August 31, 2021
"The Word of the Lord came to me: ‘Human being, with a single blow I am about to deprive you of the delight of your eyes. But you are not to lament..."
“The Word of the Lord came to me: ‘Human being, with a single blow I am about to deprive you of the delight of your eyes. But you are not to lament, weep, or let your tears run down. Sigh silently, don’t observe mourning for the dead, bind your turban on your head, put your sandals on your feet; don’t cover your upper lip, and don’t eat the food people prepare for mourners.’ I spoke to the people in the morning and that evening, my wife died. So I did the following mourning as I had been ordered.” Ezekiel 24:15-18
Covenant-breakers can expect the curses of the covenant upon them. That is what happened to God’s people in Ezekiel’s day. In a day of compromise by false ecumenism, secularism, and ritual formality, it is a lesson that today’s Church-at-large needs to hear. It is not a popular message, and anyone who proclaims it will be as despised as any of the ancient prophets was. But we need to be as faithful as Ezekiel was. His testimony, his willingness to subject his most sensitive feelings in submission to the Lord’s overall purpose, is a singular mark of his discipleship.
During the time of today’s chapter is an incident that is undoubtedly one of the saddest in Scripture. Ezekiel’s wife dies, and the Lord commands the prophet to use her death (by his response) as an illustration to the exiles of how they are to respond to what is going to take place in Jerusalem. Ezekiel was to hide his grief and show no mourning.
Many readers have considered Ezekiel weak or inhumane for not mourning. But on the contrary, it is Ezekiel’s strength that allowed him to willingly comply with the Lord’s request. At no point does Ezekiel give way to his feelings, as Jeremiah does time and again. We can identify with Jeremiah’s sense of frustration, but because our present generation dislikes authority and absolutes, Ezekiel comes off as aloof and bland. Yet, the greatness of Ezekiel’s testimony lies in the fact that, for God’s Word to be magnified, Ezekiel himself must hide behind it entirely.
Our generation seems preoccupied with not offending people. In many Christian circles, the self-imposed prerequisite that we are sensitive to the feelings of others and “politically correct” completely neutralizes the restorative message of God’s Word. Ezekiel was commanded to divorce himself from emotions, even toward his beloved wife. And therein lies the real gravity of Chapter 24: God’s holiness is paramount, and His empathy toward His “bride” is completely in accordance with that holiness.
When we attach the 1st half of chapter 24 with the 2nd, we clearly see that God’s “burning-away” of the “dross” within His people must be accomplished without His personal or emotional attachment. Otherwise, judgment will be compromised, and what comes forth from the fire would be less than perfect gold.
Have you ever wondered why God allows difficult times to fall upon “good” people, even His own children? Perhaps, it is because we only judge one another as “good” from a human perspective, while God in His Mercy shows us the “dross” in our lives by turning up the heat.