HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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Book of Ezekiel
Chapter 4 begins the first great division of Ezekiel's prophecies. Chapters 4-24, cover a period of about four and a half years, ranging from the time of the prophet's call to the start of the siege of Jerusalem. During this time Ezekiel's thoughts revolved round one great theme . . . the looming judgment on the city and the nation.
The prophecies may be classified roughly under three types: (1). The first are those which exhibit the judgment itself in ways fitted to impress the prophet and his hearers with a view of its certainty; (2). a second is intended to demolish the illusions and false ideals which possessed the minds of the Israelites and made the announcement of disaster incredible; and (3). a very important class explains the moral principles which were illustrated by the judgment, and which show it to be a divine need.
The certainty of the national judgment seems to have been first impressed on Ezekiel's mind in the form of a singular series of symbolic acts which he considered himself commanded to perform. The uniqueness of these signs is that they represent at the same time, two distinct aspects of the nation's fate . . . on the one hand the horrors of the siege of Jerusalem, and on the other hand the state of exile which was to follow.
That the destruction of Jerusalem would occupy the first place in the prophet's picture of national calamity requires no explanation. Jerusalem was the heart and brain of the nation, the center of its life and its religion, and in the eyes of the prophets the fountain-head of its sin. The strength of her natural situation, the patriotic and religious associations which had gathered around her, and the smallness of her subject province gave to Jerusalem a unique position.
Ezekiel's hearers knew very well what he meant when he used the picture of a besieged city to set forth the judgment that was to overtake them. The crowning horror of ancient warfare, the siege of a fortified town, meant in this case something more appalling to the imagination than the ravages of pestilence, famine and sword. The fate of Jerusalem represented the disappearance of everything that had constituted the glory and excellence of Israel's national existence. That the light of Israel should be extinguished amid the anguish and bloodshed which must accompany an unsuccessful defense of the capital was the most terrible part in Ezekiel's message, and here he sets it right in front of his prophecy.
Ezekiel acted out the coming siege and fall of Jerusalem before it really happened. God gave Ezekiel precise instructions about WHAT to do and say and HOW to do and say it. Each detail had a very definite meaning. So often we ignore or pay little attention to the smaller details of God's Word, thinking it probably doesn't matter much; but, like Ezekiel, we should really want to obey God completely, even in the smallest details.
Ezekiel's unusual actions symbolically pictured the outcome of Jerusalem. He lay on his left side for 390 days to show that Israel would be punished for 390 years; then he lay on his right side for 40 days to show that Judah would be punished for 40 years. Ezekiel was not allowed to move, indicating the fact that the people of Jerusalem would be imprisoned within the walls of the city. We know that Ezekiel did not have to lie on his side all day long because the Scriptures tell us of other jobs God asked him to do during this time. The small amount of food he was allowed to eat represented the normal ration provided to those living in a city under siege by enemy armies. The food was to be cooked over dried human dung, was a symbol of Judah's spiritual uncleanness.
Many people saw the actions of Ezekiel and heard his occasional speeches (3:27). I wonder if the our LORD could find anyone today, to be willing to so intensely and passionately portray the SINS of our nation? Dear one, we need to pray for greater boldness as we witness to the world around us, and also pray that we, like Ezekiel, obey the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Ezekiel asked God not to make him use human dung for fuel because it violated the laws for purity (Lev.21 & 22; Deut.23:12-14). Since he was a priest, Ezekiel would have been careful to keep all these laws. Using human dung for fuel would paint a vivid picture of ruin. If nothing was left in the city that could be burned, it would be impossible to continue to follow God's laws for sacrifices.
Theme: Judgment of Jerusalem; sign of the prophet lying on his side.
In chapters 4 and 5 Ezekiel shall use certain signs and act out certain parables before the people. At this time Jerusalem was not yet destroyed, and the false prophets were telling the people of Israel that they were going to have peace. They were saying that the Jews already in Babylonian captivity would return to their land shortly, but Ezekiel is going to confirm the word of Jeremiah, who had told them they would NOT be going back and that Jerusalem would be destroyed. 1 Thes. 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (KJV)
There will be NO peace until the Prince of Peace comes, the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Judgment of Jerusalem (4:1-14)
Ezekiel 4:1 Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: (KJV)
Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile . . . or brick, bricks in common use among the ancients were about two feet long, one foot wide, and four inches thick; and on such a surface the whole siege might be easily described.
