Ezekiel chapter 4 begins the on-going record of the Prophet’s “action sermons,” to quote another source.
It seems the people of Israel no longer can effectively “listen” to merely verbal instructions and warnings! Everything now must be visual! (A “video” culture more than an “audio” culture! And that’s exactly the way America is going too, quickly!)
So God asks Ezekiel to “perform” certain deeds, sort of a “dramatic” parable, perhaps.
“Object lessons,” many would call them.
I believe there are somewhere around 12 such “sermons” in the Book of Ezekiel. The precise number depends on the “definition” given these events.
God, in chapter 4, asks His Prophet to take a clay “tablet” and draw on its soft surface an outline, a “map” of the City of Jerusalem. Then he is to “pretend” he is an army attacking the City! (Symbolizing an event that WOULD OCCUR in just a few short years! When the Babylonians would virtually destroy the city!)
Then Ezekiel was to take an iron pan, and place it between him and the city (the clay model) … as if it were a barrier between the Preacher and the people, a “sign” of God forsaking a sinful, rebellious people. A “wall” between God and His children, because of their stubbornness! (Listen to Isaiah here: “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2)
Presumably people pass this bizarre scenario and ask (or wonder) WHY is this man acting in such a manner? Then the Prophet could “preach” the coming judgment of God upon the Land of Judah! (Do remember that Ezekiel is in Babylon, but he’s talking about Jerusalem.)
Next God has Ezekiel lay on his side and eat a near “starvation” diet for a total of 430 days! Apparently typifying the number of years Israel and Judah have been in a state of rejection, of refusal to fully obey the Lord!
That’s a long “mock” siege of a city, suggesting that God “counts” (“numbers”) every day we live in sin!
And the “diet” he was to eat?
“Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof.” Ezekiel 4:9, not a tasty portion!
God even told him how much he could eat! Only about a half pound a day (8 ounces). Drinking water along with the concoction.
Can’t live that way for long, a human can’t.
A sermon demonstrated … a warning ignored … a judgment that came!
And Ezekiel did all this … obediently … without a word of complaint!
Well, maybe one slight objection.
Which God honored!
God wanted Ezekiel to cook the bread, using human dung as fuel for the fire! “And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with DUNG that cometh out of MAN, in their sight.” Ezekiel 4:12
Herein Ezekiel protests, asking God for an “amendment!”
He, being a priest, would have been “defiled” by such contact with human excrement.
And God, lovingly and graciously, relented!
“Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth. Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith.” Ezekiel 4:14-15, the Lord allowing cow’s dung instead, a common fuel in the ancient Near East.
The sermon is saying, to the people of Israel …
Judgment is coming, violent enemy attack!
God is not going to help you, this time!
You will “pay” for your sins, having rejected God’s forgiveness!
You will starve for food in the process, siege warfare!
You will become a further defiled people!
End of Sermon!
Ezekiel chapter 4, go read it, every single verse!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
In this chapter we have a unique blend of God’s severity and God’s goodness! Judgment and Grace! His wrath falls on sin … His kindness falls on Ezekiel, God changing the fire’s fuel … just for His Prophet’s sake!