Faithlife Sermons

17-4-5, Ezekiel 3:22-4:17

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 7 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →
The primary purpose of Ezekiel’s message was to restore God’s glory before the people who had spurned it in view of the watching nations. But Israel’s own welfare was bound up with its God.
As a priest, Ezekiel was deeply concerned with the holiness of God, and consequently with the sin of His people, that is, with any behavior that offended the holy God. These twin themes can hardly be separated, as attention to matters of purity can be found on nearly every page.
Like other prophets called to explain the Babylonian exile, Ezekiel stressed that it was due to the people’s faithlessness toward God, and therefore to their failure to live as God’s renewed humanity. He also stressed that even this disaster was not the end of Israel’s story. God would restore them morally and spiritually, and eventually use Israel to bring light to the Gentiles.
Ezekiel adds a nuance to this prophetic refrain: Israel”s calling was to show forth holiness of God’s name, but they had “profaned” that name (treated it as unholy); in restoring them, God would act to vindicate the holiness of his name before all nations, enabling them to know him. (ESVSB)
Ezekiel 3:22-
Ezekiel 3:22–27 ESV
22 And the hand of the Lord was upon me there. And he said to me, “Arise, go out into the valley, and there I will speak with you.” 23 So I arose and went out into the valley, and behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the Chebar canal, and I fell on my face. 24 But the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me and said to me, “Go, shut yourself within your house. 25 And you, O son of man, behold, cords will be placed upon you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people. 26 And I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and unable to reprove them, for they are a rebellious house. 27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house.
The New Bible Commentary 3:22–5:17 Enacted Messages: The Siege of Jerusalem Foretold

Ezekiel is told to go out to the plain. When he does so, he sees the glory of the Lord, and collapses.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel 5. Reaction of the Prophet (3:22–27)

Then Ezekiel was given three restrictions. First, he was instructed to shut himself in his house (v. 24). The second restriction apparently was closely associated with the first. The prophet was to be bound with ropes to insure his seclusion, “so that you cannot go out among the people” (v. 25). While some interpreters reject the idea of a literal binding of the prophet, there seems no reason to take it as figurative. Like the first restriction it was to be self-imposed, perhaps with the help of family and friends.

But more than Ezekiel’s movement was to be restricted. He also was to be unable to speak (cf. Job 29:10; Ps 137:6).

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel 5. Reaction of the Prophet (3:22–27)

Then Ezekiel was given three restrictions. First, he was instructed to shut himself in his house (v. 24). The second restriction apparently was closely associated with the first. The prophet was to be bound with ropes to insure his seclusion, “so that you cannot go out among the people” (v. 25). While some interpreters reject the idea of a literal binding of the prophet, there seems no reason to take it as figurative. Like the first restriction it was to be self-imposed, perhaps with the help of family and friends.

But more than Ezekiel’s movement was to be restricted. He also was to be unable to speak (cf. Job 29:10; Ps 137:6).

The New Bible Commentary 3:22–5:17 Enacted Messages: The Siege of Jerusalem Foretold

He is then instructed to go and restrict himself to his own house. He is also informed that he will become incapable of speech—except when he is delivering a message from God.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel 5. Reaction of the Prophet (3:22–27)

The Lord’s further instructions in 24:25–27 appear to indicate that Ezekiel’s silence would last until the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., that is, for six years. His silence would end at that time when he spoke with a fugitive from Jerusalem. Thus he would “be a sign unto them, and they will know that I am the LORD.”

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel 5. Reaction of the Prophet (3:22–27)

Ezekiel was to be a holy vessel, dedicated solely to the service of God for the benefit of God’s people. When he spoke, it would be by God’s command and with his authority.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel 5. Reaction of the Prophet (3:22–27)

The call closed with a prototype of a favorite saying of Jesus, “Whoever will listen, let him listen.” When Ezekiel was permitted to speak, it was with the reminder that his message was to the rebellious house of Israel/Judah. He was to deliver the message and let those who possessed spiritual discernment understand and make the application. Jesus used parables punctuated with “who has ears let him hear” (see Matt 13:10–17).

