Ezekiel blog: Little gems

Ezekiel chapter 16 – final stretch

My wife is a big fan of watching the BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice”.  Over the years of watching that production with her, I’ve also developed an appreciation for period pieces like that story.  One of the things that made watching that mini-series so fascinating was observing how every time we followed the story, my wife would recognize some new gem of insight about the motivation of the characters, or extract some new connection between events.  She would express such excitement about these discoveries and insist that I get it too.   Yes, guys, real men can watch chick-flicks.

What does this have to do with the end of Ezekiel though?   In many ways, verses 35-63 are like reading a very complicated story over and over again.  The same context is repeated eg.  Israel had a bad history, current practices were terrible, and God enacts judgment followed swiftly by punishment.  Ezekiel takes us through this as if he’s trying to be sure that we get the circumstances. No disrespect intended, but he seems to have been very anal that way.

But along the way, we are treated to little bits of gained insight that Ezekiel has prized from the narrative.  Here are some of them that stand out to me:

1. It is because Israel did not remember her humble origins that God brings it all down on her head.  So: remember where you come from.

2. “Hey, you wanted all these lovers and all this attention?  Then I’m not going to step in and stop it when things get totally out of control.  Maybe an overdose will scare you enough.  ”  Yikes, hope I don’t need an intervention like this in my life.

3. God really doesn’t like proverb quoters.   I’m not talking about the book of Proverbs, but those annoying little platitudes that really don’t express any kind of real theology or faith, but are used as pseudo-religious bandaids of the moment.  Proverb-quoters….you know who you are.  Pay attention to this chapter for real.

4. Crimes of Sodom:   Arrogant, over-fed, and unconcerned.  Haughty and unresponsive to the poor and needy.   We all know what happened there.  Uh-huh, ‘nough said.

5. Ok, I know I said ‘nough said, but Sodom only measured up to HALF of how bad Israel was being at this point. That’s HALF as bad, and they got blown off the map.  What were you saying about God’s patience?

6. “Israel ! You broke our covenant! ”   God takes covenants very seriously.  It’s a big deal….and something God will work very hard to create, protect, rebuild, and recreate when necessary.

7. More on covenants, this is the one thing that God believes can actually be healed with Israel.  It’s the one thing in the entire chapter that is discussed in future tense.  God says He “will remember” and He “will establish”.   The object here?!  If he can find hope in such a disaster of a situation, then he can find hope for each one of us.

8. My anger will END. I will turn away my anger and be jealous no longer. When I make atonement for all that you have done…. etc. etc.

Can you imagine what a boost this must have been to Ezekiel who is still sitting out there in the desert wondering what is to become of his people who have been chased from their ancestral home and away from their spiritual center place? To hear that there will be a time when the covenant will be renewed and a time when anger will be turned away. At last some good news and something to hope for.

I’ve heard again and again how the Old Testament seems to be focused on an “Angry” and “Vengeful” God. In this chapter, I see quite the opposite. This story is about a long suffering and patient beyond patient God. He wants to bring His anger to an END. And can anyone doubt what He has in mind for the phrase “atonement for all that you have done”? There is a group within the Christian community who dismiss and ignore the Old Testament because it appears to have little to do with the New Testament message. From my perspective, I find a rich connection between the two collections of written scripture….as did the original believers in the message of Hope.

And now, I am done with Chapter 16. Thanks for hanging in there with me if you are reading along.

 

 

Ezekiel blog: Still in Chpt 16, and how not to gain popularity.

I remember working for a very large company once in Wisconsin.  The management there was fond of using the phrase, “Will this be good for the business?”  This seems to have been their only moral compass to guide their decision making process.  Not surprisingly, when the company stock took a small dip, the managers walked out into the main office floor and randomly fired enough people right there, on the spot, in order to make up the cash flow deficit. These people were happily sacrificed for the supposed “good” of the company.

