Today's Reading: Ezekiel 5-8
Many of us frequent hair salons on a regular basis, enjoying the comfort of a nice head massage, deep cleansing and conditioning, perhaps some coloring and a new do, giving us a lift in our week. Hair cuts are a usual part of our grooming.
In Israel, hair was not only a part of their grooming, it, like all of life, had a spiritual significance.
Because of hair's capacity for constant growth, even after death, hair became a symbol of life and prosperity.
Men, who had made a vow to follow God with full diligence, did not cut their hair or trim their beards.
Married women were to never cut their hair and to save its beauty for the enjoyment of their husbands, thus, in modesty and respect to their husbands, they covered their heads.
The Israelites allowed their physicians to cut their hair for sanitary purposes. Levites, priests, shaved not only their heads but their entire bodies as part of their rite of purification as they entered into the priesthood.
To cut one's hair was a sign of mourning, a statement that life was being taken away. To have one's hair cut outside of the above mentioned purification rites was a huge disgrace.
God tells Ezekiel to cut his hair. This is a sign of deep mourning and disgrace that God feels for God's idolatrous people. God asks Ezekiel to weigh the hair on scales. The scale was and continues to be the symbol of justice. God is sharing that the punishment that is to come upon God's people is just and fair.
God then tells Ezekiel to divide the hair, which represents life, into three equal parts. The life of Israel will be burned: famine and pestilence will fall upon on third of the people. The life of Israel will be cut off: one third of the people will die because of the sword. The life of Israel will be thrown into the wind: one third of Israel will go into captivity and exile, scattered as a nation.
A few strands are kept close to the prophet in his garment. This represents the ones who will be the remnant of God's people, from whom God will rebuild the nation.
This judgment, this prophecy, was fulfilled.
God asked the prophet Ezekiel to do a strange thing, to cut his hair, to burn and splice and toss it into the wind. These things seem very strange if one does not know the heart and mind of God.
But Ezekiel heard from God and obeyed.
Prophets are a weird group of people.
They do strange things sometimes.
Sometimes, they say things and do things that do not make sense.
Yet, when they speak, we need to listen for the Word of God to us, discerning God's truth for our ears.