And lay it before thee . . . as persons do, who are about to draw a picture, or engrave the form of something they intend.
And portray upon it the city; even Jerusalem . . . write or engrave on it, by making incisions or marks on it, thus describing the form and figure of the city of Jerusalem.
*****A tile in that day meant a brick, and they were commonly used as their writing material. The Babylonians used clay bricks on which they kept their records. Many of these bricks have been found, and they have writing upon them. What Ezekiel was to do was to draw the city of Jerusalem on the brick (I do not know just how he did it), and then, it seems that he was supposed to break the brick, showing that the city was going to be destroyed.
Ezekiel 4:2 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. (KJV)
And lay siege against it . . . draw the form of a siege, or of an army besieging a city; or rather of the instruments and means used in a siege.
And build a fort against it . . . one interprets it a wooden tower, built over against the city, to subdue it; another thinks it to be an instrument by which stones were cast into the city; the Targum says a fortress; and Nebuchadnezzar in reality did what was here only done in picture (2 Ki.25:1).
And cast a mount about it . . . a heap of ground built up high, next to it, to look into the city, cast darts, and climb the walls.
Set the camp also against it . . . place the army in their tents around it.
And set battering rams against it round about . . . a warlike instrument that had an iron head, and horns like a ram, with which in a siege the walls of a city were battered and beaten down. (Eze.21:22).
Ezekiel 4:3 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. (KJV)
Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan . . . some think, iron represented the hardness of the hearts of the people of Israel; and for its color, the blackness of their sins: although others think this is a pan in which things are fried, which may indicate the miseries of the Jews in captivity; and the roasting of Ahab and Zedekiah in the fire (Jer.29:22), and above all the burning of the city: others think it is the wrath of God against them, and His firmness to destroy them.
And set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city . . . this seems to represent all the things that are made use of by besiegers to screen them from the besieged.
And set thy face against it . . . with a firm resolution to besiege and take the city; which means both the settled wrath of God against this people, and the determined purpose of the king of Babylon not to move from it until he had taken it.
And it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it . . . as a symbol of the army of the Chaldeans besieging it, which is confirmed by the next clause.
This shall be a sign to the house of Israel . . . of the city of Jerusalem being besieged by the Babylonians; this was a sign representing it, and giving them assurance of it.
*****Ezekiel was now to take an iron pan and put it between himself and this picture of Jerusalem which he had made to show that God had put a wall between Himself and the city of Jerusalem. The destruction of the city was certain; it could not be stopped. What a remarkable way to bring God's message to these people!
The sketch on the tile revealed the siege of Jerusalem. The second sign of the iron pan revealed the hardships of divine judgment, and that the people would go through terrible suffering. A third sign yet to come describes additional punishments to come upon Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 4:4 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. (KJV)
Lie thou also upon thy left side . . . there are some who think this did not really happen, but was in vision only . . . and in the same way they understand his eating and drinking and preparing food; while others believe that all this was actually done. Lie thou also . . . a position which was to show the settled firmness of the besiegers, who had taken up their residence until the siege was ended in taking Jerusalem. Upon thy left side . . . left side meant the less worthy part, the ten tribes, or Samaria, which was from Jerusalem on the left, and was head of the ten tribes. Left side . . . refers to the position of the ten tribes, the northern kingdom, whereas the right side refers to Judah, the southern kingdom (4:6). The Orientals facing the east, had the north on their left, and the south on their right (Eze.16:46). Also the right was more honorable than the left because Judah was the seat of the Temple, and was more honorable than Israel.
Lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it . . . Ezekiel was to represent both the guilt and punishment of these rebellious Jews; to illustrate what they would suffer. The house of Israel . . . is distinguished from Judah; it is the ten tribes.
According to the number of the days . . . by the amount of time, the people would know how long GOD had patiently endured their sins, and how long they would bear their punishment.
Thou shalt bear their iniquity that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity . . . suggesting that just as the prophet in this sign, so the LORD GOD had indeed, patiently tolerated the iniquity of this rebellious house (2:5).
*****Lie thou also upon thy left side . . . it seems that all that is mentioned here and in the following verses was actually done. The prophet represents the Jews:
<><><> His lying down, their state of depression.
