There were exiles in Ezekiel’s day who, despite the judgment that had come their way, were still making believe that their sins didn’t really matter, and that things were all going to turn out just fine — sin and all. But their sin certainly did matter and it created an iron barrier between them and the LORD.
An iron plate
Much of Ezekiel’s teaching come in the form of metaphors or parables. In chapter 4 God commands Ezekiel to set up a sort of sandbox metaphor about Jerusalem: a brick representing Jerusalem, piled up sand like siege works, and most importantly in this visual aid, himself as God with an iron plate set up between Ezekiel and the brick that represented Jerusalem. The point was crystal clear, the sins of the nation had set up a strong barrier between the LORD and the people. Sin does this every time — puts a wall between us and God. God and His people were not OK. They had sinned and were continuing to sin; as it might be put in modern vernacular, they just weren’t that into God. How “into God” are you really? Or is God just a hobby?
A few hairs in the hem of Ezekiel’s robe
The next visual aid / parable is Ezekiel shaving the hair of his head with, not a barber’s razor, but a sword. A third of the hair was to be burned, a third was to be further cut with a sword, and the last third was to be scattered to the winds. Ezekiel’s hair represented Israel herself and God’s judgment on them. But even amidst all the judgment a few hairs were to be saved and put into the hem of Ezekiel’s robe, symbolic of God’s safe keeping of a remnant (Ezek. 5:3). God would not forget His promise to the remnant; they would not be swept away with the rest who had lived disobediently. What comfort to know that God won’t forget those who are His today or tomorrow, either!
Remember how much God had been hurt
Because God is the supreme being, we sometimes don’t think about God as having feelings. He’s tough, nothing that I could do to Him would really hurt Him. Sometimes as a father or husband or someone who’s just big (I’ve been all three) rather harsh things can be said or done without conscience, because you’re tough and you can take it. But believe me when I say that words and deeds still hurt. Yes, our ingratitude hurts Him, our disobedience hurts Him, our sins, our complaints, our lack of faith in Him hurts; our spiritual adulteries hurt (Ezek. 6:9). Ezekiel was saying that a time was coming in which the remnant would look at the wreckage of their sins and loathe themselves over the hurt they had caused the LORD. God is not an impersonal “force”, as in “May the force be with you.” He is a personal being, whose personality is defined in many ways like ours: love, anger, joy, sadness, jealousy, and hurt. It would do us only good to own the hurt that we’ve inflicted on the Lord who loves us, and renew our commitment to being sources of joy rather than pain.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.