Ezekiel often used parables, metaphors, images, and symbolic actions to clarify and emphasize his message. The story of Oholah and Oholibah was the story of Israel and Judah. Oholah, Israel, had lived a life of shame and adultery. Oholibah, Judah, had done the same except worse. God would turn Judah’s lovers, particularly Babylon, against her so that “that they may deal with you in fury” (23:25). Ezekiel was there to see Babylon march into Jerusalem (ch. 24). The parable of the boiling pot also spoke of God’s wrath. The calamity coming upon Judah was so great that Ezekiel would even lose his wife.
The prophet goes on to speak against the nations: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt. The prophet’s words are powerful reminders that all people, everywhere, are ultimately accountable to God. But, oh, the grace of God! The words declared to Israel are for all: “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (33:11) To the Athenians, Paul declared, “he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good.
There is mercy with the Savior,
there is healing in his blood. -- Frederick William Faber