Ezekiel 4

Ezekiel 4
by Pastor Mark Hudson

In chapter 4, we have completed the first three chapters that covers Ezekiel’s call and commission.  He is 30 years old, living in Babylonia, and from chapter 4 – 24, Ezekiel is telling the awful truth of God’s judgment. If there is a bad news, good news scenario, this is it.  The reason this is so bad is because the Jews thought their time in Babylon would be brief.  The city and people of Jerusalem would welcome them back soon and all would be fine.  It was not fine, and it was going to get worse.  The city that represented God and His blessings, the city that was, in many ways, the hope of the world, was going to be destroyed.  God’s people were going to suffer.  God had enough.

In Ezekiel 4, Ezekiel acts out his message.  It seems that Ezekiel takes a soft brick the size of a big pizza box and draws the city of Jerusalem on the soft clay.  Then he laid that on ground and built battering rams and a siege wall against it.  So those watching him could see Jerusalem being attacked in his brick.  Then He does even more.  At this point his audience, whether he is at home or in the marketplace, think now God will come and save Jerusalem.  The next move is God swooping down and saving the people in Jerusalem.   But, Ezekiel takes an iron griddle and places that between his face and the clay brick.  He may have even made menacing looks toward “Jerusalem.”  Why?  God was not going to save Israel; God was angry at Israel and was rejecting Jerusalem.  Yahweh was the real enemy. This must have been hard to Ezekiel to act out coming from a priestly family.  There is an iron curtain between God and His people.  No prayers are getting through.  God had enough.

Next the prophet is to lie on his left side for 390 days.   This is over a year!  He was to endure one day for every year the house of Israel sinned against God.  Ezekiel was told to “place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it” (his left side).  We are not told how long each day he did this, where, and if he was mocked every day for it.  Then he was told to do the same on his right side for the house of Judah.  Somehow, cords were placed on Ezekiel “so that you cannot turn from one side to the other” in v. 8.  Did a friend do this or his wife?

In vs. 9ff, Ezekiel is told to take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and emmer, and make break out of those ingredients.  During those 430 days, that is what he would eat.  He was to cook them over human dung, until Ezekiel protested, and God allowed cow dung to be used as fuel.   He was to measure out a small amount and eat those rationed portions.  He was to do the same with water, only drinking  the sixth part of a hin.  Why?  “They shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and they shall drink water my measure and in dismay.  . . . (they) will rot away because of their punishment” vs 16-17.

They will know privation, starvation, and the anger of the Lord.  This was and will be the message for Ezekiel to these people who need to understand, “I, even I, am against you.”  What if you heard God say that to you?  What horror would fill your mind.  God continues from 5:8 to 5:11, “I will withdraw.  My eyes will not spare, and I will have no pity.” In 5:14, “I will make you a desolation and an object of reproach . . . .”  How these people could hear this and not repent shows the hardness of heart they had.

Ezekiel was given a tough calling, but he was faithful to God.  Later he would provide hope and restoration but in the first 24 chapters, Ezekiel must dissuade the Jews from their hope that Jerusalem is God’s city, and he will protect it.  These Jews are probably camped together near the Chebar canal thinking they will be in Babylon for a brief stay and then back to Jerusalem.  These Jews are finding it hard to believe that God is punishing them.  Yet, Ezekiel says in v. 17, “I will do this that they may lack bread and water, and look at one another in dismay, and rot away because of their punishment.”  We need to incorporate these verses into our concept of God.

We will never know what would have happened if they sincerely repented, broken-hearted, humbled, and ashamed.  What would we have seen in a Nineveh like repentance was seen?  And that reminder makes this even worse.  Nineveh was a pagan, violent city.  We are talking about Jerusalem and the people called by God.  Let us never miss the incongruity of this mess.  How awful that the people called by God should be described the way Ezekiel describes them.

Now, consider the churches in the United States and the people who have been baptized or grew up in the church.  I don’t know if we have more seminaries, more churches, more Christian ministries per capita than other countries but we are certainly up there in terms of other countries.  We have experienced revivals, produce Christian periodicals, have Christian camps, Christian music, and churches galore.  While there are still people who do not know the basic gospel, many unbelievers have one or more parents that are genuine believers.  Many grew up going to a Bible believing church and have walked away. And look at what our country is embracing and promoting?  What sexual perversion.  What awful language.  What violence engulfing our country.  What punishment  awaits these proud, idolatrous unbelievers.  How awful will be the day of the Lord for them.  What they have mocked, cursed, and ridiculed will be seated on a throne the moment they die.

All the years of sexual immorality, blasphemy, idolatry, and rebellion will be remembered by God as they stand there and see it is all true.  They will see Him in all His glory and the pent-up anger of God will be their torment, agony, and their eternity.  They will remember all the opportunities they had but it will be too late.  Therefore, every person needs to repent, believe the gospel, and accept His grace and forgiveness.  There is still hope if you are alive, coherent, and breathing.  Time to lay down your weapons of rebellion and come to Christ.

Dear God of creation, we come to You asking for salvation for all we know that spurn Your name.  These are family members, coworkers, and friends.  We want them to love and obey You.  It breaks our heart that they can’t see Your justice, righteousness, love, mercy, and grace.  Please open their minds and hearts like You did for us.  Help us to live in such a way that we point them to You.  Move for Your sake, for the sake of Your name and glory.  Bring revival to our nation that is sinking lower than Sodom and Gomorrah.  Have mercy on us, Lord.  Have mercy on us.