This week we shall consider an unbelievably sobering event taken out of the Book of Ezekiel from the November 23rd reading in our devotional Bible. God informs Ezekiel, “Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn, and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come.” (Ezekiel 24:16, NASB)
When God’s pronouncement came to pass, the people of Israel reacted with confusion and hostility after Ezekiel’s wife died (24:19). God instructed the prophet not to mourn; no lamenting, weeping or shedding of tears. Obviously, the people noticed Ezekiel’s lack of public grief. They asked him why he didn’t mourn openly over the loss of someone he had noticeably loved so deeply. This, of course, was the response God wanted. Ezekiel explained how his situation foreshadowed theirs. Because the Israelites had forsaken God, the temple (their symbol of national pride) would be destroyed. Naturally, they would want to grieve; yet, as exiles, would not be able to do so.
I cannot fathom such an unbearable assignment. Ezekiel was to function as a human object lesson at the time of the loss of his wife, “the desire of [his] eyes” (Ezekiel 24:16). One can sense the immense weight upon his soul by his cold, numb, and short proclamation, “…in the morning I did as I was commanded” (24:18). Sin had taken God’s people to such a depth, that only this; a picture of the most devastating pain, would get through to their callous hearts.
The temple, once a symbol of the greatness of a people and the centerpiece of the presence of a God who loved them so, would be decimated. Those who assumed that an object of such significance would always be present were gravely mistaken.
What does such a shocking and breathtaking scripture passage say to us today? Do we think of ourselves so highly that we assume things will always be the way they are at present; as if we deserve the things we hold so dear? Do we live our lives in such a way that we disregard the providential hand of God actively guiding and guarding us as we move throughout our days? Do we act as if God does not exist; as if we are the masters of our own universe while breathing the very air He provides without even giving a thought to the reality that eminent death would befall us were He to remove it? Have the things God provides taken precedence over the God who provides those things? Do we engage in activity we know we should not, assuming God’s discipline would never be applied to our lives?
The lesson is crystal clear; the Israelites saw their significance in the temple of their God and had lost the perspective that the “delight of their eyes” was actually supposed to be the God of that temple. Ease had caused them to drift away from the preeminent necessity of God and His truth and they had pursued other gods. Are we guilty of the same mistake? Have other “gods” taken pre-eminence in our eyes? Is our security in our relationships with others; jobs; bank accounts; social status; homes; cars; entertainment?
These words demand serious self-reflection. Are we placing ultimate confidence in something other than the grace and care of God? We must be reminded that God is the only true constant in the universe He has made.