<><><> His being bound, their captivity and helplessness.
<><><> The number of days indicate years, each day for a year; during which time they were to bear the punishment because of their sins.
<><><> 390 days, he was to lie on his left side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Israel, point out two things: (1) the period of the siege of Jerusalem. (2) The duration of the captivity of the ten tribes, and that of Judah.
<><><> The prophet lay 390 days upon his left side, and 40 days upon his right side . . . in all, 430 days. Jerusalem was besieged the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah (2 Ki.25:1-2), and was not taken until the eleventh year of the same prince (2 Ki.25:2). The siege did not continue the whole of that time but was interrupted; because Nebuchadnezzar was forced to raise it, to go and meet the Egyptians, who were coming to its help. This took some time. After King Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians, he returned and picked up where he left off the siege, and stayed until the city was taken.
We may, therefore, determine that the 430 days only include the time in which the city was actually besieged. The siege started the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah; and it was taken on the ninth day of the fourth month of the eleventh year of the same king . . so the siege lasted, in the whole, eighteen months, or 510 days. IF we subtract the time that Nebuchadnezzar was forced to interrupt the siege, to go against the Egyptians, four months and twenty days, or 140 days, and there will remain 430 days, composed of 390+40=430.
Ezekiel 4:5 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. (KJV)
For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity . . . the rebellious iniquity of the people which for so many years they had been guilty of; meaning the punishment of it.
According to the number of the days . . . one day for one year;
Three hundred and ninety days . . . which indicate 390 years; so many years there were from the revolt of the ten tribes from Rehoboam, and the setting up the calves at Dan and Bethel, to the destruction of Jerusalem (1 Ki.12); which may be considered: the apostasy was in the fourth year of Rehoboam, so that there remained 13 years of his reign, for he reigned 17 years; Abijah his successor reigned 3 years; Asa, 41; Jehoshaphat, 25; Joram, 8; Ahaziah, 1; Athaliah, 7; Joash, 40; Amaziah, 29: Uzziah, 52; Jotham, 16; Ahaz, 16; Hezekiah, 29; Manasseh, 55; Amos, 2; Josiah, 31; Jehoahaz, just 3 little months; Jehoiakim, 11 years; Jeconiah, 3 months and 10 days; and Zedekiah, 11 years; in all, a total of 390 years.
So shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel . . . each day Ezekiel lie, represented as many years; by the house of Israel is meant not merely the ten tribes, who had been carried captive long before this time, but such of them also as were mixed with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. It seems the punishment of exile and Gentile rule inflicted upon the Hebrew nation over a 430-year period as extending from 597 to approximately 167 BC.
*****Israel was indeed the greater transgressor; for a much longer period than Judah (Eze.20:35-38). Not the whole of the 430 years of the Egypt state is appointed to Israel; but this was shortened by the 40 years in the wilderness, suggesting that there was a way open to their return to life . . . by stopping idolatry and seeking through God's covenant, a restoration to righteousness and peace. The 390 years, in reference to the sin of Israel, was also really true, being the years from the setting up of the calves by Jeroboam (1 Ki.12:20-33), from 975 to 583 B.C.: about the year of the Babylonian captivity; and possibly the 40 years of Judah refers to that part of Manasseh's fifty-five year's reign in which he had not repented, and which we are clearly told, was the cause of God's removal of Judah, apart from Josiah's reformation (1 Ki. 21:10-16; 2 Ki.23:26-27).
Ezekiel 4:6 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. (KJV)
And when thou hast accomplished them . . . meaning the 390 days, by lying so long on his left side, bearing the sins of the house of Israel in this way.
Lie again on thy right side . . . this time for Judah; which tribe lay to the south, and to the right hand side of Jerusalem (16:46). The prophet lay on his right side for Judah, because they were more honorable, and in greater respect with the LORD; nor were their sins as many, nor as continued as those of the ten tribes (Israel); and therefore Judah, and the punishment of their sin is borne a less time by the prophet.
And thou shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days . . . some think this answers to the 40 years of Manasseh's evil reign; others say it is from the thirteenth of Josiah to the end of Zedekiah, and yet others . . . from the eighteenth year of Josiah to the destruction of Jerusalem, which was five years after the carrying of Zedekiah captive.
