In this last stretch of Winter the Bible study that I participate in decided to take a little break. Usually I have "homework" for 5 days of the week and am strictly directed in my study of God's Word. I have been challenged in what to study, how to study it, etc in these weeks without such direction. I found myself in the Psalms quite a bit until last week. Last week I studied Paul's epistles because I was looking into two topics that had sparked an interest in me to dig into.
And this week, for whatever reason, I felt that I was to read Ezekiel.
I read 1-3 prior to this morning. I took notes and left it at that. This morning I moved into chapter 4. I am challenged by God's instructions to Ezekiel. Ezekiel was to be symbolically used to show the siege of Jerusalem, the payment for their sin. Ezekiel was given specific instructions:
“Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel." (4-5)
He was also assigned 40 days to lay on his right side to bear the sin of Judah and then an unspecified amount of days for the siege of Jerusalem. God lined out specifics on what Ezekiel was to gather and prepare for his food during this time.
I was shocked to have my eyes read the following: "Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel.' The LORD said, 'In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.” (12-13)
Excuse me, did God just tell Ezekiel to bake bread with human excrement? Really?
I love Ezekiel's response: “Not so, Sovereign LORD! I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have never eaten anything found dead or torn by wild animals. No impure meat has ever entered my mouth.” (v 14)
And God responded “Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.”
After my reading this morning I wanted to dig deeper. I found this profound commentary from Matthew Henry:
"Ezekiel does not plead, Lord, from my youth I have been brought up delicately, and never used to any thing like this; but that he had been brought up conscientiously, and never had eaten any thing forbidden by the law. It will be comfortable when we are brought to suffer hardships, if our hearts can witness that we have always been careful to keep even from the appearance of evil. See what woeful work sin makes, and acknowledge the righteousness of God herein. Their plenty having been abused to luxury and excess, they were justly punished by famine. When men serve not God with cheerfulness in the abundance of all things, God will make them serve their enemies in the want of all things."
What a challenging statement! Oh, Lord, may I always be careful to keep even from the appearance of evil so that I may be steady and founded when hardships come. May you forgive any abuse of luxury and excess and give me a cheerfulness in serving You more and more.