Ezekiel 16 is one of many unexplored corners of Scripture to most believers.
In this passage, God gives the prophet Ezekiel an analogy for His relationship with His people, Israel. The analogy begins with a passerby discovering an abandoned newborn, left on the ground, unwashed and helpless. The passerby rescues the baby and cares for her, and watches her mature into a beautiful woman He will call His own. The passerby/rescuer/husband gives His beloved everything there is to give, and she becomes famous for her beauty.
If only the story ended there.
Chapter 16, verse 15: "But you trusted in your beauty..."
The rest of the story is a tragic spiral of promiscuity, idolatry, infanticide, and ruin. In the end, God assures Israel that she will ultimately repent of her evil, and that He will provide atonement for it. But there is much pain to be suffered in the meantime, as Israel reaps the consequences of her unfaithfulness to God.
Naturally, the reader's attention is drawn to Israel's conduct, the idolatry that is equated to marital infidelity. This makes sense, because this conduct is what brought about Israel's ruin. But there is something else here, something that preceded the idolatry and unfaithfulness. Something that provided the starting point for all of that:
"...you trusted in your beauty..."
The origin of every evil committed by Israel was the faith she developed in her own beauty. She came to believe she was who she was by her own power, by her own virtue, and that she could continue to have everything she had by her own will, charm, and connections.
She forgot her beauty was a gift from God. She forgot what she was before He came along and picked her up off the ground. She forgot she was nothing without Him.
Once these facts were forgotten, once the prideful seed was planted and took root, the door was open for God's beloved to become no different than her worldly neighbors. In fact, according to Ezekiel's prophecy, she became even more evil than they were.
If only God's people today weren't just as vulnerable to the same mistake.
What gift from God are you tempted to trust and consider your own? Your looks? Your talent? Your charm? Your intellect? Your wealth? Your career? Your rolodex?
What is your beauty?