Involuntary Reflexes

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel and say to her: ‘This is what the Lord says: I am against you. I will draw my sword from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked. Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north. Then all people will know that I the Lord have drawn my sword from its sheath; it will not return again.’ “Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.” The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘A sword, a sword, sharpened and polished— sharpened for the slaughter, polished to flash like lightning! ‘Shall we rejoice in the scepter of my royal son? The sword despises every such stick.  – Ezekiel 21:1-10

This passage returns to the interesting, and somewhat irreverent, word picture of the legs of the people of Israel being wet with urine.  This is an allusion to the people of Israel being really afraid, so much so that they wet themselves.  This language was used previously in Ezekiel 7:14-22. God is not pulling any punches here He is making it clear that this exile thing is going to be hard and scary.

I cannot remember a time when I have wet myself due to being afraid.  I am not saying it has never happened, I just don’t remember any specific occasions when it happened. It implies a certain loss of control over something that we typically think is under control. It that sense it is an interesting choice for a word picture. The Israelites have in many ways been on “auto-pilot”, expecting God to allow them to wander into all sorts of idolatry and distraction.  They have allowed their relationship with God to become “involuntary”.  The exile will be a wake-up call of sorts and a testing of their wills.

God wants volunteers that are willing to walk with Him because we choose to do so not because we are compelled to do so by fear or involuntary reflexes.  He wants us to be in a constant state disequilibrium with this world so that we seek Him first. He wants the opposite of “involuntary” reflexes. He wants all of our choices to be intentional and consciously committed to Him.

I was Netflix surfing the other day and happened upon the movie “Young Frankenstein”.  I like this movie the other day. This movie has many interesting and morally questionable scenes, but bear with me here on this rabbit trail. This passage and the idea of voluntary and involuntary reflexes reminded of the scene near the beginning of the movie when Gene Wilder is giving a lecture the help of a “volunteer”. It does not end well for the volunteer or Gene Wilder’s character.

The subject in the movie has voluntary reflexes that are based on his emotions and feelings, and involuntary reflexes that are designed to protect his body from harm and keep it functioning properly. It seems the Israelites are making poor choices with their voluntary “reflexes” and they are bearing bad fruit. Their actions and habits are building patterns of “involuntary reflexes” toward God that are not helping them to grow a deeper relationship with Him. They are “wetting themselves with fear” in this passage, an involuntary reflex, because they have chosen fear over faith in the God who has made it clear that He wants to carry them like a son or daughter. They have become accustomed to choosing fear and turning to idols and false gods to obtain comfort rather than God.

The hidden well in this passage for me is the idea that our relationship with God can be subject to the spiritual equivalent of voluntary and involuntary reflexes.  Some things we choose to do to make our relationship with God stronger. The spiritual disciplines like prayer, reflection on  God’s words, and fasting improve our “involuntary” spiritual reflexes and provide protection for our souls. The interesting thing about our spiritual reflexes is that even our “involuntary” spiritual reflexes are born out of our experiences walking with God. Our choices determine the trajectory of our “involuntary” spiritual reflexes.

Prayer: God help us to choose to walk with you so that we develop involuntary spiritual reflexes that lead us toward You.

Posted in Ezekiel, Faith, Following God, Free Will | Leave a comment

A Ruler’s Scepter

‘Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard  planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water.   Its branches were strong, fit for a ruler’s scepter. It towered high above the thick foliage, conspicuous for its height and for its many branches.   But it was uprooted in fury and thrown to the ground. The east wind made it shrivel, it was stripped of its fruit; its strong branches withered and fire consumed them.   Now it is planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land.   Fire spread from one of its main branches and consumed its fruit. No strong branch is left on it fit for a ruler’s scepter.’ “This is a lament and is to be used as a lament.” – Ezekiel 19:10-14 NIV

I have been off the water for an extended period of time.  No really good reason, I just allowed life to overtake my commitment to walk daily “on the water”.  I, like my namesake, became too focused on the waves around me and forgot to simply enjoy the journey and all that it has been providing me.  As I have reflected on my time off the water I think the thing that I missed the most was the “hidden wells” that God regularly provides along the way. There is a dynamic in this that I am not sure I fully understand, but I am back on the water today and I am going to try my best to get back into the habit of regular readings and reflection.

