Oholah And Oholibah

Their names: Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister; they were Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah. (Ezekiel 23:4)

Oholah And Oholibah

Ezekiel was a prophet among the people of God taken captive by Babylon in 597 B.C. Four years earlier, Ezekiel had been called into the prophetic ministry to warn the people of the impending destruction of Jerusalem. In 586 B.C., Jerusalem fell and the Temple of God was destroyed. The book of Ezekiel is based on two themes: the first warned the Jews the sinfulness of Judah had reached the point of God’s judgment; the second, after the fall of Jerusalem, a message of hope for the remnant to be restored. In the final section of part one, Ezekiel shows the full measure of God’s wrath against the people’s wickedness and refusal to repent and turn to God.

Using the language of a parable, Ezekiel introduces two sisters born of the same mother. Their names were Oholah and Oholibah. Oholah was the older of the sisters. The story of the two sisters was a tragic tale of sexual immorality and bearing children in their harlotry. Immediately, Ezekiel identifies the sisters as Samaria (Oholah) and Jerusalem (Oholibah). Samaria was the capital of the northern ten tribes and was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. One hundred thirty-six years later, Jerusalem would suffer the same fate at the hands of the Babylonians. Throughout the prophetic literature leading up to the destruction of Samaria and Jerusalem, God reminded Israel they were His bride. The prophet Hosea was a graphic illustration of the whoredom Israel had committed against her husband, the Lord God. As the Jews felt the sting of bondage, Ezekiel weaves a story of the two sisters reminding them of what happened to their northern sister and what would happen to them if they did not repent.

Oholah played the harlot in Egypt and Assyria. Israel had gone after the gods of the Egyptians and the Assyrians and worshiped the lust of immorality of the nations around her. God sent His prophets to warn the people but to no avail. None of the kings of the northern kingdom were righteous. Prophets like Elijah and Elisha pleaded with the rulers and the people to repent. They refused. God brought the “lovers” of Israel to her borders and they destroyed her. Assyria was an ally of Israel and then became her destroyer. Judgment came upon Oholah by the people she entrusted her life with.

As the young sister, Oholibah should have learned from her older sister’s lessons. She lusted for the lovers of Assyria more than her older sister. The Babylonians came to her as treasured lovers and she indulged all the pleasures of whoredom with foreign nations. Like her older sister, Oholibah suffered betrayal from her lovers. The Babylonians came against Israel as an invading horde with chariots, wagons, and war-horses. Judah was destroyed with great fierceness. They were left naked and bare. Refusing to see the folly of her older sister, Jerusalem suffered the same fate. The cup of horror and desolation served against Samaria fell upon Jerusalem with greater wrath. Judah had forgotten God and cast Him behind her back. They bore the iniquity of their lewdness and spiritual prostitution.

Oholah and Oholibah are alive and well today. The lessons from the two sisters should remind the world that God has not changed His view of sin and rebellion. There are still those who desire to live like Oholah and Oholibah, oblivious to the coming judgment of God and His wrath. Ezekiel warned the people of the Lord’s penalty for sin and the people refused to listen. Sin does not change in translation or time and lessons from the two sisters should be taken to heart. Both sisters were judged. God will judge. Oholah characterizes the world and the church can be described by Oholibah. She will suffer the same fate when the church tries to live like the world. Ezekiel’s message is a lesson for today.

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