Yesterday we began a look into the Book of Ezekiel. We read about the vision of God coming to the people while they were in exile. God was coming to the people on a set of wheels, therefore indicating that he is not restricted to the holy of holies, nor the territory of Judah. God could actually be with the exiled people. Today, we will begin looking at the message of Ezekiel.
"Now, son of man, take a clay tablet, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Then lay siege to it...Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the house of Israel upon yourself...After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the house of Judah..." (Ez.4:1-2,4,6)
When we dealt with the prophet Jeremiah we discovered that prophets did not just speak the word of God, they often acted it out. Their lives were often living sermons. This was certainly true of Ezekiel. In chapters 4-7 Ezekiel acts out several symbolic acts. Ezekiel was to convince the exiles that God was punishing them for their wickedness. He was also to assure them that things would get worse before they ever got better. Again, he is to act this message out.
Ezekiel was to make a clay model of the city of Jerusalem. He then had to act out the coming siege of the city. He lay on the ground on his left side for 390 days. Then he lay on his right side for 40 days. This would symbolize the captivity of the two kingdoms. Ezekiel would only eat small amounts of food to simulate siege rations. Then, he was instructed to do the following:
"Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber's razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair..." (Ez.5:1)
Yes, God instructs Ezekiel to shave himself bald. By doing so, and by the way he disposed of his hair Ezekiel was symbolizing Jerusalem after its fall. He burned one-third of his hair, scattered to the wind one-third and struck the other third with a sword. He did take one strand of hair and stitched it to his garment symbolizing a small remnant that would survive.
We will skip ahead a bit, but will return tomorrow to the passages we skip. These were not the only symbolic acts that Ezekiel performed. From chapters 12-24 we discover more. "Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear...Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile...Perhaps they will understand." (Ez. 12:1-3) Well, since they can't "get the message" any other way, maybe they will if Ezekiel acts it out before them. You know, see is believing! Right? Here, Ezekiel is to pack his bags signifying the exile.
In chapter 16 we find an allegory of the history of Jerusalem. The main figure is a woman who turns out to be the unfaithful wife of Yahweh. This wife had been abandoned at one time, but God found her, adopted her and made her beautiful. But, she then became a seductress. God would then punish her by using foreigners. However, God ultimately restored her to full status of wife in covenant with God.
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed tears..." (Ez. 24:15)
If you recall Jeremiah was not allowed to marry, nor have children. Here we discover that Ezekiel was married, but "I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded." (Ez. 24:18) Yes, Ezekiel's wife died. Wow! This certainly sounds like it was at the hand of God. Furthermore, God instructs Ezekiel not to shed a tear or show any signs of mourning. Why? Why would God give such instruction after such sorrowful event? Because, this was a symbolic act symbolizing how God would not be deterred by the mourning of the people. God would not change his mind concerning the punishment that was to come.
Wow! This is some tough stuff. Again, we are discovering just what it was like to be a prophet of God in Old Testament times. Tomorrow we will look more into what the people had been doing. Plus, we will get the "inside scoop" on God's departure from the temple. May God Bless! -Pastor Rick