Oh, that crazy Ezekiel!
I am lecturing on Ezekiel tomorrow and have thus been reading through the book again. What has struck me, as it always does, is the utter oddity of the book. If ever a prophet should see a shrink, it seems to be Ezekiel.
One of the things I find most interesting, though, are his bizarre prophetic sign-acts. Sign-acts refer to the way the prophet embodies and dramatizes a particular prophetic message. Ezekiel has some of the best sign-acts (Isaiah running around naked in Isa 20 is a close second). But for those who may not recall, here are a few of Ezekiel’s sign-acts . . .
*Lying on his side for a number of days, then switching to the other side, symbolic of the number of years of exile for both Israel and Judah (4:4-8)
*Cooking food over human excrement, symbolizing that in exile the people will eat ‘unclean’ food (4:9-15)
*Cutting, weighing, binding, and burning his own hair, symbolizing those who will be taken away, the remnant, etc. (5:1-4)
*Packing his luggage for exile; this scene is particularly humorous to me. I can just see the prophet hauling a number of bags out saying “let’s get going to exile, folks!” (12:1-7)
*God commands him not to mourn or weep over his wife’s death, symbolizing that God will not mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and/or the Temple (24:15-27).
I do not mean in any way to trivialize the prophet, his message, or the immediate historical circumstances of the time. But I always find Ezekiel to me an entertaining read, one that always brings a bit of a smile to my face.
I haven’t named all his sign-acts. Are there others that stand out to you all? From Ezekiel? Other prophets?