Today’s passage seems to be linked to the last passage about about “transplants“. The intervening passages have contained some really interesting discussion about repentance that would fit quite well in the new testament.  For example, the last chapter (chapter 18) ends with “Repent and live!”  The people of Israel were getting this message long before Jesus came to share the same message.

This verse begins by comparing the Israel of the past as like a vine planted by the water.  I was bearing fruit, because of the abundant water it was getting.  The passage then provides an allegorical reference to this vine being uprooted, presumably the exile phase. This was largely because the Israel had begun to disconnect themselves from God and they were bearing bad fruit.

The reference to a ruler’s scepter is an interesting detail.  Since ruler’s scepters are not “a thing” these days I did a little investigation into what these object meant for this time and people. It seems that it is generally accepted that the ruler’s scepter is a symbol of authority to rule.  So if a nation or person possesses this scepter they have been given authority to rule by whomever bestowed the scepter upon them.  The implication here is that God bestowed on the people of Israel the right to rule (they possessed the scepter) as a result of their connection to God and His provision of water to make them a strong and worthy vine, fit to be used as a ruler’s scepter.

The implication here is that Israel has become unfit to serve this role, and the uprooting (exile) is a necessary step in the future of Israel.  There is “No strong branch is left on it fit for a ruler’s scepter.”  This sounds like God is saying there is no one fit to lead.  The result is exile and being “planted in the desert”.  Now one could view this as a retribution by God, but one could also view it as a necessary outcome of the choices the rulers of Israel had been making.

The take-home message from this passage for me is that if we are to lead we must be continually connected to our source of water so that we can be worthy “scepter” material when the time comes for us to lead.  This a bit of a personal rebuke for me as I have not been well connected to the spring for several months.  The reassuring message that was revealed through Jesus is that no matter how many times we choose to be “free of God“, God still chooses us.

Prayer: God thank you for meeting us where we are not matter who many times we choose to disconnect ourselves from your Living Water.

Posted in Discernment, Discipleship, Ezekiel, Following God, God's Love for Us | Leave a comment

Transplants

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set forth an allegory and tell it to the Israelites as a parable. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar, he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders.   “ ‘He took one of the seedlings of the land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water, and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs.   “ ‘But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water. It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine.’   “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots. It has been planted, but will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?’ ”   Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Say to this rebellious people, ‘Do you not know what these things mean?’ Say to them: ‘The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles, bringing them back with him to Babylon. Then he took a member of the royal family and made a treaty with him, putting him under oath. He also carried away the leading men of the land, so that the kingdom would be brought low, unable to rise again, surviving only by keeping his treaty. But the king rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape? – Ezekiel 17:1-15 NIV

There is clearly a lot of historical context here that is tied to this specific place and time, but there is also some deeper philosophical water here. God is describing a forcibly transplanted people, the people of Israel. As a gardener this passage holds special meaning to me. Plants are transplanted for a range of reasons. The ones that come to mind are: 1) to increase the success of young plants that may have difficulty starting out; 2) to allow “root bound” plants to continue to grow and send out deep roots to reach water and nutrients; 3) to quickly transform a landscape by planting mature plants. All of these have interesting allegorical significance in light of God’s current and past dealings with His people. Let’s dig into these one at a time.

I have had the blessing of many gardens during my lifetime and I love to plant my own starts in the spring time to get a jump start on gardening before the weather outside is able to support tender plants like tomatoes and peppers.  In raising seedlings it is important to time the planting and transplanting right so that they are not too big or too small when it is time to transplant them into the garden.  God has a similar challenge with the people of Israel.  He knows that in order to grow they need to be moved from their “comfortable coffin” in Jerusalem.  The tricky part is timing.  Transplant them too early and the tender plants will whither under the strain of their new surroundings.  Transplant them too late and they will have become root bound and stuck in their ways — unable to send their roots in the direction they need to send them to reach the real water they need and bear good fruit.