***** The forty days represent the 40 years in which gross idolatry prevailed in Judah, from the reformation of Josiah, B.C. 624, to the final desolation of the land. Some think that the period of 390 days also predicts the duration of the siege of the Babylonians (4:9), deducting from it five months and twenty-nine days, when the besiegers went to meet the Egyptians (2 Ki.25:1-4; Jer.37;5) and that 40 days may have been employed in desolating the Temple and city.
Ezekiel 4:7 Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it. (KJV)
Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege at Jerusalem . . . all the time Ezekiel was lying either on the left side or the right side, his face was to be focused on the siege of Jerusalem, represented upon the tile (verse 1), and to all the preparations made for that purpose, to show that everything referred to that; because setting his face to the siege shows the Jews utter determination and inflexibleness.
And thine arm shall be uncovered . . . which was usual in fighting in those times; for, wearing long clothing, they were forced to roll up the clothes on the arm, or lay them aside, that they might more easily handle their weapons against the enemy.
And thou shall prophesy against it . . . meaning not so much by words, if at all, but by these actions and gestures, for they all foretold what would certainly come to pass.
Ezekiel 4:8 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. (KJV)
And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee . . . representing either the besieged, indicating that they would be taken and bound as Ezekiel was (3:25); or instead bands on the besiegers, the Chaldean army, which would be held by the power and Providence of God, that they would not break up the siege until they had taken the city, and fulfilled the whole will and pleasure of God . . . these bands were a symbol of the firm and unchangeable decree and will of God, in respect to the siege and taking of Jerusalem; the Targum says and, lo, the decree of my word is upon thee, as a band of ropes;
I will lay bands upon thee . . . the LORD will constrain Ezekiel, causing him to do his job. In the retirement of his house, symbolically bound and under constraint, he shall not stop proclaiming the doom of the city.
And thou shall not turn thee from one side to another till thou hast ended the days of thy siege . . . showing that the Chaldean army would NOT depart from Jerusalem until it was taken; for even though there was a report of the Egyptian army coming to help, Nebuchadnezzar went to meet it; then they returned to Jerusalem, and never left the siege until the city fell into their hands, exactly as was according to the purpose and appointment of God. The days of thy siege . . . the days which Ezekiel would foretell (predict, prophesy) the approaching calamity.
*****Whoever the persons were that laid bands on Ezekiel (3:25), it is quite clear here, that it is the LORD GOD that was and IS in complete control! Just as the prophet represents the besieged citizens who must be captives in bands, then it is very likely these bands were visible and factual, that they might be to teach and warn! For, if they saw the prophet in bands, so without a doubt, what would come to pass, would mean they too would be in bands!
If Ezekiel represents the Chaldeans, as those who were by Divine power as bound fast to this siege, until the city be taken, as he was tied to the place where he could not move, then invisible bands, which none feel or see but the prophet, would be enough, assuring him that they could not move any more from the siege, than he from that side he lay on. And even though the Egyptian army did make a change, it certainly did NOT stop the siege. The Chaldeans came back and did NOT depart until the city fell.
Ezekiel 4:9 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. (KJV)
Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches . . . wheat was commonly used to make bread; but in case of want and poverty, barley was used; bean and lentils were used by the poor, millet and fitches were used for cattle, never for the food of men . . . except in a time of great scarcity; and this was to mean the famine that would be present at the siege of Jerusalem (2 Ki.25:3).
And put them in one vessel . . . meaning the flour of ALL of the grains and seeds when ground, to be mixed together, to make bread; this mixed bread was a sign of a dreadful famine.
And make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side . . . the left side, on which Ezekiel was to lie 390 days . . . so as much bread was to be made as would be sufficient for that time; or as many loaves were to be made as there were days, a loaf for a day . . . the different grains and seeds were all to be baked together in some form of bread. When they were under siege, the people would put together whatever they had, mixing it together, in order to prepare some kind of food for the starving people. In Ezekiel’s case this mixed bread was to form his means of food for the 390 days (more than a year). This was possibly intended to represent roughly the prospective length of the siege of Jerusalem, when the necessities of life would be extremely scarce during the siege.
***** In this verse, Ezekiel is to be identified, not as a sin-bearer, but as one who represented the besieged and captive Israelites. The prophecy means that they shall suffer famine, a severe food shortage, the lack of water and all of the other hardships of a siege.
