Tag Archives: Hair

Interpreting the Language of God

Artwork by Michael Buesking at prophetasartist.com
Artwork by Michael Buesking at http://www.prophetasartist.com

Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. When the days of your siege come to an end, burn a third of the hair inside the city. Take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And scatter a third to the wind. For I will pursue them with drawn sword. But take a few hairs and tuck them away in the folds of your garment. Again, take a few of these and throw them into the fire and burn them up. A fire will spread from there to all Israel.
Ezekiel 5:1-4 (NIV)

Ezekiel’s performance art piece continues in today’s chapter. After a year and three months to act out the siege of Jerusalem, God tells Ezekiel to cut off his hair and weigh it on the scales. Burn a third, strike a third, scatter a third, but tuck a few into your cloak.

The word picture God has Ezekiel act out is actually very direct.

Think of how Jesus described our importance to God. He said, “even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” Ezekiel cutting off his hair is a picture of the cutting off of all those numbered, important ones – God’s people.

We all know that scales represent justice. Almost every courthouse in the country has a statue of the woman, Justice, blindfolded and holding out the scales. Think of what we just read in the stories of Daniel when Daniel interprets the dream of Belshazzar:

You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

God is going to allow His people to be cut off from Jerusalem in judgement.

  • Burn a third: Jerusalem will burn in the siege, a third of the people will die in the fire
  • Strike a third with with the sword: One third will be killed in the battle/siege
  • Scatter a third: One third will be scattered to the four winds, a diaspora
  • Tuck a few: God will tuck away a small remnant into His keeping and protection (exactly what happened with Ezekiel, Daniel and his three Amigos, and the remnant in Persia)

To understand the prophets, we must learn to think in word pictures and allegory. We hear God’s command to Ezekiel and picture his acting all of this out on the street, and we think that we would probably have dismissed him as a crazy fool. Yet even Shakespeare knew that it is usually the fool who knows and speak the truth, and he used that as a device over and over again. Through Ezekiel and his contemporaries, God attempted to communicate what he was about to do through the acting out of metaphors that even an uneducated person could understand.

Today, I’m struck once more by the language of metaphor that God wove into the fabric of creation. It is the basic means by which God expresses Himself in profound ways that touch and move both mind, soul, and spirit. To become effective communicators, we must learn to both hear and to speak in that same language.

The Pious Host and “That Woman”

Detail from The St. John's Bible
Detail from The St. John’s Bible

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47 (NIV)

The further I get in life’s journey, the more I appreciate certain stories from God’s Message. I love this story from today’s chapter. Jesus is invited to dine with one of the pious, upstanding elders of the local church. Respectable, he is; Keeping his house in order the way he self-righteously keeps his life. He’s intrigued by this young rabbi everyone has been talking about, and figures he’ll ask the new celebrity to dinner. It will look good for this religious elder to be seen reaching out to the young man creating all the stir.

In the same town is this woman. She’s that woman. Everyone in town knows about her. To the thinking of good religious men of that day, the men like Jesus’ host, all women were on a societal level lower than dogs. This woman, however, sets a new standard for the definition of low-life. The entire town knew how she survived.

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Guess who I saw coming out of her place last night?” one asks as the crowd outside parts, not wanting to touch the dirty woman as she shockingly makes her way into the church elder’s home.

No surprise,” says another disdainfully, wondering what the wayward woman is carrying. “Half the men in town have been in her bed.

Only half?” mocks the first.

Okay, it’s more like three quarters,” answers the other, “but let’s face it: there are some men in town it’s best you just turn a blind eye and forget you saw them with her. You don’t want to be on his bad side.”

What an amazing contrast. The self-righteously, spic-and-span household of the church elder and the dirty town slut makes her way in to where Jesus sits next to His pious host. Weeping, she washes Jesus’ feet with her tears. She dries them with her hair, anoints them with expensive perfume, and kisses them.

