“Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandalson your feet; do not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.”
Ezekiel 24:16-17 (NIV)
Last night in my Language of God class we talked about how God specifically uses metaphors in prophecy and through the prophets like Ezekiel. While prophetic messages and metaphors are woven and layered throughout the books of law (Genesis through Deuteronomy), history (Joshua through Esther) and poetry (Job through Song of Songs), the prophets (Isaiah through Malachi) occupy a special time and place in the Great Story that God is telling throughout His Message.
For roughly 400 years (c. 800-400 B.C.) the prophets lived and shared their prophetic messages with the people of Israel and Judah. Their prophetic messages were delivered through an array of mediums including:
- written word
- spoken word
- visual art
- performance art.
Most fascinating for me, however, is when God called upon the prophets very lives to become a living message and metaphor. God told Hosea to scandalously marry a prostitute who would be unfaithful to him and suffer through the agonies of that marriage so that the prophets very life and marriage would be a living metaphor of how God’s people were being unfaithful to Him. How’d you like to explain that one when you take her home to meet the parents?
What has fascinated me about Ezekiel as we’ve journeyed through his story this time around is the fact that Ezekiel encompasses all of the prophetic mediums in the course of his messages. In today’s chapter, God tells Ezekiel that his very life is going to become a living message and metaphor for God’s people. God informs Zeke that his wife, the delight of his eyes, will be suddenly taken from him. When his wife dies unexpectedly, Ezekiel is instructed NOT to cry, weep or publicly mourn for his wife. God knows that Zeke will be groaning internally, but he is to carry on with his prophetic messages and not let the people see his sadness and grief.
God is creating a living metaphor through Ezekiel’s life experience. Ezekiel is like God. His wife is like the people of Judah who are going to suddenly experience death and be taken away by the Babylonian army. Though groaning inside, God will not openly mourn this event. It is an act of judgement brought on by the corporate sins of the nation.
Today, I am fascinated by the thought of our very lives as word pictures of God’s grace, judgement, salvation, and redemption. While the prophets occupied a very specific time, place and purpose in the Great Story, God continues to use the same prophetic mediums in different ways through those called and gifted in such ways. What message and word picture does my life convey? How does my life convey different messages to different people, and is the message dependent on the person peering at it?