Lord, cleanse us and keep us in the covenant with You. Amen.
Text: Ezekiel 16:9-14
“Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. 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. 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.
Just as the kings in the east arranged for their bride to be cleansed and clothed and adorned, so the Lord cleansed and adorned Israel as His Bride. They were cleansed from sin by the sacrifices, they were clothed in glory by the Temple Service, and they were crowned like a queen among the people with power and honor. – But the Lord’s true Bride is the spiritual Israel, the Christian Church. The prophet here has described the cleansing and adornment of every Christian. You originated from sinful seed, impure from birth and must confess with David: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me” (Psa 51:5). You were “thrown out into the open field” (Eze 16:5) in “disgusting” condition like the man in the wilderness of Jericho, and no eye would have had pity on you if Jesus had not come. But “I looked on you,” He says, and: “I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ … Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine” (Eze 16:6-8). And He “washed you with water;” He cleansed you in Baptism with the water and the blood from His side. You received full forgiveness of your sins and a new life. And He anointed you with oil. He gave you His Spirit and made you a king and priest before God. “And He clothed you in embroidered cloth … with fine linen and … silk and adorned you with gold and fine jewels.” He gave you His own righteousness and all the gifts of the Spirit: love, meekness, patience, mercy, peace, joy, gentleness, self-control.
“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). Psalm 45 also sings about this: “Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women; At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir. Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father’s house; So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him. The royal daughter is all-glorious within the palace; Her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors; The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; They shall enter the King’s palace” (Psa 45:9-15). Such purity and glory you received in your Baptism, dear Christian, and thus all believers stand in Christ’s righteousness before God. “Perfect is your beauty because of your adornment which I put on you,” says the Lord Jesus. – Israel became an unfaithful bride to Him – you, be faithful to the end!
Lord, grant us grace for this. Good Holy Spirit, faithful Caretaker of souls, guard and watch us, and keep us in the inn with the Bridegroom of souls, till You lead us into the glorious wedding. We pray You sincerely from our hearts, Lord Jesus. Never take Your Holy Spirit away from me. Amen.
Thou art my Mode wherein I dress;
My Gem and posh attiring,
Who clothes me with Thy righteousness,
The silk to my admiring.
Let me be from the vanity
Of this world’s pompous gaudery,
As rags of shame, retiring.
Thou art my valiant strong Hero,
In time of war’s assailing.
In fight my Armor, Shield, and Bow,
In sorrow, Joy prevailing,
In storms my Ship, and Anchor sure,
Compass, and heavenly Lodestone pure,
In guidance never-failing.
Lange: Min Hjertens Jesu, søde Lyst L 538:8.10 tr. Lyra Davidica, alt.;
tune: Allein Gott in der Höh (ELH 35); alternate hymn: Rejoice, rejoice, believers ELH 543:1-2