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Monday, November 02, 2009

Modesty



In the following chapter in Ezekiel, God talks about the apostasy of the country of Israel. How He took the nation of Israel when she was a nobody. He adopted the nation and built them up to a mighty nation, very rich. The people and the land were prosperous proved by the disposable income that allowed them to buy gold and silver jewelry and fine clothes. It was God-given. But they repaid Him by turning away from Him and making their "things" into idols. They worshipped their toys more than they worshipped their God. The very blessings that God had given them, they used in evil ways. They sold their soul and their children for the illusory pots of gold. By doing so, they lost everything.

But, notice, God is the one who outfitted them in the best of everything...the best clothes, coats, shoes, jewelry, food, and beauty. It was the people who turned them into a source of pride, idolatry and sin.
Ezekiel 16
The LORD said:
Ezekiel, son of man, remind the people of Jerusalem of their disgusting sins and tell them that I, the LORD God, am saying: Jerusalem, you were born in the country where Canaanites lived. Your father was an Amorite, and your mother was a Hittite.
When you were born, no one cut you loose from your mother or washed your body. No one rubbed your skin with salt and olive oil, and wrapped you in warm blankets.
Not one person loved you enough to do any of these things, and no one even felt sorry for you. You were despised, thrown into a field, and forgotten.
I saw you lying there, rolling around in your own blood, and I couldn't let you die.
I took care of you, like someone caring for a tender, young plant. You grew up to be a beautiful young woman with perfect breasts and long hair, but you were still naked.
When I saw you again, you were old enough to have sex. So I covered your naked body with my own robe. Then I solemnly promised that you would belong to me and that I, the LORD God, would take care of you.
I washed the blood off you and rubbed your skin with olive oil.
I gave you the finest clothes and the most expensive robes, as well as sandals made from the best leather.
I gave you bracelets, a necklace, a ring for your nose, some earrings, and a beautiful crown.
Your jewelry was gold and silver, and your clothes were made of only the finest material and embroidered linen. Your bread was baked from fine flour, and you ate honey and olive oil. You were as beautiful as a queen, and everyone on earth knew it. I, the LORD God, had helped you become a lovely young woman.
You learned that you were attractive enough to have any man you wanted, so you offered yourself to every passerby.
You made shrines for yourself and decorated them with some of your clothes. That's where you took your visitors to have sex with them. These things should never have happened!
You made idols out of the gold and silver jewelry I gave you, then you sinned by worshiping those idols.
You dressed them in the clothes you got from me, and you offered them the olive oil and incense I gave you.
I supplied you with fine flour, olive oil, and honey, but you sacrificed it all as offerings to please those idols. I, the LORD God, watched this happen.
But you did something even worse than that--you sacrificed your own children to those idols!
You slaughtered my children, so you could offer them as sacrifices.
You were so busy sinning and being a prostitute that you refused to think about the days when you were young and were rolling around naked in your own blood.
Now I, the LORD God, say you are doomed! Not only did you do these evil things, but you also built places on every street corner where you disgraced yourself by having sex with anyone who walked by. And you did that more and more every day!
To make me angry, you even offered yourself to Egyptians, who were always ready to sleep with you.
So I punished you by letting those greedy Philistine enemies take over some of your territory. But even they were offended by your disgusting behavior.
You couldn't get enough sex, so you chased after Assyrians and slept with them. You still weren't satisfied, so you went after Babylonians. But those merchants could not satisfy you either.
I, the LORD God, say that you were so disgusting that you would have done anything to get what you wanted.
You had sex on every street corner, and when you finished, you refused to accept money. That's worse than being a prostitute!
You are nothing but an unfaithful wife who would rather have sex with strangers than with your own husband.
Prostitutes accept money for having sex, but you bribe men from everywhere to have sex with you.
You're not like other prostitutes. Men don't ask you for sex--you offer to pay them!
Jerusalem, you prostitute, listen to me.
You chased after lovers, then took off your clothes and had sex. You even worshiped disgusting idols and sacrificed your own children as offerings to them.
So I, the LORD God, will gather every one of your lovers, those you liked and those you hated. They will stand around you, and I will rip off your clothes and let all of those lovers stare at your nakedness.
I will find you guilty of being an unfaithful wife and a murderer, and in my fierce anger I will sentence you to death!
Then I will hand you over to your lovers, who will tear down the places where you had sex. They will take your clothes and jewelry, leaving you naked and empty-handed.
Your lovers and an angry mob will stone you to death; they will cut your dead body into pieces and burn down your houses. Other women will watch these terrible things happen to you. I promise to stop you from being a prostitute and paying your lovers for sex.
Only then will I calm down and stop being angry and jealous.
You made me furious by doing all these disgusting things and by forgetting how I took care of you when you were young. Then you made things worse by acting like a prostitute. You must be punished! I, the LORD God, have spoken.
People will use this saying about you, Jerusalem: "If the mother is bad, so is her daughter."
You are just like your mother, who hated her husband and her own children. You are also like your sisters, who hated their husbands and children. Your father was an Amorite, and your mother was a Hittite.
Your older sister was Samaria, that city to your north with her nearby villages. Your younger sister was Sodom, that city to your south with her nearby villages.
You followed their way of life and their wicked customs, and soon you were more disgusting than they were.
As surely as I am the living LORD God, the people of Sodom and its nearby villages were never as sinful as you.
They were arrogant and spoiled; they had everything they needed and still refused to help the poor and needy.
They thought they were better than everyone else, and they did things I hate. And so I destroyed them.
You people of Jerusalem have sinned twice as much as the people of Samaria. In fact, your evil ways have made both Sodom and Samaria look innocent.
So their punishment will seem light compared to yours. You will be disgraced and put to shame because of your disgusting sins.
Someday I will bless Sodom and Samaria and their nearby villages. I will also bless you, Jerusalem.
Then you will be ashamed of how you've acted, and Sodom and Samaria will be relieved that they weren't as sinful as you.
When that day comes, you and Sodom and Samaria will once again be well-off, and all nearby villages will be restored.
Jerusalem, you were so arrogant that you sneered at Sodom.
But now everyone has learned how wicked you really are. The countries of Syria and Philistia, as well as your other neighbors, hate you and make insulting remarks.
You must pay for all the vulgar and disgusting things you have done. I, the LORD, have spoken.
Jerusalem, you deserve to be punished, because you broke your promises and ignored our agreement.
But I remember the agreement I made with you when you were young, and so I will make you a promise that will last forever.
When you think about how you acted, you will be ashamed, especially when I return your sisters to you as daughters, even though this was not part of our agreement.
I will keep this solemn promise, and you will know that I am the LORD.
I will forgive you, but you will think about your sins and be too ashamed to say a word. I, the LORD God, have spoken. I will keep this solemn promise, and you will know that I am the LORD.
I will forgive you, but you will think about your sins and be too ashamed to say a word. I, the LORD God, have spoken.

