Ezekiel 16:6,8, “When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’”…When I passed by you again…I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into covenant with you, declares YHWH God, and you became mine.”
Now, what is especially significant here, is the repetition of the Lord ‘passing by” (עבר) His people. This is a common word in the OT however, there is a specific usage that causes it to stand out, and that is Exodus 33:19 and 34:6. These texts form the definitive exposition of YHWH’s Name / Character in all of the OT. At Moses’ request to see YHWH’s glory, YHWH replies that He will ‘make all my goodness pass before (עבר) you’, and will declare His name (Ex.33:19). Then, in Exodus 34:6, we read that ‘YHWH passed before (עבר) [Moses] and proclaimed, ‘YHWH, YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…’ So, from the context of Exodus 33-34, and especially when YHWH is the subject, עבר becomes a theophanic word…it is in passing by that YHWH proclaims His Name and so manifests His glory.
Thus, the repetition of עבר here in Ezekiel 16 is theologically charged. When YHWH passes by His people in Ezekiel 16, the actions that follow are applications of / expressions of the name He declares to Moses on Sinai, His covenant Name, His glory. THIS is what YHWH declares as He passes by Moses, and THIS is what YHWH enacts as He passes by His people in the extended metaphor of Ezekiel 16.
Another way to say this is that YHWH’s gracious regard for His the abandoned infant of His people (v.6); His merciful covering of His people with His own garments, the gathering of them to Himself while they are exposed and helpless and His binding them to Himself as His covenant Bride (v.8); His lavish adornment of them with all the glories and graces of His fullness (v.9-12)—These gracious and historic actions toward His people ARE His passing by…this is how YHWH passes by humanity and so declares His Name…Indeed, this IS His declaration of His Name / Beauty / Glory.
And once we have said this, we are led to realize that, though this is a recounting of YHWH’s creating and gathering Israel to Himself, it is ultimately an image of His gathering His trans-ethnic, trans-temporal, trans-spatial people to Himself in Christ. It is in Jesus that the true ‘Live!’ Is spoken over the aborted human race, wallowing in their own blood…it is in Jesus that the naked and helpless Church is covered with the garment of God’s own righteousness, bound to God as His covenant Bride, and known forevermore by God’s own Name, adorned with the beauties of His own splendor. These things could not have happened in history to Abraham and the Exodus generation and ethnic Israel if they had not happened from all eternity in Christ to His people.
What does that all mean? Well, IF YHWH’s redemptive dealings with His people in history is the passing by by which His name is made manifest, and IF those historical redemptive dealings are rooted in, expressions of, and pointing toward the historic—indeed, the trans-historic—redemption achieved in the crucified and risen Jesus, THEN the supreme passing by of YHWH by which His name is enacted and so made manifest is Jesus Christ—specifically His cross, His death and resurrection—in whom and by which the ‘passings by’ of Ezekiel 16:6, 8 are fulfilled.