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel 5. Reaction of the Prophet (3:22–27)

As the nation faced days of judgment, the needs of the people could not be met by offering a new perspective on their problems. What the nation needed was a new perspective on God. The call experience of Ezekiel supplied that new perspective by reinforcing the holiness and majesty of God. He was able to share that viewpoint with the certainty of judgment.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel 1. Prophecies of Destruction for Judah and Jerusalem (4:1–7:27)

Ironically, at the close of the call narrative God told the prophet that he was not to speak to the people. God withheld his word because of the rebelliousness of Israel (3:26).

Ezekiel 4:1–17 ESV
1 “And you, son of man, take a brick and lay it before you, and engrave on it a city, even Jerusalem. 2 And put siegeworks against it, and build a siege wall against it, and cast up a mound against it. Set camps also against it, and plant battering rams against it all around. 3 And you, take an iron griddle, and place it as an iron wall between you and the city; and set your face toward it, and let it be in a state of siege, and press the siege against it. This is a sign for the house of Israel. 4 “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. 5 For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. 6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year. 7 And you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with your arm bared, and you shall prophesy against the city. 8 And behold, I will place cords upon you, so that you cannot turn from one side to the other, till you have completed the days of your siege. 9 “And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and emmer, and put them into a single vessel and make your bread from them. During the number of days that you lie on your side, 390 days, you shall eat it. 10 And your food that you eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day; from day to day you shall eat it. 11 And water you shall drink by measure, the sixth part of a hin; from day to day you shall drink. 12 And you shall eat it as a barley cake, baking it in their sight on human dung.” 13 And the Lord said, “Thus shall the people of Israel eat their bread unclean, among the nations where I will drive them.” 14 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I have never defiled myself. From my youth up till now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has tainted meat come into my mouth.” 15 Then he said to me, “See, I assign to you cow’s dung instead of human dung, on which you may prepare your bread.” 16 Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, behold, I will break the supply of bread in Jerusalem. They shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and they shall drink water by measure and in dismay. 17 I will do this that they may lack bread and water, and look at one another in dismay, and rot away because of their punishment.
Ezekiel 4:1–8 ESV
1 “And you, son of man, take a brick and lay it before you, and engrave on it a city, even Jerusalem. 2 And put siegeworks against it, and build a siege wall against it, and cast up a mound against it. Set camps also against it, and plant battering rams against it all around. 3 And you, take an iron griddle, and place it as an iron wall between you and the city; and set your face toward it, and let it be in a state of siege, and press the siege against it. This is a sign for the house of Israel. 4 “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. 5 For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. 6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year. 7 And you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with your arm bared, and you shall prophesy against the city. 8 And behold, I will place cords upon you, so that you cannot turn from one side to the other, till you have completed the days of your siege.
Ezekiel 4:1-
Ezekiel
The New American Commentary: Ezekiel 1. Prophecies of Destruction for Judah and Jerusalem (4:1–7:27)

Ezekiel was instructed to present his messages in symbolic actions before the people. These symbolic actions were God’s way of communicating truth without words. Sometimes words are so familiar that people pay little attention to the depth of their content. The dramatic presentations gave Ezekiel’s message an arresting character.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (1) Prophetic Dramatization of the Fall of Jerusalem: The Brick Tile (4:1–8)

In the first dramatic presentation, Ezekiel used a clay brick commonly used in building. Into the soft clay he drew the map of Jerusalem so that the completed object represented the city of Jerusalem (v. 1). Using the clay brick as his focal point, the prophet enacted a battle against it. He constructed a siege wall, a mound or rampart, set up military camps around it, and employed battering rams against it. Using an iron pan to represent an impenetrable barrier, he glared upon the city with the intensity and determination of a general leading an attack.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (1) Prophetic Dramatization of the Fall of Jerusalem: The Brick Tile (4:1–8)

In the first dramatic presentation, Ezekiel used a clay brick commonly used in building. Into the soft clay he drew the map of Jerusalem so that the completed object represented the city of Jerusalem (v. 1). Using the clay brick as his focal point, the prophet enacted a battle against it. He constructed a siege wall, a mound or rampart, set up military camps around it, and employed battering rams against it. Using an iron pan to represent an impenetrable barrier, he glared upon the city with the intensity and determination of a general leading an attack.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (1) Prophetic Dramatization of the Fall of Jerusalem: The Brick Tile (4:1–8)

