The Backpack

Ezekiel 12:3–6: “Prepare for yourself baggage for exile and go into exile by day in their sight; . . . Perhaps they will understand though they are a rebellious house. Bring your baggage out by day in their sight, as baggage for exile. Then you will go out at evening in their sight, as those going into exile. Dig a hole in the wall in their sight and go out through it. Load the baggage on your shoulder in their sight and carry it out in the dark.”

Observation: These verses portray the sign of the prophet’s baggage. God had Ezekiel shift from verbal communication to a one-man play depicting the coming exile of Judah. Everyone from the king and false prophets down to the lowliest residents were to see this pantomime and take seriously the need to repent in the face of approaching exile.

Application: What a creative God! When words fail, even His words, He is willing to paint a picture. Ezekiel was to act out the trip into exile by carrying only what he could fit into his backpack. Imagine escaping ahead of a raging storm with only possessions that could be carried. Countless people have had to do that down through the ages from Ezekiel’s time to refugees barely escaping torrents of winds and flood. 

But this passage could also carry another meaning, one with perhaps even more universal application. Consider the possibility that our very need for exile is because of the baggage we carry. In this sense, baggage becomes not those few precious possessions I was barely able to grab on my way out the door. Baggage would represent all the “stuff” of life I hold too tightly: beliefs, accomplishments, athletic prowess, possessions, things that have walled off my heart from passionate pursuit of Him. Like electrical static that interferes with broadcast reception, so my baggage interferes with my relationship with the only One in the universe who loves me unconditionally.

“Lay it down,” He would say. “Depend upon Me and nothing else. Be led by My Spirit, filled so sufficiently by Him that you have need of nothing else.” While each of us has a backpack whose contents are unique to us individually, the commonality among our loads is this: it will all, in the end, be lost. Moths, rust, locusts, that sort of thing. He calls us to walk voluntarily into the light of His marvelous love with no baggage at all save a heart in hot pursuit of Him.  Ultimately it is the stuff we carry, stuff He never told us to pick up in the first place, that becomes the very reason for exile.

Prayer: Father, what am I carrying that grieves You? What have I picked up that separates me from wholehearted love of Your dear Son? Forgive me for carrying a load You never intended. Restore me to the simplicity of single-minded focus on You. Thank You, Lord.

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