Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread

In this conclusion of Ezekiel chapter 4 and beginning of 5, the bizarre requests from the Lord continue.

I used Ezekiel's Bread story several years ago in my blog to point out that God has occasionally instructed people to do things that are against the commandments, perhaps to see how they would react. In 4:9, Ezekiel says, in reaction to God’s instruction to cook bread over human dung, “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, I have never eaten what dies of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has any unclean meat ever entered my mouth.” In my earlier post, I was using this as a rebuttal to those who say that Acts chapter 10 changed the commandments for His people so they could eat unclean foods. In the Acts 10 story, God was trying to get Peter to realize that he should not consider Gentiles as unclean. Peter says as much later on when he goes to visit Cornelius’ house. God had no intention of changing His commandments which state that eating unclean animals is bad for you. The human body is the same today as it was three thousand years ago. In Ezekiel’s case, God gave Ezekiel another choice: you can cook your bread over a fire made with cow’s dung. Scripture can get pretty earthy sometimes! The purpose was to emphasize that in Israel’s coming diaspora, they would be forced to eat their bread unclean among the nations (4:13).

Ezekiel’s Barber Shop Dramatization

Ezekiel walked into the center of the square, as he had done before when enacting the siege of Jerusalem. This time he was carrying a table, a sharp sword, a pot, and a set of scales. As before, amidst the assembly of people coming and going, he set the table down with the implements on it and then stood to announce, in a loud voice, “Hear the word of the LORD!”

There were many in the crowd who had witnessed Ezekiel’s prior spectacle. They gathered together, saying things like, “There’s crazy Ezekiel again. I wonder what he’s going to do this time?”

Ezekiel stood before them all and picked up the sword. He carefully used the sword, as a barber would a razor, and began to cut off his hair. Then he, ever more carefully, cut off his mustache and beard. The crowd stood transfixed as they grimaced with each cutting. Ezekiel weighed the hair and stacked it into three equal piles on the table. He pointed at the three piles and said, “This is the people of Israel.” He took out tools for making a fire and lit a fire in the pot, which had been stocked with kindling. He picked up one of the piles of hair and turned to face the crowd. “This represents the fire that will come upon Jerusalem when the siege is completed.” He then threw the hair into the fire. It burst into flame and crackled until it expired. He then took another pile of hair and scattered it on the ground around the table. He picked up the sword again and said in a loud voice, “This is what will happen throughout the streets of Jerusalem when the end comes.” He took his sword and struck the ground where the hair had been thrown. He returned to the front of the table and reached for a few strands of hair and put them aside. He then picked up the remaining pile of hair and threw it into the air where the wind took it and scattered it across the courtyard. As the hair was floating down he said, “To the Jews who survive the siege, the LORD will scatter them throughout the earth where the sword will continue to find them.” He then took the few strands of hair from the table and showed them to everyone before putting them behind the edges of the belt which held up his robe and said, “The Lord says, in spite of all this destruction, I will save a remnant.” He said this as he patted the hairs tucked in his belt. “And I will restore Jerusalem, but it will only come after many nations rise and fall.” With that, Ezekiel gathered his things and headed back across the square, wondering what the Lord had yet in store for him.

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