“Prepare and eat this food as you would barley cakes. While all the people are watching, bake it over a fire using dried human dung as fuel and then eat the bread.” – Ezekiel 4:12 NLT
Has God ever asked you to do something that seemed difficult or even impossible to do? Have you ever questioned His will for your life? Sometimes God asks His people to do things that appear ridiculous from a human perspective. It just doesn’t make sense. But God is not asking us to obey once we understand or it all finally makes sense to us. He just wants us to obey – no questions asked. He is sovereign, all-knowing and in complete control. He knows what is best and His instructions to us are to be obeyed, not because they make sense, but because He gave them. Ezekiel is a prophet who was given some very strange duties to perform by God. Remember, God had struck him dumb. He couldn’t speak unless God gave him a message to share and loosened his tongue so he could present it to the people. But while Ezekiel was unable to speak, he was able to act – literally. In fact, God gave Ezekiel some very strange visual lessons to act out in front of the people. God commanded him to take a common clay brick and draw on it an image of the city of Jerusalem. He was to set up the brick outside his house, in full view of the people, then build siege walls, ramps and an enemy camp around it. Like a little boy playing with toy soldiers, Ezekiel was to make this model of the siege of Jerusalem. But that’s not all. It gets worse. God commanded Ezekiel to erect an iron plate, the to lie down on his left side for a period of 390 days, with the iron plate between himself and the “city” of Jerusalem. When the 390 days was up, he was to turn over and lie on his right side for another 40 days. All the while he was doing this, his daily meals were to consist of grain cakes baked over a fire made with human feces. Of all the strange things God had asked him to do, it was the last part that got Ezekiel’s attention. Not wanting to defile himself by using human feces, he appealed to God, who allowed him to use cow dung instead. Amazingly, that was the only part of God’s plan at which Ezekiel balked. He was willing to do everything God had commanded him to do – without question – even though it all appeared strange, made no sense, and would probably result in his own humiliation in the eyes of the people.
The amazing thing about this story is not the mysterious symbolism of the brick, the number of days, or the content of Ezekiel’s diet. It is the faithful obedience of Ezekiel in the face of a very strange request from God. None of this made sense. Ezekiel was being asked to do the ridiculous. He was being asked to make a fool of himself. And he knew that nothing he did or said was going to make any impact on the people. God had already told him that they would not listen or repent. But Ezekiel obeyed anyway. He did what God asked him to do. Over and over again in this book, we’ll see Ezekiel respond obediently to the commands of God. He does what he is told to do, regardless of its difficulty or credibility. He just obeys. What about us? How do we respond to the Word of God in our lives? Do we obey or do we rationalize, argue, debate or simply disobey? Does it all have to make sense before we will do what God is asking us to do? If it requires us to humble ourselves or get out of our comfort zone, do we balk and bail? God is looking for men and women who will faithfully obey and do what He is calling them to do – no questions asked. It may not make sense, but it will make a difference, because God is behind it all. He has a plan. He knows what is best. There is always a method to His seeming madness. We just need to trust and obey.
Father, thanks for the reminder that You do not always explain Yourself or give us the reasons behind Your requests. You simply tell us what to do and expect us to obey. Help me to learn from the life of Ezekiel so that I might obey first and ask questions later. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men