Some have thought that the mixing of all these mixed grains and seeds in one container was a ceremonial violation regarding unnatural mixtures (Lev.19:19); but I think a much better understanding is that it indicates the great scarcity of food. Wheat and barley were normally used by the rich and poor, and this was also true of beans and lentils; but the millet and fitches were often used as food for animals. Fitches (spelt) was a kind of wild wheat, resembling the seed of some grasses. The picture that comes to mind is a family gathering together small amounts different seeds and grains to make a single loaf of inferior bread. There were such restricted amounts of food and water in the siege that they had to struggle to come up with a minimum survival diet.
Ezekiel 4:10 And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. (KJV)
And thy meat which thou shall eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day . . . to eat bread by weight was a sign of a very serious famine (Lev.26:26). A shekel, according to weight is four Attic drachms, or half an ounce . . . so twenty shekels weighed ten ounces . . . so the bread that the prophet had to eat was only about ten ounces a day:
From time to time shall thou eat it . . . at the certain time of eating, or once a day; a set time, one day the same as another (Jer.37:21).
*****The prophet dared not eat even that bread to the state of being full . . . you shall eat, says He (Christ), bread by weight . . . the sense is, that the LORD GOD commanded Ezekiel to live sparingly. When the city was besieged, bread was distributed in pieces to each person; because the Jews would be near starvation during the siege. They would not have bread except by fixed weight, and that a very small one. What follows is worse, that being the lack of water; for this is the last stage of disaster when thirst oppresses us.
Ezekiel 4:11 Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink. (KJV)
Thou shall drink also water by measure . . . not wine, but water; and this not as much as he would like to have, but a certain measure; which shows great lack of it, and expresses a very distressed condition (Lam.5:4). Water by measure possibly corresponds to the water of affliction (1 Ki. 22:27; Isa.30:20).
The sixth part of an hin . . . an hin was about ten pints, so a sixth of an hin would be a little more than a pint of water each day. The prophet was to take this small amount from day to day, and in small portions from time to time on the same day, while he subjected himself to public notice. The people watched him in all this. Ezekiel’s doing so was revealing a great scarcity of water during the siege. That small amount of water, and that being measured out by others, was hardly enough to keep him alive.
From time to time shalt thou drink . . . as before with the bread (verse 10), meaning at set times, he would not hurry so there would be no waste: for every drop is precious. The purpose of the rations of bread and water to Ezekiel was to act out siege conditions in the eyes of the people.
Ezekiel 4:12 And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. (KJV)
And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes . . . meaning the mixed bread made of wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and fitches (verse 9), was to be made in the form of barley cakes, and to be baked as barley cakes were baked; NOT in an oven, but under ashes; and these ashes were NOT of wood, straw or turf, but as follows:
And thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of men, in their sight . . . the prophet was to take human dung (excrement), dry it, and then cover the cakes or loaves of his mixed bread with it, and burn it over them, thus baking it. This had to be a most disagreeable job for Ezekiel, also making the bread was very sickening, both to himself and to the Jews, in whose sight all this was done. Ezekiel doing this is revealing just how scarce fuel would be in the siege, along with the severity of the famine. They would not have regular fuel (firewood) to bake with, nor could the people stay until the bread was baked in an oven, therefore this method would be used during the siege.
*****The dung (human excrement) mentioned here was NOT to be a part of the food but was to be the fuel for the baking of the bread . . . thus assuring the ceremonial uncleanness of the bread, which did not set well with Ezekiel, who was a priest. The Arabs used dried animal dung (manure), when wood for fuel was scarce; just as the pioneers used dried buffalo chips on the prairie. Using human dung suggests a drastic and most unpleasant need. It was in violation of the law, which Ezekiel knew well (Deut.14:3; 23:14). There are those who say that because of this, it must have been done only ina vision . . . but in verse 15, Ezekiel is permitted to use cow dung instead of human dung. Such fuel is still used as fuel in the Middle East. Dried cow and camel dung is still used for fuel by the Bedouins. It is not really that unsatisfactory as a fuel, as many pioneers in America used buffalo chips for fuel. The main point about the use of dung for fuel is that in Jewish minds it made the bread ceremonially unclean.
Ezekiel 4:13 And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them. (KJV)
And the LORD said, even thus shall the children of Israel . . . not only the ten tribes, or those who were among the other two, but all the Jews in captivity.