I am a nursery “junky” come spring time. I love to walk through the aisles of young plants dreaming about the gardens and beautiful landscapes they can become. I suspect God looks upon us that way sometimes. We all have such potential when planted in the right location, in good soil, and with access to the Living Water God promises for those who follow Him. All this potential can be lost by stubborn plants who refuse to be moved from their comfortable spot in the greenhouse. Plants left too long in their pots become root bound and/or “leggy”. The green growth is not supported by the improper, or out of proportion, root development. This is an apt description of the people of Israel and their place in Jerusalem, the city of David. It is a comfortable greenhouse and the people of Israel are content becoming root bound in their small pots, but God has dreams of a much more magnificent garden and landscape. He needs to move them to accomplish His “garden”.

God wants to take the these transplants out into the “desert”, i.e. this land of Oblivion, to transform it into a beautiful place.  I think the relationship God has fostered and cared for with the people of Israel was never simply because they were special.  They had a purpose.  That purpose was to bear good fruit and transform the place they were planted into a beautiful place. I think all modern-day God followers have the same position and purpose.  We are are meant to transform our world into a beautiful place, or at least try our best to do so.

We are all transplants from a place that is not like earth, the secret place, God’s greenhouse if you will. Here on earth we are subject to harsh winds, scorching heat, and drenching rains. If we are to survive and thrive we need the care and support of the one who planted us here. We must not only survive, but thrive, where God has planted us and bear the fruit were are intended to bear.

Prayer: God help us to thrive where we are planted. Give us the support we need when the place we have been transplanted to is harsh or unfamiliar.

Posted in Covenant, Discernment, Ezekiel, Following God, garden, God's Love for Us, The Nature of God, The Spiritual Realm | 1 Comment

Washed with Water

brooklyn_museum_-_the_washing_of_the_feet_le_lavement_des_pieds_-_james_tissot

The Washing of the Feet (Le lavement des pieds) by James Tissot

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.   “ ‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”  I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.   “ ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord , and you became mine.   “ ‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord . – Ezekiel 16:1-14

Today’s passage recounts a stark (actually stark naked) beginning to the nation of Israel.  Ezekiel is providing a rich word picture of the beginning of the people of Israel and their relationship with God.  They were as a baby born with no one to care for it, an abandoned infant, unwashed and unclean.  Tossed in a field to fend for itself.  Not a pretty picture of the beginnings of a great nation…kind of like a king being born in a dirty stable full of animals I guess.

God intervened and took pity on this abandoned child and said “I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” “.  God wanted this baby, thrashing about in its own blood, to have a home and a parent to care for it.  He adopted the nation of Israel and cleansed it with water, “I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you”.  God entered a covenant relationship with the people of Israel when they had nothing to contribute to the relationship.  It was God’s reaching arm that saved them rather than their own ability to reach out and “grab” God by the hand.

God then reminds the people that all the adornment and success that followed this initial adoption is a gift from Him – “you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen”  Their “hairy crown” was a result of actions that God took to make them great rather than their own skill and knowledge.

It think there is a very important word for all those who have accepted their status as adopted children of God.  We were all no better than the early Israelites when God “found” us bleeding and thrashing about in the world without Him.  He cleansed us with the living water of His spirit and clothed us with all the righteousness we need to stand in His presence.  We, like the Israelites in this passage, must not forget that all the success and “adornments” that we obtain in this world are gifts from God rather than deserved privileges we have earned.

Prayer: Thank You God for adopting us, cleansing us, and clothing us with all the clothes we need to stand in Your presence.

Posted in Covenant, Ezekiel, Following God, God's Love for Us, Prophecy, The Earthly Realm, The Nature of God, The Spiritual Realm, Trusting God | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clouds and Cherubim

DSCN6980I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of lapis lazuli above the vault that was over the heads of the cherubim. The Lord said to the man clothed in linen, “Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city.” And as I watched, he went in.   Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the Lord rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the Lord . The sound of the wings of the cherubim could be heard as far away as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.   When the Lord commanded the man in linen, “Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim,” the man went in and stood beside a wheel. Then one of the cherubim reached out his hand to the fire that was among them. He took up some of it and put it into the hands of the man in linen, who took it and went out. (Under the wings of the cherubim could be seen what looked like human hands.)   I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like topaz. As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. I heard the wheels being called “the whirling wheels.” Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.   Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River. When the cherubim moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the cherubim spread their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels did not leave their side. When the cherubim stood still, they also stood still; and when the cherubim rose, they rose with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in them.   Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the Lord ’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.   These were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the Kebar River, and I realized that they were cherubim. Each had four faces and four wings, and under their wings was what looked like human hands. Their faces had the same appearance as those I had seen by the Kebar River. Each one went straight ahead. – Ezekiel 10:1-22