Which brings me to the fact that I’m still digging around in Ezekiel chapter 16.  There is so much here and symbolism at so many levels, it’s taking a long time to sort through it all.   The commentaries are almost useless in many instances, many of them falling back to literal association attempts.  I’m hovering somewhere between vs 20 and vs 35.  Ezekiel is expanding on the accusations against Israel.

We are pressed constantly to appreciate the odd condition of prostitution that Jerusalem had created. In the middle of all this there is a reference to the sacrifice of their children, to which again the commentaries make a direct reference to actual child sacrifice of pagan religions in the area. I’m not so sure that is what Ezekiel is focusing on.

To be sure, the children are always targeted when religious extremity rears its fanatical head. Just look through news, current and past, and you will find religious zealots attacking schools, kidnapping children.  Add to that the political extremes which constantly try to pass laws of one flavor of another which affect how children learn, or what they have access to learn. It’s here, it’s there. The language and culture of origin may be distant or right here in our own backyard.  Extremism is just another form of idolatry, so this should not be a surprise. You can tell it is idolatry, firstly because it is created by humans (though often supposedly in the name of God), secondly because of the unforgiving (when is God not forgiving) nature of its demands, and finally how you are required to love it but it does not love you back.

However, all that aside, I think Ezekiel is addressing something more fundamental here.  Elsewhere in scripture, the children of Israel are always the people, the common citizens of the country.  These people are being sacrificed in Ezekiel’s eyes to avarice of the rulers of Jerusalem.  We saw this earlier in the book of Ezekiel.  But, ….sacrificed??

Back to my earlier example about hard working people being sacrificed for the “good” of the company.  (And by the way, that’s not the only time I saw that kind of business stupidity being delivered from so called managers.)  It is common for management/leadership/ruling class to look upon the rest of humanity as disposable to the needs of the moment. The passages of these interim verses of Ezekiel mention the involvement of the rulers of Jerusalem with other surrounding nations.  High places were built to satisfy the whims of these other nations.  That kind of thing demands resources – the kind of resources that can be extracted from a population of people who are vulnerable or in debt.  Yes, they probably were sacrificed in order to secure a certain amount of status with the national peers of Israel.  And,  as I mentioned before, it is always the children who suffer the most. Given the circumstances, I have no doubt that families were torn apart, or forced to work for extended periods of time in order to bring these perilous acts to a conclusion. And none of it was hidden from God – as Ezekiel goes into extreme detail.

All of this for what?   Ezekiel compares Israel to a prostitute. However, there is a big distinction made.  An actual prostitute expects payment for services rendered. Israel was paying their so called customers for the honor of being a prostitute in Ezekiel’s eyes.  Quite backward, but neither situation being desirable in any form.

What is the message here then?   The question to ask is why was the leadership of Israel so insecure that they believed they must pacify their peers, live up to imagined expectations of the very nations that they were in a position to influence in a positive way?  It was a total desire to be popular, to be secure, to know and control the dynamics.  None of that can be described as faith.   Faith does not demand that the nations leadership be passive and uninterested players either. But it does demand that they listen to the voice of compassion, of justice for their citizens, that they hear the cry for fairness and have an openness to the guidance of the Spirit which often advices to Be Still, have patience, watch God at work, and err on the side of being mindfully charitable of and to your neighbor.

It is often said that the old testament is about an Angry and Vengeful God – one who is quick of temper and who offers no mercy of compassion.  Over and over again, as I read Ezekiel, I see quite the opposite.  Here, in these paragraphs, we see God patiently working with Israel and the other nations over generations, trying to move them into a better state; until a breaking point is reached and all forward progress has been lost.   I see parallels between the parables of the Gospels and the pleas for social justice from the prophets.

Oh well, next blog will be on to the pronouncements of judgment in chapter 16.  I’m sure that will be filled with all kinds of fun.  And we will see if there is any hint of charity, mercy, or compassion left to be had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel blog: What’s in a verb anyways?

