Each year as summer nears, we begin our project list. With a new baby coming in September, one item on the list is to move the two boys into one bedroom and relocate the toys into a toy room downstairs. While we’re in the cleaning process, I also want to repaint the boys’ room. Basketball games and ninja fights have left their marks on the walls, so they need a fresh coat of paint. However, even new paint won’t do much for the nicks and scratches in the drywall; we’re going to have to putty them first. Simply painting will only cover the problem in the drywall not repair it.
In Ezekiel 13, the Lord tells Ezekiel to warn the people against exactly that: covering or hiding the real problem. God is angry because of the false prophets who have emerged and “prophesy out of their own imagination” (v. 2). Later, he says that those prophets are building flimsy walls and then covering them in whitewash. Like the nicked up bedroom walls, they’re trying to simply cover up the problem. When the Lord sends rain and storms, the whitewash will fail, and the walls will still fall. The whitewash may make the false prophecies sound good, but beneath the surface, they are contrary to what the true God teaches.
In our own lives, we try to whitewash or paint over our problems. If we can look good on the outside, no one will notice the blemishes and damage underneath. We smile and greet co-workers as we walk into work, whitewashing over the lack of patience just shown to our own children. We polish up our excuses for why we haven’t read our Bible lately when, really, we’ve just been distracted. As long as we whitewash the outside, no one will know that we are really struggling with sin. No one except the one who sees all. When God looks at us, he will tear down our walls (fresh coat of paint and all) to see the foundation that is laid bare. God sees our blemishes and damages. He sees us for who we really are beneath the whitewash: sinners in need of his grace. The beautiful thing is that he sees all of us (inside and out) and still loves all of us. Loves us so much, in fact, that he sent his son to die on the cross so that we no longer need to hide behind whitewash and paint because we’ve been forgiven. The Lord promised wrath to the false prophets and their whitewashed walls, but to us he promises grace and mercy because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We can stop hiding behind the paint, confess our sins, and work on healing instead of hiding.
Lord, when we feel like whitewashing over our problems and struggles, remind us that no matter how thick we layer it, you still see what’s underneath. Thank you, Father, for loving us despite our sins and shortcomings. Instead of trying to paint over them, help us to repent and turn to you for forgiveness. Thank you for sending your son as a sacrifice making that forgiveness possible.