Today's quiet time was different than usual: I found myself confused... and then laughing out loud! I am just beginning to read Ezekiel, and boy did I find a gem of a passage!! I broke it down and just knew it was too good not to share it!
*links to what bible and commentary I used at bottom
Just for some background, Eziekial was formerly a priest before being chosen by God to become a prophet (Ezekiel 1:3). God intended to use Ezekiel to speak His words to the people of Israel. Israel was obstinate and stubborn against God, and because of that God had plans to make Ezekiel unyielding in sharing the truth to come if they don't repent! (Ezekiel 3:8)!
But with that being said, let's open up our Bibles to Ezekiel chapter 4!
"Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. 2 Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. 3 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.4 “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. 5 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.6 “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. 7 Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her. 8 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.9 “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. 10 Weigh out twenty shekels of food to eat each day and eat it at set times. 11 Also measure out a sixth of a hin of water and drink it at set times. 12 Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel.” 13 The Lord said, “In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.”14 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.”15 “Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.”16 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, 17 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."
Now, I don't know about you, but I definitely did a double take on this passage! Was God really asking him to lay on his left side for 390 days, with an additional 40 days on his right?! And don't even get me started on how he was supposed to bake his bread... What could God possibly be trying to accomplish by having Ezekiel eat food baked from the fuel of human excrement!! This called for some major research.
Upon my study notes, it suggests that Ezekiel was essentially becoming a living parable! With the people of Israel being as stubborn as they were, they needed something eye catching and jaw dropping to understand the severity of the consequences to come to them. So, with that being
said, does he actually lay on his side? Or could that just be a metaphor?
Well to my surprise, it was both a metaphore and a command! Yes, God did call Ezekiel to lay on his sides for a total of 430 days, but for the greater purpose of representing the years of iniquity of Israel. For 390 years Northern Israel acted immoral, and then for 40 years Judah (Southern Israel) acted immoral as well! The people needed to see such extreme prophesy from Ezekiel in order for their attention to be captured-and if it took 430 days, so be it!
Now onto the elephant in the room... did we really just read a negotiation between Ezekiel and God about eating bread cooked on human poop to bread cooked on animal poop?!
According to the Moody Bible Commentary, this was no joke! The fact that he had to eat bread
cooked by excrement was used to show how poor the conditions would be for Jerusalem during that time! They would be out of all other sources of fuel, such as trees or animal poop, and need to resort to human poop! This was a major form of defilement, especially considering the strict rules they had in place during the time to dispose of human excrement, and the dietary/purity laws set in place by God for the Jews to follow!!
In the end, we see the lengths that Ezekiel went to obey God. Not only did he lay on his side for over a year, silent might I add, but he also ate food cooked by poop...willingly! (I guess no one said that obeying God was "fun" or socially acceptable).
Maybe God is asking you to obey him in a simple area of your life, and you have chosen to disobey. But come on, I doubt God is asking you to eat bread cooked by feces in front of your friends! If I am being honest with myself, the next time I am complaining about obeying, I will think about how Ezekiel did not complain ONCE when obeying God, and for much crazier circumstances!
Moody Bible Commentary
My Study Bible