What You’ve Missed…
* Not much.
* The Babylonians capture Israel and force the rich Israelites to move to Babylon as captives. Everyone else was allowed to hang around and starve and be poor and stuff.
* A description of heavenly beings that sound more like aliens than angels. If people knew angels in heaven really looked like this, Angels in the Outfield would’ve been the scariest horror movie ever made.
Days 228 and 229
Daily Readings: Ezekiel 3-9, Jeremiah 27-28
What I have come across in the past two days of reading is so bizarre, I actually asked a co-worker to cover for me tonight so I could write this post. Let me just say I find myself reading the book of Ezekiel for the first time, and it is EFFING WEIRD.
It starts off with a crazy vision of freaky looking flying things covered in eyes, with four different faces, hands, and wings (these are heavenly, holy beings by the way), flying all around the cosmos and cruising around on crazy monster-truck tires. (No, really…that’s an accurate description.) Alright, is this the inspired word of God, or someone writing about the craziest drug trip of their life? Think that’s a ridiculous question? Then clearly, you haven’t read it for yourself. I had to double check and make sure I wasn’t trippin’ after I finished reading.
My point? Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven won’t prepare you for the freakshow that may actually be awaiting you when you arrive.
God starts speaking to Ezekiel (who is part of the group that has been exiled to Babylon) and I guess God is tired of just trying to talk to his people. So He has Ezekiel put on a few demonstrations.
God has Ezekiel build a diorama of the city of Jerusalem under attack, and has him act out the attack, in order to show Jerusalem how intense the fighting will be with Babylon. Pause. Imagine a man out in a public area close to your house, with a giant ping-pong table size model of the city, jumping around, pretending like there’s a war going on (complete with mouth made sound effects like explosions and gun fire, screaming and wailing, etc.) And then imagine this guy saying, “God says war is coming! Listen to me!”
Then God takes it up a notch.
“Son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a razor to shave your head and beard. Place a third of your hair at the center of your map. After acting out the siege, burn it there. Scatter another third across the map and chop it with a sword. Scatter the last third to the wind…” (Ezekiel 5:1-3)
So now imagine our crazy ping-pong table friend cutting off his hair (with a sword), lighting it on fire and chopping it up saying, “God says war is coming. You need to start obeying God. Listen to me!”
Uh, YOU listen to ME weirdo. You’re creepin’ us out, alright? So please meet with all your personalities and get them all to agree that you need help. Lots of it. The kind offered in a padded room, wearing a straight-jacket, while heavily sedated.
This…this is the guy God uses to speak to His people. Clearly God never took any public speaking or marketing courses. (God, I know I slept through most of college, but they still gave me a communications degree…so, just let me know if you need some pointers. Which, uh, I think you might.)
“Now lie on your left side and place the sins of Israel on yourself…I am requiring you to bear Israel’s sins for 390 days – one day for each year of their sin. After that, turn over and lie on your right side for 40 days – one day for each year of Judah’s sin. Meanwhile, keep staring at the siege of Jerusalem (the diorama). Lie there…and prophesy her destruction. I will tie you up with ropes so you won’t be able to turn from side to side until the days of your siege have been completed.” (Ezekiel 4:4-7)
So now our crazy friend is laying down, on his left side by his public ping-pong diorama, for over a year. I can’t sit still for 10 minutes. Ezekiel just lays there for over a year? And the whole time he’s continually telling everyone who walks by they’re going to be destroyed?
This reminds me of all those uber weird people who permanently hang around the White House with all their uber weird displays, full of uber weird pictures of deformed kids and victims of war and stuff, creeping out all the tourists, looking all homeless and cracked out. This is what Ezekiel was like. He was one of those people. God told him to do it. And when I think about it…I don’t like it. Those people give me the jibbly-jibblies. I don’t want them as the heroes of my Bible.
But apparently at this point in history God wasn’t interested in what I wanted.
“Now go and gather some [ingredients] and mix them together…Use them to make bread for yourself during the 390 days…While all the people are watching, bake it over a fire using dried human dung as fuel and then eat the bread…This is how Israel will eat defiled bread in the Gentile lands to which I will banish them!” (Ezekiel 4:9-13)
Uhhhhhhhhhh, what? So, not only is Ezekiel camped out in public on his side for a year, telling everyone they’re going to die, but he has to eat bread cooked over crap? Really God? This is the way you want to get your point across? Adding ANOTHER layer of ridiculous on top of a pretty solid ridiculous foundation? That’s your plan? AND you’re going to make this poor guy eat poop bread?
How is ANYONE supposed to heed Ezekiel’s warnings? You’re setting him up for failure. People are just going to point and laugh at the guy. The only reasonable conclusion anyone watching him could come to is that the dude has completely lost it. People are going to avoid him, spit on him, and probably throw some nasty crap at him (which actually helps him make more delicious poop bread, really). Why God? Why be so bizarre? It’s…well…off-putting. I know you’re trying to make a point, but, a bald headed freak who eats poop bread while telling everyone they’re going to die in a horrible war? That seems like the worst way to go about it. I don’t know anything about being a prophet…but I’m not following your logic on this one.
I’m not sure Ezekiel did either. I love his response after finding out he has to cook his bread on a crap fire. (Though he never seems to object any of the other stuff…which I find surprising.)
“‘Then I said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, must I be defiled by using human dung? For I have never been defiled before…I have never eaten any meat forbidden by law.’” (Ezekiel 4:14)
Basically he’s saying, “Yeah….uh, I really, really don’t want to eat poop bread God. Look, I’ve followed all of your laws in the past and pretty much have a perfect record. Can’t you cut your homeboy a little slack on this one?” I love it. Clearly even this guy has his limits.
And God’s response is just as great as Ezekiel’s.
“‘All right’, said the LORD. ‘You may bake your bread with cow dung instead of human dung.’” (Ezekiel 4:15)
Ha ha. I bet Ezekiel just sat there thinking, “Holy shit.”
And it was.