Dirty Hippies

What You’ve Missed…
* God tells Israel things are going to get better.
* God tells Egypt things are going to get worse.
* God tells the country of Gog they’re basically dead already.
* Oh, and pages and pages listing Jewish ancestors for hundreds of years.  Apparently the Israelites were science fiction nerds because they gave their kids weird alien names like Uzzi, Zadok and Bukki.

Day 246
Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 8-9, Daniel 4, Ezekiel 40

We’re going to keep it pretty short and sweet today.  So, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has a crazy dream and then has Daniel interpret it for him.  Here’s what Daniel tells him:

“This is what the dream means…You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals.  You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven.  Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses….but you will receive your kingdom back again when you learn that heaven rules.” (Daniel 4:24-26)

Bummer.  The worst part though is it came true.

“Twelve months later he was taking a walk…as he looked across the city he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon!  By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’ … That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society.  He ate grass like a cow and was drenched with the dew of heaven.  He lived this way until his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:29-33)

Later he admits God is the ultimate ruler, his sanity returns and he is restored as the head of his kingdom, with even greater honor than before.

Okay….just, hold up a minute here Bible. You’re telling me that the most powerful king in the land spends what could be months or years living like a Bonnaroo hippie, getting all cuddly and weird with nature, acting like a wild animal, and that he’s probably gone completely insane…and then he just goes back to being an awesome king who everyone loves even more than before?  I mean, I know people love a leader that can party (who wouldn’t want to cruise for chicks with President Clinton?) but this seems a bit much.

I can’t picture Obama being chased out of the Oval Office, and going on to spend the next few years following some jam band around the country, living out of a tent, growing some dreads and chewing some “grass”, only to return to the White House as President, with the full confidence of the nation behind him.  That’s ridiculous.  Fox News would never shut up about it, probably saying a real American would never even think of acting like that.

(Sure this sounds a lot like Bob Marley now that I think about it.  But Marley was always that way.  And he was cool.  And he’s ruining my analogy so I’m moving on.)

Would you want to follow a guy who completely lost his mind, lived like the dirtiest, homeless redneck ever, and then became president?  Would you believe that’s the guy God would put in charge of an incredibly powerfully nation?  Is it just me, or does that seem incredibly ridiculous to anyone else?  Because that’s what happened.

*Author’s note: My apologies to Bonnaroo fans.  I don’t think you’re all dirty hippies.  Just most of you.

Here We Go Again…

What You’ve Missed…
* God calls Jerusalem a useless vine.
* God calls Jerusalem an adulterous wife.
* God calls Jerusalem his beautiful daughter.  But then calls her a prostitute.  (In fact, God goes into great detail mentioning that this prostitute daughter actually lusts after men who, “have genitals like that of a donkey” completely one-upping Sir Mix-a-Lot’s I Like Big Butts.
* God says He is going to pour out his fury on Israel for her sins.
* Oh yeah, and God says He’s going to pour out judgment on all the false prophets.
* Apparently God is a tad angry these days.
(Credit for the above image goes to memegenerator.net)

Day 236
Daily Reading: Jeremiah 32-33, Ezekiel 26

To give you an idea of the kinds of things God is saying to His people at this point, allow me to let the Bible speak for itself.

“Son of man, turn and face Jerusalem and prophesy against Israel and her sanctuaries.  Tell her, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am your enemy, O Israel, and I am about to unsheath my sword to destroy your people – the righteous and the wicked alike.  Yes, I will cut off both the righteous and the wicked!  I will draw my sword against everyone in the land from south to north.  Everyone in the world will know I am the LORD.  My sword is in my hand, and it will not return to its sheath until its works is finished.’”  (Ezekiel 21:1-5)

First of all…that is one of the most bad ass, pre-battle speeches ever.  We’re passed Braveheart at this point.  This up there with the stuff Samuel L. Jackson is quoting in Pulp Fiction.  Clearly God knows how to put the fear of God in people.

Second of all…here we go again.  God is calling for the destruction of His own people.  A few posts ago we saw God say He would have mercy on His people.  So, what about now?

Well…it’s kind of the same deal.  But not.  In Jeremiah, God says He will allow Jerusalem to indeed fall completely into Babylon’s evil clutches (though, honestly, I thought this had already happened…so I’m kind of confused), and they will suffer as a result of their sinful behavior.  But then He says this,

“The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah.  He said, ‘Have you heard what people are saying – ‘The LORD chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them!’…But this is what the LORD says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky.  I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.”  (Jeremiah 33:23-26)

It seems that God is in fact going to allow the majority of His people to be destroyed through war and famine as He’s promised, but also, that he promises to restore them after it’s all over.  In fact, God also says,

“Now I want to say something more about [Jerusalem].  You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine and disease.’  But this is what the LORD, the God of Israel says: I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury.  I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety.”  (Jeremiah 32:36-37)

And this,

“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: This land – though it is now desolate and has no people and animals – will once more have pastures where shepherds can lead their flocks…The day will come, says the LORD, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.”  (Jeremiah 33:12-14)

So, I guess God isn’t really going back on His word here.  He’s just saying, “Look, I’m unhappy and things are going to seriously suck for awhile.  I promise.  But then, I’m going to make it awesome again.  Really awesome.  I promise.  Stick with me.”

Weird, but okay.  I can rally around that kind of upfront honesty, seasoned with hope for the future.  (Maybe our presidential candidates should get God on their speech writing teams.  Or maybe they should just start telling the truth.  I’m actually not sure which is more likely.)
Honestly though, I’m still a little confused about whether Jerusalem has actually been captured yet or not.  And that whole “men hung like donkeys” thing is still kind of messing me up.

Holy Crap

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.

Moving on.

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.

Demonstration 1:
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.)

Demonstration 2:
“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.

Demonstration 3:
“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.