Previous Testomony prophets had been typically known as to do ridiculous issues. Cook dinner meals utilizing human waste as gasoline. Shave their heads and let the wind blow a 3rd of the hair away. Marry a prostitute so one’s marriage could possibly be a residing metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel. Eat a scroll. The listing goes on and on. However there’s one story I had by no means observed till not too long ago. Let’s add to the listing of unusual prophetic habits: Ezekiel needed to dig by a wall.
The Lord speaks to Ezekiel, telling him that he’s residing within the midst of a rebellious nation (Judah) with individuals who have “eyes to see however don’t see, who’ve ears to listen to however don’t hear” (Ezekiel 12:2 NRSV). Ezekiel is advised to go away the town like an exile, leaving within the night, carrying a bundle of possessions on his shoulders. However he doesn’t get to exit by the town gates. It’s not so simple as discovering the exit door and strolling out.
The Lord speaks: “Dig by the wall of their sight, and carry the bags by it” (Ezekiel 12:5).
Wait. What?! Why?
However like an excellent prophet, Ezekiel obeys the Lord.
Partitions are highly effective dividers. Once I was in highschool, my household was residing within the Philippines, and President George W. Bush was coming to pay a go to to Manila. Weeks earlier than the go to, officers had been busy making ready: they had been placing up partitions. Corrugated metallic partitions went as much as conceal the poverty on the streets of Manila. Partitions to hold fairly banners on, to current a modern and clear metropolis. Behind the partitions, life in slums turned tougher than regular, as entry in-and-out of some communities turned harder. All to create a façade for a visiting president.
Once I consider partitions, I keep in mind my go to to Israel-Palestine throughout school. From Jerusalem, the wall appears like a normal-size wall, simply excessive sufficient to not see over. There are ornamental bushes and flowers planted to make it appear like a reasonably divider. After going by the safety checkpoint and coming into the West Financial institution, nonetheless, I used to be astonished to see that on the Palestinian aspect the bottom was a lot decrease—revealing a wall at some locations 26 toes (eight meters) tall! This aspect of the wall has no ornamental flowers or fancy bushes; as an alternative it’s adorned with inventive cries for freedom. Work of doorways or home windows revealing magnificence, males throwing flowers as an alternative of grenades, and peace doves sporting protecting jackets as they’re about to be shot down are among the examples (you’ll be able to view these and different highly effective photographs with a easy google search).
Once I consider partitions, I image the borders across the slum communities I’ve lived in. Concrete slabs mark the borders of the property. When eviction and demolition inevitably come, these on one aspect of the wall are secure, whereas the opposite aspect will get flattened. One aspect has authorized documentation, one aspect doesn’t. One aspect is secure, one aspect ceases to exist.
Partitions are dividers. Whether or not they’re the partitions holding a roof on our home or the protecting partitions round our gated communities, partitions by definition divide. Partitions create “insiders” and “outsiders.” If we’re snug with our partitions, we should keep in mind that there’s at all times one other aspect. Who’re the folks on the opposite aspect of our partitions? Do we all know their names? Do our partitions serve an excellent objective, or are they holding us from encountering Christ? For the homeless individual squatting on a road nook or the beggars who’re not allowed to enter our gated communities due to Covid fears, what do these partitions imply?
Ezekiel was advised to dig by a wall. His wall was not concrete; it was most likely purple brick. It nonetheless should have been an uncomfortable course of, maybe involving hitting it with a hammer. There should have been grime flying, mud in his eyes, and purple earth below his fingernails by the point he was accomplished. When he lastly had a gap sufficiently big to squeeze by, he walked out of the town—most likely sweating and out-of-breath. This was simply one other bizarre factor Ezekiel the prophet needed to do, possible gaining him extra sideways glances and judgmental smirks. Nobody desires to hearken to a prophet say that their metropolis goes to be attacked and destroyed and that their king will escape by a gap within the wall.
However one way or the other, I really feel as if Ezekiel has one thing for the Church of at present to consider. What are our partitions? Our literal partitions— whether or not they’re product of brick, cement, or plywood— do they hold folks out? Are our bodily church buildings such that those that have no idea Jesus would by no means set foot in them? And greater than that, what are our invisible partitions? Psychological boundaries between “in” and “out”? Between “insiders” and “outsiders”? What boundaries stand in the way in which of us participating with others—with us being loving witnesses to Christ’s Kingdom? It could possibly be non secular partitions that divide us, just like the age-old misunderstandings between Muslims and Christians. Or it could possibly be financial partitions, making a divide between the wealthy and the poor.
Are we prepared to be prophetic? To observe in Ezekiel’s footsteps? To smash holes within the partitions and dig by with our palms if wanted? Can we hear the Lord’s voice to His Church, calling us to have ears to listen to and eyes to see what’s past our partitions? Are we in a rebellious home, like Judah? And in that case, are we prepared to talk out—to be completely different than our family and friends if wanted?
Are we prepared to take the danger of obedience, to satisfy Jesus exterior our partitions?
Rahma (not her actual title) and her husband and two boys have lived and served in a slum in Jakarta for the previous ten years. She enjoys studying piano, taking part in within the rain, and devouring Amy Carmichael books. You may study extra concerning the group they serve with at servantsasia.org.