I continue my read through Ezekiel, now describing the loss of his wife as a requirement of God. As the writer, R.C Sproul states below, “the covenant community’s refusal to believe that the Lord would let Jerusalem fall was a desperate situation, and desperate times required desperate measures.”
“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”
– Ezekiel 24:15–27
“Those whom the Lord calls to ministry often must give up things that they would ordinarily hold dear. Jesus was called to lay down His life and suffer the divine curse on sin (Gal. 3:10–14). Ezekiel suffered the loss of his wife. God came to the prophet and told him his wife was going to die but that he should not engage in any of the customary mourning practices, which would have involved wearing sackcloth, lying on the ground, throwing ashes on one’s head, and so on. Instead, he was to don a turban, that is, wear the garments of celebration (Ezek. 24:15–18). This was a great loss indeed to the prophet, for the Lord refers to her as the delight of Ezekiel’s eyes. To not mourn for her would be a great sacrifice for him and cause great pain to his heart in addition to her death.
Such a death seems to be a drastic, almost “desperate” step for the Lord to take to get His point across. Of course, in reality, God never finds Himself in a desperate situation. But from a human perspective, the covenant community’s refusal to believe that the Lord would let Jerusalem fall was a desperate situation, and desperate times required desperate measures. The death of Ezekiel’s wife prefigured the loss of the temple, which was “the delight of [the Jews’] eyes.” God strove to make His intent clear so that the people would have no excuse. Despite the hardship in the loss of Ezekiel’s wife and temple, however, all would be for the good of Israel (vv. 19–27). Through the trouble, the people would come to know that He is the Lord.”1
Ezekiel was in the uncomfortable position of speaking out against the leadership of Israel and the temple, at a time when atrocities were being committed both upon Israel and by Israel. We Americans seem also to be in desperate times as a nation and for sure within the churches of America.
Our tax dollars provide the bombs and high tech drones that pound communities in other lands; weapons that seem justifiable as they strike with accuracy upon the world’s enemies. Yet, the same inflict tremendous collateral damage upon the innocent. Meanwhile in our own nation, we stand stubbornly divided as we continue to wrestle with the deep sin of racism. Our churches, though in demise, remain mostly silent, fearful of upsetting their support. Comfortable aiding a few homeless, we leave weightier matters to the politicians and race baiters on both sides of the aisle within our dysfunctional government.
Have I too so washed my hands of individual responsibility for our nation and our national institutions? Is this just too massive a task to tackle, and still keep things afloat personally? Am I foolish enough to believe these matters won’t eventually impact our own homes and families in the same manner as those nations we so easily bomb?
Until now, radical religious leaders have marketed our satanic immorality to desperate and illiterate people. Soliciting the suffering, those who will wear bombs on their bodies in hope that seconds from detonation they too might know the lavish lifestyle purported to be awaiting the “righteous.” However, now among their ranks are those more intellectual, perhaps power hungry for the voice lost to big government, as Americans and Brits now seem to be among the brutal forces of Jihad!
I am struggling with how little I am doing beyond holding on to my own sanity and diminishing income as I age. When I pray for next steps or, attempt to voice my innermost thoughts, my body reminds me that it no longer possesses the strength for the battles that my words might precipitate. Does that mean I should remain quite, attempting to be politically correct in case I might once more desire public office? I was never that way before I was elected. Perhaps I have come to the point described by Jesus, as having lost my savor, no longer providing sufficient salt to the system, worthy only for the dung heap. The term politically polite came to my mind this past week as I spoke with a friend regarding Ferguson.
What if this now familiar angst is only the surface emotion of some new calling that once stepped into, the strength for this body then emerges? Shall I avoid the loneliness of change, succumbing to silence and retirement, leaving the weightier matters to another generation? What if this feeling of personal brokenness is in fact a transformational necessity, some precursor to a call not yet delivered, though nothing as clean and well received as I might have desired!