Scripture Text:(click to open in a new window or tab)
1. What recent book or magazine have you bought, mostly because of its cover appeal? Any romance novels or tabloids?
2. Of the TV personalities you know, which ones would you like to meet in person to see what beauty lies beneath the surface?
3. If married: How did you and your spouse get engaged? If single (and if you want to marry): How do you imagine making or receiving the marriage proposal?
4. Who are the characters in this allegorical love story? Who do they represent?
5. What about this woman’s “ancestry and birth” is significant (verse 3)? Has Jerusalem always been Israelite territory? Who possessed it before David finally conquered it?
6. What does the man do for the woman in the beginning of this story? What reference do you see here to childbirth? Puberty? Marriage? What one word sums up his wish for her (and God’s desire for all people)?
7. Beginning with verse 15, the focus shifts from “I” to “You”, signaling what shift in emphasis?
8. How does the woman respond to the man? What does she do now (verses 15 – 19) with all the gifts be once gave her (verses 10 – 14)? To what physical involvement (with fertility gods) and spiritual attitude does the man’s accusation refer?
9. How does she treat his children (verses 20 and 21)? Is this act literal or figurative? Why do you think so (see 2 Kings 17:17)?
10. What does she do (physically and spiritually) with her neighbors and strangers (verses 25 – 34)? What does she do this for?
11. How will the husband punish his wife for her deeds (verses 35 – 42; see Deuteronomy 22:20 – 24)? How will these actions make him feel?
12. What kind of relationship will they have in the future? Why do you think the “like mother, like daughter” illustration is an apt one (verses 3, 44 – 48)? What does she have in common with her “sisters”? How is she worse off?
13. Does all this mean the woman (Jerusalem) will never again remember, much less recover, the “days of her youth”? Who has the laugh and why?
14. Does this story have a happy ending or a sad one? How so? What hope is there that the love of her youth, if not her innocence, will be restored to this woman (verses 53 – 58)?
15. How does this extended parable show God is the Sovereign Lord?
16. How would you treat a wife who behaved like the woman in this story? Does God’s response surprise you? Why or why not?
17. Compare Ezekiel’s God (giving over Jerusalem to her enemies – verse 27 – or her lovers – verse 39) with Paul’s God (giving over all people to sinful desires/shameful lusts/a depraved mind – Romans 1:24 – 32). What similarities do you see?
18. What does this story tell you about God’s jealous love? His long-suffering patience? His righteous anger? His ultimately redemptive covenant?
19. What does this story say about God’s father like relationship to Israel? To her lustful neighbors? To you?
20. What would an updated allegory directed at today’s church have to say about sexual perversion, abortion, secular humanism, social injustice and other scornful and idolatrous behavior? What “lustful neighbors” would you include? What punishment to fit the crime would you dish out? Why? What final hope would you offer? Why?