Ezekiel 24:15-18  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 the lower part of your face 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.

It is hard for us to imagine how devastating the news was to the Jews concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  By destroying these in such a brutal and sacrilegious way, the Babylonians struck at the very heart of Israel’s religious life – these ‘icons’ were their identity, what made them who they were (cf. Psalm 48:8-14 – “As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure for ever. Selah  Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love [‘ches-ed’].  Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness.  Mount Zion rejoices, the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgements.  Walk about Zion, go round her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation.  For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end”).

Sadly, although their actual lifestyle and practice marginalised and contradicted their religious belief, they remained totally insensitive to this reality, and not even Ezekiel’s powerful words from God could penetrate their hearts of stone.  So God removed the prophet’s ability to communicate by speech (3:26) and required him, instead, to act out the message in parables.

In the end, the situation became so desperate that nothing short of the death of Ezekiel’s cherished wife, and the subsequent requirement imposed upon him not to mourn publicly for her, would make them realise that the loss of their City and centre of worship was actually the deliberate action of the LORD HIMSELF!

 God would show them that their mourning for Jerusalem was a sham in the light of their everyday behaviour!  As WE read God’s Word each day, and sit under the regular preaching of it, are WE letting it penetrate OUR hearts and mould our conduct?  Are there ‘spiritual’ things we THINK we ‘cherish’ while our lives prove otherwise?

– Bruce Christian