God will not only tell us what to say but how to say it! God is good and amazing in this way. His Son, Jesus, was a Master Teacher of storytelling. Jesus knew His audience well. He knew His Message because He WAS the Message! Jesus was Truth, The Way to God and Hope for Life forever with Him! Jesus began with what His listeners already knew and understood; then He expanded their knowing and thinking by helping His listeners “see” what He was saying through object lessons.
I love object lessons! As a teacher, I used object lessons before, during and after most presentations for optimal learning. Real learning is listening, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, questioning, feeling, relating, being part of the process before doing. Jesus nearly always INVOLVED his disciples in the object lesson. “Can I get a volunteer”?
God always involves his servant, prophets, and teachers in the actions of His work. Why? Because the messenger needs to understand first so they can speak with confidence and clarity. I know I cannot teach students what I do not know! Messengers of God’s Word must take in the information and internalizing so that Truth becomes a part of their being. Only then can messengers tell the God’s story with passionate understanding. This is why the direction from God to Ezekiel in yesterday’s passage, “eat the scroll—all of it” makes sense. Ezekiel heard God, read the scrolls given by God, digested the Truth of God so it could be said with knowledge of God.
Now God is directing Ezekiel to be a prophet messenger with an object lesson! And it’s powerful!
Ezekiel 4, The Message
This Is What Sin Does
1-3 “Now, son of man, take a brick and place it before you. Draw a picture of the city Jerusalem on it. Then make a model of a military siege against the brick: Build siege walls, construct a ramp, set up army camps, lay in battering rams around it. Then get an iron skillet and place it upright between you and the city—an iron wall. Face the model: The city shall be under siege and you shall be the besieger. This is a sign to the family of Israel.
4-5 “Next lie on your left side and place the sin of the family of Israel on yourself. You will bear their sin for as many days as you lie on your side. The number of days you bear their sin will match the number of years of their sin, namely, 390. For 390 days you will bear the sin of the family of Israel.
6-7 “Then, after you have done this, turn over and lie down on your right side and bear the sin of the family of Judah. Your assignment this time is to lie there for forty days, a day for each year of their sin. Look straight at the siege of Jerusalem. Roll up your sleeve, shake your bare arm, and preach against her.
8 “I will tie you up with ropes, tie you so you can’t move or turn over until you have finished the days of the siege.
9-12 “Next I want you to take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, dried millet and spelt, and mix them in a bowl to make a flat bread. This is your food ration for the 390 days you lie on your side. Measure out about half a pound for each day and eat it on schedule. Also measure out your daily ration of about a pint of water and drink it on schedule. Eat the bread as you would a muffin. Bake the muffins out in the open where everyone can see you, using dried human dung for fuel.”
13 God said, “This is what the people of Israel are going to do: Among the pagan nations where I will drive them, they will eat foods that are strictly taboo to a holy people.”
14 I said, “God, my Master! Never! I’ve never contaminated myself with food like that. Since my youth I’ve never eaten anything forbidden by law, nothing found dead or violated by wild animals. I’ve never taken a single bite of forbidden food.”
15 “All right,” he said. “I’ll let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human dung.”
16-17 Then he said to me, “Son of man, I’m going to cut off all food from Jerusalem. The people will live on starvation rations, worrying where the next meal’s coming from, scrounging for the next drink of water. Famine conditions. People will look at one another, see nothing but skin and bones, and shake their heads. This is what sin does.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND TODAY?
Imagine how shocked the spectators were when Ezekiel’s face became hard and resolute and he placed a flat, iron griddle between his face and the drawing he made of the besieged city. The griddle was the kind of utensil that the priests used in the temple for preparing some of the offerings so it was recognizable. The iron griddle symbolized the wall that stood between the Lord and the sinful Jewish nation so that God could no longer look on them with approval and blessing. Ezekiel the priest could not pronounce on them the priestly blessing of, for God’s face was not shining on them with blessing.
All because of Jesus, the “wall” between God and mankind has been torn down. Because of Jesus, we can repent of our sins in His Name and be set right with God—forever! God’s Holy Spirit comes to live in the hearts of all believers to guide, confront, comfort, teach, and encourage us in our walk with God. When we sin, Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us.
We become our own object lessons of what sin does in our lives, right?! The lessons are everywhere around us! Going our own way leads nowhere. To get somewhere of significance, beauty and love with God, we respond with repentance. Jesus will set us back on the right path immediately to God. Jesus is “God with us.” Our complete forgiveness is because of Jesus, His Son, who set us right with God by paying for our sins.
Ezekiel didn’t “bear their sins” in the sense of atoning for them, for only the Son of God can do that (1 Peter 2:24). But “bearing the sins” of the nation before God was one of the ministries of the priesthood, and Ezekiel was a priest. This was an object lesson to show the power of God as well as the lesson of what sin does in the lives of his people. Nothing good happens when consumed by sin.
I repent of all that offends you in me. Create in me a clean heart. Wash me white as snow. Renew my spirit with Your Holy Spirit. Restore the joy of your salvation at work in me. Refresh my soul with all of you in all of me. I know your’re not finished with me yet.
In Jesus Name, For your Glory, Amen