More of Ezekiel
Dear friends — I will be in New York City for 11 days to attend a wedding and visit with friends. Here is a continuation of the Ezekiel study. (Scroll down to find the beginning of the study.)
Ezekiel Part Four
Sixth Symbol: The Applause of Disaster
In chapter six the horrifying details of the coming trials for God”‘s people are outlined, and Ezekiel is commanded in verse 11 to strike his hands together and stamp his feet and cry out, “Alas!” In this symbol, Ezekiel is commanded again to participate in the emotions of the Lord in revealing this coming holocaust. On the one hand, such a violent clapping together of the hands and crying out would show God”‘s vehemence, not only for the coming time, but also for the present “detestable practices” of the house of Israel. In addition, his stamping of his feet brings to mind the command of Jesus to His disciples to shake dust off their feet as they walked away from unrepentant cities.
On the other hand, we read later in 25:3-6 of how the Ammonites were under judgment from God because of the way that they had clapped their hands and stamped their feet over the calamity of the Israelites. Same actions””different motivations.
“¢ Again we see the symbol as participating with God in a coming action. Sometimes a person who is called to be a symbol must enter into the emotional response of God to a sinful situation. In this, however, such a one would understand that he or she is called to participate in a coming disaster emotionally while recognizing that his or her actions are not causal.
“¢ A person called to be a symbol must continuously prescind, or separate, his or her own consciousness from that of the Lord in how he or she relates to people who are in sin. While it was right for Ezekiel to act out a certain sequence of actions before the people, it was wrong for the Ammonites to do exactly the same thing when they saw the destruction of the Israelites. That is because they acted out of their own “malicious glee” and not out of the motivations of portraying ahead of time the effects of sin. The Ammonites did what they did out of their own consciousness, only to exalt themselves above people they felt superior to. Ezekiel, on the other hand, would have been sorrowful and would have held out hope that the watching Israelites would see what their sins would bring about, and repent.
“¢ A symbol must keep tight hold on his words and actions and must move in overt ways only when commanded by the Lord. The Ammonites would have wanted the focus on themselves and their prowess; Ezekiel”‘s acting out of the Lord”‘s emotions would have been with one purpose only: “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (verse 14).
Seventh Symbol: The Chain Forger
In chapter seven, God shows what is about to happen: He is going to remove His glory, His presence from the temple in which the people had put so much confidence and pride. Because they had treated that building as some sort of magic charm to protect themselves from invasion and catastrophe, He will show them the effects of such things.
In this symbol, Ezekiel is to participate with both the people and with God. God will restrict the freedom of the people, but as Ezekiel prepares the chain, he will know that it is the people who, by their wickedness (specifically, their bloodshed and violence), are forging link by link the instrument of their own captivity. These chains will not only be physical, though they will involve physical “calamity upon calamity.” They will also involve the unseen””rumor upon rumor”””and nameless fears. The particular profile of those chains are outlined in vivid terms, from which we can generalize.
“¢ Link one: Lack of emotional peace. Though people under judgment would want peace above all else, it will be denied them. They will see that they are defeated by wicked nations and their source of pride is destroyed. Every place that would be a refuge or safe harbor is desecrated so that it cannot bring them comfort.
“¢ Link two: No spiritual guidance. Many of us teach that God can communicate with His people through many means: direct revelation, insight from Scriptural passages, counsel from godly friends. But these three avenues are cut off: no vision from the prophets, no teaching of the law by the priest, and no counsel of the elders (v. 26.)
“¢ Link three: No governmental help. Christians today often seek recourse through legal means ““lawsuits, involvement of the ACLU or other godless advocates, legal reform in order to redress wrongs. Ezekiel shows the people that their violence and bloodshed have forged a link in their captivity in which their political leaders will be powerless and driven to despair.
“¢ Link four: The recompense of one”‘s own standards. Because the people who operated by the sword and force believed in force, force will be exerted on them: “I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them” (verse 27.)
“¢ Link five: the most inescapable of conclusions will lock the chains about them. “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
“¢ As for the symbol, by his participating in preparing the chain as a symbol and by holding it out to the people, he is allowed to participate in yet another aspect of God: He wants people to repent so badly and to accept the only true salvation from situations that exists (acknowledgment that He is God and submission to Him) that He will go to any length to warn and chastise people for their own good and to bring glory to the only One who can help them.