Ezekiel’s Street Theater
JULY 10 - Nº 191 Ezekiel 1-4; 8-11
Eight years after he first invaded Judah’s capital city, King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem again and carried off 10,000 more hostages. One of them was a young priest named Ezekiel (see #184 - July 3). Ezekiel was about the same age as Daniel. By the time Ezekiel arrived in Babylon, Daniel was already living in the palace (see #189 - July 8). But Ezekiel was not as fortunate. Instead of being sent to the palace, he was confined in a refugee colony filled with Jewish exiles located along the Chebar River. The river was actually a canal that King Nebuchadnezzar was dredging to connect the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and Jewish refugees like Ezekiel were forced to provide the labor. It was along this canal that Ezekiel had his first encounter with God. He noticed a huge cloud that looked like a tornado approaching from the north. It was filled with fire and lightning and surrounded by a brilliant light. In the fire there were four living creatures. They looked like humans, but Ezekiel later identified them as angels called cherubim. They each had four faces (those of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle) and four wings, and they were guiding a chariot. Each angel was responsible to direct one of its four magnificent wheels. On the chariot was a dazzling, blue throne. Above it was the likeness of a man surrounded by overwhelming brilliance and glory. Ezekiel fell face down. He knew he had just met God! God spoke, calling the young man to be His prophet. The message God wanted him to deliver was harsh. Because the refugees continued to sin, God was going to allow King Nebuchadnezzar to invade Jerusalem a third time. This time the devastation would be complete. But there was still hope—one day Jerusalem would be rebuilt! Over the next 22 years, Ezekiel delivered God’s message using parables, allegories, and sometimes bizarre street theater acts. The first thing God asked Ezekiel to do was to take a scroll that was filled with tragic warnings and eat it. Ezekiel obeyed. The scroll tasted like honey. Even though Ezekiel was bringing a message of wrath, God wanted his prophet to know that His words were sweet. Then God asked His prophet to make a clay replica of the city of Jerusalem including walls, siege ramps, and battering rams. God told him to launch objects at the replica to demonstrate what Nebuchadnezzar was going to do to the city. Next God instructed Ezekiel to lie on his side for 390 days and eat nothing, but some bread made from a mixture of grains, beans, and lentils then baked over a dung fire. This was to show the deprivation, paralysis, and helplessness the people in Jerusalem were about to experience. At one point, the Holy Spirit transported Ezekiel to the Temple in Jerusalem. There he saw first-hand the terrible idolatry and evil practices of the Jewish leaders. As his vision took him back in time, Ezekiel witnessed God’s glory leaving the Temple. The people were too busy with their idolatry to even notice that God was deserting them! This image of God’s departing glory was exactly the same image that Ezekiel had seen arriving at the Chebar River! God had left the Temple and come to be with him! It wasn’t long after Ezekiel’s supernatural trip to Jerusalem, that the city was completely destroyed!
Daniel was called to minister in a palace among the powerful elite and was greatly honored for his wisdom.
Ezekiel was called to minister in a refugee camp among disgruntled exiles and was laughed at for his bizarre demonstrations. Are you willing to accept God’s call wherever it takes you? Remember, He promises to go with you!