When I think of "whitewashing," my mind immediately brings up the scenes in Pete's Dragon where the main characters were painting the lighthouse. The song accompanying the work was so chipper, but I remember thinking "what a horrible process! That's going to take them forever!" I guess I was never was a fan of manual labor. Some may think of Tom Sawyer (right) whitewashing an entire fence as punishment. I'm thankful my parents weren't equally creative!
Whitewash is largely considered the cheap man's paint. In fact, there's a popular phrase that goes, "Too proud to whitewash and too poor to paint," with the connotation that whitewash is simply an imitation of "real" paint.
It's a cheap coverup. Plain and simple.
But there's another definition of "whitewash" that's a bit more personal. To "try to clear a person's name by deliberately concealing their mistakes or faults." It's a shady act, with not much backbone behind it, using a product that is made to imitate cleanliness.
As I read today's passage of scripture (Esk. 12:1-14:23), the portion where God was destroying the whitewashed fence caught my attention. The people build a flimsy wall, and then cover it in whitewash. But God sees it for what it is, destroys it, and those who painted it. But what's the point of this prophecy? It seemed so out of place in the midst of these big ideas and warnings. Why does God care about some random fence? So I hunted for some insight and came to this blog post. Some highlights:
Ezekiel was speaking of a figurative “wall.” In other words, the false prophets whitewashed the truth, backing each other up in sectarian ways. The false prophets put whitewash (a nice white covering) over what should have been exposed. They were not proper watchmen (1) on the wall, (2) in the tower, and (3) in repairing the holes in the Lord’s hedge. Stated another way, they built false walls and did not fill the gaps in the hedge.
We later read in Chapter 14 about how God will not tolerate sharing himself with any other false idols. This, of course, we know, but in this context, I got a picture of God's room, where we all live. This room is white in nature (pure). But we have the ability to screw it all up. We crowd our living space with things that distract our focus on God. And we easily contaminate the purity of the room with our sin. And then, in our infinite wisdom, instead of removing the objects that are getting in the way, we simply cover them in whitewash. They fade into the background, and appear like they belong, instead of sticking out in our white room. And our sin? We cover it too. A fine layer of illusion, a small dusting conformity, and that too is covered up. And then we invite everyone we know over for a party to celebrate our perfect life.
But we all know better. The only one who can truly paint as white as snow is Jesus Christ. We should invite Him to come paint our rooms more often.
Earlier this year, the Christian music site that I operate (NewReleaseTuesday.com) premiered a new video by an up and coming artist, Jonathan Thulin. I am a huge champion of this artist and his visionary style, and since this video, he released a follow-up single and video that just went to #1 last week ("Dead Come To Life"). But "Bombs Away" depicted exactly what I'm talking about above. A whitewashed room is simply an illusion, hiding the sin that can unfold quickly around us and overtake our space. Thankfully, when God performs a "whitewash," it's a true refresh, and not simply a coverup.