Day 27 Ezekiel 4 ... Draw Large and Shout

When someone asked Flannery O'Connor why she populated her novels with such exaggerated, eccentric characters she replied, "To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures." The same answer may help explain the oddities of Ezekiel. He, too, faced a stubborn, dense audience who had little tolerance for his message. And, at God's instruction, he employed some bizarre methods to get that message across.

The book records twelve public "object lessons" acted out by the prophet. For example, one year he lay on his side every day, bound by ropes and facing a clay model of Jerusalem. Strange? When a car is headed toward the edge of a cliff, you may scream and gesture so wildly that people think you insane. So it was with Ezekiel, who would do anything to force people to pay attention. (These same people, after all, had ignored God's other messengers, including Jeremiah, a master of weird communication techniques.)

The first part of Ezekiel mainly concerns the political situation back in the homeland of Judah. False Prophets were assuring the exiles that God would never allow his temple or holy city to be destroyed. Ezekiel blasted these phony optimists and broadcasted God's plan of judgment in strong words and public protests. He took no great delight in the doomsday message. Twice, seeing the future, he fell down, crying out in horror (9:8; 11:13). In this chapter, when God tells him to cook food on human excrement as a symbolic act, he is too shocked to agree.

At great personal sacrifice, Ezekiel delivered an undiluted message from God, presenting it in a way that the Israelites could not ignore. The exaggerated style says less about Ezekiel than it does about the One who gave the orders. God would not let go of his people until he had done all in his power to turn them around. No device was too undignified, no carnival ploy too corny, as long as he had the slightest hope of breaking through. "As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, L take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?" (33:11).

Point to Ponder: How does God get your attention?