BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday September 14, 2014
A SIGN OF THE COMING SIEGE, AND JUDGMENT
First, I need to re-emphasize the fact that true prophets of GOD demonstrate HIS message with their whole life, body, and actions, and only to a lesser degree, with their mouths. This is because the LORD knows that people will not listen to HIS prophets any more than they are willing to listen to HIM, through the reading of HIS Word. And so GOD commands that HIS true prophets be willing to demonstrate HIS message to the people through physical acts, rather than words, most of the time (Ezekiel 3:24-27 & Ezekiel chapters 4-5).
In Ezekiel 4 we see just such an example in GOD’s instructions to the prophet Ezekiel as to how HE wanted him to demonstrate a message to Israel, warning them of the final invasion and siege of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces had already invaded Judah twice, the first time in 605 B.C., and once again in 597 B.C., however, this next invasion would be to the total destruction of GOD’s chosen nation.
In verse 1 GOD instructs Ezekiel to take a large brick and set it down in front of him, and draw a map of the city of Jerusalem on it, including its walls. Then, he was to build siege ramps against the walls, and surround Jerusalem with enemy camps and battering rams. Next, he was to take an iron griddle and place it between himself and the city. Afterwards he was to turn toward Jerusalem and demonstrate with his body how the enemy would attack the city (Vs.1-3).
Then the LORD instructed Ezekiel to lie on his left side (v.4) and place the sins of Israel on himself, and bear those sins for 390 days, one day for each year of their sin against GOD (starting with King Solomon) since the time of the split of the “United Kingdom” of Israel (1 Kings 11-12).
In verse 6 the LORD instructs Ezekiel to, after 390 days, turn over and lie on his right side for 40 days, one day for each year of Judah’s sin of idolatry against GOD, all the while ignoring the warnings of HIS prophet Jeremiah, during the final 40 years of its existence, prior to the Babylonian invasion.
Ezekiel was to continue his demonstration of a siege against Jerusalem by lying there with his armpits bared the entire time. GOD even tied him up with ropes so that he couldn’t turn from side to side until the days of his demonstration had ended (Vs.7-8).
Before the demonstration of the message of the siege began, GOD had Ezekiel to gather certain foods (wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt) and mix them together in a storage jar. These were to be used to make bread for himself during his demonstration. He was told to ration the food out (8 ounces per day), and to eat it at set times. Also, he was to measure out a jar of water to drink each day, and he was to drink it only at set times (Vs.9-11).
Ezekiel was also told to bake his bread over a fire while all the people were watching using dried “human feces” as fuel. He was then to eat the bread in their presence to demonstrate how Judah would eat defiled bread in the land of Babylon, where HE would soon send them (Vs.12-13).
When Ezekiel protested this particular order by GOD to “eat defiled bread” baked by human dung (v.14), the LORD gave him permission instead, to use “cow dung” (v.15). All this was to show how GOD would make food and water scarce and unclean, and the people of Judah would eat and drink it in despair and dismay, and some would waste away because they will refuse to accept it (Vs.16-17).
In Ezekiel 5 we see even more physical demonstrations of GOD’s message by Ezekiel using his own body. This time GOD commands him to take a sharp sword and use it as a razor to shave his beard and head. The prophet is then told to weigh the hair on a scale in three separate parts (v.1). Shaving one’s head and beard was not only a sign of mourning in those days, but it was also a sign of humiliation, and even repentance, in some cases.
Ezekiel was told to place a third of the hair at the center of his map of Jerusalem, and after his demonstration of the siege had ended, he was to burn the hair there on the rock. Then, he was to scatter another third across his map and chop it up with his sword. However, he was to keep just a bit of that portion of hair, and tie it up in his robe. He was instructed to take a few of those hairs out and throw them into the fire. The fire would then spread from that small remnant and destroy all of Jerusalem (Vs.2-4).
This is how GOD HIMSELF explains the illustrations by Ezekiel regarding HIS coming judgment on Judah in verses 5-13 (NLT):
5 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This is an illustration of what will happen to Jerusalem. I placed her at the center of the nations, 6 but she has rebelled against my regulations and decrees and has been even more wicked than the surrounding nations. She has refused to obey the regulations and decrees I gave her to follow.
7 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: You people have behaved worse than your neighbors and have refused to obey my decrees and regulations. You have not even lived up to the standards of the nations around you. 8 Therefore, I MYSELF, the Sovereign Lord, am now your enemy. I will punish you publicly while all the nations watch. 9 Because of your detestable idols, I will punish you like I have never punished anyone before or ever will again. 10 Parents will eat their own children, and children will eat their parents. I will punish you and scatter to the winds the few who survive.
11 “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will cut you off completely. I will show you no pity at all because you have defiled MY Temple with your vile images and detestable sins. 12 A third of your people will die in the city from disease and famine. A third of them will be slaughtered by the enemy outside the city walls. And I will scatter a third to the winds, chasing them with my sword. 13 Then at last MY anger will be spent, and I will be satisfied. And when my fury against them has subsided, all Israel will know that I, the Lord, have spoken to them in my jealous anger.”
Ezekiel 5, verses 5-13 contains GOD’s accusation and case against the nation of Judah. HIS chosen people had angered HIM by lowering their standards and chasing after the idol gods of the pagan nations around them. They had rebelled against HIS laws and decrees and thereby, had wittingly ignored their revelation and knowledge of HIS sovereignty. And so what follows in verses 14-17, is GOD’s verdict after finding them guilty as charged. God would judge them without pity, and all who defiled HIS temple, by mixing the holy with the profane, would perish by fire. Those who remained would be forcefully scattered abroad and be used to tell people of distant lands of the fate of those who reject the only wise sovereign GOD of the universe, WHO is our SAVIOR, through JESUS CHRIST.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website