If it is wrong for Christians to wear earrings, why does Ezekiel 16:11-12 say that God decked Israel with ornaments and bracelets?

Questions asked during India visit

Question No.4

If it is wrong for Christians to wear jewelry, why does Ezekiel 16:11-12 say that God decked Israel with ornaments and bracelets?

The counsel of God is perfect. What God requires of us is and will always be right. However, time and again man always drifts from the original plan or perfect will of God. An example of this is how man started engaging in divorce. Divorce was never part of God’s perfect will but because of the hardness of man’s heart He permitted it (Mat.19:8). When God permits something, even a vain thing that is unprofitable to man, it is in hope of something better to come, and also for eyes of man to see and learn. “For the creature”, Paul writes, “was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope” (Rom.8:20). It is for this reason that although God knew about the imperfectness of the Old Testament Law He still let it take full course. He permitted the Law of Moses so “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom.3:19)The Law was to show man that even when he knew the good thing to do he was insufficient to perform true righteousness (Rom.7:19).

Another example of God permitting something which is not His will can be found in the life of David. He had many wives. We know that God was never the author of polygamy. For “they twain shall be one flesh… they are no more twain, but one flesh” (Mat.19:1-8). But, how could God say to David, “And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom…and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things”? (2 Sam.12:8-9). Does this sentence mean God sanctioned the polygamous marriages of King David? How about the scripture which says that God had put a lying spirit in Ahab’s prophets (2 Chro.18:21-22); would God lie?

It is important to know that God is everywhere and sovereign and therefore, whatever He permits the free-will of man to do, even when it is a terribly evil thing, that is by implication His cause!  Is it any surprising then that in Isaiah He declared saying, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isa.45:7)?

In Genesis chapter 35 we read about God telling Jacob to go to Bethel. Jacob knew that the gods and type of garments his family wore weren’t  pleasing to God. So he commanded them saying “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments” (v.2). Surely a spiritual person is able to discern the perfect will of God. When Jacob’s family heard the instruction, they did more than they were told for “they gave to Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand , and all their earrings which were in the ears” (v.4). Why did they put off the earrings if there was nothing wrong with wearing them? And would all Israelites follow the example of Jacob’s family through time? Not so. Later there was a nation of Israel which time and again got attracted to the vain beauty of pagan nations. Their hearts coveted after that and yes God gave them the vanity they desired but with consequences! Yes, God can permit an undesirable thing but there will always be consequences which follow.

Here is another case: wasn’t it considered a curse for women to lead people? “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isa.3:12). But was it not God who raised Deborah, a woman, to lead the nation of Israel? Does that mean God is pleased with women being in leadership or being preachers? Many who are blind to the simple truth of Scripture would say so, but Deborah herself knew better for she said to Barak, “I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Jud.4:8-9). The sins of Israel were many and God permitted that.

In the time of Ezekiel, the infidelity of Israel against God’s Law was thus illustrated: “I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head” (Eze.16:11-12). But what resulted from this beauty of Israel? The scripture continues: “But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was”(v.15).

In the New Testament Christ came to restore man to the perfect will of God. All those who walk in Grace, given to us through Calvary, have left “shadows” of the Law behind them and are entered into the Light of God’s Truth . We don’t take pleasure in carnality. We are the Bride of Christ “whose adorning [is] not that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold” (1 Pet.3:3). We surely can never hide in shadows of the night like prostitutes and thieves when the Day-star has dawned upon us!

Be assured that if the family of Jacob, upon conviction of the Word they had received about some holy place they were to go to, gave up their earrings and garments, Eve who was in Eden, in the very presence of God, a pure daughter of God, would have never perforated her nose or ears to try to look beautiful! If the Fall had not occurred Eve would still have been alive today and there certainly wouldn’t be any paint on her lips or eyebrows!

5 thoughts on “If it is wrong for Christians to wear earrings, why does Ezekiel 16:11-12 say that God decked Israel with ornaments and bracelets?”

  1. How convenient that you skip verse 14. Where God literally declares he made Israel beautiful after adorning her with those gifts. “You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. 14 And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God.”… yet you twisted it into what? Here, lemme quote you guys “the infidelity of Israel against God’s Law was thus illustrated”. That’s how you described it. Not to mention you then somehow say that those gifts resulted in Israel’s idolatry when the passage makes no such connection. This is not an example of God giving Israel an undesirable thing and consequences following it. This is a metaphor of God making Israel beautiful and them falling into the idolatry of the Canaanites. In fact verses 11-14 blatantly make it clear that jewelry is not bad in anyway as God himself used it to “adore” Israel and make it beautiful. And again God himself is quoted describing it so.

    1. Dear R,
      Thank you for your reply. Yes, it is God who had beautified Israel with ornaments and that is brought out in verses 12 and 14 of Ezekiel 16. Please note that verse 12 which brings out this fact (re-emphasised in verse 14) was quoted in the article. Kindly read through the article again. Here are three questions you may want to respond to : Why did Jacob’s wives take off earings when the family was about to go and present themselves before God? (Gen.35:4). Do you believe that it is God who gave multiple wives to David ? If yes, according to 2 Sam.12:8-9, can believers practise polygammy? Is it God who anointed and raised Deborah, a woman, as a person of authority (a judge) in Israel? If yes, does God allow believers to let women occupy positions of authority as preachers in the church ( see 1 Cor.14:34, 1 Tim.2:12)?

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