The Betrothed Of The Lord

by Joseph Hunting

Nowhere in Scripture is there a more touching, yet more tragic love story than that told by Ezekiel which reveals the Lord's tender love for Jerusalem.

The story concerns an abandoned newly-born baby girl. This pathetic scrap of humanity had been cast away by its mother and left to die in the wilderness.

In this poignant yet beautiful story the prophet describes how that the Lord passed by and took pity on the infant and lavished loving care upon her. Eventually she grew into a strikingly beautiful young woman.

During the years that followed her development into womanhood the Lord clothed her in garments of rare beauty and bedecked her with all manner of precious gems until she was by far the fairest and most beautiful of all her peers. And so, having loved and cared for her from the day of her birth, the Lord finally betrothed her to Himself.

It seems incredible that, in spite of her exalted position and all the loving care bestowed upon her, she should play the harlot and be unfaithful to the One who had done so much for her. And this was no momentary lapse resulting from a brief flirtation. Sad to say, she gave herself to many lovers and entered into a life of whoredom in spite of the Lord's pleadings that she renounce her lovers and remain faithful to Him.

It is no surprise to read the sad sequel. She was stripped of her costly robes and jewels by those who professed to be her lovers and finally stoned and thrust through with the sword.

The historic fulfilment

No doubt there are places that can boast more scenic grandeur than the rugged Judean hills. Yet it was Mt. Moriah, on the fringe of a desert wilderness, which the Lord chose to be the most holy of all places on this planet.

Just why did the Almighty choose such an out-of-the-way spot? It was at least two days' journey to the coast to link it to Egypt or any of the growing empires in the north. And there was no river to ensure a constant water supply, a very necessary commodity in a semi-arid region. Indeed, the only water available was from a local spring. Furthermore, Mt. Moriah at that time was inhabited by pagan Jebusites who indulged in abominable idol sacrifices.

Everything about Jerusalem would seemingly disqualify it for the exalted role the Lord had marked out for this city. But then is it not written that "God hath chosen . . . the base things of the world, and things which are despised . . . that no flesh should glory in His presence"? (1st Corinthians 1:28-29).

And so it was, under King David, a man after God's own heart, that Jerusalem began its transformation, "For the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation. This is My rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it." (Psalm 132:13-14.

Vast wealth was amassed during David's reign and the city of Jerusalem underwent a transformation. From being a small Jebusite fortified town it became the capital city of Israel. This metamorphosis of Jerusalem is best described by the Psalmist himself: "Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth (or land) is Mt Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." (Psalm 48:1-2).

This almost unbelievable transformation of Jerusalem reached its climax during the reign of King Solomon. Apart from his own magnificent palace, the building of the temple on Mt. Moriah, which took seven years, was not only unique, it was probably the most costly structure ever built.

Tens of thousands of workmen were engaged on the project site. A tremendous logging operation was conducted in Lebanon to provide the cedars used in the Temple's construction. And beneath Jerusalem itself there is a vast underground quarry even today, known as Solomon's Quarries. There is an intriguing reference in the Scripture to the method of construction.

"And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any took of iron heard in the house, while it was in building." (1st Kings 6:7). Perhaps it was from those same vast underground galleries that Solomon's stonemasons hewed the massive blocks of stone that were fashioned to their exact size in the quarry so that no iron implement was employed on the Temple site.

The climax of this fantastic building assignment took place when all the work was finished and the Ark of the Covenant was positioned in the Holy of Holies. Then, the glory of the Lord filled the Temple. His glory was manifested in the Shekinah cloud that had accompanied Israel during their forty year wilderness wandering.

The splendour of Jerusalem so impressed the Queen of Sheba that she could only gasp, "The half has not been told me!"

Alas, Jerusalem's meteoric rise to political importance as well as physical beauty was short-lived. In a few short decades the surrounding pagan nations wooed Jerusalem and introduced their idolatrous practices. Even Solomon himself succumbed by sacrificing to Molech!

The Lord sent prophet after prophet to warn the inhabitants of Jerusalem of their impending doom. But it was to no avail. Ultimately the Lord withdrew His presence from the Temple.

Ezekiel witnessed this tragic withdrawal of the Shekinah glory and he described it in its stages: "And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house . . . Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD's glory . . . And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city" (9:3; 10:4; 11:23).

Finally both the Temple and Jerusalem were utterly destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon. It is interesting to note that the Shekinah glory of God never returned to either Zerubbabel's Temple nor to the Temple Herod built!

Centuries later when Jerusalem was rebuilt and Herod's Temple adorned Mount Moriah, great David's greater son, even the Messiah, wept over the city as He foretold its destruction yet again. His words echo the Divine love for Jerusalem that has spanned the centuries and awaits the day when His people shall say: "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the LORD."

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

"Behold, your house if left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, BLESSED IS HE THAT COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD." (Matthew 23:37-39).