The prophet Ezekiel describes God’s people in their sin as a unique type of harlot. Now, the metaphor of an adulterous wife or a prostitute to describe people trusting in someone or something other than the one real God is common throughout scripture. The frequency arises in Scripture because this metaphor of spiritual adultery characterizes humanity’s root problem of forsaking the one Lover of our soul for other lovers who actually harm us. The book of Hosea is built around this concept. However, in Ezekiel 16:33-34, God makes a dramatic charge against rebellious Israel by intensifying the metaphor. Israel (and humanity) is not just a harlot who receives payment for providing pleasure, she (and we) are harlots who pay our “gods” to love us yet she could (and we can) never be satisfied.
Ezekiel 16:33-34 “Men give gifts to all harlots, but you give your gifts to all your lovers to bribe them to come to you from every direction for your harlotries. Thus you are different from those women in your harlotries, in that no one plays the harlot as you do, because you give money and no money is given you; thus you are different.”
In a very practical way we, just like Israel, pay our “gods” to love us, but we also are never satisfied. We spend our time living for the pleasures of this world. We spend our influence to obtain the praise of man. We spend our treasures to increase our possessions. We spend our purity on illicit sexual delights. We spend our anger on vengeance. We even invest our morality in an attempt to be self-righteous and exalted before God and others.
But the pleasures of this world never seem to be enough. The praise of man only lasts for a moment. The possessions require constant management. The illicit sexual delights leave us feeling guilt and shame. Vengeance does not bring justice, just more pain. And self-righteousness is simply delusional.
These “gods” cannot fill the emptiness of our soul even though we pay for them with all that we have. Furthermore these “gods” only increase the emptiness, pain, and suffering of the human condition. These “gods” we worship cannot love, forgive, or satisfy us.
Instead of paying for the “gods” to love us and satisfy us, what we ultimately need is the One satisfying God who loves us and paid for us! Imagine not having to pay for a god to love you. Imagine not having to perform with morality for a god to accept you. Imagine not having to spend your life attempting to appease a god. What if there really was a God who created you and loved you? What if there really was only one lover and satisfier of your soul? What would you have to pay for this lover?
The Gospel is the good news that you don’t pay anything for God to love you and satisfy you. This Lover of your soul paid for you! “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Pet 1:18).”
Every other man-made system of access to the gods requires you to pay for the god to love you through morality or sacrifice. Only in authentic Christianity is the truth that there is One satisfying God who loved you and paid for you and sacrificed for you!
Embracing this satisfying lover of our soul is the cure for our unique harlotry of paying for lovers that harm us.