“Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead; bind your turban on your head, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man's bread of sorrow’. So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 24:15-18).
Has God ever given you a command to follow that you thought was too difficult to obey? When I get to thinking like this, I am reminded what God told Ezekiel to do in the opening verses above. God told Ezekiel that Ezekiel’s wife (i.e. the “desire of your eyes”) would die and that Ezekiel would not be allowed to weep for her (Ezekiel 24:16). Why would God command such a thing?
At the beginning of the 24th chapter of Ezekiel, we learn that the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians had begun (Ezekiel 24:1-2). God was executing His final judgment upon His own people because of their sins: “ ‘I, the Lord, have spoken it; It shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back, nor will I spare, nor will I relent; according to your ways and according to your deeds they will judge you,’ says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 24:14).
In destroying Jerusalem, the Temple at Jerusalem would be destroyed as well. For the Jews in Babylon to whom Ezekiel had been ministering, the Temple, as well as their children whom they had left back in Jerusalem, had been precious in their eyes. These had been the “desire of their eyes” and God was taking them away in His terrible Judgment upon Jerusalem. When asked why Ezekiel was not mourning at the death of his wife, through Ezekiel God states, “'Behold, I will profane My sanctuary, your arrogant boast, the desire of your eyes, the delight of your soul; and your sons and daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your lips nor eat man's bread of sorrow. Your turbans shall be on your heads and your sandals on your feet; you shall neither mourn nor weep, but you shall pine away in your iniquities and mourn with one another. Thus Ezekiel is a sign to you; according to all that he has done you shall do; and when this comes, you shall know that I am the Lord God” (Ezekiel 24:21-24).
At the beginning of his ministry, God had told Ezekiel, “I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.' He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:26-27). Up until this point in his ministry, Ezekiel had been able to speak only when the Lord opened his mouth. Following the death of his wife, and upon hearing the news of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, Ezekiel’s tongue will be loosed (Ezekiel 24:25-27).
God had taken Ezekiel’s wife as a sign of the terrible pain the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, as well as the loss of their own children back in Jerusalem, would have upon these rebellious Jews in Babylon. These events remind me of the how I should be fearful of sinning against God and having to face His terrible judgment. Today, I will strive to live according to God’s Will for my life so I can rejoice in His goodness and avoid the severity of His judgment because of my sins.
“Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).