“You also, son of man, take a clay tablet and lay it before you, and portray on it a city, Jerusalem.”
Some people are visual learners. They seem to have a difficult time processing information audibly, but the moment they can see it, things become perfectly clear. Most of the pre-exilic prophets relayed the same message to Judah. They warned of coming destruction by the Babylonians and exhorted the people to turn to the Lord. Ezekiel will share that same message, but will do so with some very powerful imagery. This chapter alone gives three such illustrations.
First, Ezekiel is told to make a model of the city of Jerusalem. When he first began this project, I am sure those who stood back and watched were wondering what he was building. As each day passed, the image became more clear, until it was obvious to all that it was Jerusalem. It must have been quite a shock when he began to fill the surrounding hillsides with foreign troops, and build siege walls outside the city. Even the most casual observer, would have no problem understanding the message.
Once completed, Ezekiel used another approach to get the same message across. Each day he would enter the public square, lay out a bed mat, and lie down on his left side. He remained there throughout the day, and repeated this for 339 consecutive days. One the 340th day, he turned over and laid on his right side for another 40 days. This was done to illustrate the coming judgment on Judah for their iniquities.
Finally, Ezekiel was instructed to bake the bread of affliction. God wanted the people to understand that serving false gods meant becoming slaves. Jesus taught the same truth when He said if we serve sin, we become a slave of sin (John 8:34). Slavery brought affliction and affliction, personal suffering. To deepen the impact of this illustration, Ezekiel was told to cook the bread using human waste as fuel. This proved too much for the prophet, who pleaded with God, and was instructed to use cow dung, instead.
I find it interesting the great lengths God will go, in order to insure that the message gets to everyone. He is still in the business of doing that today. I have heard testimony after testimony of a person who seemed to suddenly be surrounded by believers. They were invited to church, witnessed to at work, and came to realize that an old friend or family member had turned their life over to Christ. It is clear, God desires each of us, and will go to great lengths to reveal His love for us, and our need for Him.