Scripture Focus: Ezekiel 5.1, 3
1 “Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor to shave your head and your beard.
3 But take a few hairs and tuck them away in the folds of your garment.
Reflection: Exiles Near God’s Heart
By John Tillman
Though at times Ezekiel prophesies the future, at other times, he seems to be demonstrating and explaining what God’s current judgment means.
One of Ezekiel’s lived-out object lessons involves shaving off all of the hair from his head and beard. This enacted parable teaches us about God’s judgment and his love.
God embodies himself in our shame.
When God instructed Ezekiel to shave off his hair and beard, Ezekiel played the role of God and the hair shaved off represented the people being separated from God because of their sins. The shaving of the head was a common form of humiliation when done to an enemy or of mourning when done to oneself. Ezekiel shows us a shaved and mourning God who takes on himself the humiliation and shame of our sins.
God’s vow of Salvation will not fail
Shaving the head was also a well-known way of marking the completion of an oath or a vow (Acts 18.18). This aspect of Ezekiel’s demonstration hints at the covenantal vow broken by the people—a vow that God alone can complete. God will uphold his vow to bring salvation. The promise made to Eve in Eden, to Abram in Ur, and to David in Bethel, would be fulfilled by Christ on Golgotha. God symbolically shaves his head ahead of time, knowing his faithful servant would complete the vow.
God holds the faithful exiles close to his heart.
Most of the hair cut off is burned, scattered, or cut up by a sword. But Ezekiel is instructed to save out a few hairs. He protects these, tucking them into his garment for safe keeping. These few hairs represent the faithful remnant, held close to God’s heart. They may even represent individuals such as Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, prophets of the day who were faithful to God. Some of the hairs are burned, showing that even the faithful may still suffer during times of judgment. (Just as Daniel and Ezekiel live, but Jeremiah is eventually stoned.)
In Ezekiel’s depiction only a few will be saved and tucked close to God’s heart in his garment. In the course of history, however, the number of those saved, drawn back to his heart, and carried into new life will be an unnumbered multitude. (Revelation 7.9)
We praise God that he bore our shame, his vow of salvation is sure, and he tucks us close to his heart! Amen.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me, O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me, O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace. — Agnus Dei– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle
Ezekiel 5 (Listen – 3:28)
Psalm 42-43 (Listen – 2:32)
Read more about Different Kind of Exile
Living as outcasts in society has nearly always brought healing to the church through suffering.
Read more about The Mingled Prayers of Exiles
Pray today as the exiles prayed, with mingled sorrow and joy.
We weep for losses, sins, error, and struggle.
We shout for mercy, comfort, redemption, and aid.