The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. Then the people asked me, “Won’t you tell us what these things have to do with us? Why are you acting like this?” So I said to them, “The word of the Lord came to me: Say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to desecrate my sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection. The sons and daughters you left behind will fall by the sword. And you will do as I have done. You will not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners. You will keep your turbans on your heads and your sandals on your feet. You will not mourn or weep but will waste away because of your sins and groan among yourselves. Ezekiel will be a sign to you; you will do just as he has done. When this happens, you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord .’ “And you, son of man, on the day I take away their stronghold, their joy and glory, the delight of their eyes, their heart’s desire, and their sons and daughters as well— on that day a fugitive will come to tell you the news. At that time your mouth will be opened; you will speak with him and will no longer be silent. So you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the Lord .” – Ezekiel 24:15-27
God is sharing a personal prophecy with Ezekiel in this passage. He is predicting the death of a very important person, his wife – “the delight of your eyes”. This is likely to be a rough bit of water and God wants Ezekiel to be ready. The water reference is to tears, samples of our souls, as we will see this is something God directs Ezekiel not to shed.
This must have been a hard prophecy to hear for Ezekiel – on par with some of the things Job went through as he faced wave upon wave of calamities in his life. God also seems to require Ezekiel to “Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead”. So not only is he going to lose his wife, but he cannot even be sad about it. This teaching is right up there with some of Jesus’ teachings in the sermon on the mount in terms of level of difficulty, both to understand and to do.
It sounds like this passage is predicting the “death” of something very dear to the people of Israel, presumably the temple. Why would God remove Ezekiel’s wife and the temple? I think the answer lies near the middle of the passage, when God directs Ezekiel to tell the people, “I am about to desecrate my sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection“. The issue, it seems, is the posture and perspective of the people. God wants to be the object of the people’s affection and the delight of their eyes before all else, even the temple.
The passage ends with an interesting riffle. On the very day that God is to take away their “stronghold, their joy and glory, the delight of their eyes, their heart’s desire, and their sons and daughters as well” God sends a “fugitive”. The fugitive will restore Ezekiel’s voice and share “news” with him. It may be a stretch, but it seems that this part of the passage contains a reflection of Him. The coming “Fugitive” sounds a lot like a young man from Galilee that was a fugitive almost from birth (Matthew 2:13). This fugitive will share news, good news?
The take home message for me in this passage is that God wants to be the object of our affection, the delight of our eyes, and the stronghold in which we take pride. He has wanted that from the beginning and He wants the same from us today.
Prayer: God help me to place you first in my life, and make you the delight of my eyes, and the object of my affection.