SHADOW TEACHINGS IN EZEKIEL'S MINISTRY
SHADOW OF THE TILE (Ezekiel 4:1-2)
Now Ezekiel is told to take a brick (tile) and to draw a picture of Jerusalem on it. Then he is to set up a "mount", i.e. towers against it. He is to put sticks like battery rams against it.
This brick was a sun-baked tile (Heb. lebena). Ezekiel placed it in the sand, and set up the siege mounds, and the sticks against it. The 'towers' refer to a chain of offensive towers built around besieged cities. They were manned with archers and equipped with battering rams.
SHADOW OF THE IRON PAN (Ezekiel 4:3)
Now Ezekiel was to take an iron plate and set it between him and the brick that represented Jerusalem. The people were watching Ezekiel... They likely laughed as he played in the sand...
The iron plate was a saucer-shaped piece of metal used by the Israelites to bake bread. When it was placed upside down over a fire, it heated up to form a convex hot plate on which to cook the flat barley loaf or a griddle cake.
Ezekiel represented God, and the iron plate represented sins that separated Israel from God.
"Your sins have hid His face from you, that He cannot hear..."
In the times of Ezekiel, a crude form of cursing another person was to put the person's name on a potsherd, and to smash it against a wall. It showed the intent to bring upon the victim the shattering which his name had suffered. This was similar to the wax effigies, or the dolls of Haiti that are stuck with pins.
This was not a curse that Ezekiel was doing here, but a demonstration of what God would soon do.
SHADOW OF LYING ON THE LEFT SIDE (Ezekiel 4:4-5)
Ezekiel is told to lie on his left side for 390 days. He was told that he was bearing their iniquity for that long. (Later he would lie on the right side for 40 days.) Each day was to represent a year. There would be 390 years for judgment for Israel.
SHADOW OF LYING ON THE RIGHT SIDE (Ezekiel 4:4-6)
Again, each day represented a year (vs. 6b). Imagine the people who had watched Ezekiel lie down on his left side for over a year, and now suddenly, he switches to the left side. He seldom spoke, for he only spoke when God told him to speak. This pantomime was to show how long (40 years) that Judah would be judged.
SHADOW OF BARE ARM (4:7)
Ezekiel was told to now bare his arm while he was laying siege to the drawing of Jerusalem on his brick (tile). Until the literal siege of Jerusalem was over, he was to keep his arm bared.
The idea of a bared arm, was that the sleeve rolled up or back to allow for hard work to be done. This pantomime was to show the determination of God to have Jerusalem defeated. This would be very hard for Ezekiel to demonstrate, and even harder for the sinful observers to accept.
SHADOW OF BEING BOUND (4:8)
God put bands on Ezekiel, so that he could not turn from side to side until the siege was over. Perhaps, they were not visible bands. Sometimes God will use invisible, though still "felt" and experienced things to teach a prophet.... Likely, Ezekiel actually felt these bands in order to remind him of the message of the Lord. Perhaps, his spiritual eyes saw the bands... The viewers of Ezekiel only saw a prophet who seemed to think ("crazy" as he was) that he was bound.
The bands were to show that God was not going to do anything to help Jerusalem until the siege and destruction were accomplished.
God does not do stupid things, for all wisdom is originated in our omniscient Lord... Yet, when compared to the wisdom of mankind, the wisdom of God is often judged to be "stupid"... For instance, imagine being called by God to be a prophet, and then are instructed by this same God to preach to mountains, or to preach to a forest! Would you feel comfortable, as your neighbors walked by and asked you what you were doing, and why??? Ezekiel was given at least 25 such things to do, and they seemed, in the natural to be "stupid."
Ezekiel was told to cut off all his hair, and to put it in three separate piles, to cut up a third, to burn a third, and to scatter a third to the wind... He was told to prophesy to a pile of bones... He was told to pack his bags, and to escape during the night by digging a hole in the wall of his home...
In what seemed to be "stupid" instructions, Ezekiel was acting out a message from God in pantomime form... It may have seemed moronic, absurd, ridiculous, and senseless... but God was speaking through these pantomimes to a people who refused to listen to the normal preaching of prophets as Ezekiel. When Ezekiel tried to preach a normal message from the Lord, the people would decline to attend, reject what was being spoken, and refuse to acknowledge that God had spoken....
It was likely difficult for Ezekiel to obey God's strange commands, but when he did, a crowd would gather to see what "absurd" thing Ezekiel would do today. They would spread the word to the town of the "crazy" prophet, and his "weird" and "moronic" actions... but the word would be spread... and the message would be given...
Ezekiel became the talk of the town, and an interesting character who was the laughing stock of the area... God was giving a pantomime sermon... and they were receiving His messages in spite of their resistance to the truth.
God uses shadow teachings then, and now, to illustrate to us truths that we need to know, but are hard for us to understand, or likely not to be seen, unless an illustrated lesson accompanies God's message.