Eat the defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them . . . called defiled, not because it was of mixed grain and seeds (verse 9); but because it was baked in the above manner; which was a symbol of the defilements which the people would come in contact with in different ways, by dwelling among the Gentiles. This foretells the Jews captivity; their pollution among the nations of the world; and that they would NOT be the Holy people to the LORD GOD as they had been, and had so boasted of.
*****In Ezekiel 4:9-13, the instructions to Ezekiel would overwhelm most of us, but they were especially difficult for Ezekiel the priest, because he had never eaten anything unclean. The ceremonial rules in relation to food were intended to keep the nation free from any idolatrous customs; for everywhere among the pagans, idol feasts were a main part in their religion, and idol meats were a big part in common life. Dispersion among the Gentiles exposed the Jews to so much that they regarded as common and unclean. In Ezekiel’s case there was a change made of the defilement (verse 15), but the legal defilement still remained, and the chosen people in exile were subjected to it, just as to the degradation.
The eating of food in this way not only indicated the coming siege, it would also act as a reminder that because of their rebellion, the people would be driven from the land of their inheritance to live in foreign lands that they saw as unclean. This indicated that they would no longer enjoy in full God’s provision for them through His Covenant. They would still be His covenant people (Ps.111:9), and be expected to live under the terms of the covenant, but a major part of the privilege was lost. They would no longer have their own land, nor their own Holy city, nor the Temple, nor the privilege of living fully in ritual cleanness. They would be defiled until their period of punishment was over. Israel's special distinction would be ended, and they would be outwardly blended with the idolatrous pagan (Hosea 9:3).
Ezekiel 4:14 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. (KJV)
Then said I, ah, LORD God! . . . "ah" expresses the prophet’s sighing and groaning,
Behold, my soul hath not been polluted . . . not meaning that his soul had been polluted with sin, or with an evil thought, as some interpret it; but by his soul he means the inward part of his body, his stomach and belly; which had not been defiled by taking in meats which were unclean by the Jewish law,
For from my youth up, even till now, have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces . . . these were forbidden to be eaten by the law; and those that did were defiled, and forced to bathe in water (Lev.17:15); and from those things the priests were much more careful to abstain . . . and the prophet was a priest.
Neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth . . . nothing corrupt, nothing decayed or putrefied, nothing that was unclean by Jewish law, such as swine's flesh, or any other ever entered Ezekiel’s mouth. What is meant here is . . . that since he had never eaten of anything forbidden by the law of God, he could by no means think of eating that which was repulsive to nature; such as mixed bread baked with men's dung was.
Abominable flesh . . . is literally meat that stank from decaying . . . eating flesh of animals that were killed three days before was prohibited (Lev.7:17-18; 19:6-7).
***** The different signs Ezekiel performed described the horrors that were to come. Ezekiel’s actions were to be a sign from the LORD GOD of the severe famine the people would experience at the time of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. The continued promises of the false prophets would NOT come true . . . the city and the people were going to be lost.
Isaiah 30:10-11 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: 11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (KJV) . . . The people wanted to hear only things that pleased their minds . . . NOT the things that agreed to the mind and will of God. They wanted the prophets to speak to them only smooth things, things that would NOT condemn them in their sins. They wanted to hear that they did well, and there was no harm nor danger in the course of life they lived . . . and IF the prophets did not speak good, smooth things . . . they wanted NO part of it! It is the same in today’s world, millions are being deceived by false teachers. Most of these pastors have a gift of gab. They could sell ice to the Eskimos! BEWARE!!! Please check out EVERYTHING they say or do with the Holy Word of God. In God’s eyes, people who do not want to hear the Truth, deserve to be deceived (2 Thes.2:10-12). Do NOT compromise with the world . . . just because the majority are in agreement on abortion, homosexuality, living together without being married, etc., does NOT make it right! If it does NOT agree with the Holy Word of God, do NOT do it!
Ezekiel 4:15 Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow's dung for man's dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith. (KJV)
Then he said to me . . . the LORD heard and answered the prophet's prayer and complaint, and allows some decrease and alteration in the job that He gave him.
