Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 4-12
God called Ezekiel to be WEIRD. I am not sure there is any better word to describe his calling. God used some very dramatic visual aids to be performed by or lived out by Ezekiel, getting the attention of his audience with visual messages that would be hard to forget. Ezekiel could have let pride get in the way and could have said, “No God, that’s just WEIRD. What would people think of me?” But instead Ezekiel experienced things like no one else ever had or ever will, all because he was willing to be WEIRD for God.
Ezekiel took a brick and drew a map of Jerusalem on it. Similar to a young boy playing with Legos, Ezekiel built a wall around the brick and then set up enemy camps to surround the city/brick, with little miniature siege ramps and battering rams. He took an iron griddle and placed it between himself and the brick (Ezekiel 4:1-3).
Then Ezekiel lay on his side facing the replica of Jerusalem and placed the sins of Israel on himself. He was tied up with ropes and confined to this position for 390 days, one day for each year of Israel’s sin. Then Ezekiel turned over and on his right side for another 40 days, one for each year of Judah’s sin. For 430 days, Ezekiel laid on his side, tied up with rope, baring his arm and prophesying Jerusalem’s destruction (4:4-8).
During this time, Ezekiel ate food he had prepared in advance and rationed out. He did this to show how food in Jerusalem would be hard to find and rationed in small portions. God asked him to prepare this bread using human dung to show how the Israelites would be forced to eat defiled bread in the Gentile lands to which they would be banished. This was when Ezekiel had a “Please, not that God – that’s just too WEIRD” moment. God relented and allowed Ezekiel to bake his bread over cow dung instead (still gross but not quite as WEIRD). – Ezekiel 4:9-17
Then Ezekiel shaved his head and divided the hair into three piles. He took 1/3 of the hair and laid it on the brick replica of Jerusalem. He then acted out the siege with his miniature enemies, just as a young child would play with their toys. He took another third of his hair and spread it across his battle ground and then chopped it up with a sword. Then he took the last third of his hair and lifted it for the wind to scatter. He then took some of the hair in front of him and threw it on the fire. Some of God’s people would not survive the famine, some would die violent deaths in the battle, and some would be scattered into exile (5:1-4).
“But I will let a few of my people escape destruction, and they will be scattered among the nations of the world. Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me. They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols. Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins. They will know that I alone am the Lord and that I was serious when I said I would bring this calamity on them.” – Ezekiel 6:8-10
On another occasion, when all the leaders of Judah were in Ezekiel’s home, God took ahold of Ezekiel. In a moment, he was facing what appeared to be a man who looked like gleaming ambers from the waist up and a burning fire from the waist down. He reached out with what seemed to be a hand and took Ezekiel by the hair, lifting him into the sky and transporting him back to Jerusalem in a vision from God. God showed Ezekiel the detestable and wicked sins that were being committed in the Temple, sins committed in dark secret rooms but seen by God. Then Ezekiel watched as God’s wrath was poured out on the city – no mercy, no pity – the Temple courtyards filling up with the corpses.
Then Ezekiel saw what appeared to be a throne above the heads of the cherubim. “Then the glory of the Lord rose up from above the cherubim and went over to the door of the Temple. The Temple was filled with this cloud of glory, and the courtyard glowed brightly with the glory of the Lord. The moving wings of the cherubim sounded like the voice of God Almighty and could be heard even in the inner courtyard…Then the cherubim rose upward…Then THE GLORY OF THE LORD MOVED OUT from the door of the Temple and hovered above the cherubim…” – Ezekiel 10:4-5,15a,18
Every sin had been seen by God and every thought known by God. He knew those in exile in Jerusalem were still bragging about their freedom and how they would now get all the land that was owned by those who had been taken into exile. Even in the horrible situation they were in, they were greedy and prideful (11:5,15-16). Those in exile continued to have rebellious hearts, refusing to see and hear the God they believed was still in the Temple in Jerusalem (12:2).
So God called Ezekiel to be WEIRD once more. During the day, Ezekiel packed all of his belongings and moved them outside of his home – a scene that immediately caught the attention of God’s people. Then, as night fell, Ezekiel went back into his home and began digging a hole in the wall with his bare hands, just as a captive would need to do in order to escape imprisonment. He then crawled out of the hole and lifted his pack on his shoulder. His WEIRD antics had everyone’s attention now. He then gave them a message from the Lord, prophesying the way in which King Zedekiah would soon be leaving Jerusalem. He would be captured and brought to Babylon to be a captive just as they were. His army would be scattered and their last chance at being rescued by their king would vanish (Ezekiel 12).
The story of Ezekiel’s life is bizarre and interesting, but it comes down to one simple statement – Ezekiel was WEIRD because God called him to be WEIRD. He was willing to be WEIRD if that’s what God wanted him to be, if that’s what it took for God to get the attention of His people. So what happens if God asks us to be WEIRD for Him? What happens if He asks us to do something that seems unreasonable, ridiculous, or just plain WEIRD? Are we willing to go there? Are we willing to put pride aside and do whatever God asks us to do? Hmmmm. That’s a hard question to answer honestly. I think I will go back for a second cup of my morning coffee and seek the heart of God on this one…