Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ezekiel 4 & 5 - Visions of Judgment

LINK: Ezekiel 4 & 5

BACKGROUND 

These chapters contain four signs of coming judgement:

1) The brick/clay tablet or tile (4:1-3)

Ezekiel followed God's instruction by acting out symbolically the siege and fall of Jerusalem on a brick (the primary building material for Babylon). The iron plate was similar to what the priest used for preparing the offerings (Leviticus 2:5; 6:21; 7:9). This symbolized the wall that stood between God and the sinful Jewish people. No blessing would be pronounced on them. 

2) Ezekiel lying on his sides (4:4-8)

Next, God commanded Ezekiel to lay on his left side 390 days and 40 days on his right. Different commentators interpret this different ways. It was the number of years of their rebellion. Some think 40 was for the 40 years in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. The 390 years might have been going back to the reign of King Rehoboam when he forsook the Lord (2 Chronicles 12:1) up until Ezekiel's time when King Zedekiah reigned. 

The priests would "bear the iniquity" of the people in their duties, and Ezekiel did this as a priest (Exodus 28:36-38; Numbers 18:1). This does not mean bearing iniquities as to take on and atone for our sin like Jesus did though. 

Ezekiel was bound, and his arms were bared to symbolize the binding of the people as prisoners and the baring of God's holy arm of judgment upon them. 

3) The unclean food (4:9-17)

This symbolized the results of the siege of Jerusalem. The combination of the grain and vegetables to bake bread was the poorest kind of bread. This represented that food would be very scarce as a result of the siege. They would even eat one another (Deuteronomy 28:49-57).

God asked Ezekiel to cook this over human excrement which was a sign of total poverty, but Ezekiel begged God not to do such an unclean thing because it violated the laws for purity, and the Lord relented (Deuteronomy 14:3; 23:12-14)

4) The shaved head and divided hair (Ezekiel 5)

This symbolized mourning, humiliation, and repentance. A few strands of hair  tucked in Ezekiel's garment symbolized the small remnant of the faithful whom God would preserve. The three parts of the hair symbolized the division of the judgment among the people: one-third would die of pestilence and famine, one-third would die by the Babylonian sword, and one-third would be scattered. 

God's holy people had failed to honor the covenant by being a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). Instead they allowed the Gentiles to lead them into the darkness of sin. Therefore, the day of reckoning had arrived. 

REFLECTION 

I followed-up, Annie, about a week after my friend, Mark, led her to Christ. She was over-the-moon excited about her new found faith, and she was telling everyone. What a LIGHT she was to that University Inn dorm!  You could not stop her from telling others about what God had done in her life. Her excitement was contagious. 

She was in love with Jesus, and her love brought light and life to all around her. 

Israel was blessed with a special relationship with God, but they were not a light to the Gentiles. They chose to walk away from the light into the darkness of the Gentile nations.  

The church in Ephesus was doing so many things right, but they had lost their first love. Jesus warned them that they would lose their light if they did not repent and obey (Revelation 2:2-5).

Warren Wiersbe says, "The church that loses its love will soon lose its light, no matter how doctrinally sound it may be." 

Love for the Lord begets light. It was too late for Judah, but it is not too late for you. 

APPLICATION 

How is your love for the Lord doing? Are you overflowing with His light or has it gone dim?

Take a little walk. Pause and recommit yourself in love for the Lord. Ask Him to flood you with His love and light for a lost world. 

PRAYER

Lord, I know it is all about overflow. Love begets life. We love You Lord. We never want to lose that passion for You. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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