Restoration of The Harlot and Her Sisters
This is the fifth section of the parable and is covered in verses 53-58.
53And I will turn again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, and the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them. (ASV, 1901)
Now God begins to give Ezekiel the assurance that Judah would be restored. Judah and Jerusalem have been associated with their “sisters” of Sodom and Samaria, both of whom God said sinned less than Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:46-47). In the process of restoring Judah and Jerusalem into His good favor, God says that He will include both Samaria and Sodom in the deliverance. The time of this deliverance is a subject of much discussion. God must be speaking of the Messianic Kingdom when the restoration of all things on this earth will occur. This has not happened any time before in history. The inhabitants of the Southern Kingdom of Judah came back to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, but there has never been a time when the sinful cities of Sodom and Samaria have been restored. God is saying that He will be fair and restore Judah’s “sisters” too. This means these cities will be restored in the Messianic Kingdom. It does not refer to the individual sinners who were within them because they will suffer the punishment of eternal fire. The wicked always receive their justified eternal punishment:
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (KJV)
The two cities of Sodom and Samaria, which were judged earlier in history, shall also be the first to receive God’s mercy and restoration. He will then restore Jerusalem along with the other cities of Judah. These areas are located within the area given to the tribe of Judah by God (Joshua 15). This is not a restoration to their sinful state, but to their original state before the massive sinning took place.
Judah Will Be Shamed
54that thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be ashamed because of all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them (ASV, 1901).
Within the restoration there will be an element of humiliation for Judah. Jerusalem will be ashamed to realize that Sodom and Samaria have been “restored” to God’s favor with her. This will be a comfort to those who saw that Jerusalem’s sins were greater than the cities of Sodom and Samaria. Both of these cities will take comfort from the fact that Jerusalem, who had “looked down on them” received the greater punishment and was only restored because they were, in other words Judah’s misfortune was a comfort to Sodom and Samaria.
55And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate; and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate; and thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate (ASV, 1901).
In the Messianic Kingdom God will provide them all a complete restoration, and this is described in Deuteronomy:
3 That then Jehovah thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither Jehovah thy God hath scattered thee 4If any of thine outcasts be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will Jehovah thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5and Jehovah thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. (ASV, 1901)
As a result of their repentance, God will exercise His tender compassion and gather the nation and bring her back to her land. He will restore all of Israel’s fortunes. This is a theme that He has frequently stated through His prophets (Jeremiah 30:18; 32:44; 33:11, 26; Joel 3:1). This great restoration to the land, which was promised to Abraham will not be fully complete until the return of the Messiah after the Tribulation, and just before the beginning of His millennial reign on the earth (Isaiah 59:20–62:12) (See also Jesus’ teaching of the regathering in Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27). This will be a time of spiritual unity under the Messiah, and material prosperity greater than the Nation Israel, or the world, has ever known (Deuteronomy 30:5).
Sodom’s Warning Ignored
56For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride, 57before thy wickedness was uncovered, as at the time of the reproach of the daughters of Syria, and of all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, that do despite unto thee round about.
At the height of Judah’s prideful existence, she did not consider Sodom’s fate as a warning of what could and would happen to her through God’s judgment. The depth of wickedness in Judah was revealed during the time of the reign of King Ahaz when Judah was subjected to attacks, and was defeated by both Syria and the Philistines:
II Kings 16:5-6
5Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath; and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there, unto this day. (ASV, 1901)
II Chronicles 28:16-19
16At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him. 17For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives. 18The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the lowland, and of the South of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, and Aijalon, and Gederoth, and Soco with the towns thereof, and Timnah with the towns thereof, Gimzo also and the towns thereof: and they dwelt there. 19For Jehovah brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he had dealt wantonly in Judah, and trespassed sore against Jehovah. (ASV, 1901)
Before this time when kings sinned they has some sense of modesty to keep it concealed, but during King Ahaz’s reign it was shamelessly extravagant, openly displayed, and had become so flagrant that it spread throughout the entire country. If King Ahaz and the others had taken the experience of Sodom to heart, they could have avoided the tragedy they experienced. They caused the idolatry to increase to a level not known before, and that would result in their total destruction 140 years later by the Babylonians.
Punishment Must Be Meted Out
58Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith Jehovah
God says that they have been punished for their abominations. They have suffered the result of their extreme sinfulness. He is essentially saying to them that He has punished them according to the oath he made with them in the Mosaic Covenant (Leviticus 26), a conditional Covenant made at Mount Sinai with all the children of Israel:
11Your little ones, your wives, and thy sojourner that is in the midst of thy camps, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water; 12that thou mayest enter into the covenant of Jehovah thy God, and into his oath, which Jehovah thy God maketh with thee this day; 13that he may establish thee this day unto himself for a people, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he spake unto thee, and as he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (ASV, 1901)
God’s Everlasting Covenant
Verses 59-63 make up the sixth section of this parable.
59For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will also deal with thee as thou hast done, who hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.
60 Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. (ASV, 1901)
In contrast to the Jews who did not keep any covenant with God for very long, God is now saying that He will keep His part of the covenant He made with the Nation Israel at Mount Sinai. God is steadfast in His truth and promises. “The days of thy youth” is a reference to the time between the Exodus and their entry into the Promised Land, also called Eretz Israel. Jeremiah also speaks of this:
And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 2Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, I remember for thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; how thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. 3Israel was holiness unto Jehovah, the first-fruits of his increase: all that devour him shall be held guilty; evil shall come upon them, saith Jehovah (ASV, 1901).
The “everlasting covenant” found in verse 60 of Ezekiel 16 is the New Covenant, which will be fully activated when the Nation Israel has experienced a national regeneration, and entered the Messianic Kingdom:
Jeremiah 31: 31-37
31Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.
[God Will Never Forget Israel]
35Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirreth up the sea, so that the waves thereof roar; Jehovah of hosts is his name: 36If these ordinances depart from before me, saith Jehovah, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. 37Thus saith Jehovah: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith Jehovah. (ASV, 190, bracketed title added)
The National Regeneration of Israel
61Then shalt thou remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder sisters and thy younger; and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. 62And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah; 63that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I have forgiven thee all that thou hast done, saith the Lord Jehovah. (ASV, 1901)
One of the principal reasons for the Great Tribulation is to break the will of “the holy people”, the Jews (Daniel 12:7). Their shame will be confessed according to Leviticus 26:40-42, Jeremiah 3:11-18 Hosea 5:15. The Nation Israel will plead for their Messiah to return (Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 23:37-39). Hosea chapter five says that Jews will confess of their sins. Hosea chapter 6 follows with the leaders telling the nation to confess their sins and repent:
1Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. 3Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (KJV)
Israel’s leaders will finally realize that the entire Tribulation, and all their previous punishment, has come upon them due to their turning away from Jehovah and the Lord Jesus. In establishing the New Covenant with Israel, God will change the relationship between them and the “sisters” of Sodom and Samaria. Jerusalem will now be responsible for them in the Messianic Kingdom. God’s judgment and subsequent restoration would have a humbling effect on the nation, and their sins of pride and idolatry would be eliminated forever.
Daniel E. Woodhead