Ezekiel 4:1-8




The Bible says in Ezekiel chapter 4:1-6, “ Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and portray upon it the city, even Jerusalem:  And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.  Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.  Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity.  For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.  And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.”


As we study the Bible we will always be amazed at the depths of the wisdom of God and at how much more there always is to learn about the Word of God because the written Word of God is as eternal in its depth as is the Living Word. Thinking of the books of the prophets and all the judgments pronounced in them one would expect to open up the book of Ezekiel and straightway read about woe’s and lamentations and sufferings. But in the first few chapters of Ezekiel we are given a special glimpse into the Holiness of God and His work that He is ever doing in the hearts of men.


Finally here in chapter 4, some of the first consequences for sin and some of the first judgments are mentioned. It’s very interesting to notice that consequences and judgments for sin are given before even the sins themselves are pointed out. Perhaps this is because we often associate certain consequences with certain sins but it does not always happen that way. God is Sovereign and He is the just judge. He may bring about consequences and judgments for sin that may not be what you expect. They may seem to be more grievous or they may be less grievous than man would mete out. But God is sovereign and God is wise.


In these first verses Ezekiel is told that the city of Jerusalem is going to be besieged and laid to waste. God often gave the prophets signs and miracles to perform along with their message. Ezekiel was to imitate this besieging and the purpose of it was to be a sign unto Israel. The purpose of a sign is to warn people to help them to believe the Word of God. There may seem to be nothing special or fantastic about such a sign because as in Ezekiel’s case this particular sign did not involve a miracle or fantastic display against the laws of nature. It took no miracle for Ezekiel to make a small model of the city and enact its besiegement and destruction. One might even reason that if these people were so hardened of heart, and if they were so impudent, and if they were as scorpions wouldn’t they need a greater sign of something more miraculous?


It’s good to remember that in the days of Ezekiel we did not have the entire written Word of God yet, and therefore God in those days often used signs but there was nothing particularly special or miraculous about this which Ezekiel was to do. However human nature is the same from age to age except that perhaps man slowly gets worse whereas the goodness of God only gets better. Concerning signs and miracles however Jesus had this to say in Matthew 12:39, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; but there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.


It may not have mattered how miraculous the sign was that God had Ezekiel to use, but is not the foolishness of God wiser than men? God knew exactly what sign to give unto the children of Israel. And this time the sign apparently was simply an illustration of Ezekiel acting out the besieging and fall of Jerusalem. In other words God was reminding them that in the past He had let their city be both besieged and destroyed as punishment and judgment and consequence, and God was also warning them that it was going to happen again. There is no greater miracle or wonder than the wonder of God’s Word to help one be warned of judgment and of promise. That is why we have the book of Ezekiel after all so that we can see the judgments that God brought on Israel for their sin and what can happen to any nation that forgets God. And also so that we can be reminded of the wonderful promises of God such as the fact that He will have His hand upon those who rise up and serve Him.


One more interesting point to notice in verses 5-6 is that God told Ezekiel that he was to spend 390 days doing this illustration and that on his right side he was to lay for 40 days, and that each day would represent one year. A day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. Apparently Israel had been given many, many years and many, many chances to repent and they did not because they were hard hearted. God is not slack concerning His promises, but is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish. Today is the day of salvation, today is the day to repent and to find cleansing in Jesus. When the actual siege came on the city it lasted about 390 days which is the same as this prophecy, of course. This can be historically verified and where the Bible touches on history it is always 100% accurate. Therefore, we have another sign to remind us that God’s Word is true. When God warns of a judgment or a promise you can be sure it shall come to pass in His time and in His way and by His will because the wheels are spinning.


Considering these facts, the most important phrase in verses 1-6 is perhaps found in verse 4 and verse 5 where it says, “Thou shalt bear their iniquity.” And “So shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.” This is an illustration of the fact that Jesus bore our iniquities on the cross of Calvary. The Bible says concerning Jesus in First Peter 2:24, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” If it was not for Jesus, there would be no hope for mankind. The only judgment would be that of woe, lamentations and sufferings in the eternal fires of hell. But here in the midst of a judgment pronounced in verses 1-6 it says that the prophet was to lie down on his side and bear the iniquities of Israel 1 day for each of their iniquities. In the same sense Jesus was pierced in his side by a spear, and for the sins of the entire world he suffered and bled and died. Jerusalem did not have to be destroyed. Israel did not have to be besieged and overrun: they could have repented and turned to Jesus.