Ezekiel’s actions demonstrated that he had some knowledge of Assyro-Babylonian battle tactics. Seven aspects of this drama illustrate his understanding of military operations. First, he laid siege to the city. The Assyrians would lay siege by surrounding a city to cut off water and supplies until the people surrendered. Second, he built a siege wall to surround the city, preventing escape of the inhabitants. Third, he constructed an earthen rampart to enable the walls to be easily scaled. Fourth, he established military camps strategically around the city. Fifth, he used battering rams against the walls and gates. Sixth, he set up an iron wall to represent the iron will of God’s judgment and the impenetrable barrier of Babylon’s army, which was God’s chastening rod. Finally, he set his face against it to suggest God’s firm resolve. These actions provided a “sign” of coming destruction for Jerusalem and Judah. What the people refused to accept by word they witnessed in the symbolic actions of the prophet.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (1) Prophetic Dramatization of the Fall of Jerusalem: The Brick Tile (4:1–8)

Ezekiel was instructed to lie on his left side for 390 days (vv. 4–5), then on his right side for forty days (v. 6) to suggest the length of the time of iniquity of Israel and Judah. God also told him to turn his face toward the siege with “bared arm,” perhaps shaking his fist as a prophecy against the city (v. 7).

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (1) Prophetic Dramatization of the Fall of Jerusalem: The Brick Tile (4:1–8)

His left side would have been toward the north. Directions usually were calculated by facing east, which placed north to the left, south to the right, and west to rear. Israel after the division of the kingdom in 931 B.C. was the Northern Kingdom while Judah was the Southern Kingdom. The right and left sides symbolically pointed to Israel and Judah.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (1) Prophetic Dramatization of the Fall of Jerusalem: The Brick Tile (4:1–8)

The interpretation of the 390 days and forty days has led to much speculation. None of the proposed interpretations are without some difficulties.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (1) Prophetic Dramatization of the Fall of Jerusalem: The Brick Tile (4:1–8)

Although no workable solution to the problem of a literal chronology of the day-years has come to light, a literal interpretation in principle is still preferable to a symbolic one. The basic principles of hermeneutics dictate that a passage be taken literally whenever possible. That the days represent years is clearly defined in v. 6. Since the text is about the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, the logical starting point for the 390 plus forty years would be the siege of the city in which Ezekiel was deported, namely 597 B.C. Calculating the 430 years from 597 B.C. would take the judgment of Judah down to the Maccabean revolt in 167 B.C. Caution should be exercised in drawing dogmatic conclusions from this fact.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (1) Prophetic Dramatization of the Fall of Jerusalem: The Brick Tile (4:1–8)

Several additional facts also are definite regarding the passage. First, each day of Ezekiel’s drama represented a year in the life of sinful Israel or Judah (v. 6) and signified a time of discipline. Second, God was aware of sin in the lives of his people, and he was going to bring sin and sinner to a time of judgment. Third, the siege would initiate the judgment that would proceed until the fall of Jerusalem and exile in Babylon. Fourth, the consequences of God’s judgment are binding and inescapable (v. 8). God’s judgment of sin is inevitable. He is longsuffering (4:1–8) and may wait for years, but ultimately he will dispense judgment. This judgment will include his people. Judah is a universal and timeless example of this principle (see 5:15).

Ezekiel 4:9–17 ESV
9 “And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and emmer, and put them into a single vessel and make your bread from them. During the number of days that you lie on your side, 390 days, you shall eat it. 10 And your food that you eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day; from day to day you shall eat it. 11 And water you shall drink by measure, the sixth part of a hin; from day to day you shall drink. 12 And you shall eat it as a barley cake, baking it in their sight on human dung.” 13 And the Lord said, “Thus shall the people of Israel eat their bread unclean, among the nations where I will drive them.” 14 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I have never defiled myself. From my youth up till now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has tainted meat come into my mouth.” 15 Then he said to me, “See, I assign to you cow’s dung instead of human dung, on which you may prepare your bread.” 16 Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, behold, I will break the supply of bread in Jerusalem. They shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and they shall drink water by measure and in dismay. 17 I will do this that they may lack bread and water, and look at one another in dismay, and rot away because of their punishment.
The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