 

In any story, in any narrative, there comes a point where the voice of the storyteller shifts.  It doesn’t always happen. But, in most cases where someone is trying to convince you of something, or dissuade you of something, the tension will rise around how active the verbs are. To that point,  I remember my history professor in college challenging me to get out of passive voice and into active voice.

What does this have to do with Ezekiel Chapter 16?  As I was reading through some more of this chapter, I was struck by a couple of key sentences, verses 15 & 16 specifically.  The tone became very different as we hear God’s complaint get voiced in such a way such that we begin to hear the emotional overtones of betrayal and dismay.  Everything said from the beginning of the chapter was in first person.  “I” did this, and “I” did that ….all for you. Verse 15 starts in with “But you did this”, and “you did that”.   You, You, You.

I thought that the phrase, “You trusted in your beauty” was an interesting way to begin things. God is full of astonishment and disappointment at Israel whom he has brought forward from humble beginnings, through all the growing pains, little by little gaining grace and beauty, who has now taken a possessive ownership of that very same beauty. Israel basically says, “thanks, but it’s mine just the same” – a sort of self justification for any action yet to be taken.  It’s a form of arrogance that dismisses the gentle process of guidance towards perfection and revels in the apparent state of arrival as if nothing has happened before this point.

That devaluation is further characterized in the second half of that sentence where God continues, “and you used your fame to become a prostitute”.  So not only did you devalue the entire partnership and loving care to get you to this point, you chose to spend what remaining value you had towards a short term increase in popularity that was completely false.  “You used this – to become that”.  The next several verses use the verb “took”, as in “You took this – and did that with it”.

So:  Trust, Use, Took.

Looking at those three verbs, they don’t seem that harmful or out of sort at first glance. In cases like this, I find that working backwards is instructive.

Beginning with “took”, why is it took and not receive.  Every asset mentioned was freely given by God to his cherished Israel. It reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son that Jesus told.  One son demands everything and cashes it in. The other son is jealous of lavish attention while forgetting that he has access to anything of the household by the grace of his father.  Do I continually go to God with demands of what I want?  It has always been a point of work for me to try to be aware of what I have received – most times without even asking.  Some people refer to this as the discipline of being thankful.  I think that is part of it, but it is also a discipline of recognizing all the little steps and pieces that are continually there supporting you even though things may be hard and you feel burdened.  To me, it’s not to dismiss my feelings of anxiety, pain, or sorrow over hard issues, but a reminder that there is a presence working with me.

Next up, “use”.  That’s not so bad one would think. We do that kind of thing all the time such as use the butter knife to butter toast. Use the phone to say hello.  Except – “use” implies autonomous control; and said autonomous control implies ability to make responsible choices.  When God says “…you used your fame to become a prostitute”, God is questioning the overall sense of good judgment that Israel claims to have.   This is not what the proud Father of Israel intended as a beacon on the hill for all to see. It all was thrown away and became as nothing.  What a waste.   The message of Ezekiel is that you don’t use what God has given you for dark purposes. You don’t let your own judgment seduce you into thinking your very limited vision is greater than God.

Which leads us to “Trust”.  The accusation is that Israel ceased placing faith and trust in the God that lead them out of Egypt and began to place their trust in their own self-concieved political maneuverings; buying and selling favors, etc.  Jeremiah had given the same warning:

This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

Much is going on in this chapter, a lot of emotion, a lot of tension. And, it forces me to ask questions of myself:

How aware am I of receiving what God is ready to give?  How will I know when these things come along – am I even looking?

Am I taking and then using? or am I trying to align my efforts with what God already has going on around me? How do you know what God already has going on?

Who am I trusting in? Is it my own agenda, my own sense of wisdom? Am I praying for the success of my own maneuverings, or placing faith in what God is doing?

I am not sure I know the answers to these questions all the time. I suspect that my answers change from time to time. I suspect that is what it means to be an imperfect soul.

 

 

Ezekiel blog: and now for a bit of gardening

Taking a look at Ezekiel Chapter 15 – a very short chapter with lots going on.
I wonder what y’all will think of this entry.  Have fun.

