Ezekiel 4:1-2 “Now, son of man, take a clay tablet, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering-rams around it. …”
The LORD’s instructions to Ezekiel in chapters 4-5, and more particularly the exact manner in which they were carried out by the prophet, are very difficult for us to imagine, and are therefore open to a fair bit of conjecture.
It is therefore more profitable this side of heaven, when we have to be satisfied with only seeing ‘but a poor reflection as in a mirror’ – or ‘through a glass darkly’ (KJV) (1 Corinthians 13:12), to concentrate on the thrust of the Holy Spirit’s MESSAGE to us through it, rather than the perplexing details of how it all happened. What is clear is that, by a series of diagrams inscribed on a clay ‘tablet/tile’ (or ‘brick/bricks’ – ie the front wall of his house?), together with various models and mimed actions, Ezekiel was able to represent an important divine message to the Jews in exile in Babylon. It would seem that it was in a public place and that at a set time each day for over a year he would act out his little pantomime before a gathered crowd.
It also seems that the underlying point being made by the LORD through it all is that words alone are often not enough to convince the sin-hardened human heart. For many, many years, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the other prophets had been using words to warn both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah that their Sovereign Covenant God, the LORD, who controls ALL human history, was going to bring HIS Judgement upon them using the instrumentality of Assyria and Babylon, but these WORDS were to no avail!
What God’s Covenant People couldn’t get their heads around was that it was THEIR OWN Covenant-keeping God who was bringing about these punishments of them. Psalm 19 makes it clear that the wonder of Creation and the remarkable power of his Word in Scripture leave us without excuse for not bowing in humble praise and submission before this God; but they are not enough in themselves to penetrate our hard hearts. What we needed was for God to ‘act out’ his power, love, mercy and grace in the public arena before our very eyes – and he did this through his own Son, Jesus, ‘our Rock and our Redeemer’ (see Psalm 19:14).
What he put Jesus through for our salvation, and how he did it, is even more unbelievable than the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was in Ezekiel’s day. But God’s ACTIONS say it all! As Paul declared to the Greek Philosophers at Mars Hill: “[God] has set a day when he will JUDGE the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given PROOF of this to ALL men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31).