Read Ezekiel 4
Siege of Jerusalem Symbolized
4 “Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. 2 Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. 3 Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the people of Israel.
4 “Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. 5 I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel.
6 “After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year. 7 Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her. 8 I will tie you up with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege.
9 “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side. 10 Weigh out twenty shekels of food to eat each day and eat it at set times. 11 Also measure out a sixth of a hin of water and drink it at set times. 12 Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrementfor fuel.” 13 The Lord said, “In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.”
14 Then I said, “Not so, Sovereign Lord! I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have never eaten anything found dead or torn by wild animals. No impure meat has ever entered my mouth.”
15 “Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.”
16 He then said to me: “Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair, 17 for food and water will be scarce. They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of their sin.
In this chapter of Scripture, we see God telling Ezekiel to set up a clay tablet and carve the city of Jerusalem onto it. Then, Ezekiel is told to set up a scale battlefield around it with camps, battering rams, and a siege wall. He was told not to make the battlefield passive, but to show it in a “state of siege.” It is not in the text, but we can assume that if Ezekiel was asked to build this scale battlefield of Jerusalem, that God was not just asking him to “play make-believe war” by himself. Instead, historians believe that Ezekiel was asked to do this most likely in the doorway of his home for many visitors to see, or inside of his home with visitors inside watching as a “sign for the house of Israel.” Then, if that was not already an interesting enough ask of Ezekiel, God commands him to lay on his left side for 390 days and then on his right side for 40 days.
Then, to top it all off, God tells Ezekiel to make bread (with some very strange ingredients) in human excrement. This is to signify the absolute desperation the people will be in during the siege and punishment that is coming. Strange ingredients being prepared in human excrement for consumption. That does not sound appetizing, but if you are starving, you will eat it. This is what God is trying to show them. Starvation is coming.
What does God commanding these three actions of Ezekiel mean for us today? We need to remember that judgment is real, God will do whatever He needs to get our attention, and that He wants our attention. Yes, judgment is coming. But look around you! God has made Himself known (Romans 1:20) to the entire world time and time again. God is good and loves you. He loves His creation so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us so that we might be reconciled to Him. He is a jealous God that will get our attention, one way or another. Whether it be pandemics, economic turmoil, personal challenges, or making bread in human dung, God will get our attention to remind us that He is God, we are not, and He is the only one who can save us.
- How is God trying to get your attention?
- What does it mean to you that God is making Himself known?
- How has God called you to make other people attentive to Him?
Did You Know?
The 390 days would equate to 390 years of punishment for sins committed. According to theologian Warren Wiersbe, “When you add the years of the reigns of the kings of Judah from Rehoboam to Zedekiah, as recorded in 1-2 Kings, you have a total of 394 years. Since during three of the years of his reign Rehoboam walked with God (2 Chronicles 11:16-17), we end up with a number very close to Ezekiel’s 390 years.