In the societal culture of that day it was appalling. Jesus could read the subtext in his host’s face: “We don’t associate with such filth, Rabbi. Keep away from women like that. She will contaminate you. Haven’t you read Proverbs, Jesus? Stay far away from her. That’s the wise thing to do! I know you’re riding a wave of popularity at the moment, but I can’t continue to support you if you’re going to associate with people like this. It’s bad for your image. Trust me, I know. You’ve got to brand yourself differently.

In the culture of God’s Kingdom, however, it was a holy moment.

Whoever is forgiven little – loves little.

In the economics of God’s Kingdom there is a relationship between our willingness to know, acknowledge and accept the depth of our flaws and our knowledge of what a precious gift we’ve been given through Jesus’ sacrifice, grace and forgiveness. The more readily we accept the former, the more grateful we are for the latter. The more we deny the former, the more the latter eludes us. Without an increasing knowledge of the latter, we cannot progress far in our spiritual journey.

“Oh, for the Love of – !”

I’ve been getting a lot of comments, shocked looks and awkward questions about my hair lately. For the past 25 years or so I’ve worn your basic clean cut, short cropped look. People get used to seeing you a certain way. I think its especially true of guys who tend to find the look that works (e.g. the woman likes it), takes the least amount of maintenance, and then sticks with it.

A year and a half ago I stunned people by shaving my head for the part of Daddy Warbucks. Clients started asking if I was sick, and people marveled that I was willing to do it. I have to admit that the natural ham in me had a blast with it. I even got a lot of compliments on the shape of my head, thank you very much. At least I know that if I must sport the bald look someday, I can effectively pull it off.

Mug shot of John Dillinger
Mug shot of John Dillinger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, later this month I’m playing a 30’s era gangster (Lawrence “Guts” Regan) in Ayn Rand’s “Night of January 16th.” I’ve been growing my hair out and giving it some color so that I can pull off a John Dillinger style cut for the show. In order to attempt it, I first have to get it longer – a lot longer. So, I’m getting a lot of strange looks and laughs from family and friends who’ve never seen me try to pull off the long hair thing. I’m using “product” I did not know existed, and I’ve become very attached to hats. I was even told last night that with my generally out of control locks I look like my son-in-law, Clayton (who ironically just cropped his hair short a week ago like I normally wear it).

I’ve been working on an article for our local paper and was reminded the other night about the root of the word “amateur” which basically means one who does something for the love or pleasure of doing it. That’s the funny thing about doing community theatre. You’re a rank amateur. There’s no money in it. There’s no fame. There’s no glory. You do it for the love of it. You do it for kicks and grins and giggles. You do it because you have fun doing it and it fills your Life tank.

My mother is, I’m sure, hoping that “Hair” doesn’t make it on the schedule next year.

Hair (musical)
Hair (musical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter-a-Day Numbers 6

via Flickr and elsie

“Also, for the duration of the consecration you must not have your hair cut. Your long hair will be a continuing sign of holy separation to God.” Numbers 6:5 (MSG)

Many years ago I had a client I visited on a quarterly basis. In the client’s office was a man who stood out from the crowd for many reasons. Chiefly, he stood out because of his long hair. It was extremely strange to see a professional man his age with hair that long. It fell almost down to his butt. After my first double-take, I figured the man was spending his after work hours trying to live out a teenage dream of being in a 80’s hair band.

As my colleagues and I got to know Mr. Hair Band Man over several business trips, we began to learn the much deeper purpose of his long hair. He told the story of a friend who had lost his way and ended up in prison. In an attempt to share the love of Jesus in a tangible way, he told this friend that he was going to take a Nazirite vow like the one described in today’s chapter. He would make a special consecration to God and would not cut his hair until his friend got out of prison. It was almost ten years when his friend was released and he finally cut his hair. His vow and his long hair became a powerful witness to his friend of his love, faith and commitment.

Looking back over my journey, I realize that there are stretches of life’s road that call for special times of consecration. There are periods of time when we may be called to be “set apart” for a special purpose; we may need to consecrate ourselves to God in a unique and more radical way. The purpose of this time of consecration may be public and relational, or it may be private and deeply personal. Either way, vows of consecration and their faithful maintenance can pave the way to new and powerful spiritual horizons.