It’s very important to understand the depth of the association that Jesus made with Himself and our sins. That is why the phrase the son of man” is so often used in the Bible to refer to Jesus Christ. We see it used repeatedly here in the book of Ezekiel. It is necessary and needful for human beings to know that in a relationship with another that the other person can truly empathize with his or her sufferings. There is no one in this world who can have compassion on you the way that Jesus can because He is the son of Man and he has born the iniquity of all the world. That includes each of your sins day after day and year after year that you have committed. In fact Jesus can empathize with you better than you can with yourself. That is why there is never a need to even feel sorry for yourself. Despite how terrible your sins may be and despite how grievous to bear the consequences might seem to be, as they must surely have seemed for those of the captivity, just remember if you have Christ you will never have to suffer what you really deserve because Jesus already paid that debt.


In many ways men and individuals are as cities. Our minds and our souls are besieged on every side by the forces of evil and by our own selfish natures. But the walls of our own minds don’t have to be torn down and the cities of our souls laid to ruin. If we merely trust in Jesus there will be victory. If you feel that your life has been ruined by sin, and if you feel that your opportunities have been wasted, and you have become as a city that has been laid siege to or destroyed, just remember the fate of Jerusalem. Even though it was laid to waste many times, the ultimate fate of Jerusalem is seen in the book of Revelation when it descends from heaven a city with no need of walls and with streets paved with gold and with the very presence of the Lamb in its midst. Revelation 21:1-2 says, “And I John saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” All these things are possible because of the promises of God and because of how the iniquity of Israel was placed on Jesus.


The Bible goes on to say in verses 7-8, “Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it.  And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.” Sometimes the best time to hear about judgment and sometimes the time that people are most open to hear is when they are in the middle of suffering for sin.  In the midst of the siege Ezekiel was to prophecy against it. Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Not that there is anything wrong with being rich. When one is living it up, and especially enjoying the pleasures of the world, and not reaping any consequences is not a more likely time that one might repent of sin. It is more likely that one would repent when one is suffering from the consequences. Of course, it is always a good time to confess your sins to Jesus.


The Bible phrase “thine arm shall be uncovered” has an important emphasis to it. Isaiah 52:10, “The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” The word “uncovered” has the idea to draw out. The same word in the Bible is even used to refer to the drawing of water from a well. Of course, in the old days they did not have faucets and plumbing. It was not so simply as turning a knob and the water coming gushing forth as a fountain. But a man or woman would have to walk out to the well and draw the water in a bucket from down deep in the earth. This took a lot of work and a lot of arm strength. The prophesy means to preach. So to prophesy with the arm uncovered is to do so in strength. Men often tend to put too much emphasis on themselves and their own abilities. That is why not many wise or mighty are called. The power is in the truth. And Jesus is the truth. And that is why Ezekiel was able to prophesy with an uncovered arm because he spake the Words of God.


When you have to face the hard heartedness of the world, and those that are opposed to Christ, it can be daunting. Man is easily frightened and discouraged. Even Moses experienced and faced such fears.  Of course, the one who does the drawing, or the uncovering, is God. Jesus is the water of life and He did say, “He that believeth on Him out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” It is Jesus that does the drawing and the uncovering. All you have to do is to speak His Words.


Another interesting word in these verses is the word “siege.” The word “siege” is also used to mean strong or stronghold. Zechariah 9:3, “And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. Behold the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire.” And Psalm 31:21, “Blessed be the Lord: for He hath shewed me His marvelous kindness in a strong city.” A city symbolizes a place of strength and refuge. This was especially so a long time ago when more of the world remained uncivilized. Cities had walls to protect them from barbarians and wild animals. And in cities you could find civilization, the basic necessities of life, and many other comforts. Jerusalem, of course, was the capital of Israel, and it once was considered a strong city. Think back to the time of King David and King Solomon and all the glory of Jerusalem.  There is no place, however, and no person that can escape the judgment of God, not even a mighty city and a strong city as Jerusalem. The sieges of judgment will come. Ezekiel chapter 4 certainly emphasizes this and when they do, the place to flee too will not be to the strong cities but to the arms of Jesus with a penitent heart. If you have not turned to Jesus from your sins, do so today.






Copyright; 2010 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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