God pictures Sodom as proud. What led to the utter destruction of this city in a way that no other has ever been destroyed on earth is arrogance, a false sense of security, spiritual apathy, and disdain. This brings us to a daughter of Sodom—Lot's wife—lingering, dragging her heels along the way. Why did she look back? She had no faith in what the angels said. She had no need of God because she felt secure within herself. Her pride turned her into a pillar of salt because she did not have faith in God.
We badly need humility. Perhaps it is beyond our sense of appreciation to realize how much we need it. It means so much to God that we have a right perspective of ourselves in relation to Him because it establishes a right perspective of other people, of things, and of life itself. All the right values and standards spin off from humility.
We have such a need of humility that God will go to seemingly extreme ends to make sure that we feel our dependence on Him. He will humble us. He will sweep away our money. He will take away our jobs, our health, our possessions. He will do anything necessary in order to make us see our need—that every good gift flows from Him.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 7)
Ezekiel 16:44-49 shows us another way that can be used to identify the Great Harlot of Revelation: by observing parallel conduct. The word "parallel" opens another avenue for consideration of duality, but this time not directly in a prophecy. At this point in God's narration concerning Judah and Jerusalem, He is showing the parallel behavior of Judah with Samaria to the north and with Sodom to the south.
Verse 47 is especially clear regarding parallel conduct. The Revised English Bible translates it as, "Did you not behave as they did and commit the same abominations?" Regarding their relationship, verse 49 declares they are "sisters under the skin," as we would say today, because their behavior is so similar.
This opens the door to consider the parallel conduct that leads Him to call Jerusalem by the derogatory names of "Sodom and Egypt" (Revelation 11:8). At the time of the end, God observes parallel behaviors and attitudes in Jerusalem, Sodom, and Egypt. Thus Jerusalem, representing all of Israel, reveals her spiritual source, which is most certainly not the God of the Bible, despite what the Israelites might say in calling themselves "Christian." If God can name Israel "Sodom," why can He not also call her "Babylon"?
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Ten): Babylon the Great Is a Nation
We are obviously dealing with a marriage relationship between God and Jerusalem, representing all of Israel. The woman Israel was not faithful, and harlotry entered the relationship. From verse 15 on, the marriage relationship described here, the harlotry, the fornication, and the adultery of the woman is either inferred or directly stated in virtually every verse in this long chapter. In one verse after another, God is telling how she committed harlotry and why.
The liberal Interpreter's Bible Commentary says, "Israel here is portrayed as a wife who became a pagan temple prostitute." That is a possibility, but I think the more conservative commentaries are more correct. She is portrayed as an unfaithful wife whose unfaithfulness is displayed in a far wider range of life and activities than just religious.
Israel—the nation and wife—is unfaithful in every area and activity of life that a faithful wife or nation would normally be involved in. The sexual orientation of what is written of her sin is used because sexual sins are the most common way unfaithfulness in marriage is shown to the public. It is something that everybody can relate to. However, the real spiritual sin behind all of these sexual terms is gross idolatry. Verse 59 says, "For thus says the Lord GOD; I will even deal with you as you have done, which have despised the oath in breaking the covenant." She broke the marriage covenant and became a harlot.
Israel simply did whatever she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it, and in the manner that she wanted. Her harlotry is clearly the breaking of the terms of the marriage covenant, and it is unfaithfulness, disloyalty, and spiritual in nature. It is primarily idolatry, but all other sins are included. Israel was unfaithful in conducting business, both domestically and internationally. Israel was unfaithful in managing God's great green earth; unfaithful in forgetting who her blessings came from; unfaithful in the way they treated one another in their personal marriages; unfaithful in their childrearing practices.
We all know that the relationship being described here is between God and Israel, and the marriage entered into was the Old Covenant proposed and ratified at Mount Sinai. What God proposed to Israel, and to us under the New Covenant, is an entire way of life. It is not just religion. It is everything that the church ought to be, the example and teacher of things that are right and true.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 5)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Ezekiel 16:49: