SERIOUS ABOUT SIN AND SAVING
Teach me to fear You, God, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Read Ezekiel 4:1–8; 5:1–13
Siege of Jerusalem Symbolized
4 “Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. 2 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. 3 Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the people of Israel.
4 “Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. 5 I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel.
6 “After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year. 7 Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her. 8 I will tie you up with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege.
God’s Razor of Judgment
5 “Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. 2 When the days of your siege come to an end, burn a third of the hair inside the city. Take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And scatter a third to the wind. For I will pursue them with drawn sword. 3 But take a few hairs and tuck them away in the folds of your garment. 4 Again, take a few of these and throw them into the fire and burn them up. A fire will spread from there to all Israel.
5 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. 6 Yet in her wickedness she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations and countries around her. She has rejected my laws and has not followed my decrees.
7 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you.
8 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations. 9 Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again. 10 Therefore in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat their parents. I will inflict punishment on you and will scatter all your survivors to the winds. 11 Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will shave you; I will not look on you with pity or spare you. 12 A third of your people will die of the plague or perish by famine inside you; a third will fall by the sword outside your walls; and a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue with drawn sword.
13 “Then my anger will cease and my wrath against them will subside, and I will be avenged. And when I have spent my wrath on them, they will know that I the Lord have spoken in my zeal.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectConsider your response to the word “sin.” Now consider God’s view of sin. Spot any differences?
Ezekiel’s oracles begin with very serious play-acting. The sin of God’s own people in Jerusalem meant little or nothing to them. But it meant a lot to God. By falling short of his standards, being even worse than the people around them, they defiled his name.
The dramatized siege connected it to 430 years of his people’s sins. Ezekiel wasn’t bearing their sin in the way that Jesus bore our sins—carrying away its guilt, penalty and power. He was carrying it openly to expose its binding, debilitating effect.
The shaving of Ezekiel’s head—a sign of shame and distress—makes the same point: because of their sins, his people have experienced the shame and distress of exile. Following the siege by the Babylonians God sent the three consequences that his hair and beard suffered.
But God’s seriousness about sin is matched by his seriousness about saving. A little remnant of Ezekiel’s hair and beard is kept aside, protected in the folds of his robe. God would not be left without a small band of people who would demonstrate, by their mere existence, his mercy. From that small remnant would one day come the redeeming sin-bearer, Jesus.
Is there a sin you need to lay before God? Take time now to sit in true repentance before God—choosing to say you are sorry and committing to change.
Lord God, I see how seriously You take sin. Show me how You see sin and its effects on my life and help me to change.