Today’s passage marks a return to the complicated and sometimes fantastic imagery here in Ezekiel. Ezekiel is having a vision of Jerusalem as he resides on the banks if the Kebar River with the exiles. The last two chapters have described a judgement taking place in Jerusalem in which the foreheads for some would be marked so that they could be saved from the judgement, an interesting parallel to the Passover marking of the door frames. The “man clothed in linen” is apparently the one passing judgement and he has a writing kit in his hand according to the preceding passages. There are terrible things happening in the temple that are demonstrating that the people of Jerusalem have abandoned God.

The next phase of the judgement is described in this passage where the “man in linen” takes hot coals from beneath the Cherubim and scatters them over the city. The “man” enters the temple and the temple is immediately filled with “the radiance of the glory of the Lord” – a cloud of God’s presence. This must have brought back memories of God’s early interactions with the Israelites as a cloud in the temple. I am not sure who this man is, except that this “man” in some sense contains the Glory of the Lord so it seems it could be a reference to Jesus or the Holy spirit on earth, some sort of “Godly condensate“.

I confess I do not understand this complex scene of whirling wheels and hot coals, perhaps we are not intended to fully understand it any more than those who has first hand encounters with angels during the time of Jesus’ coming to earth understood what they were seeing.  We are in a sense seeing something from another “dimension”, not a physical dimension, but rather a spiritual dimension that we are not really a part of until we leave our earthly body.  I guess if that is the case it is not too surprising that our earthly eyes see this as something incomprehensible.  It is a bit like trying to use our eye to “see” sound waves travelling through the air.  They are designed for seeing sound waves and do a pretty poor job of it.

I think our spirits locked in this physical body are not equipped, except in very unusual and rare occasions like this one, to see into the spiritual realm that surrounds us.  When we do get a glimpse it is confusing and nebulous, kind of like a cloud.   I look forward to continuing my float through Ezekiel as it is certainly giving me lots to think about.

Prayer: God you intersect with our world in strange and amazing ways, help us to see and understand when You do.

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Wet with Urine

lead_largeThey have blown the trumpet, they have made all things ready, but no one will go into battle, for my wrath is on the whole crowd.   Outside is the sword; inside are plague and famine. Those in the country will die by the sword; those in the city will be devoured by famine and plague.   The fugitives who escape will flee to the mountains. Like doves of the valleys, they will all moan, each for their own sins.   Every hand will go limp; every leg will be wet with urine.   They will put on sackcloth and be clothed with terror. Every face will be covered with shame, and every head will be shaved. They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be treated as a thing unclean.
Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. It will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs, for it has caused them to stumble into sin. They took pride in their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols. They made it into vile images; therefore I will make it a thing unclean for them. I will give their wealth as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth, who will defile it. I will turn my face away from the people, and robbers will desecrate the place I treasure.
They will enter it and will defile it. – Ezekiel 7:14-22

In the past several passages God is describing a wrath of God which is horrible.  Parents will eat their own children, sacred places will be desecrated, and many will die terrible deaths. The wrath of God will fall on all who stay in the city of David, Jerusalem.  They apparently will not be able to even defend themselves – “…but no one will go into battle, for my wrath is on the whole crowd.”  God is really angry with the people of Jerusalem.  They cannot escape the city as the sword awaits them on the outside and “plague and famine” wait for them on the inside.  All is lost when they are separated from God.

They apparently will not be able to even defend themselves either – “…but no one will go into battle, for my wrath is on the whole crowd.”  God is really angry with the people of Jerusalem.  They cannot escape the city as the sword awaits them on the outside and “plague and famine” wait for them on the inside.  All is lost and they are separated from God.

Even the lucky few who escape this wrath will become like “doves of the valley” separate and lost in their own sins.  The people will lose all their strength and even wet themselves in their fear and sense of loss. I confess I have not had the experience of “wetting myself” out of fear, but it cannot be a very positive experience.

