silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images."
1. Thou "tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them."
2. "Thou hast set Mine oil and Mine incense before them."
3. "My * * fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour."
2. The pronouncement of God's curse. "And it came to pass after all thy wickedness (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord God)." Can it be that God could do other than pronounce a woe upon the people who went so far from Him? They scattered their ways under every green tree, and God said, "Woe unto thee!"
Let us never fail God as did Israel, but let us preach faithfully the blessed Gospel of redemption, with a sincere and earnest heart.
"Dr. Woodrow Wilson, the ex-President of the United States, has given an interesting impression of his contact with D. L. Moody. 'I was in a barber's shop, sitting in a chair, when I became aware that a personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself, and sat in the chair next to me. Every word that he uttered showed a personal and vital interest in the man who was serving him; and before I got through with what was being done to me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr. Moody was in the next chair. I purposely lingered in the room after he left, and noted the singular effect his visit had upon the barbers in that shop. They talked in undertones. They did not know his name, but they knew that something had elevated their thought. And I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.' The secret of Moody's power was that he was 'always abounding' (1 Corinthians 15:58 )."
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Ezekiel 16". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany