Friday, September 30, 2011

Smelly Lies, Part Two

Perhaps you wonder why I ranted about air fresheners/cleaners in Smelly Lies, Part One. Truth is, I’m not upset with the products. In fact, I thank the creators of the ad that in essence claims, “Febreze cleans the stench so well you can ignore the cause of the stench.”

I thank them for giving me the opportunity to ponder other ways we ignore the stench.

Jeremiah—the prophet, not the bullfrog—proclaimed malodorous messages during the reigns of three Judean kings before the nation fell to Babylon. When Jehoiakim ruled, God prompted the prophet to record all of his messages on a scroll. (This happened about 2500 years ago, long before the internet and even the printing press, boys and girls.) God’s reasoning: “Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, they will each turn from their wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.” (Jeremiah 36:3)

So Jeremiah dictated the discourses to Baruch, a scribe, and then sent Baruch to read the scroll aloud at the Temple in Jerusalem. (Jeremiah was under house arrest, or I’m sure he would have gone to the Temple himself. He wasn’t a chicken, either.) The reek reached the royal officials, who summoned the scribe to read the scroll to them. The officers confiscated the scroll, but mercifully warned Baruch to hide himself and Jeremiah before they took it to the king.

Jehoiakim sat warming himself at a firepot in his winter apartment and listened. “Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire.” (Jeremiah 36:23) Though three advisers urged the monarch to cease slashing and burning, he destroyed the entire scroll and sent men to arrest Jeremiah and Baruch, who remained hidden.

It’s as if Jehoiakim emptied a king-sized bottle of Febreze to neutralize the odor of Jeremiah’s words. And when the words were gone, the king was still sitting on the filthy throne in the grimy palace cluttered with the wickedness of Judah’s people, priests, prophets, and sovereign.

Jehoiakim convinced himself all was springtime fresh…right up until the time “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon.” (2 Chronicles 36:6)

So here’s what I’m wondering: How are we anesthetizing our spiritual senses to avoid the odor of unpleasant truth? Please tell me what you think.

Meanwhile, I’ll have to ponder and get back to you in Smelly Lies, Part Three.


  1. When we still lived in the country, a mouse (or other small critter) died in a wall. My husband's solution? He sprayed apple air freshener to "hide" the smell. To this day I can't stand the smell of that spray because as soon as I get a whiff, I automatically smell the dead critter too. Those Febreeze commercials make me crazy, and I like the spiritual application you have drawn. You're getting kinda personal--and I love it.

  2. Almost every night when John and I go to bed I realize that we haven't spoken much that day. We come home, we make dinner, we chat a bit and the tv gets turned on. I think we use the 'noise' of the everyday distractions as our anesthesia. We become numb and comotose in front of that box. It helps to block out our true feelings, helps to block out the worry... until it's turned off. So we keep filling our heads with noise and then wonder why we can't sleep when it's so quiet!