In the following passage, God describes the Israelite women as behaving in an inviting and sexy manner and proud that they attract the lust of men. "Wanton" means immoral, lewd, unrestrained, flirty, to lead on, to tease, undisciplined, rebellious, spoiled. These women deliberately dressed and behaved in a way to flirt and indicate they were sexually available. They wear "tinkling" ankle bracelets and walk in a suggestive manner. Notice that "Jehovah will make their secret parts naked". What are a woman's secret parts? I would assume our breasts and pubic area. Today, many women have no modesty with these parts of their bodies. They groom themselves and dress themselves in such a way as to invite people to stare at their "secret parts" and lust. Or they get drunk enough to "flash" their breasts or bottoms. Or pose nude or suggestively for photos. If we so misuse the blessings of beauty, good dental work, nice jewelry, healthy body, pretty clothes (all indicating plenty of disposable income which is a blessing of prosperity from God), then we deserve to have it all removed from us. If we use our blessings for sin, God will remove it from us. How many beautiful young girls rebel and run into alcohol, drugs, promiscuity and end up addicts and prostitutes who have lost their beauty? I've seen 25 yr old women who look like they're 30 yrs older, and they are bloated, scabbous, dirty, disease ridden and ugly because of the use of drugs. Their family and friends won't have anything to do with them because they've let them down, stolen from them, taken advantage of them, lied to them, etc. They've had such a hard life and it was their own fault.