Lo, I have given thee cow's dung for man's dung . . . meaning that Ezekiel is allowed to use cow’s dung instead of man’s dung (verse 12) in baking his mixed bread . . . but still the bread so baked is defiled, to indicate that, whatever partial lessening there might be for the prophet‘s sake, the main decree of God, as to the pollution of Israel by exile among Gentiles, would NOT be changed.
Thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith . . . having gathered cow's dung and dried it, he was to burn it, and bake (prepare) his bread with it.
*****As soon as the prophet prayed, God answered, and permits that Ezekiel could use what was less abominable than man’s dung . . . but it was NOT granted to the Jews, who in the siege at Jerusalem did much worse and more detestable things, reduced to it by the severe famine (Eze.5:10; Lam. 1:11; 2:11-12, 20).
Ezekiel 4:16 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: (KJV)
Moreover he said unto me, son of man . . . what follows opens the plan, and shows what was intended by the symbol of the mixed bread (verse 9), baked with cow dung, the prophet was to eat by measure, as, well as drink water by measure: because of the painful famine that would be in Jerusalem at the time of the siege.
Behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem . . . meaning that the LORD GOD would take away bread (food), which is the staff of life and the support of it, which strengthens man's heart; and also the nourishing benefit and value from what they had. The sense is, that the LORD would deprive them of both the abundance of bread, and the nourishment of man. What they ate would not satisfy them, nor do them much good (Lev.26:26).
And they shall eat bread by weight, and with care . . . they could not eat too much at a time, and still have something left for tomorrow. They had to be very careful to make their tiny supply last as long as possible, for they did not know how long the siege would last.
And they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment . . . (verse 11), the Jews would be astonished, totally overwhelmed, that such a judgment should fall upon them, who thought themselves to be the people of God, and the favorites of heaven.
*****God announces to the citizens of Jerusalem, and that they would be destroyed by famine, that they would be reduced to the last limit, and all but consumed by want. He places here two forms of punishment: (1) that he should break the staff of bread: then, (2) that their abundance of bread should be small, because they would be forced to eat their fragments by weight and fear, and to drink water by measure and astonishment. And this clearly appears from Leviticus 26:26, where the prophet has adopted this expression. Leviticus 26:26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. (KJV) . . . We see then that God breaks the staff of bread, even when a plentiful supply exists, but those who eat are not satisfied. This is the first punishment with which God threatens the Jews. Another also is added, that is, that they shall be destitute of bread. We see then that there is a double approach by which God punishes us by hunger. For even though bread is sufficient, IF He breaks and destroys its staff, it cannot prop us up nor recall our lost strength. And eventually, He can take away our bread, because He could strike our crops with blight or hail, or makes us suffer under other tragedies. Again God repeats that the Jews had no reason to complain when He so grievously afflicts them, because they shall receive the reward of their own iniquity. Those who remained in Jerusalem would be brought to extreme misery for lack of needed food. All supplies would be cut off by the besiegers, the city would soon feel the famine of the country. As they consume away in their iniquity, they shall continue in their hardened and impenitent lives, and shall die in their sins, which is more miserable than to die on a dunghill.
Ezekiel 4:17 That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity. (KJV)
That they may want bread and water . . . or, because of their want, they shall eat the bread, and drink the water by weight; and they shall do this until there is none left to eat and drink.
And be astonished one with another . . . astonished (overwhelmed) when they find they cannot help one another; and do not know what way to take for the support of nature.
And consume away for their iniquity . . . their flesh dark through famine, decaying and repulsive; and they wasting away, reduced to skin and bones; and displeasing to look on; and all because of their sins and iniquities. Shouldn’t we today, consider OUR sins? Are we not rebellious, like those people? The sins of the people in the Bible, SHOULD be a lesson to us! We had better pay attention!
*****Ezekiel's unusual actions symbolically portrayed the fate of Jerusalem. He lay on his left side for 390 days to show that Israel would be punished for 390 years; then he lay on his right side for 40 days to show that Judah would be punished for 40 years. Ezekiel was not allowed to move, symbolizing the fact that the people of Jerusalem would be imprisoned within the walls of the city. We know that Ezekiel did not have to lie on his side all day because these verses tell of other tasks God asked him to do during this time. The small amount of food he was allowed to eat represented the normal ration provided to those living in a city under siege by enemy armies. The food that was to be cooked over dried human dung was a symbol of the Jews’ spiritual uncleanness. It is certain that many people saw these spectacles and also heard Ezekiel's speeches (3:27). How many people in today’s world would be willing to so intensely portray the sins of our nation? We need to pray for greater boldness as we witness for Christ.
