The Death of Ezekiel’s Wife
Open Your Bible
Ezekiel 23:28-49, Ezekiel 24:1-27, Matthew 1:21-23
The call to follow God always comes at a cost, but the hope of the gospel is that suffering as a follower of God is not in vain.
Ezekiel knew all too well the cost of following the God of Israel. At a time when he should have been in the midst of his priestly career, he was heralding hard truths to hard-hearted people who continued to tune him out. However, as we see in our text today, Ezekiel would yet pay an even higher cost of obedience.
He would lose his wife as another symbolic act for the ever-rebellious Israelites. But, even in the midst of his greatest loss, he wasn’t allowed to express that grief to others.
Can you imagine? The person you love most is taken from you, and you are not allowed to grieve? Not allowed to express the all-consuming pain you feel? No funeral. No mourning rights. No outward expression of grief. No meal trains. No days off. No sense of closure. Quiet groans were all Ezekiel was allowed. He had to get up and get dressed as if it were an ordinary day.
What a sleepless and sorrowful night that must’ve been. Even knowing the higher call and greater purpose of it all, the sting was no less painful. The delight of his eyes was gone in an instant (Ezekiel 24:16). Yet, even amid such pain, Ezekiel obeyed.
“So you will be a sign for them, and they will know that I am the LORD.” —Ezekiel 24:27
It was, of course, all pointing to God, so that in the midst of Judah’s loss, they would know and cling to the Lord. Their beloved temple would be destroyed—their source of pride and joy. But the people were putting more weight on the place and practices (and not all of them holy) than on God. Yet, they wouldn’t be free to lament because they would immediately be taken into captivity.
Sadly, we too are just as prone to make idols out of our religion—elevating a certain place, worship style, or tradition over and above God’s presence. We can cherish symbols and circumstances above the Lord our God.
Yet, Ezekiel’s suffering spoke of a much greater story that God was weaving together. He was calling His people back to Himself—and it would cost them everything. But the cost of being far from God will always be greater. God never promised His children a life free from suffering, but He does use it for good. It’s often in the moments of our greatest loss and pain that we are reminded of the hope we need beyond this world—that what we need more than any outward comforts or circumstances is the presence of God. The season of Lent offers us this space to cling fully to God over and above the things of the world.
Even at the destruction of His house, God would use Ezekiel to speak a message of hope that was coming for Israel. It reached far beyond their restoration from exile to their restoration from sin, when God would put on flesh, coming in the form of a man. It would be through this hope—Jesus Christ—that His people would know that He is forever and always—God with us (Matthew 1:21–23).