“Care For the Hair Under There”
I know that on Sunday, I mentioned that Jeremiah was full of drama. I should have waited just a few days to give the “drama” label to Ezekiel. My, my, my. Without a doubt if there is anyone in the Bible any more dramatic than Ezekiel it has yet to be seen. His vision, making maps of Jerusalem, eating scrolls, lying on his side for over a year, then flipping over and lying on the other for 40 days, eating Ezekiel 4:9 bread, shaving his head with a sword, cooking with human dung (changed to cow fortunately), cooking pots and meat, repetition of words and pictures, not mourning for his wife’s death, useless vines, eagles, comparing Jerusalem to prostitutes, it goes on and on.
Friends, it is my hope that to this point all of us will understand the history of the Israelites and the Judeans so well, that the prophetic message of Ezekiel makes a whole lot of sense. We have read and discussed the story so thoroughly, looked at the kings who have gone sideways, and how the people refused to listen to Yahweh, that all of the images and words spoken by Ezekiel may be cryptic, but understandable.
No other author is more exact than Ezekiel. Everyone of his stories is in perfect order chronologically, unlike Jeremiah. There are thirteen date stamps recorded by Ezekiel through out the book. Nearly each one of them can be narrowed to an exact day.
Ezekiel is part of the second wave of deportees who make the trek across the desert to Babylon. Daniel and his friends are in the first one around 605 B.C. after the first attack by Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel goes around 598 B.C. and speaks from Babylon to his friends there regarding what happened to them and what will happen in the next thirteen years back home, precisely what Jeremiah is living through. Ezekiel names names and places with uncanny accuracy.
Recall Psalm 137 “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for here our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.”
Whenever one studies a book, patterns are looked at, words, combinations of words, structure, etc.. Those different studies provide information on purpose and intent of the author. And as we have seen and focused on throughout B90X, what is being said about Father in all of these words? There is a signature statement found 53 times in Ezekiel of the 63 uses in all of the Old Testament- those words are “will know that I am the LORD.” It is super obvious to us that Father is loud and clear in His message of covenant and faithfulness between He and His nation. But for some reason, to them it was not so clear. Ezekiel is making it as obvious as possible the God is God and attention should be paid His direction. Knowledge leads to response. When one truly knows Father, hopefully, an appropriate response follows.
From “The Message of Ezekiel” in The Bible Speaks Today, Christopher Wright says:
Ezekiel is ruthless in his exposure of sin in all its gruesome abhorrence. Reading his language from the comfortable distance of those not directly targeted by his rhetoric, we may at times wince at the coarseness of his imagery or query the one-sidedness of his portrayal of Israel’s whole history (e.g. in chs. 16, 20, and 23). Once we recognize, however, that Ezekiel was engaged, not in a detached academic debate, but in passionate evangelistic persuasion, we can understand his tactics. He was faced with people who refused to acknowledge their own sin,… Ezekiel’s tirades against Israel’s sin was necessary to bring at least some of his listeners to a more realistic assessment of their condition, and thereby to a genuine repentance.
Back to the title, “Care For the Hair Under There.” In chapter five, Ezekiel performs a pretty dramatic rendition of what happened to the people of Jerusalem. First of all, men, what do you think the sight would be for you to shave your head and face with a sword? Pretty gruesome, depending on how sharp or dull that sword is, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, the hair represents people. Some of the people scatter, some are burned in fire during the siege, some are hacked with a sword, and some are saved as a remnant. Those few that are held in the protective fold of the garment are those who remain faithful to the Word of the Lord. I want to be one of those who stay faithful and are placed somewhere for protection.
(If you want to have some fun trying to picture some of Ezekiel’s vision, Google- “Ezekiel’s Vision” and see what comes up.)