Today: [Ezekiel 4] Would You Eat Food Cooked with Human Dung? In this chapter, Ezekiel is commanded to perform a month’s long prophetic act, including lying on his side for over a year, and eat food prepared on coals of human dung. Prophetic acts are recorded throughout the bible and can be very compelling in their symbolism. If God commanded you to perform such a prophetic representation, would you be willing to do so?
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The Father Says Today: July 17th, 2017
[Eze 4:1-17 KJV] 1 Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, [even] Jerusalem: 2 And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set [battering] rams against it round about. 3 Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it [for] a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This [shall be] a sign to the house of Israel. 4 Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: [according] to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. 5 For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. 7 Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm [shall be] uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it. 8 And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege. 9 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, [according] to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof. 10 And thy meat which thou shalt eat [shall be] by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. 11 Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink. 12 And thou shalt eat it [as] barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. 13 And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them. 14 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. 15 Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith. 16 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment: 17 That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.
In this chapter we see the prophet Ezekiel commanded to perform a prophetic act portraying the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. He is to take a tile and set it before him to represent the city of Jerusalem. Archaeologists have found such tiles in ancient Chaldean ruins. They are sun dried bricks, usually covered with inscriptions, measuring about 2 feet long and 1 foot in width. The inscription on this particular brick is etched out by Ezekiel as a pictogram of the city of Jerusalem itself. There is some speculation as to whether Ezekiel renders this act before or after the fall of Jerusalem, but the message of the instruction is to demonstrate the punishment of the city for its iniquities.
After inscribing this tile with the image of the city of Jerusalem Ezekiel’s instruction from the Father was to place scale models of siege works around the city such as an iron pan to indicate the unshakable strength of the siege against the city, and being of iron a metal that represents punishment and judgment. He is then to set his face “against” this mocked up scene. The face in the bible represents the spirit – either the spirit of God or the spirit of man. All of this was a sign to the people and the house of Israel as to what the import was of the events occurring around the invasion of the Babylonians and the fall of the southern kingdom.
In verses 4-6 Ezekiel is commanded to lie on his left side for a number of days and then on his right, symbolizing bearing the sin of the northern tribes first and then the iniquities of the southern kingdom as well. Each day represents a year spent in disobedience by each of these respective kingdoms. All of these acts were a prophesy against the iniquities of God’s people over the decades of her history from Joshua down to Zedekiah. Ezekiel is to uncover his arm and during this time to prophesy against the model of the city (v. 7) before him representing the prophetic utterance condemning the northern and southern kingdoms for their inveterate rebellion and disobedience. Apparently in doing this Ezekiel is to spend approximately a year and a half lying on the ground before this mockup of the siege of the city of Jerusalem as an explanation from God regarding why these things have happened. In verse 8 Ezekiel is warned not to shift sides or move from this posture until the exact number of days is accomplished for each act.
Prophetic acts are physical actions undertaken to demonstrate in symbolism what God is saying. Prophets then and prophets now are known to employ such instrumentalities to demonstrate the point of what God is saying to a particular person or group. If you are prophetic you may feel compelled on occasion to perform such an act in order to drive a message home that God has spoken to your heart. The prophetic acts in the bible were at times quite extreme. Isaiah went naked from the waist down to demonstrate the people being led into captivity by the Chaldeans. Jeremiah cut off his hair and divided it into parts with a sword to show the defeat of the armies of Israel against her enemies. Elijah commanded a king to fire arrows through a window as a prophetic act demonstrating his dominion over his enemies. When the king failed to participate wholeheartedly the promise extended by God was withdrawn and the king and the kingdom suffered as a result. Prophetic acts are important. Participating with them and accepting their message or not accepting it can have profound implications for your life.
While engaged in this act of prophetic endurance, Ezekiel’s diet is given very exactingly. What he was to eat and the amounts he was to consume were described in minute details in verses 9-13. Much has been said about the dietary benefits of these instructions to Ezekiel but it is important to note that the meal consisted of what Ezekiel and all those observing him would consider defiled bread because Ezekiel was to prepare the meal on a fire composed of dried human dung. This was to symbolized the diet of the people of God during the years that they are in captivity when they were not in complete control of their food supply and therefore were forced to eat bread that from the perspective of the law was defiled by the hands of their Gentile overlords.
Throughout these instructions we can imagine Ezekiel’s reaction. The rigors of obedience to this prophetic act were no doubt concerning to him, but he keeps his silence until the issue of cooking with human excrement. At this point in verse 14 Ezekiel objects, insisting that for his entire lifetime he has never eaten anything polluted and how could God expect him to do such a thing. It is interesting that God does not rebuke Ezekiel or insist that he obey the instruction. Instead in verse 15 the Father relents and allows Ezekiel to use cow’s dung as a substitute. There is a lesson for us in this. Certain things are negotiable with God. It doesn’t mean we are in control, but we have to remember that God is a loving Father and will not suffer us to be tempted more than we are able. The picture of God representing Him as an unrelenting auto-crat with no feelings for his servants is incorrect. God is a loving God, concerned about the needs and issues in the lives of His people and will hear us when we call.
The strictures of Ezekiel’s diet is intended to demonstrate that the staff of bread will be broken in Jerusalem and the portions measured with care as though they were weighed as a matter of life and death. There will be want of bread and want of water and the people will waste away during this lengthy siege because of their iniquity. Many would read this passage and question why God would do this if He is in fact a loving God. Notice that at no point is this described as God’s choice. The suffering of the nation and the city of Jerusalem comes not because of the choice of God but the iniquity of the people. There are so many things in our lives that are avoidable, by patient and diligent obedience to God. This is not a proposition suspended in the New Testament. The teaching in Christianity is often that because of grace, obedience is no so much an issue. In other words, while God stringently disciplined the people under the Old Covenant, the New Covenant establishes a more lax, lenient posture because of grace. This is completely against the stated declarations of God in the New Testament. Jesus Himself said in the gospel of Matthew:
[Mat 5:20 KJV] 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Paul in teaching on this subject in Romans makes the following observation:
[Rom 3:6-8 KJV] 6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? 7 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? 8 And not [rather], (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
In Jude 4, teaching on the importance of faith demonstrated by works, Jude warns against those who would come and by their false teaching would turn the grace of God into a license to sin, as though obedience and holiness would become outmoded in an alleged age of enlightened grace. These are the lessons of Ezekiel for us. As Paul warns in Rom. 11, if the natural branch of Israel was rejected because of iniquity, we also as the wild branch grafted in should serve the Lord will fear and trembling lest Christianity go the way of Judaism and fall into the dust of history blinded by the same veil of unbelief that blinds the descendants of Abraham yet today.
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