Read Ezekiel 5
Focus on verse 2
A few years ago when pseudo-documentaries were becoming the rage on network television, I came across a show that was literally called “1000 ways to die”. Week after week the show would introduce viewers to some of the strangest ways people apparently had met their demise. One has to wonder what depth of morbidity a society has descended to when this sort of theme is considered family entertainment, but I will leave that for discussion at another time.
That having been said, I suppose one might make a similar observation regarding anyone who finds reading the book of Ezekiel entertaining. The next five or six chapters of Ezekiel have a similar theme; God is declaring that it is time for Israel to reap the harvest of what they have been sowing and apparently it is not going to be pretty!
In today’s reading Ezekiel is instructed to shave off all the hair of his head, which in itself would have been strange enough, but he was then to take that hair and divide it in three parts. Each part was then designated a specific method of disposal. He was to burn one third in the center of the city, a third was to be scattered around the city where he was to strike it with a sword, and the final third was to be scattered to the wind. (v. 2) The only hint of hope we find comes in the following verse where he is to take a small number from each third and bind then into the skirts of his robe. (v. 3)
The message of this picture is clear. God is about to send destruction upon the people of Jerusalem. One third will die and burn in the city, one third will die by the sword just outside the city as they attempt to escape, and one third will be scattered far and wide where they will continue to be pursued by those seeking to kill them. The only hope they have is that perhaps they will be one of the few who is chosen to hide in the hem of the robe – these are the remnant that will somehow miraculously survive the siege of the city, but even some of these will die.
For most of the people of the city the choices are few and none are great. Essentially it is a “choose your poison” kind of decision. It is admittedly hard to find hope in a message like that, but for those who remained faithful to God – I suspect they were some of the few who were preserved in the hem of God’s robe.