Facing Defeat

KEY VERSE: “Thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it.” —Ezekiel 4:7


AGAIN AND AGAIN God sent his prophets to warn the people of Israel. These messengers told them that they must turn from their sinful ways or face God’s judgment. Israel, although hearing the message, evidently did not believe that God would actually allow harm to befall the royal city of Jerusalem. “Surely God will protect us,” must have been their thought. Although God did desire to protect them and continue to lead them as his people, their continuing resistance to correction and increasing hardness of heart left God with no choice but to take decisive action. It was in keeping with God’s will that the Babylonians were now poised to attack both Israel and Judah, and along with this to destroy their great city.

God’s time clock was steadily ticking off the countdown to destruction. At this point, further prophetic warnings would be to no avail, but God did have a role for the prophet to play. Ezekiel was commanded to illustrate the fate of Jerusalem in pictures and symbolic actions. In verses 1-3, God tells Ezekiel to etch, or sculpt, on a damp mud brick a picture of Jerusalem under siege. This picture was also to include the encampments and equipment of the attacking army. The prophet was further told to take an iron pan—probably a cooking griddle—and to set it between him and this portrayal of the city under attack. He was instructed to “set thy face against it” (vs. 3), showing God’s part in the coming destruction.

God then gave the prophet further instructions. He was told to lie first on his left side, then on his right, for three hundred ninety days, and again forty days, respectively, as an indication of the length of punishment first for Israel, the ten tribe kingdom, and then Judah, the two-tribe kingdom. (vss. 4-8) God said he would bind the prophet with cords so that he could not turn from one side to the other until those days were accomplished. This showed that once Israel’s and Judah’s punishment would begin it would not end until God’s appointed time. Moreover, God called upon Ezekiel to “bear their iniquity”.—vs. 4

Ezekiel here is called to assume both his prophetic role and his priestly role, by prophesying against the city, and by bearing the guilt of the people before God. How beautifully this foreshadowed the fact that Jesus would, as a faithful High Priest, bear the sins of the people—not only of the Jews, but of all mankind. The Prophet Isaiah speaks of this work that Jesus would accomplish: “The Lord hath laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.”—Isa. 53:6

God continued his instructions to Ezekiel in verses 9-13. He pointed out the fact that before their ultimate defeat the people would experience severe hardship in acquiring bread.

Bread is used in the Scriptures to picture truth. Truth was certainly in short supply in Ezekiel’s day. This but foreshadowed the time at the end of this present evil world when the truth, the faith, would be scarcely found in the earth. Jesus spoke of the time of his Second Advent and said, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find [the] faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) At this time, too, there will be a “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.”—Dan. 12:1

Dawn Bible Students Association
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