Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 20:1-49 (additional reading: Psalm 107:1-43 & Proverbs 27:11 )
If you look at the Hebrew Bible you will note that chapter 20 ends with verse 44. Verses 45 through 49 fit in better with chapter 21. In chapter 20 we have witnessed an historic review of the nation of Israel from its conception by God to the present situation of Judgment which chapter 21 will get into.
The statement ‘set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest land, the South,’ has some very interesting reference. Remember that Ezekiel is living in the land of Iraq as a captive. The land of Israel is south. It was a land flowing with good grazing, fertile fields, and nice rich forests. Today if you go to Israel you can again see the Lord’s Blessing on the land. In addition to the nation of Judah being south, the useless help from Egypt was also suppose to be coming from the south.
The prophet Ezekiel understood clearly what the people thought about him They thought in one way that he truly was receiving messages from God, but many thought of him as some kind of joker. It is tough to be a representative of God. We can say that if you have a problem with my message from God then take it up with Him. Don’t shoot the messenger. However, it does not still cause you to sometimes feel overwhelmed with the criticism. In part the elders did not want to be rebuked. Ezekiel was God’s mouthpiece but the rebuke was from Him. Yet the leaders only saw the man before them speaking harsh words to them and they left off all correct thinking in realizing Almighty God was addressing them.
We read that God giving Ezekiel not only the directions of what to say, but He is also giving Ezekiel permission to respond to these fellow Israelites the heartache that was on his heart. Ezekiel understood the horror that would come on his people – men, women, and children. We have all seen on the history channel scenes from WWII where the Nazis brutally treated the Jewish people. It is so awful it is hard to watch. This gives just a taste of what Ezekiel personally experienced.
God instructed Ezekiel to let out his emotions – ‘to sigh’ – to express his broken heart. The ‘smiting on the thigh’ is an extended display of grief and emotional meltdown. If you were here sitting and observing God’s Prophet, how would you react? Can you associate with the way He was feeling? What emotions are you hiding inside? Who do you have around you that you can support?