Have you ever tried to get rid of a patch of poison ivy vines growing up and around a cluster of trees?   Not fun I can tell you.  You can use various poisons, of course, but their always seems to be another outbreak if you don’t get enough poison to reach all the way down to the roots.  For that matter, even if you get the roots, poison ivy is able to seed new vine off-shoots if it puts new roots down along its path. You have only been successful eradicating the poison ivy infestation if you are able to kill it at both root and end of the vine.

Nice, you say. What’s this have to do with Ezekiel chapter 15,  you say. In Chapter 15, we are given what seems to be a whimsical parable at almost random.  It’s not the usual vision, nor is it a response to the “Elders” of Israel. It’s almost as if Ezekiel was wondering aloud why all of these extreme measures were necessary. Can you blame him?  The answer, of course, is given within the text.  It is the faith, or in this case, the un-faithfulness, infesting Jerusalem that God is objecting to.  And part of the problem was the idea that took hold among the people that they could outlast the judgment and displeasure of God, so much so, that they ignored and imprisoned Jeremiah the prophet.  They were dead set on resisting the guidance to submit to Babylon, regardless of what they were being advised.

Many of the commentaries fall back to looking for analogues between the images of the prophetic oracle, and what we know of the physical world in history, The method in this case is to liken the vines of Chapter 15 to the royal realms of Judah and Israel, etc.

But as I mentioned above, the focus of the chapter is on Faith, something that is hard to quantify or measure in terms of man. From this perspective, I feel that the chapter is more directly describing the society and religious hypocrisy of the day.

Getting back to the vine metaphor then, you have to ask, where does a vine get its support – draw nutritrients?  How and where does it spread? The ills that afflicted Jerusalem, indeed, did not exist in a vacuum any more than corruption (political or otherwise) exist today without networks of support.  Something has to feed it.  We saw in earlier chapters how there was collusion between those of authority – and assumed authority – that enabled a few select to deceive the tender, the vulnerable, the weak, and those who cling to their faith.

So when God tells Ezekiel that he has burned the vine at both ends, God is saying that it was necessary to purge out the root of the vine, that from which it gets its support and strength, and at the same time he has prevented it from spreading further.  Spreading where? To the neighboring nations possibly, to all of the local synagogues through out the twelve tribes possibly, or perhaps to future generations (my favorite). In any case, the spreading had to stop. So the vine was burned at both ends.

And in answer to Ezekiel’s astonishment that what had always been treasured was gone forever, God declares that the vine really has no intrinsic worth in and of itself. It simply wasn’t worth preserving.  The only value that the vine had was its ability to bear good fruit. But Jerusalem had ceased to be a light on the hill, had ceased to be a court of justice, and the temple had ceased to be a place dedicated to prayer and humble offering before the Lord.  There was no more fruit to be had.  And other than that, having a vine laying around is simply more trouble than it is worth. You can’t make anything out of it – only burn it.

This answer to Ezekiel is powerful, even today. For me, it speaks to questions about how we conduct ourselves in today’s world, what we enable, and what we tolerate from those who feel entitled to suppress or deceive others.  This passage, in my opinion, links religious hypocrisy with injustice – social injustice, religious injustice, racial injustice, etc.

Ezekiel’s visions cry out to us as human beings together in a world of fear and pain.  Ezekiel stood against accepted norms that were unjust. And here in the 15th chapter of Ezekiel he speaks of the inevitable end that will come to the vines that grow within our culture that produce no good fruit, but only exist for their own existence. Having no intrinsic worth it is only good for the fire.

For those who consider the Books of the Prophets as having nothing to do with the Gospels which tell of the Christ, consider this:  Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches”.  He did not say Jerusalem was the vine, nor the Temple, nor Israel.  He is the vine that produces good fruit.  And what was that fruit?  It was mercy to the poor, the outcast, those who found themselves marginalized by society. He forgave, He prayed, He healed, He cared, He called others to do the same.

