Her sister Oholibah (that is, Jerusalem, see verse 4) saw this, yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister. Ezekiel 23:11

The way Ezekiel describes the behaviour of those in Jerusalem is surprising. These people had already seen the northern tribes taken into exile, yet even this didn’t convince them to change their ways. Now, God goes to extraordinary lengths, giving Ezekiel, distasteful language and sexual images to jolt his people into facing their sins.

Ezekiel was passionate for God’s honour and his righteousness. The people’s total disregard of God’s standards appalled him. He writes in a way that many modern Christians would find offensive. Other writers also use images and words which are offensive and we would probably avoid them if they were in a secular book. For example, Phineas drove a spear through a couple having sex as part of an idolatrous ritual. Phineas was zealous for God’s honour and was rewarded for his actions.

Jesus called the Pharisees names that were highly offensive, “whitewashed tombs,” “brood of vipers,” and “hypocrites” (Matthew 23). Our cultural context and our modern translations hide some disagreeable language.

When Paul describes his Jewish heritage, our translations use the word “garbage” or “rubbish.” “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

There is much evidence to suggest Paul used a much stronger word, perhaps a swear word, to describe how he felt about his heritage because he wanted people to fully appreciate the value he now puts on his faith in Christ Jesus.

Sometimes God is forced to use shock tactics so we face the truth.