Lent Devotional: Ezekiel 16:48-49
by Jonathan Haefs
As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.
Ego… excess… ease… a dangerous and damning combination.
When we think of the sin of Sodom our minds quickly turn to sexual ethics… and that is not unjustified. However, the story of Sodom is larger than just Genesis 19. The prophet Ezekiel points out their prideful self-indulgence in all areas of life… and the more they centered on themselves, the more harm they did to others.
Much like the exploitation described in Genesis 19 was for their own pleasure at the expense of others, Ezekiel 16 describes their exploitation of wealth and excess for their own ease… all at the expense of the poor and the needy.
And the prophet brings all of this up for the purposes of comparison. He is speaking to God’s people and telling them that for all its sins, Sodom was not nearly as evil as they have become. The people of God mirrored and magnified the ego, excess, and ease of Sodom. They mirrored and magnified Sodom’s exploitation of the poor and the needy.
This should not be the story of God’s people for it is not the story of our God! The Gospel goes against this grain in proclaiming a Christ who left behind his eternal riches and glory to come to us, poor and needy sinners. He humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross.
He made himself poor that we might become eternally rich in him!
This is the Gospel, the good news of grace that we embrace by faith! This is the news that God’s people are called to mirror and magnify… not through ego, but humility… not through excess, but sacrifice… not through ease, but at any cost we mirror and magnify the cross as a cruciform community.