Our hate needs to be prayed, not suppressed. Hate is our emotional link with the spirituality of evil. It is the volcanic eruption of outrage when the holiness of being, ours or another’s, has been violated.
— Eugene Peterson (Answering God)
Our English translations of the Old Testament often fail to capture the earthy intensity of Biblical Hebrew. Ezekiel 6:11 is a good example:
- “say, ‘Alas for all the vile abominations of the house of Israel!'” (NRSV)
- “say, ‘Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel!'” (KJV, AMP)
- “cry out ‘Alas!'” (NIV)
Alas? What kind of emotional force does the word “alas” have in modern parlance? My favourite translation comes from Ezekiel scholar Daniel I. Block (Ezekiel, NICOT 1997): “Say ‘Ah!’ on account of all the evil abominations of the house of Israel.”
We should commission comic book writers to translate these passages. They can handle a good, “Aaaarrrggghhh” without even flinching!
Essentially, God wants Ezekiel to put on a display to gather people’s attention. After all, they were a hard-hearted bunch. He was supposed to clap his hands, stomp his feet, and shout, “Ah!” because of the wickedness of Israel. Not only would this draw people’s attention, it would give the crowds a picture of how God felt about them.
. . .
Once Ezekiel had captured their attention, God’s message of judgment through him was the same as in 6:1-7. God would pile heaps of dead bodies around the altars of their false gods.
Syncretism was the bane of Israelite religion. It was general knowledge in Ezekiel’s day that every nation had their own sets of gods. Israel had the audacity to claim that their nation had only one God. Furthermore, their one God was the only true God! Every other nation served idols that did not so much as exist.
However, after a string of wicked kings, and centuries of being surrounded by foreign nations, Israel succumbed to the general worldview. They began to view Yahweh, the only true God, as just one of the many worldwide gods. That attitude was enough to make God hand-clapping, foot-stomping, Aaaarrrgghhh-shouting angry. Everything the Israelites had was given to them by Yahweh. This weight of years worth of betrayal had come to a head.
. . .
We are called to represent Jesus to the world. Christians are, by definition, little Christs. I’m not suggesting any type of human divinity here—just a healthy sense of responsibility.
We need to be quick to show God’s love to anyone, anytime, anywhere. I wonder how quick we are to show God’s frustration at sin? When we see something wicked, do we feel compelled to clap, stomp, shout—or participate?
. . .
Almighty God, give us the wisdom to reflect your character in this world. Come close to us by your Spirit, so that we might understand how you would act in our diverse situations. In Jesus’ name, Amen.