“When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you [while you were] in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you [while you were] in your blood, ‘Live!’”
Ezekiel 16 is an extended metaphor of the relationship between Israel and God. God speaks of Israel as if the nation were a woman who had been born to parents who wanted nothing to do with her, so they abandoned her. He sees her and gives her life. The metaphor continues as He returns and finds her of an age to marry and there is marriage and infidelity on the part of Israel… it is a chapter that tends to cut to the quick. It is a reminder of the faithfulness of God and the faithlessness of people. In that context, this verse is about God passing by and seeing Israel newborn and in a place where she would die if no one intervened. So He intervenes. For the nation of Israel, God is the Life Giver.
I would like to take a step back and consider this verse out of the context of the chapter, but still within the context of scripture. I would like to take a moment and remember that this is how God finds each and every person who comes to faith in Him. We are mewling, pathetic things who cannot keep ourselves alive — particularly in a spiritual sense. Paul writes that we were, when God found us, dead in our trespasses and sins and God made us alive (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13). God is, for the believer now as for Israel in this passage, the Life Giver.
But what does that mean on a practical level?
It means that I had nothing to offer God when I came to Him, except myself. If I read the rest of Ezekiel 16 (and I do), then I find that any glory Israel had was bestowed by God. Any goodness; anything attractive or desirable about Israel was owed to God’s generous heart. The only thing Israel had to offer God was Israel. Likewise, I need to be mindful that any good thing that is in me is not native, but is bestowed by God (Romans 7:18); that every good and perfect thing that exists in me is owed to God (James 1:17). I know that there are those who disagree with this estimation of myself — I have met them — but what another thinks and what The Bible declares to be true will not always match. Opinion must align with Truth or be wrong. Simple as that. And the truth is that I am not innately good. No one is. We, none of us, have anything to offer God but ourselves. And that is all that God wants. He gave me myself that I might offer it back to Him. When once I have done that, He lavishes still more. He even went so far as to tell Israel to test Him in the giving game and see who came out on top (Malachi 3:10). Hint: It is not Israel (or me).
So, as the praise song asks, What can I say? What can I do? But offer this heart, oh, God, completely to You. Today, let me give back to God what is rightfully His: myself. Not just this time in the morning, though I know He treasures it as I treasure the time I get to spend with my children (He probably treasures this time more). Not just the bits and pieces of me that seem ready for Him, but all of me. All the things He has made good. All the filth that has not yet been dislodged. In Ezekiel 16, God comes back to Israel after He has given her life and washes her and gives her glory. That happened after He had already given her life. I suspect that He works the same way in my life. He gave me Life and He stays with me to wash away the filth that still clings and to clothe me in His glory and bestow on me His splendor. Let me cooperate with Him by being still and knowing that He is God and that what He is doing with me, while it may sometimes be uncomfortable, is good. Let me offer up myself in total; holding nothing back … not even the things that make me want to weep for shame. For He sees something worthy of His attentions and affections and He has commanded me to live, even while I was in [my] blood. He is the Life Giver and I live because He has commanded that it be so.