Who can overlook the LORD JESUS CHRIST as the great burden-bearer of His Church and His people, while reading of God's appointment of Ezekiel to represent the bearing of iniquity of that rebellious people? Who can know the abundance of both temporal and spiritual blessings that befall us daily? Those who know this blessedness, have faith in Christ as the Bread of life (Jn.6:33, 35, 48, 51).
The prophet Ezekiel was just a faint type of Jesus, under the character of a burden-bearer, when laying on his side. As painful as the posture must have been . . . it was minor compared to CHRIST JESUS hanging on that horrid cross, suffering not only agonies of His Body, but much more, the deepest anguish of His Soul when dying, the just for the unjust to bring us unto God!
John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (KJV) . . . . . . . . . http://www.godcannotlie.org/john_commentary_ch6.html
Most people today do NOT take the time to “feed on Christ.” True, it does take time to read, study and meditate on God’s Word; it does take time to communicate with God in sincere prayer, it does take time to have a close fellowship with Him, and it does take time to “feed” upon the “Living Bread.” But the more time we spend on our relationship with the LORD JESUS, the sweeter He becomes to our taste.
<><><>Ezekiel by a vivid representation portrayed prophetically the coming siege of Jerusalem, and the wall of separation which God had placed between Himself and the people who once had been so closely united to Him (4:1-3). Iniquity and apostasy separate people and their God (Isa.59:2) so that, instead of encompassing them with His favor as with a shield (Ps.5:12), He gives them up to live by their enemies. Let us be warned that faithfulness to the LORD GOD is the only path of security and peace.
<><><>The prophet also symbolically bore the iniquity of Israel and Judah for the respective times appointed to both (4:4-6). The severe and lengthened discipline of chastisement was designed for their good.
<><><>The long sojourn of Israel among the Gentiles, in the middle of pagan defilements, and this in hunger, in thirst and in want of all things (Deut.28:48), is represented by Ezekiel living on a very rough and sparse diet; and too, his bread, being baked with dung (4:9-15). The famine at the siege of Jerusalem also is foretold. Such are the evils which sin begets. When the people of God, in soul and spirit, have become conformed to the people of the ungodly world, it is in righteous retribution appointed that the external condition of the former also shall be brought down to the same low level as the latter. Only a close and consistent walk with GOD can raise us to an elevation above this world.
<><><>Ezekiel was more concerned at being required to eat what offended his conscience, than at being required to eat what was not pleasing to his palate (4:14). Let us too always seek to have this testimony of our conscience, which in all, even the least things, our desire is to walk righteously before God and man.
<><><>When we have an abundance of food and too luxuries, we are far too quick to forget the miseries from which we are exempt, and to which others are exposed who do not have enough provisions. May we thank God for His countless gifts with a most grateful heart!
Book of Ezekiel
Eze.Ch.1 . . Eze.Ch.2 . . Eze.Ch.3. . Eze.Ch.4 . . Eze.Ch.5 . . Eze.Ch.6 . . Eze.Ch.7 . . Eze.Ch.8 . . Eze.Ch.9 . . Eze.Ch.10 . . Eze.Ch.11 . . Eze.Ch.12 . . Eze.Ch.13 . . Eze.Ch.14. . Eze.Ch.15 . . Eze.Ch.16 . . Eze.Ch.17 . . Eze.Ch.18 . . Eze.Ch.19 . . Eze.Ch.20 . . Eze.Ch.21 . . Eze.Ch.22 . . Eze.Ch.23 . . Eze.Ch.24 . . Eze.Ch.25 . . Eze.Ch.26 . . Eze.27 . . Eze.28 . . Eze.29 . . Eze.30 . . Eze.31 . . Eze.32 . . Eze.33 . . Eze.34 . . Eze.35 . . Eze.36 . . Eze.37 . . Eze.38 . . Eze.39 . . Eze.40 . . Eze.41 . . Eze.42 . . Eze.43 . . Eze.44 . . Eze.45 . . . Eze.46 . . . Eze.47 . . . Eze.48 . . . Eze. Millennial Temple . . . Eze.Special Comments . . . Eze.What is Shekinah Glory? . . . Home Page