"Now, son of man, take a brick and place it before you. Draw a picture
of the city Jerusalem on it. Then make a model of a military siege
against the brick: Build siege walls, construct a ramp, set up army
camps, lay in battering rams around it. Then get an iron skillet and
place it upright between you and the city—an iron wall. Face the model:
The city shall be under siege and you shall be the besieger. This is a
sign to the family of Israel. Ezekiel 4:1-3 (TM)
It’s easy to read God’s instructions to Ezekiel and wonder what in the world is going on! It’s at this point that many modern Christians would close the book and say, "I don’t get the Old Testament – let’s read Matthew." Why would God tell Ezekiel to get out his erector set and Legos, make a model, and play war? Because, God uses metaphor to communicate to His children.
Metaphor n. – something that represents something else without using "like" or "as" (that would be a simile).
God was producing and staging a theatrical production for Jerusalem. It was performance art – or shall we say performance prophecy. Ezekiel was cast as the villian (Babylon) and a hard-as-stone brick was portraying the hard-hearted residents of Jerusalem. God was trying to send a message of warning – telling His people to wake up and look at what was going to happen to them if they didn’t listen.
I find it funny that theatre is often viewed suspiciously or frowned upon by the church. Metaphor is an extremely powerful medium of communication – which is why God uses it – but it often offends or is lost upon those who don’t want to hear the message. It was no different in John 6:47-71 when Jesus used the metaphor (which we now accept without thinking about it) of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. We understand the metaphor today because we were raised with it – but it was so offensive and outrageous when Jesus said it that most of the crowd that had been following him thought he was crazy and left. Even the disciples were thinking about deserting Him at that point.
To understand the Ezekiel – the prophets – the Old Testament – you have to be willing to look for and understand the metaphors.