Category Archives: Ezekiel

A Close Shave

straight-razors

When I was younger, I would go to Frank’s Barber shop to have my hair cut, there was an older gentleman there who was all about doing things “old school”. After you sat down he would pull out a long leather strap along with his unusually lengthy straight blade; with great care and a seemingly sinister look on his face, he would hone the edge so it was razor sharp. You never told him what kind of cut you wanted, and he never asked, you just sat as quiet and still as deer staring into the headlights of a car while he meticulously worked his blade around your head cutting and shaving until each and every last hair was touched.

The book of Ezekiel describes God’s judgement on Israel like that of a razor (chapter 5). Take a second to this about these words: annihilate, eradicate, obliterate, demolish and destroy. In the first thirty-three chapters the main theme or message is all about doom, the plight of the chosen people of God because of their disobedience to his law. Statements like “I will inflict punishment on you… I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again… I myself will shave you… I will not look on you with pity or spare you.” (5:8-12) The word shave used in the NIV is used to explain the idea of being cut off, removed or withdrawn. God, who is righteous and just in his actions, tells the people through Ezekiel that they will be cut off from His presence, he will withdraw from their lives just as they have withdrawn from life in him. God’s swift razor of judgment came through the finishing actions of the sharp sword, famine and plague.

In between the words of doom and destruction we are reminded of God’s promise to carry a remnant of people through the impending judgement on them. Thinking in terms of a close shave or well-defined hair in respect to the straight razor, I am reminded that the remnant of hair left on top of my head was also affected by the sharp cut of the blade; it had been cut off, damaged and left to grow again. God did not promise that the remnant, those who were scattered among the nations would not be affected by his judgement, I can only imagine what happened to them left visible and defining scars both in a physical and mental sense; a reminder that God’s promise of justice over the whole nation of His people were not just empty threats. “They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. And they will know that I am the Lord” (6:9-10a)

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Stumbling Blocks

obstacles_webTake a minute to think about how you got to where you are right now. I don’t mean financially or in respect to your profession or family but right now physically as you read these words. I imagine you walked from somewhere to the seat you are sitting in now. Did you have to think about walking? How many times did you stumble or fall? Other than stubbing my toe on a chair once and a while or stepping on a stray piece of Lego in the dark of night while checking in on my kids I do pretty well.

Ezekiel talks about a different kind of stumbling that has a profound effect on our lives, in fact he calls them “wicked stumbling blocks”. He is talking about the things that hinder our relationship with God, these are the sins, the idols and the practices that we hold on to in our lives. The audience Ezekiel is speaking to are some of the elders of Israel, these are the men called to be leaders and examples to the people. These elders have built up in their hearts and lives idols that have hindered their relationship with the only one true God, their trust in God has been diverted to the things of the world. Overcoming the stumbling blocks in our faith and relationship with God constitutes an authentic change of heart, a genuine repentance for the sins in our lives.

God hears our prayers; He waits for us to come Him knowing that we can’t do life on our own. I often think about the stumbling blocks in my own life that hindering my relationship with God, has the open line of communication with God through prayer become a little clouded or blocked by the idols I hold onto in life? I may be quick to judge the hindrances I see in others people lives but I have to continually examine my own life for those same things. We may have a good handle on physically walking around the things that might make us stumble but can we say the same thing for our spiritual lives?

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