Does it seem like God is not keeping his promises? Maybe you wonder, for example, if Jesus is going to return, like he said he would. Or maybe you wonder when Jesus is going to return. Why is he taking so long? There are many teachings or promises in the Bible that we can wonder about. In Ezekiel 12, it seems to me that the people in Ezekiel’s village could be thinking similar thoughts.
As we continue studying Ezekiel 12, God asks Ezekiel to add more to the skit, which we looked at in the previous post. What started as Ezekiel acting out being exiled, this skit now has a twist. Please pause reading this post, open your Bible and read Ezekiel 12, verses 17-20.
In front of the people Ezekiel is to shake and tremble as he eats and drinks. Why does God ask Ezekiel to act like that? God is saying that the people still living in Jerusalem and Israel will be so afraid for their lives, because the enemy will be devastating their city and land, they will not be able to control their fine motor skills. As they eat, their soup will be spilling from the spoon, and their water will splash over their face as they drink because they will be shaking from fear and anxiety. What does God say in conclusion? Then they will know that he is the Lord. There’s that statement again. God wants to be known!
We’ve heard that statement time and time again from God. But are the people getting it? What do the people think as they watch Ezekiel perform his skits and preach his prophecies? Let’s try to enter the story and see if we can imagine what Ezekiel’s neighbors might be thinking.
If I were dramatizing this, I would set the scene in front of Ezekiel’s house in Babylon. The camera first shows us Ezekiel just inside an open door, packed and ready for exile. Maybe he has some kind of bundle attached to a pole, and we watch as he hoists it on his shoulders. The camera follows him as he walks out of his house carrying his bundle. All day he walks around, people watching him, pointing and whispering, “What is Ezekiel doing now?” In the evening, he goes home, and then he digs a hole in the side of his house, climbing through it. Again he walks around outside, but this time, covering his face with a cloth, probably bumping into people and plants. People are watching him even more now. Then he stops, opens up his bundle and begins to prepare a meal. As he eats and drinks, he shakes violently, the food and drink spilling and spraying all over him. I wonder if his neighbors thought he was having a seizure.
He has been acting out the skit in silence, and finally he speaks. He prophesies, speaking a word from the Lord, explaining the symbolism of the skit. He says that because of their rebellion to the Lord, Jerusalem will be attacked and destroyed, the king will be sent into exile and die, along with many others. Ezekiel concludes his prophecy, saying that the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem, Judea and all Israel will be terrible.
If you are one of the people in Ezekiel’s neighborhood watching him, and listening to this prophecy, would you believe him? The reality is that you’ve been hearing this stuff for quite some time from Ezekiel. About a year and a half. In that year and a half, what seen and heard? Lots of weird skits. Lots of dark sermons about the destruction of Jerusalem. Stories of visions about how awful Jerusalem is. But nothing has actually happened, right?
Now in Ezekiel 12, we have a prophecy about Zedekiah being exiled to Babylon where he would be killed. Did that happen to King Zedekiah? Is he in Babylon? If so, it seems likely the Jews would have seen him or they would have at least heard about it. Nope, Zedekiah is still in Jerusalem. What about all the death and destruction the prophecies said would be occurring in Jerusalem? There was not a peep of anything like that happening. News didn’t travel fast in ancient times, but for something that big, you’d think the Babylonians, the people whose country you live in, would be telling you about it. But we’ve heard no news about that. I wonder if the people in Ezekiel’s neighborhood would start to doubt him?
Do you know the feeling? Doubting God’s promises? Wondering if God is really who he says he is? If you wonder, if you doubt, you’re not alone. It is quite common among Christians and people of many faiths.
Check back to tomorrow’s post as we seek some answers about what we can do when we wait to hear from God.