I never considered myself beautiful and, as a teenager, that hurt me a lot. Now, with the maturity of being 50 yrs old, I look back and realize that I was attractive...not beautiful, but attractive, slender, young, energetic, clear eyed. But these things are but dust in the wind. What makes a woman really beautiful...is beauty on the inside. A clear conscience, a good heart, a loving spirit, integrity, an excellent character, a good reputation, a sincere smile, kind hands. All of these are available to every woman if we are saved through Jesus Christ. When you have the beauty of Christ on the inside, then you can be blessed with beauty on the outside. God can trust you with blessings if you've been a good steward with what He has already given you. The Parable of the Ten Gold Talents, Matthew 25: 29, "Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don't have anything."

Isaiah 3:16-24 And Jehovah says, Because the daughters of Zion are proud, and have walked with stretched out necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet;
therefore Jehovah will strike with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and Jehovah will make their secret parts naked.
In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of ankle-bracelets,
and the headbands,
and the crescents,
the pendants,
and the bracelets,
and the veils;
the headdresses,
and the leg ornaments,

The following scriptures talk about inward beauty too.
1 Peter 3:1-3 In like manner, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behaviour of their wives; beholding your chaste behaviour coupled with fear (respect and reverence for God).
Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

1 Titus 2:8-10 Therefore, I desire that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
In the same way also, I desire that women adorn themselves in decent clothing, with modesty and sensibleness, not adorned with braiding, or gold, or pearls, or costly clothing, but with good works, which becomes women professing godliness.

God is in the balance. Where is the balance in wearing jewelry, clothes, fancy hair styles? As you can see, God willingly gives to those women who develop their inner beauty. As long as we are not misusing the gifts that God gives, then we can be trusted to recieve more, inner and outer beauty. Do we need to get rid of our jewelry, grow our hair long and never style it, wear dresses only and only with a hem to the ankle? If you have a problem with pride and flirtatiousness then it would be a self discipline to do this. Sort of like fasting. If this is a snair for you then by all means it is better to get rid of it and dress simply, modestly and make careful conscious decisions when you dress or purchase clothes. If this is not a struggle with you and you have a balance in your life, then I see no sin in wearing jewelry, having a modern hairstyle or nice clothes. Ask yourself some questions to determine if you are in balance.
* Do you spend too much on clothes, shoes, hair, jewelry, accessories? If you do, you are out of balance. If you can't tithe and give offerings but you can afford to buy a new gold necklace or have your French permanent, manicures, facials...think carefully because you are out of balance.
* Do you spend too much time and energy on your grooming and shopping for your clothes? If you can't make it to church but you can make it to the big sale...you may be out of balance.
* Has it become too important to you to lose? What if God asked you to give it all up, would you be able to? This indicates whether it's become too important and has become idolatrous.
* Do you not have enough room for all your clothes, shoes, etc? You can't keep them neat, organized and contained? You may have too much stuff and be out of balance.
* Do you still have clothes in your closet that have never been worn and still have the price tags on them? Wasted money. That is not being a good steward and indicates you may be out of balance.
* Do you wear items that are not modest? I'm not talking about shorts, pants, bathing suit...I'm talking about really short shorts, very tight pants, very revealing bathing suits, low cut blouses, midriff tops, very low waisted pants, tight or see through shirts, not wearing undergarments, wearing garments with suggestive messages printed on them ... choices that women make to deliberately catch the attention of men and send "SEX" signals. It's about conscious decisions ... choosing clothes that are revealing and teasing. I don't mean unconscious mistakes like you accidentally show cleavage when you bend over the desk, or a seam accidentally rips and you don't notice it until you've worn it all day. God will take care of our modesty when mistakes and accidents happen. But making deliberate choices to titillate is out of balance.

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