[forthright] Close Shaves

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 3 Jul 2010 09:04:52 -0700 (PDT)
Forthright Magazine 
Straight to the Cross

When troubles come, no one knows better than Job. 'In
Search of Perfection: Studies from Job,' by Michael E.
Brooks. Click here:


Close Shaves
 by Michael E. Brooks

   "And you, son of man, take a sharp sword,
   take it as a barber's razor, and pass it
   over your head and your beard; then take
   scales to weigh and divide the hair"
   (Ezekiel 5:1 NKJV).

I am fascinated by knives, swords, axes, and almost any
type of sharp tool. I enjoy using them for their
appropriate purpose, but even when I have no practical
need for a particular implement, I can enjoy seeing,
handling, or even sharpening and caring for it.

In Nepal, I have purchased a number of the traditional
"Khukari" or Gurka army knives. These are short swords
with a distinctive curved shape which are the historic
weapons of the soldiers recruited from Nepal for the
Gurka regiments in the British army.

Similarly I have collected several varieties of "dao"
or cutting tools from Bangladesh, including specialized
instruments for notching trees for the collection of
sap, sickles for harvesting rice, and heavy curved all-
purpose chopping and cutting tools for general use.

One thing I have no interest in however is to shave or
cut my hair with a sword. I get enough scrapes and
nicks with a safety razor. Though I own one of my
grandfather's old straight razors (young people can
look them up on Wikipedia), I have never tried to get a
close shave with it. I like my ears, thank you, right
where they are!

Imagine Ezekiel's reaction when God not only commanded
him to shave his beard and his hair (contrary to
ancient Hebrew custom), but to do it with a sharp
sword. No razors allowed.

Wasn't that dangerous? Wasn't it uncomfortable? Most
certainly and that was the whole point. Ezekiel was to
act out the judgment of God upon Israel.

He was to cut off all his hair in a most unpleasant and
uncomfortable way, then to scatter it in the wind and
burn it in the fire. This foreshadowed God's scattering
and destroying his people through war and captivity.

There are several lessons for us in this incident.
First, serving God is not always safe and comfortable.
I believe that all who profess faith in God should
study regularly the life and mission of the prophets.

They were sent to dangerous places, deprived of family
and home, often despised by those to whom they
ministered (see Hebrews 11:32-40 for a brief survey of
some of their lives).

Yet nowhere does God apologize for his demands upon
them. What they did, and how they lived was essential
to God's purpose. They trusted him to protect and
reward them appropriately. 

As Christians we too must be prepared to live 
sacrificially, to put God's mission and will ahead of 
our own desires.

Secondly, this incident demonstrates the necessity of
unquestioning obedience to God's commands. I suspect
that Ezekiel had a razor and he might well have thought
of suggesting that he could do a much more thorough job
of shaving if he used the more appropriate tool.

But we can easily see that the sword was intrinsic to
the prophecy. It wasn't going bald that would present
the message. It was the manner in which the prophet's
baldness occurred which would convey the lesson. We do
not always see the reasons why God wants us to do
certain things in certain ways.

That does not mean that he does not have good and
sufficient reason, however. Perhaps we could not fully
understand his purpose. We might not even agree with
his reasoning. He is God, the all wise and all
powerful. We are to submit to him in faith. "Just do

Finally, Ezekiel's prophecy demonstrates God's detailed
purpose with regard to his creation. The manner in
which Israel is to be punished is prophesied, with even
the proportions of those killed, those taken captive,
and those preserved as a remnant being specified. God's
foreknowledge is vast and accurate.

Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the most
intimate details of his life and death were revealed by
the prophets. The New Testament, written almost two
thousand years ago, speaks just as relevantly to us
today as it did to the first generation who read it.

Solomon declared, "There is nothing new under the sun"
(Ecclesiastes 1:9), to which we might add, "and there
is nothing under the sun which God does not already
know." This includes our physical human desires, as
well as our eternal spiritual needs. God knows us, and
he loves and cares for us. 

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