 

 

 

Ezekiel blog: the small matter of four horseman of the Apocalypse…

Before we dive into a section that gets really gloomy, please go back and ready the blog entry before this on the first half of Ezekiel chapter 14. It’s all about hope.

The second half of Ezekiel chapter 14 takes a sudden turn into more ominous territory.  Anyone who has even heard of the Book of Revelations knows about a certain reference to the Dark Horseman.  This image has become so iconic as to almost become archetypal in western thought. In fact, most of us including myself, are too horrified at the thought of these matters that we just avoid sections of scripture like this.

But reading through what Ezekiel has written here sends my thoughts along two different tracks at the same time.  The first is the consistent use of a very important word: “IF”.   The second track is the huge similarity to of imagery to what John wrote in the Book of Revelations – commonly referred to as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  The same four dreadful judgments are introduced here in Ezekiel almost a thousand years before Revelations was written. But what does it mean?  And more importantly, what does it mean to you and me trying to figure things out in our lives?

I’m pretty sure I do not possess all the answers, but there are some things that come across.  These judgments come in a certain order for Israel. 1) Hunger and Famine 2) Wild beasts wandering through 3) the sword  4) disease and pestilence otherwise known as plague.  I don’t think this is accidental.  Many commentators think that the wild beasts represent the invading armies wandering unhindered through Israel, going about defiling everything.  This is nothing to God since everything is defiled already by what the people of Jerusalem were already doing. If this is true, then the Hunger and Famine are due to siege conditions with food supplies being “cut off” as is mentioned in verse 13.   The sword falls on those who resist the free movement of the invading “Beasts” in much the same way that any invading army usually makes examples out of the presumed “ring leaders” in every village.  This leaves those who are vulnerable whether by age, or affliction, or injury, or poverty.  These are the ones who have no means to do much more than survive, often having no choice but to exist in the shackles of starvation and poor health conditions.  We see this even today – just by turning on the news.

These are “dreadful judgments” indeed, to use the expression from the verse. But always the work of the prophet is to point out the truth of a situation, and at the same time speak to the spiritual life of a people too.  And we see this by Ezekiel’s reference to Daniel, Job, and Noah; one prophet who led the faithful to life beyond utter destruction, one iconic person of history who endured much tribulation in the name of faith, and one prophet who was with the people right now in captivity.

So when I look at these four judgments, I have to ask myself if I have given my heart to something that leads away from true faith that I now find myself feeling surrounded, walled in, under siege where my spiritual food is cut off and I feel hungered.  Am I letting fads, fashions, pop-culture pear pressure run through my existence like wild beasts.  Do my principles and ethics fall to the sword of the weekly paycheck.  Is my family life withering under the plague of obliterated communication and impatience.  What are we doing to ourselves? Where is our humanity?  Where is our patience and sense of mercy?  Has fairness been permanently evicted from our souls?

Wait.  Wait a minute.  What if there was still room in our perspectives for a sense of community?  What if we heard and responded to a call for justice?   There is that key word I mentioned earlier?     **** IF ****   if, if, if, if

God says that at the beginning of each of the examples of judgment eg. IF I decide to do this, you can not avoid this, etc.   If. Which tells me there is reluctance to take that step if at all possible to avoid.  It now feels like God is begging please, please don’t take things this far. Please don’t make it necessary for me to decide that there is no other alternative way to deal with you.

And that, once again, highlights that we have choice. We have agency. “Choose this day to serve the Lord” is how the scripture goes.  It means choose today, choose tomorrow, think about it again and again and each time choose the path of the disciple.  Choose the path of faith, which is a path of bravery and exploration of things God has yet to share.  Ezekiel had to be brave to meet God out in the middle of the desert – out in open country – to receive the concept that Faith travels, that God is continually with his people. He had to face whole new concepts, pass through boundaries previously imposed by society and religious tradition. It was hard, it was uncomfortable.

