Today you should read: Ezekiel 4
Ezekiel has a lot to teach us about God’s justice and redemption. Ezekiel contains many devices to teach the Exiles including proverbs, visions, parables, and as we see today, symbolic acts. The purpose of these devices was to present the messages in dramatic and forceful ways. Ezekiel was trying to get the attention of the people so they would understand and respond to his message.
The first symbolic act was a brick illustrating the siege that would fall upon Jerusalem. Many people don’t realize that when we talk about the Babylonian Exile in the Old Testament, we’re really talking about three separate events. Here is a quick timeline summary…
- 605 The Babylonians invade Judah
- 605 First wave of deportation of Jews to Babylon
- 605 Daniel is taken captive and begins to prophesy
- 601 Babylonians battle Egypt, both sides suffer losses
- 601 Judah decides to realign itself with Egypt, Jeremiah warns
- 597 Jehoachin becomes king of Judah
- 597 Babylonians capture Jerusalem
- 597 Second wave of deportation to Babylon from Judah.
- 597 Ezekiel is taken captive to Babylon
- 597 Zedekiah becomes king of Judah
- 593 Ezekiel begins to prophesy
- 586 The Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and the Temple (9th of Av)
Ezekiel was taken into captivity in the second wave after Judah defied Babylon by siding with Egypt. Ezekiel’s brick was a prophetic warning about the coming destruction that would follow the third invasion. When Babylon returned and laid siege to Jerusalem in 586, they destroyed Solomon’s Temple.
The second symbolic act illustrated the length of the siege. Ezekiel was commanded to lay, first on his left side for 390 days, then his right for 40. Because we know he had commands to cook and complete other tasks, this act wasn’t all day every day. Instead, we can surmise that at least part of the day was spent laying down as instructed. The text clearly indicates that a day equals a year, but we don’t have a clear understanding of the years to which the text is referring. What is clear, however, is that the third sign illustrates the severity of the siege.
The third symbolic act was eating bread cooked over dung. Although you might like to get you some Ezekiel 4:9 bread (yes, it’s a real thing), the method of cooking is not what I would choose. This bizarre instruction pointed to how bad the siege of Jerusalem would become. The book of Lamentations spells out how bad things got during this time. Food was scarce and the people face defilement, eating what they could find. In God’s grace, He did not make Ezekiel use human dung, which was culturally unthinkable. Instead, he was able to use animal dung, which didn’t have the same stigma associated. Dried animal dung was commonly used for fires when wood was sparce, but smelled bad when you burned it. All of this points to the terribleness of the pending siege.
So, what do we learn from this? The big lesson, I think, is that sin has consequences. Often, we don’t feel the consequence for individual sins. Instead, we experience a wave of consequences as sins have built up—like a dam breaking. At any point, we can repent, we can turn back to God and cry out to him for his grace and mercy. However, when our hearts are calloused and hard, eventually our sins will catch up to us.
God, in his mercy, sends warnings like Ezekiel. Will we listen? Will we repent? Will we surrender to the only One who conquered the crushing weight of sin?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
God is honored when we intentionally seek Him in prayer. As a church, we want dependent prayer to be something that marks us. Use the comment section to post prayer requests and experiences of how God has answered prayer and/or changed you through prayer! If you would like to be enrolled to get weekly prayer reminders, text @cpclex to 81010.