Year 3 Day 57
Read - Ezekiel 4:9-15
Message - Alan Burke
What we have here in this chapter of Ezekiel is a vivid picture of the siege of Jerusalem. The city figuratively depicted on a clay table surrounded by siege-works, ramps, camps, the pan of iron representing the barrier between God and his people but there is more that Ezekiel is told to do by the Lord. In these verses Ezekiel is told how he was to enact what the people who were besieged in Jerusalem would face. He was to make a cake from a mix of things, it is a food that isn’t really one thing or the other, but what it does is that it shows how the people would be willing to mix anything edible to try and give themselves sustenance due to the scarcity of food during this time.
This cake that Ezekiel made would have been hard, unappetising, it would have provided sustenance but that was about it. It would have weighed about 200g, that’s about 3 and a half slices of nutty crust. Also this cake would have sucked the moisture out of his mouth, you would have wanted to have a big drink after it, and Ezekiel is allowed one sixth of hin as his water ration which is about a pint, or 600ml. In a hot arid environment, with a cake that sucked the moisture out of your mouth Ezekiel would have been thirsty to say the least. The reason for the water ration was because like most ancient cities the water supply for Jerusalem was outside the city walls, so the city was vulnerable during a siege because of this, so water would have been the first thing that was rationed.
These rations, both the cake he is to bake and the water, for all these days are starvation rations, like that Jerusalem would face in the siege. He would have been able to survive but he wasn’t going to be up for much, Ezekiel was to lie on his side (4), but in truth he wouldn’t have had much energy to do anything else anyway. With his model of the siege of Jerusalem and just lying down in front of the people, not speaking, he is to daily for the 430 days, lie down as the people walked passed, some glared at him, assured of an audience. He is also to bake and eat this mixture in front of the people and initially God tells him to use human excrement for fuel.
Now the use of any kind of excrement for fuel may be striking to us but there was very little fire wood in the ancient near east, wood was precious, too precious to use as a fuel. Instead as many across this world today still use, Ezekiel is to used dried excrement which would have normally been cow dung mixed with straw or dried grass. But he is to use Human excrement which was unclean. Not unclean in the sense of germs but in in regard to ritual purity, (Deut 23:9-14), and such for Ezekiel to use it he would have been ritually unclean. He was told to use human excrement for fuel because even though the people thought they were clean, they may have observed the law in fact they were unclean.
God’s people had been keeping up appearances, doing things in the right way according to their traditions than they were about the hearts, they were not in relationship with God so it didn’t matter if the way the food was prepared was unclean, they were unclean, unholy, they were rebellious, their hearts were rebellious. All of us by our nature are unclean, unholy, rebellious, yet it is through Christ that we are made holy, we have been sanctified by his blood. I’ll leave you with this, Ezekiel was being called to prophecy in a very unusual way and the Lord thankfully is not calling us to do the same. But do we shy away from witnessing to the Lord, sharing our faith, offering to pray for or with someone because of how it will be perceived? We are not called to lie on our side for outside the meetinghouse, eat starvation rations, use excrement for fuel, but we are called to share the gospel, to tell others of how Christ died to save sinners so that they may be forgive and escape the wrath of God.
Q56 What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?
The reason annexed to the third commandment is, That however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment. (1 Sam. 2:12,17,22,29, 1 Sam. 3:13, Deut. 28:58–59)