/ Jeffrey A Stivason

Ezekiel's Wife

There is one story in the whole Bible that I still find staggering.  It’s the story of the death of Ezekiel’s wife (Ezekiel 24:15-27). One day the prophet woke up to the Word of the Lord. It came to him as it had come to him before. The Word was simple. The prophet did not need a Hebrew grammar or lexicon to understand. The Lord said, “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” (Ez. 24:16). The words were numbingly clear.

As I thought about these words, I thought back to Ezekiel’s call. The Lord said to him, among other things, speaking of house of Israel, “Be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words…. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed by their looks, for they are a rebellious house” (Ez. 2:6). And then in verse 8 the Lord said, “But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house.” I can only imagine Ezekiel. Perhaps the Word of the Lord frightened him more than all of the words of the house of Israel.

It was in chapter four that the Lord told him to symbolize the destruction of Jerusalem by laying on his left side for 390 days! That’s more than a year! And then, once that was completed the Word of the Lord came to him again commanding him to lay on his right side for another forty days! How could the prophet not tremble at the Word of the Lord? But during those days, the delight of Ezekiel’s eyes, most likely, ministered to him. I can imagine his wife bringing him food and encouraging him with, of all things, the Word of the Lord.

We don’t know her, but since God described her as the “delight of your eyes,” one can only suspect that she was indeed a delight. The word is used in a variety of places to describe precious and good things. Not the least of which, it is used to describe the Temple and its treasures. Ezekiel had found a good thing and had obtained the favor of the Lord. And now, she would be, or so it seemed, prematurely taken from him. His remaining ministry would be carried out alone.

I have wondered if Ezekiel was ever tempted to be angry or bitter with the people of Israel, after all there is a real sense in which his loss was a sign because of them and to them. Had they been faithful they would not have needed a sign. I wonder if any repentant Israelite ever came to the prophet afterward with tears of sorrow.  But as soon as that thought came to me, I remembered again the call of Ezekiel, “Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”  I wonder if these words of his call came to the prophet the morning he heard that his wife would be taken from him.  

I also wonder what that evening was like in the prophet’s house. I wonder if he told his wife about the prophecy. If he did, I wonder if they embraced and wept together before the day came when he would not be able to shed a tear in the presence of the rebellious house of Israel.  Even if they did, and I can’t imagine otherwise, I can only think that these determined and faithful believers, through tear filled eyes, gave themselves first to the Lord before each other.

But I can also imagine how Ezekiel must have felt when he saw the climactic vision of the temple in Ezekiel 40-48. How much of the incarnation did the prophet understand as he watched the glory of the Lord fill the temple? Surely, he understood that the year of freedom was coming. I can’t help but think, like Abraham, he saw Jesus’ day and was glad, for the prophet knew that on the day of consummation, he would see his Lord and God. And he would also see his wife. And on that day, the prophet understood that his heavenly Father would lift his chin and wipe his eyes (Rev. 21:4). Amen.  

Jeffrey A Stivason

Jeffrey A Stivason

Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor (Grace RPC, graceingibsonia.org) and NT professor at RPTS in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also editor at placefortruth.com.

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