Our security rests not in our grip on him
but his grip on us.
— Victor Shepherd (Seasons of Grace)
Jesus accomplished a lot of his teaching—especially to the crowds—by using parables. He would tell a story about some ordinary event in order to teach a more profound truth.
Once Ezekiel returned from his vision of Jerusalem, God called him to enact a parable.
. . .
God told Ezekiel to do five things in the sight of the exiles:
- Pack up an exile’s bag. This bag would be carried by someone fleeing their land. According to Rabbi Ammi, there were three items in the bag: a lamp, a plate, and a sleeping mat. Rabbi Hiyya b. Abba replaced the lamp with a skin container.
- Carry the bag out of his house in the sight of the exiles, and set it down.
- Dig a hole in the wall of his house, from the outside in.
- Grab the bag (presumably bring it back inside), and carry it out through the hole. Carry it with a blindfold on into the sunset.
- Explain the meaning of your actions to the people next morning.
Ezekiel obeyed. He must have attracted a lot of attention as he mutely obeyed God that first day. The next morning, people were anxious to find out what he was trying to do.
In packing the exile’s bag, he symbolized what the prince in Jerusalem would do when the invading armies pressed in on Jerusalem. He will dig a hole in the wall, and try to escape his invaders. He will be caught, however, and blindfolded—unable to see his land again.
. . .
There are a number of references to sight in this passage. The first concerns the exiles in Babylon. They “have eyes to see but do not see” (12:2, NRSV) because they are rebellious and stubborn. If they were tempted towards pride because of the prophecy of hope in chapter 11, this would quickly put it to rest. It is God’s mercy alone that has preserved them: they are still stubborn.
Ezekiel blindfolded himself at God’s command, to show that the prince in Jerusalem would also lose his ability to see the land forever. Parables use ordinary events to teach about deeper things. Here, the prince’s physical blindfolding represents the spiritual blindness of the Israelites as a whole.
. . .
Lord God, help us to see what we need to—not just what we want to. Unbind the spiritual blindfolds from us, so we might see your truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.