Finally, at the end of the chapter, we are directed to observe the children.  God tells Israel in captivity to watch the children and see why the judgments have fallen as they have. We do need to think of our children, of the next generation. We need to pass on the value of Charity, Mercy, Justice, Compassion and inclusive community. Are we doing a very good job?   I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Thanks for checking in on this blog – my travelogue through Ezekiel.

 

Ezekiel blog: there’s yet hope…

Ah, at last we find a brief oasis from the dire verbiage of Ezekiel thus far.  Here in Ezekiel chapter 14 (the first half) things finally come back to home….so to speak.  At least, Ezekiel has concluded his visions about Jerusalem and is now sitting in his house in an interview with the local Elders of Israel in their shared captivity in Babylon.  What, pray tell, could be on their minds?

Imagine you are captive in a foreign land, and you keep hearing from this new prophet with exotic visions that the destruction of your homeland, and everything you are familiar with is a done deal.  Two options come to mind.  1) Fine!  just plug in to the local religions/cults and get back to normal, or 2) Totally freak-out and feel lost with no connection to what you believe is true.  What do you do?

Ezekiel receives a vision from God answering these very human states and it is here that we become familiar with some interesting expressions:  “Idols of the heart” and “Stumbling blocks before their face”.   Rather interesting.

Idols are static representations of human projections of affectionate fervor.  We have these around today, no need to look very far.  We even make fun of it with expressions such as “Teen idol”, or “I have a relationship with my phone”, or “my car is my baby”.  These things are not God and do not have the capacity to LOVE YOU BACK.

The elders of Israel in captivity turn out to be just as human as you and I find ourselves, beset by the same doubts and longings for better times. They fall prey to the same things that make us stumble.  And here is the Spark of Hope I mentioned in the title.

God say to Ezekiel, “I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel,…”   Hearts is the word used here.  Not mindless obedience and not fearful subservience. God, the creator of us all, it would seem, wants His people to respond to Him out of genuine affection and love for the principles He has brought out through the course of these visions.  Fraudulent religious posturing, hypocritical lip service, lack of charity, absence of mercy, no social justice; these are all symptoms of what God did not want and still does not want.

What a mission statement then, for our creator on high:   To recapture their hearts away from the idols they worship.   And to this, Ezekiel is told to proclaim a message that is much like an open door to a people who have been chased away from everything that was most familiar.  It is a simple message, and one that has been echoed by every prophet. It is the olive branch offered to a headstrong people, it is the ray of hope that all is not lost entirely – that there is still yet a way back held open for the willing.

“Repent!  Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices……”

What are idols again?  Things not of God, but made of Man, things that do not LOVE YOU BACK. Things that demand and require all of your energy, but only give you the appearance of a soulful relationship with your creator. Sadly, idols can appear both outside of religious structure and worse, inside the very walls of churches as we see them today. Idolatry happened back in Chapter 8 in the very temple of God,…what would make us so very different today in our high-tech multi-media church buildings made of drywall and fine art?

So ask yourself, in what you do everyday, to the things you pour all of your love and energy into, whether it is church related or not,  does it heal your soul? does is LOVE YOU BACK? Does it engage your heart with Charity, Mercy, and Social Justice?  or…does it require fearful adherance, subserviance, and mindless obediance? It’s hard to admit these things and it’s even harder to let go. I’ve had to face my own idols and come to the conclusion that a great many of them come from my own integration of the expectation of other people’s desires into some core religious and philosophical ideas.  I know this sounds vague, but it true for me.  All I can say is that idols come in all forms, figures, places, times and appearances.  but the true temple of God, ….your heart and my heart….must be swept clean of all of them.  And about those people who can do that,  God tells Ezekiel,  “They will be my people, and I will be their God….”

Keep trying, Keep trying.  This chapter, the first half of Ezekiel ch 14 vs 1-11 is a voice of counsel that it is never too late, especially to those who’ve had their lives completely turned upside down, and where nothing seems to make sense, and where everything that was familiar is now gone.  There is one who stays with us, way out here in open country.

