Why Will You Die?

Why Will You Die? September 6, 2020

I’m over at Stand Firm today…

In the spirit of always being reminded that 2020 is the year that keeps on giving, I woke up in the wee hours to read this tragic news:

Popular Christian author, speaker, and TV personality, Jen Hatmaker, has filed for divorce from her husband, Brandon. The 46-year-old mother of five filed papers on August 21 in Hays County  22nd District Court in Texas. The filing doesn’t give any details, other than that the fact that the case is open and involves children. Jen and Brandon Hatmaker have been married since 1993 and have five children. Together, they host the HGTV show Your Big Family Renovation, a reality TV show that features the couple fixing up homes for large, growing families. The Hatmakers also founded Austin New Church in Austin, Texas, where Jen Hatmaker remains on the board. On July 31, Hatmaker revealed on Instagram that her family was in a painful place and requested prayer. “In short, we are deeply hurting in our little life,” she wrote, adding: “Our family is navigating an unexpected crisis, and I’ve taken a step back from socials and work to help steer toward healing and wholeness. Please know that everyone is safe, and our kids are okay.”

I had been scrolling around the internet in search of odds and ends about the Enneagram, and had just discovered that Hatmaker has recently done a whole series of podcasts on that subject, one about each number, and was steeling myself to push play sometime this afternoon, but now I’m going to take a day off, yet again, to pray for her and her family. Which is fitting, as it is Sunday, and it is better to turn our attention to the scriptures, which seem to me both poignant and pertinent at such a time as this.

This morning’s gospel reading, for example, you’ll be sad to discover, is full of thorny lines like, “that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” and “if two agree on earth about anything they ask” and “if your brother sins against you go to him.” That last line is particularly hard for Christians to believe actually applies to them in a direct and personal sense. Like, you’re not David and you don’t need to go on a Daniel diet because you’re not Daniel. But you do, when you have a problem with someone, need to go to them directly with the goal of being reconciled and winning over your brother or sister, because Jesus commands you to here, instead of going to literally everyone else in the world. And yet countless Christian people have looked me in the eye and said, “I just don’t feel peace about that,” and “Jesus wouldn’t want me to do that.”

Leaving that to one side for a moment, let’s take a gander at Ezekiel and see what he has to say. Remember, you’re not God in this scenario, no matter what anyone says about you searching around inside yourself for the divine. But that knowledge shouldn’t prevent you from stepping inside the story to see what’s what.

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

So, just to recap, the word of the Lord comes to Ezekiel, which, remember, is not usually a very comfortable experience for him or any of the other prophets. Sometimes it is curious, sometimes alarming, occasionally comforting, but most of the time it’s painful and involves difficult activities like being commanded not to display any sign of grief when your wife dies. In this case, the word of the Lord is a little parable. So there you are, wandering around on the top of the wall, because the people of the land have put you there to watch out for “the sword” that the Lord (the “I” up there in the text) promises to bring, and you’ve been put there on purpose to “sound the trumpet” when you see that sword coming. If you sound the alarm and all the people snug in their beds do not “take warning” as in wake up and realize that disaster is about to fall and they need to take some kind of action to avoid this catastrophe—we can get in a moment, to what that action might be—then you there on the wall don’t need to worry. You gave the warning and no one listened. When everyone dies it is not your fault.

If on the other hand, says the word of the Lord, you there on the wall, you watchman, you decide not to “blow the trumpet,” well, then when catastrophe falls and the whole city is killed, you are guilty of all those deaths. Well gosh, you think, why wouldn’t I warn everyone that the sword was on its way. I don’t want anyone to die.

But it’s complicated, isn’t it? read the rest here!

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