Then lie down on your left side, and take the guilt of Israel on yourself. Their guilt will be on you for the number of days you lie on your left side. I have given you the same number of days as the years of the people’s sin. So you will have the guilt of Israel’s sin on you for three hundred ninety days. After you have finished these three hundred ninety days, lie down a second time, on your right side. You will then have the guilt of Judah on you. I will give it to you for forty days, a day for each year of their sin. Then you will look toward Jerusalem, which is being attacked. With your arm bare, you will prophesy against Jerusalem. I will put ropes on you so you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your attack on Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 4: 4-8
I wonder what it would have been like to be Ezekiel. He lived in a time consumed with arrogance, fear, and selfishness. His people, God’s people, giving themselves over to the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. They allowed the pagan Gods of surrounding countries to infiltrate their land and their lives. They allowed their culture to evolve into a culture no different than their counterparts. A culture that was based upon their being set apart was no longer. As I read the book of Ezekiel I am confused about all that God called the prophet to. Many times I think I am reading the Hebrew version of Alice in Wonderland. Through the past few chapters I have seen God throwing many strange things at Ezekiel. And I keep wondering what any of this has to do with his mission. I am a practical person. So it seems only practical that Ezekiel, as a prophet of God, should be telling the people of Israel the words of God. But instead, God calls Ezekiel to do some very strange things. Things that, even in today’s world of liberalism and acceptance, would merit discussions and crazy eyes from those who looked on. And they are things that do not affect the Israeli people, but instead seem pointed towards Ezekiel and only Ezekiel. In this passage alone, God calls Ezekiel to lie on his side for a year and two months. And not only is he to lie on his side, but God has him bound with ropes to keep him there. I keep reading and rereading the passage to see if maybe there is some metaphor that I am missing, and perhaps there is, but all I keep receiving from this passage is this:
In our lives God may call us to extreme things. In our lives God may call us to do things that make no sense whatsoever to us. And in our lives God may call us to do things that make no sense to others. But if God is calling us to something than we are to obey, and trust, knowing that His thoughts are much higher than ours will ever be.
How many times does God’s request to us seem not only counter culture but counter to everything we envisioned our life leading up to? How many times have you fought and kicked a situation only to surrender to this new plan, begin to grow excited for it, and then see Christ change the entire situation? How many times have you asked God why, wondering if maybe God just wasted all this time of yours? Weeks. Months. Years. Time you can never get back, and time you didn’t see a purpose to. You want me to do this? I often hear myself say to Him. But we had a plan! I had a plan! Why would you take this dream from me? Why won’t you give this dream to me? Why would you put me into a situation so difficult, so monotonous? I’m running out of time!
Can you hear these words in your own heart?
It is difficult for me to see the purpose of a man lying on his side for over a year. I imagine that there were many dark nights for Ezekiel. I wonder if those were the nights the reality of his nation’s sin began to sink in. I wonder if it was then that Ezekiel began to realize just how desperate and dependent upon God he and his people were. I imagine that he came face to face with the arrogance and stupidity that sin deceives with. He probably saw on a much deeper level the vanity of mankind. All because he saw the frailty of a body through this exercise. And I imagine that when his time was up, he rose with a new awareness of his calling, a new fervency for his people, and a new passion for his God. Three things he may never have known had he not been through a long, slow, tedious, and sometimes boring exercise.
Ezekiel’s time was not wasted. Our time has not been wasted. He has never wasted anything for anyone. There is purpose. There is always purpose. I will walk through this wonderland, and do so with just that, wonder. I think I may just come out the other side a different girl.