Ezekiel was to draw the city of Jerusalem on a block of clay and lay siege against it to demonstrate what Nebuchadnezzar would do to the city (Ek 4:1-3). Think about it. How bizarre would it be to see a grown man taking little soldiers, archers, and catapults and pretending he is making war against a drawing of Jerusalem, your home town. That would likely draw attention, don’t you think? And make people mad. After all, he is saying your beloved capital is going to fall when all the other prophets are saying their king Zedekiah would have ultimate victory over Nebuchadnezzar. After all, the Jews were God’s chosen people. Surely, he would not let Jerusalem, the place of his Name, go to complete ruin.
Next, Ezekiel took it a step further. While he was doing his simulation of the siege against Jerusalem, he was to lie on his left side daily for 390 days to represent the years (a day for each year) Israel had been living in rebellion against God. This would represent the time in Israel’s history from when the judges ruled Israel to the time Israel was taken captive by Assyria. After that, he was then lie on his right side for 40 more days to represent the time (again, a day for a year) Judah had been living in rebellion against God (Ek 4:4-8). This time may represent the reign of Manasseh, who God had stated was one of the most wicked kings who lead Judah into many sinful practices (2Ki 21:9-27). Think how long this is—over a year! Imagine seeing Ezekiel day after day after day doing this. I’m sure many asked why he was doing this. You would either just chalk him up to being crazy, or you would start to wonder if his message was true. I’m sure most did the former.
It didn’t end there. Ezekiel was to take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt, put them in a storage jar, and use them to make bread. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, get this: he could use only eight ounces per day to make bread and drink on a little over a pint of water each day (Ek 4:9-13). On top of this, the bread was to be cooked using cow dung! I’m sure this got a lot of stares and a lot of ‘yuk’s. This was definitely not kosher. And that was the point. Conditions would get so bad in Jerusalem that people would do anything, and eat anything, to stay alive for as long as possible. Ezekiel was probably lucky the paddy wagon didn’t come for him, or whatever was the equivalent in his day.
Believe it or not, there’s more! Next, Ezekiel was to demonstrate the humiliation and hardships of those who would be left in Jerusalem by shaving his head and beard. Everyone would have found this to be very odd behavior. Men just did not do that in his day and age—especially if they were priests, which Ezekiel was. He didn’t just shave his head and beard, but then divided the hair into three equal portions. One-third he burned in the fire (to represent the disease and plagues which would sweep the land), one-third he further cut with a knife (to represent those who would be slain with the sword), and one-third he threw into the wind (to represent those who would flee in all directions but be destroyed). A few hairs were left on Ezekiel’s clothes. These hairs represented the few who would be spared but would still endure hardship (Ek 5:1-4).
These are strange things. Some say these are two strange to even believe. Yet, God stated these people were very stubborn, so he had to get their attention. Strange tends to do that. For some reason, even though Ezekiel’s audience were already in captivity, they still did not believe their famous, and precious, city of Jerusalem would be destroyed. Ezekiel was trying to get them to see that their turning away from God was the cause, and it would definitely happen. Yet, are we any different today? The Bible tells our future and the direction we are headed. We can either be on his side or not. What happens to us and our country depends on where we ultimately stand. Will we heed Ezekiel?
Why Study Ezekiel?
God’s Plan for Nations
God Reaches Gentiles