Ezekiel's Object LessonsThen lie on your left side and put the sin of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. 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 house of Israel. (Ezekiel 4:1-3)
We can program computers to respond at our command. We can teach some dogs to obey. People are not so easily taught. People have wills and must choose to submit and to follow instructions. God's children must learn to obey their heavenly Father. Created in His image, they still must make a choice, and God allows them to choose.
Ezekiel was a man of obedience. He chose to obey God. During his ministry, God told Ezekiel to illustrate his messages with dramatic object lessons. Ezekiel was told to demonstrate what he was preaching to the house of Israel so they could see as well as hear what God was saying. Some of the object lessons included (1) lying on his left side for 390 day during which he could eat only one eight-ounce meal a day cooked over manure (Ezekiel 4:4:-17); (2) lying on his right side for 40 days (Ezekiel 4:6); (3) shaving his head and beard and burning the hair (Ezekiel 5:1-4); and (4) showing no sorrow when his beloved wife died (Ezekiel 24:15-18). Ezekiel chose to obey God.
God may not ask you to do anything quite so dramatic or difficult, but if he did, would you do it?
Over and Up
Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. (Ezekiel 18:30)
There are many prepositional expressions about positions. For example, "up, up, and away," "down and out," "up and about," "in and out," and "up and down." The most effective spiritual prepositional expression about one's position is "Over and Up."
Before anyone can accomplish anything, he must move "over" from his sinful ways. Until that step is made, he cannot move "up" to God. There is no such thing as going straight "up, up, and away" to God. Even though you are "up and about" early in the morning and "in and out," during the day, if you do not move "over" into obedience, you will be "up and down" with your mood swings and emotions. And if you are not careful, soon you will be "down and out."
Strive for the ultimate position by moving "over" into the things of God and by moving "up" in your relationship with Him.
Now that you have been informed about "Over and Up" . . .
Dealing With What's You've Been Dealt
Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the Lord, have spoken, and will do it. (Ezekiel 22:14)
It is so amazing how we sometimes think everyone else "has it made" or has been "dealt a better hand." Some of the worse cases of jealousy are not over what people have, but what other people think they have. Even some people think God has favorites because they never hear their friends complain about an illness or financial troubles or misfortunes of any kind. NEWS FLASH: It is not that these people do not encounter problems; they just know how to deal with them differently. They know how to adjust their attitudes and deal with what they have been dealt.
After Jacob wrestled with God, his hip was put out of socket and he limped for the rest of his life. (Genesis 32:22-32) We read nowhere in the Bible that Jacob stopped doing anything because of his hip. Paul is known for having a thorn in his flesh. (2 Corinthians 12:7) That did not stop Paul from going on three missionary journeys, planting many churches, and writing 13 books of the New Testament in addition to preaching the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Jesus never complained about the heavy cross He bore for our sins. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death; even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
We would be much better people if we stopped complaining when we break a fingernail or stump a toe. If we look for a reason to feel sorry for ourselves, Satan will surely give us plenty reasons to do so. We should take the attitude that "I am going to press through and deal with what I've been dealt. My heart will endure and my hands will remain strong."
Knowing that we will see Jesus face to face one day should be enough to help us now to deal with our out-of-socket hips, thorns in our flesh and crosses on our backs.
Consider Yourself Warned
They heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; their blood shall be upon themselves. But if they had taken warning, they would have saved their lives. (Ezekiel 33:5)
A warning is an advance notice of something that is about to happen. As we travel on the highways we see warning signs to alert us that a sharp curve or a hill is ahead. Warning signs alert us to railroad crossings and upcoming stop lights. They alert us of deer crossings, pedestrian crossings and children playing in the neighborhood. We are warned by meteorologists about upcoming storms, hurricanes and tornadoes to the best of their knowledge. We make preparations accordingly.
The Bible warns us of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We don't know when He will return, but we know that He will. We are warned to be prepared whenever that day or night comes. We are warned to be prepared to meet God face to face. We are warned that if we have not accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will live eternally in the lake of fire. Jesus said unto him, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me" (John 14:6).
Consider yourself warned!
A Heart Transplant
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statues and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:27)
God told both the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel that the people needed a heart transplant that only He could give. In order to avoid making the same mistakes of worshipping false gods and going astray, they needed new motivation. Therefore, God had to work radical surgery on them by giving them a new heart and a new spirit. The people would then experience a fundamental transformation from the inside out, and this radical change of heart and spirit would inevitably lead to a life of obedience.
A new heart is needed to serve God effectively. Why? "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure" (Jeremiah 17:9). That means our entire being is corrupt and powerless to change on its own. But God is a heart surgeon who can remove the old stony heart and replace it with a new softer heart with new directions, new desires and new possibilities. Along with the new heart, God promised a matching spirit.
You cannot change from your wicked ways on your own. It's a matter of the heart. A radical transformation cannot take place with a hardened heart. A heart transplant is needed. And the Doctor is in! Schedule your appointment today!