 

Ezekiel Blog: Chap. 12 “Slip out the back, Jack…”

Singer/Songwriter Paul Simon wrote a song about 50 ways to leave your lover…way back in the 1970’s.  It’s a callous concept, but rather insightful about the way certain people, who say all the right things to gain your trust, end up leaving you in the end. Seems like nothing to betray trust.

Looks like Ezekiel was trying to talk about the same thing as we come to Ezekiel Chapter 12 in this ongoing blog InOpenCountry.  Thanks for coming back and reading some more.

Now, some of the commentaries I’ve read describe this chapter as the beginning of an entirely new section of the Book of Ezekiel, unrelated so to speak to what’s been going on up til this point.   From my point of view, this section of prophecy is very much related to everything we’ve read so far and could be classified as good follow-up.  It doesn’t happen as much in today’s modern journalism, but you can still occasionally find a follow-up investigation to a former headline story…if you look hard enough.

In Ezekiel’s case, we are provided with a look at how the governmental leaders were portrayed back to the people held in captivity.  It’s not a very flattering image.  Imaging you are a captive with idealistic notions that somehow your noble and royal family is somehow leading a glorious fight against the invading army.  Instead you are presented with a scene where the prince digs his way out a wall so as to avoid detection. He sneaks out “the back, jack”.  He escapes his own people’s eyes, but not the justice of God as is detailed elsewhere in Chronicles.

So this is a follow up to the overall progression of the story eg.
The unfaithfulness of Israel –> Discovery and unveiling of reckless practices –> religious leaders exposed for their hipocracy –> Judgment confirmed and executed –> people in disarray –> ….but what about the highest level of government??

Ezekiel is shown that the prince of Israel is the kind of guy who sneaks out the back. He has no true love for his people, no true loyalty to the city, no concern even for those who help him – they are scattered.   And to all of this, he responds by hiding his eyes.

Have you ever watched on the news when public officials are indicted?  More often then not, they cover their eyes, put their hand up to block view of their face from the public. Obviously, they know they can be seen, but to actually meet the eyes of those whom you have betrayed seems to be to much to bear.  And similarly for this prince, the accusing eyes of the people of Israel, who were facing imminent conquest, much have been too much for what was left of his shattered self worth.

God uses his own words against the prince of Israel and chases him to the very borders of the land. It is there that the prince is apprehended by the armies of Babylon. His house and family are destroyed, and he is summarily blinded for the rest of his captivity – never to return to Israel.

So much for a pompously boasting royal line of government who had no mercy or taste for justice for the people of Israel.  In case it isn’t clear from this narrative, a situation where the leaders of a people are all about “me first” is not considered “just” leadership in the eyes of God.  The corruption of faith always follows, and it is the poor, the widow, the stranger, the falsely accused whom always fall victim in such periods of governmental influence.  The people turn to their religious leaders only to find them catering to their primary patron…that very same government.  And when all is revealed, they disappear with no thought for those who put trust in them.

“Slip out the back, Jack.
Make a new plan, Stan….

Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free”   -Paul Simon

Indeed.  It is something to be wary about.

Ezekiel is then told to eat his food with trembling to show the life of extreme fear that the people of Jerusalem will face. Fear indeed and evidently justified with the reality that their leaders have left them.  Those who placed their faith in the person of the prince instead of placing their faith in God must deal with the realization that there is no one to come be their advocate in the face of the enemy.

It is such a graphic and compelling line at the end of that section in Verse 19, “…they shall eat their food in anxiety, and drink their water in fear,…”  Gripping because that line also describes many families in our day and age.   We have seen our pop-icons and political/religious icons exposed in weakness and corruption. Many in our societies feel abandoned or pushed to the very fringe.  They live at the edges of communities, but never really in. Hearts full of anxiety and tongues wetted with fear.

It is only faith that allows the human condition to rise above the indecency of human pride and false entitlement.

Peace.