Like other prophets, Ezekiel often acts out his messages in bizarre ways. These chapters contain a series of prophetic actions that communicate God’s message in powerful, nonverbal ways. By dramatizing God’s plan before an audience, a prophet is better able to change the people’s perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors because they can see an outcome instead of just imagining it.
4 Eternal One: Now, son of man, put a brick in front of you, and draw a picture of the city of Jerusalem on it. 2 Then lay siege against it: build a wall around it and place a siege ramp against it; prepare to attack it by placing tiny battering rams and pitching tiny camps around it. 3 Then take an iron pan and put it between you and the city to represent the iron wall My people have put between them and Me. Turn your face toward it to show that Jerusalem will be under siege. This will be a sign to the people of Israel.
4 Then lie down on your left side, facing the Jerusalem brick, and place all of Israel’s sins on you. You are to carry their sins for as long as you lie on your left side. 5 I have decided you will represent the carrying of sins the exact number of days as the years of their sin. For 390 days, you will carry the wickedness of Israel’s Northern Kingdom. 6 After you have completed this, lie down again, this time on your right side. While you lie down on your right side, you carry the sins of the people of the Southern Kingdom, Judah. This time, you are to lie on your right side for 40 days, one day for each year of their wickedness. 7 Turn your face toward the siege on Jerusalem, and preach to her with raw passion, with your arm bared ready to strike. 8 I will see that you are tied up with ropes so that you cannot turn from side to side or move until the days of your siege are completed.
9 Then take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; store them together in one crock; use them to make bread for yourself during the siege. Eat the bread during the 390 days you are lying on your left side. 10 Eat no more than 8 ounces of bread per day, and eat your portion at set times each day. 11 Drink no more than 11 ounces of water each day, and drink it at designated times. 12 Eat the bread in the same manner you would eat a barley cake. Let the people see you bake it, and use human excrement instead of animal dung as fuel. 13 This is exactly what will happen to the people of Israel. They will be forced to eat their bread defiled and impure when I drive them to other nations.
Ezekiel: 14 Never, Eternal Lord! I have never defiled myself in such a way. Since childhood, I have never eaten anything that is impure—nothing diseased or ripped apart by wild animals.[a] Not a morsel of impure meat has ever been in my mouth.
Eternal One: 15 All right then, I’ll let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.
16-17 Son of man, I am going to cut off the food supply from Jerusalem. The people will slowly starve, living off minimal rations of food and water. As they eat their morsels of bread and drink their minimal ration of water, they will be constantly worrying about what they will eat and drink the next day. When bread and water become more and more scarce, everyone will look at each other in horror. They will slowly waste away beneath the weight of their sins.