Sackcloth and Ashes

The subject of God in the Old and New Testament has always been of interest to me based on the tyranny I witnessed religion cause in my own family. In short, my mother’s side of the family are  Jews. When I was born, my mother converted to Christianity, which caused a familial holocaust of sorts, segregating our family in its own concentration camp metaphorically speaking.

Jews only study the Old Testament with emphasis on the Torah, whereas Christianity seems primarily more entered on the New Testament, which speaks of the life of Jesus. However, God in the New Testament is much more patient than in the Old Testament.

Over the last seven months, I feel like I have been tested on a level equivalent to fire and brimstone which prompted  me to travel to my Jewish roots and learn more about the not-as-patient God of the Old Testament to add to my understanding of Jesus’s ‘turn the other cheek’ principles.

The Old Testament has many names for God that all relate to His attributes. For example,  Elyon (Hebrew: עליון)  means “supreme” (as in “Supreme Court”) or “Most High”, Adonai (Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי‎, “My Lords”), Ehyeh asher ehyeh (Hebrew: אהיה אשר אהיה‎ “I will be who I will be”); Jehovah, Yahweh, and El Shaddai are also names of God references in the Old Testament.

Grief and Mourning 

Upon further reading, I discovered Jeremiah 6:26 where daughters were commanded to wear sackcloth and wallow in ashes at a time of war. Immediately, I remembered the story of Mordecai and Esther when the Jews were under tribulation: the Jews response to the mourning was by wearing sackcloth and ashes, which showed their intense grief and distress.

And it hit me.

Sackcloth and ashes. 

It was time for me to wear sackcloth and ashes.

My first modern day re-enactment was to buy a plethora of black glitter and roll around in it. However, I fathomed that would be missing the point, but would make for some really great pictures to remember the moment. Then on further deliberation, I decided I wanted to remember this moment as much as I would like eating a pit out of a peach. At least, humor had not left me.

Sackcloth and Ashes 

The purpose of wearing sackcloth and ashes was the balance reflection outwardly of one’s condition inwardly that demonstrated the sincerity of one’s grief and/or repentance.It appeared that it was not so much the act of wearing sackcloth and ashes that moved God to intervene, but the humility that such an action demonstrated (1 Samuel 16:7).

Humble in Distress

The outward appearance by choice of dress or otherwise issues a statement that is visibly observed by the naked eye. Sackcloth and ashes represents that outward signal for help that not only God, but others noticed.

How Did I Excersize Sackcloth and Ashes 

I literally didn’t find rolling around in the dirt to be necessary until the very end.

However, there were several modern day equivalents that demonstrated this process:

  1. I only wore sweats
  2. I refused to dress up…ever 
  3. I did not wear make up
  4. I did not wear fake nails
  5. I did not spray tan and so on and so forth

Okay, everyone stop rolling your eyes, but these were things FOR ME that deviated and reflected to garnish the necessary premise of sackcloth and ashes.

The Positives of Sackcloth and Ashes

This was important: the more and more you let yourself “go” in a sense – rolling around in the dirt whether physically or mentally – the better a shower feels afterwards.

This is because how we feel on the inside matters to how we look on the outside.

This has nothing to do with being attractive or unattractive, but more representative of balancing the inner and outer self for unison.

 Did It Work 

Absolutely. God had never abandoned, but the act was more for myself in a symbolization of the point with outward reflections that not only made showering a relief, but as King David said: “You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11).

And that is what I felt afterwards:

JOY.

Further Instructions 

This process is cyclical, and over the course of the journey have come back to it many times. Just as the Jews utilized sackcloth and ashes, it is not a one and done process.

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