Prophet Ezekiel's Story
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18. Prophet Ezekiel's Story

With Dramatic Actions

John the BaptistThe Prophet Ezekiel's story is reinforced and interpreted by dramatic actions. The Lord wanted Ezekiel (BC c622-c569) whose name means "God strengthens" and who died in BC 569 to tell the people that Jerusalem is going to be besieged. To illustrate his story, Ezekiel is instructed to take a block of clay, scratch lines on it to represent the city of Jerusalem and then lay down next to it, first lying on one side and then the other to represent a besieging army. He watched the block of clay intently, shaking his fist and prophesying against it. He was commanded in Ezekiel 4.1-5.17 "Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Then lay siege to it: Erect siegeworks against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. 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." As a result, Ezekiel shaved off his beard, burned part of the hair and foretold what would happen!

Message More Real

Prophet EzekielIn this story, drama makes the message more real. On one occasion, I was involved in a prison mission at an open prison in Blackpool in Lancashire, England. The most memorable and vivid event for me was an evening service in the Chapel of Christ the Carpenter in the prison. The prison chapel was full, which is not unusual in a prison where anything to break the monotony was welcome, and in came one of the team members, Captain Dennis Oxley, shattering the silence by shouting at the top of his very loud voice, "REPENT, REPENT, REPENT!" Not only that but he also sprinkled everyone within hurling distance with a wet mop! The looks of astonishment turned into curiosity as the rest of the story of John the Baptist unfolded. Like Ezekiel, Dennis's action added to the impact of his message.✞

Prophet Nathan Confronts

Eagle in flightThe prophet Nathan confronts David with a parable about a lamb and then explains what the parable meant and David's sinful treatment of Bathsheba. Ezekiel, like the prophet Nathan, tells a parable or a lovely story with a hidden meaning in Ezekiel 17.3-4 and says, "Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar, he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders."'" You could sense with the audience the excitement building as the tale unfolds. Then the prophet adds in Ezekiel 17.11-12, "Then the word of the Lord came to me: "Say to this rebellious people, 'Do you not know what these things mean?' Say to them..." and so the message is shared. Eagles and cedar trees may not be quite as familiar to today's audiences but they might appreciate Toyota cars and raised ranch style homes better. Perhaps the most moving of all parables is told by the prophet "Nathan" whose name is derived from the Hebrew verb meaning "gave" or "he has given" or "he will give." Nathan came to David in 2 Samuel 12.1-3, "The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, 'There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.'" The scene is set with a story but what does the parable mean?

True Evangelistic Style

Lamb in GrassThe prophet Nathan confronts David in true evangelistic style with a parable about Bathsheba the wife of David's officer Uriah. This is the story of a pet lamb. The prophet Nathan and David have a confrontation over David's sinful treatment. King David is not approached directly but indirectly by the prophet and the king is spellbound by the story that Nathan spins about the pet lamb. The wealthy landowner is the rich man in the story in 2 Samuel 12 "Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him." He snatched a lamb which was almost a family pet from a poor defenseless servant and slaughtered it for a banquet treat for a visitor. By this time, King David burned with anger and felt that Nathan's story sounded so realistic that it must be true and vowed revenge upon this greedy and cruel overseer. He said, "I swear by the living Lord that the man who did this ought to die!" At this point, the prophet Nathan cleverly makes his application in a true evangelistic style. "You are that man!" It hits its mark, the accusation succeeds totally. In a moment of truth, David accepts from Nathan what he could not have been told straightforwardly. Today's evangelists should seek to hit their mark similarly. Parables are a good way to achieve that.

"Prophet Ezekiel's Story"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2019

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