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The prophet Ezekiel gets attention

Ezekiel acts out God's messages.
Contributed by Jack Foster
Ezekiel was a Jew captured during one of the early invasions of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and taken to Babylon. «Five years later, on his birthday, Ezekiel sat down by a river and began to ponder all that had happened. Suddenly a large storm cloud rolled in. As he is watched this cloud four creatures began to appear. They were unlike anything he had ever seen before! – Slide 1
These creatures each had large wings and four faces. The wings all touched. Each creature hovered above its own wheel. The wings of these strange creatures supported a platform. On that platform was a throne, and on that throne was a glowing being surrounded by an ember coloured ring! Ezekiel realised that he was in the presence of God! <br/>God told Ezekiel to stand up and listen to what He was going to say. Ezekiel had trouble standing so the Holy Spirit placed Ezekiel on his feet. God said, ‘I want you to speak to the Israelites. Many of them will not listen as they are rebellious and stubborn. They will insult you and maybe even try to harm you. But don't worry about that.’ <br/>God gave Ezekiel a scroll with His message to the Israelites, and then told him to eat it. He ate it and said it very sweet like honey! – Slide 2
God came up with some strange ways for Ezekiel to attract attention. <br/>God told Ezekiel to build a small replica of the city of Jerusalem, then stage an attack on it, just like a child playing war with his or her toys. This was a visual parable to warn the people of Jerusalem what was coming. Next God told Ezekiel cut off all his hair with a sword and shave his beard and then divide all the hair into 3 piles. God told Ezekiel to burn one pile, strike another pile with a sword and throw the last pile up into the air for a brisk wind carry off. <br/>It was a picture of how the disobedience people of Israel would be scattered after one third were killed by soldiers and another third would die of plagues and famine. – Slide 3
Next, God had Ezekiel lay on his left side while he was tied up for 390 days! Then on his right side for another 40 days! Each day of the 390 was to represent one year that Israel had turned its back on God. Similarly, each of the 40 days was to represent the years that Judah turned from God. Although he was tied up, Ezekiel’s right arm was free and outstretched as a symbol of God's mighty arm of judgement. God gave Ezekiel a bread recipe that he would eat during this time, barely enough to keep him alive. It symbolized the misery that would accompany Israel during the siege of Jerusalem to come. – Slide 4
After this God showed Ezekiel a vision of the temple in Jerusalem. He saw an idol erected just outside the temple doors and the people of Israel worshipping idols instead of God. Finally, the vision ended with the cloud of God's glorious presence leaving the temple (Ezekiel 8). – Slide 5
God then told Ezekiel to pack some of his belongings. That evening he was to dig a hole through the front wall of his house and crawl through it carrying his belongings on his back. It was to show people that the remaining Jews in Jerusalem would be carried away in captivity. The king of Israel would try sneak out in the middle of the night having a hole dug in in the wall and crawling through with his belongings (Ezekiel 12). – Slide 6
Later God told Ezekiel a riddle. A large eagle with strong wings and beautiful feathers broke the top branch off a cedar tree, then carried it to a nearby country and left it in one of their cities. The eagle also took a seed from Israel and planted it in a fertile field with plenty of water, like a willow tree beside a stream. The seed sprouted and grew into a grapevine that spread over the ground. There was another eagle with strong wings and thick feathers. The roots and branches of the grapevine soon turned toward this eagle, hoping it would bring water for the soil. The riddle symbolised how the king of Judah had been captured by the Babylonians who now had new king called Zedekiah. He had signed a treaty that Judah would remain loyal to Babylon but would break his promise and sent ambassadors to Egypt to ask for military help (Ezekiel 17). – Slide 7
One day, a Jewish survivor came to Ezekiel from Israel. He told Ezekiel of all the horrible things that were happening there, and that the city of Jerusalem had fallen just as God said it would. All that God had warned Israel about time and time again through Ezekiel's words and, sometimes through his strange actions had come true. <br/>The rest of the book of Ezekiel shows God's grace and mercy to Israel, the other nations, and ultimately to us. – Slide 8
Ezekiel saw another strange vision. He was standing in a valley filled with dry human bones. <br/>It was a symbol of how the Israelites have turned from the true God. Suddenly a brisk wind blew and the bones began to assemble themselves into skeletons. Muscles began to form around the skeletons. Then skin began to wrap itself over the muscles and the bodies start breathing. Soon Ezekiel was standing among a crowd of living breathing people! It is a picture of God’s future plans for His people (Genesis 37). – Slide 9
God also showed Ezekiel visions of a new future temple that was more amazing, majestic, and beautiful than the original temple that Solomon had built with all his riches. Remember that strange vision of the 4 creatures that Ezekiel saw by the river? Ezekiel realised at that time that it was the Presence of God. Well, it appears again and heads right into the ‘new’ temple. God was showing Ezekiel things yet to come in the future. – Slide 10
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