READ: Ezekiel 4-6
BACKGROUND: This is pretty thick and I could write pages on it. So, for today, post questions you have in the “Comments” and I’ll reply to you.
THINK: This is an incredible section of Scripture where Ezekiel is instructed to act out the judgment that is coming upon the nation of Israel. God has him build a replica of the city and then spend over a year (430 days total, 390 for Israel and 40 for Judah) laying on his side while prophesying about how Jerusalem will be put under siege and destroyed. He even has to act this out further by rationing his water to about 1 quart per day and only eating about 8 ounces of bread per day, bread that was defiled because it had been baked over a pile of cow dung.
As I think about Ezekiel’s call in this passage there are a few things that jump out to me. The first is: A part of me really wouldn’t mind God calling me to a job where my main task when I went to work every day was to lie down. But I wouldn’t be nearly as excited about it if it meant the only thing I’d get to eat was bread that had a nice flavor of smoky poop. I like meats with some smoked hickory, maple, or mesquite. I cannot imagine eating smoky cow pie bread. But on top of this, I have 3 other more serious thoughts from the passage:
1. God’s call on our lives is sometimes radical! We are living in a world that is broken and lost among a people who have rejected God and turned their backs on him. But God is not content to leave them where they are and see them condemned to an eternity without him. So his call upon his people is to bring them the message. And that isn’t easy. Ever! And it will always require courage and boldness on our part. But God will never ask us to do something we can’t handle. One of the most encouraging parts of this somber section of Ezekiel is the fact that when Ezekiel recoiled at the idea of eating bread cooked over human poop (because of the ceremonial cleanliness laws of Israel) God backed off and let him use cow poop. Notice, God didn’t let him off the hook entirely or make it easy for him. He still had to lay there every day and eat that nasty bread! But God also didn’t give him a task beyond what he could handle. In our lives of faith, God’s call will be radical. It will require self-sacrifice.
2. People who are truly convinced of the glory and the holiness of God will do anything! Look at Ezekiel’s example. This is a guy who was totally sold on the idea that the God of the Universe is holy and mighty and worthy of complete obedience. He didn’t minimize God at all. So, when he was called to do something radical, he did it! Would we do the same? Would we follow at all costs? Or is our God so small and so compartmentalized and so far down on our priority list that we are unwilling to be bold and courageous in the way we obey him?
3. God’s heart is broken over our rejection of him! The verse that just jumps off the page to me – if I had to pick any one verse from these 3 chapters – is 6:9. The literal, wooden translation of part of what God says in the Hebrew here is basically, “I am broken over their whoring heart.” I think about the things that I’ve prostituted my heart to. The many temptations of this world that I have given myself too instead of keeping myself pure and dedicated to God. Whoring is a pretty graphic term, but it is very intentionally the one that God uses here. Do you have a whoring heart? Put simply, we all do. And so do the many lost people around us. It literally breaks the heart of God when we live for something other than the relationship that he created us for.
So, God’s heart is broken over humanity’s rejection of him. And he calls us to bring the good news (and to live the good news kind of like Ezekiel lived his prophecy) in our world. The call is not easy, but when we truly acknowledge the debt we owe and the greatness of our God, how can we refuse it?
PRAY: Thank God for his incredible love. Thank him that you’ve never been called to eat bread baked over cow dung. Then ask him what radical call he has for your life – here and now. Commit to following it, and to brining the message of the gospel to a world that has broken God’s heart by rejecting him.