The extreme severity of conditions during the siege was enacted by the prophet during the 390 days he lay on his side. He prepared a cake made of a mixture of six kinds of grain (v. 9). The combination of wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt is unusual but not prohibited by the Torah or by the Mishna. The final product was a grade of flour inferior to pure wheat or barley flours. The mixture seems to portray a circumstance in which the people would mix anything edible due to the scarcity of the food.14

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

He also rationed his daily intake of water just as it would be during an actual siege (v. 11). The water supply for Jerusalem, like many cities of the ancient Near East, was outside the city walls. This made cities vulnerable during long periods of siege so water usually was rationed. A sixth of a hin would be between one-half and one liter per day.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

The portion of food and water Ezekiel allowed himself was little more than starvation rations. The picture enacted by Ezekiel represented conditions during an actual siege. These actions reinforced the message of the previous dramas, the siege of the clay brick and the laying on his side to portray the destruction of Jerusalem.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

Ezekiel performed these dramatic acts at set times each day (v. 10). Although he did not specify the exact time he put on his public display, he likely chose a time when he would have been insured an audience in the street or marketplace.

Ezekiel 4:12–15 ESV
12 And you shall eat it as a barley cake, baking it in their sight on human dung.” 13 And the Lord said, “Thus shall the people of Israel eat their bread unclean, among the nations where I will drive them.” 14 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I have never defiled myself. From my youth up till now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has tainted meat come into my mouth.” 15 Then he said to me, “See, I assign to you cow’s dung instead of human dung, on which you may prepare your bread.”
The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

The manner in which this mixed grain and barley cake meal was prepared portrayed the austere conditions prevalent during the siege. Ezekiel was to bake his cake on a fire made with dried human dung.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

While the use of dried animal dung as fuel may seem unusual or even repulsive to Westerners, it was a common practice in the ancient Near East that continues to this day. Animal waste was mixed with straw, sun-dried, then burned for fuel. Trees were scarce; thus such a practice was necessary. Wood was a commodity too precious to use as a fuel. The use of animal manure as a fuel did not violate the strict dietary laws of Israel.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

Human waste, however, was considered a defilement (Deut 23:9–14), and its use in such a manner was strictly prohibited. Having grown up in a priestly family and probably in training as a priest himself, Ezekiel was especially sensitive to this command to prepare a meal in such an unclean manner.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

Neglect of the word produced a famine (see Amos 8:11; Hos 4:6) both of food and of the knowledge of God and spiritual truths.

The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

This was God’s way of reminding Ezekiel and Israel that they were more sensitive to regulations than to the violation of their relationship with God. God graciously allowed Ezekiel to prepare his food in a ceremonially clean manner (v. 15) upon the prophet’s request.

Ezekiel 4:16–17 ESV
16 Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, behold, I will break the supply of bread in Jerusalem. They shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and they shall drink water by measure and in dismay. 17 I will do this that they may lack bread and water, and look at one another in dismay, and rot away because of their punishment.
The New American Commentary: Ezekiel (2) Prophetic Dramatization of the Completeness of Destruction: The Unclean Meal (4:9–17)

Interpretation of this sign was not left to speculation. God specifically told Ezekiel that the meaning of his actions related to the severity of judgment. The rationing represented the interruption of the food and water supply to Jerusalem. Anxiety and despair were the natural reactions of those who lived in a city under siege. Their reaction to the sight of each other as they suffered starvation would be appalling (v. 17). The lessons were clear. Jerusalem was headed for judgment, and it would bring horrible conditions

Life Questions/Lessons-
In the OT, prophetic activity increased during times of national crisis. Do you sense God reaches out to you or to the church more during troubling times?
Judgment in the Major Prophets teaches that God is just and he punishes the wicked for their deeds. How does this factor into the gospel? How do we include this in our gospel-bearing.
Has God ever communicated something to you in a dramatic way?
What are ways Christians defile themselves in the New Testament?
How do you use literal interpretation in Bible translation?
Related Media
Related Sermons