Chapter 24:15-18 (ESV) - The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded.
Question to consider: Despite this shocking revelation from God, what was Ezekiel’s reaction?
The world would have us believe that marriage is merely an antiquated social construct that can be redefined to be whatever we desire or sidestepped altogether for people to be able to enjoy multiple, temporary arrangements that provide personal happiness without any real attachment or devotion to one another. People have even chosen to write their own vows which may sound romantic but are not rooted in anything profound or self-sacrificing.
However, marriage is one of the first and most universal covenantal bonds that God created at the beginning of our existence, and until the rebellion of Adam and Eve, was designed to be everlasting. We learned from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that marriage ultimately was a profound mystery that embodied Christ’s relationship with the church. (Ephesians 5:32) We also have learned from Ezekiel that God saw Israel as His wife who left her covenantal vows to give herself to the gods of the nations.
The prophets, who were tasked with making the heart of God known to the people, experienced tremendous heartbreak in regard to marriage. Hosea was given a wayward wife whom he continually forgave and supported, and he was to give his children prophetic names that reflected the judgment coming upon Judah. Jeremiah was told he would not even have a wife and children, for God’s judgment was coming upon that generation (Jeremiah 16:1-4).
The most difficult task given to any prophet was the one given to Ezekiel in today’s passage, for he was to announce the coming and sudden death of his beloved wife to the people the morning before it came to pass, and then he was not allowed to mourn publicly for her. He was to instead dress as normal and go about his day in silence while the people were left to wonder why.
Although we may recoil in horror at the notion that Ezekiel would be given such a task, it’s important to note that Ezekiel did not curse God for taking his wife but obediently carried out God’s prophetic message to the people. First and foremost, Ezekiel knew that his wife had not been destroyed but went to be with the God whom she and he loved. Secondly, Ezekiel looked to the Lord for his comfort and strength (who knew more than anyone the loss he experienced) rather than a people who had prostituted themselves out to the gods of the nations.
Dear heavenly father, may we also find our comfort and strength in You and realize that the things of this world pale in comparison to knowing and being known by Christ Jesus. As difficult as it is to see and experience death in this world, help us to set our eyes on the life that is to come. Amen.