All the material possessions that have taken the place of God in the lives of the people, their gold and silver, will be tossed into the streets, worthless.  Clearly the rich and the poor will be subject to God’s wrath, regardless of positions, power, or prestige. No one will be able to “buy” their way out of the wrath that is coming.

God is clearly indicating that the people have grown accustomed to trusting things rather than Him and the consequences are that God will leave them with only these things to defend themselves in the coming calamity.  They have taken the prosperity and promise that God provided them in the Promised Land and selfishly squandered it on themselves.

God is even willing to allow something that is sacred to Him, the temple, to be defiled in order to get the people’s attention…this sounds eerily familiar. Jesus came to earth to atone for our sins.  He constantly tried to help people realize that they were using the gifts of God on the wrong things and in the wrong way. God allowed Jesus to endure the cross, the ultimate defiling so that we would realize what we were using to replace God in our lives.

God wants us to be fueled by Him and nothing else.  Any other fuel will only result in misfires and a poorly operating “engine”.

Prayer: God You are the fuel that we are designed to run on.  Help us to see the things we are using to replace You in our lives.

Posted in Death and Dying, Discernment, Ezekiel, Obedience, Prophecy, Sin, The Nature of God | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Hin of Water and Human Exrement for Fuel

komaya_cow_dung

Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it iand put battering rams around it. Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the people of Israel. “Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel. “After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year. Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her.  I will tie you up with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege. “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side. Weigh out twenty shekels of food to eat each day and eat it at set times. Also measure out a sixth of a hin of water and drink it at set times. Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel.” The Lord said, “In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.”   Then I said, “Not so, Sovereign Lord ! I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have never eaten anything found dead or torn by wild animals. No impure meat has ever entered my mouth.”   “Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.”   He then said to me: “Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair, for food and water will be scarce. They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of their sin. – Ezekiel 4:1-17

God is really asking a lot of Ezekiel in this passage.  It starts with some relatively easy commands to make a model of Jerusalem out of clay.  Then it gets decidedly strange.  Ezekiel is asked to rest on his left side for 390 days, over a year, for the sins of the people of Israel.  Then he is asked to lay on his right side for 40 days for the sins of Judah.  As far as I can remember this is the first time God has asked someone to take on the sins of another in a sort of atonement, albeit a very different sort of atonement.  It is interesting also that God refers to Ezekiel as the “son of man”, the same name used to refer to Jesus when He came to take away the sins of the world.

God is to bind Ezekiel with rope so that he will not turn aside from the awesome and strange responsibility of this “siege” that he is supposed to bring upon the people of Israel and Judah.  I cannot help but think this in some sense a prescient vision of the walk of Jesus to come.  He also will be bound and punished for the sins of the people.  Many of whom are unwilling to listen to His message.

God allows Ezekiel to eat and drink during his odd “side sitting” for the sins of the people.  God initially allow Ezekiel to have a specific amount of food (20 shekels) and water (one sixth of a hin) taken at regular intervals throughout the day.  The God’s direction takes a rather odd turn.  He asks Ezekiel to cook his bread, in front of the people, using human excrement.  Apparently God wants to provide the people with a vivid word picture of the exile and desecration that will befall them as a result of their poor choices and sin. Seeing someone’s dinner cooked using human poop would definitely leave an impression on me if I saw it.  At this point Ezekiel has had enough of God’s requests.  He objects to having to defile himself so God can make a point.  I can’t say I blame him.

God relents and allows Ezekiel to use animal dung instead of human waste to cook his bread.  God provides some insight into why He wants to go to such great lengths to provide this picture for the people.  He wants them to know that those who remain in Jerusalem with see and be forced to do similarly horrible things – “The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair”.  Having chosen to disconnect themselves from the spring they will “be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of their sin”.

I think God is reinforcing the point that without Him they are lost.  He says the same to us as we make choices throughout our life.  When we choose to go our own way we risk the same result. We are left cooking our food over human excrement and eating food that does not satisfy.  God just want the people of Israel to rely upon Him for their food and water. When we rely on ourselves we end up wasting away wallowing in our own sin.

Prayer: God You can provide for us if we are willing to accept Your provision.  Help us to accept the sacrifice you made to take away our sins.

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