Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Jeremiah Wears an Ox Yoke
Questions & Observations
Q. (Ezekiel 3:24, 4:4-7, 12): This isn’t a literal description right? Ezekiel’s hands weren’t really tied so he couldn’t move? It gets worse in Ch. 4. Why such harsh treatment for someone who is to spread God’s messages? And dung for fuel to bake his bread. This is unbearable!
A. I believe that the being tied was symbolic. It did not imply that he could not move, but should be understood as God restricting his movements metaphorically. As to the rest of the requirements, it appears that God meant this literally as he made provision for Ezekiel’s needs, though scantily, of food and shelter. The idea here is that Ezekiel will act out the siege that is befalling Jerusalem on various levels: being trapped within the “walls,” given meager rations, and forced to improvise fuel. Dried manure was commonly used as fuel in this era, and is still used in parts of the world today. I cannot imagine it is a pleasant fuel to use, but I believe that that was an intentional choice on God’s part: the unpleasantness was meant to be part of the symbolic penance.
Q. (4:5-6): What is the significance of the length of time Ezekiel was required to rest on his left and then right side?
A. Based upon the model he built, having Ezekiel lie on his left side would have meant he was on the “north” side of Jerusalem, which would have symbolized Israel. Having him lay on his right side would have caused him to be on the south side, representing Judah and its sins. The 390 years appears to be the length of time that has taken place since Solomon’s turning away from God, and all the Northern kings who followed down this path away from God. The 40 years is a bit trickier, but is probably a reference to Manasseh’s long reign before his repentance.
Q. (Jeremiah 28:1-17): Why were there false prophets? Were they appointed by the king to say what he wants them to say much like the king creates man-made idols to help him in the way he wants help?
A. That’s one possible explanation. Another is that this man thought he was hearing from God but was simply mistaken as Jeremiah is told. Telling people what they want to hear is surely a way to make oneself popular, so perhaps this man became a “prophet” because he liked being the center of attention for sharing positive messages that the king and others would have liked to hear. Those are my guesses.