If you’ve noticed, my blog posts have fallen by the wayside this year. In January, I began a chronological read through the Bible and made a commitment to myself to post daily on Facebook a short devotional thought from what I read that day (although the word “short” might be an overstatement, depending on how much the reader likes to read!).
I’ve had requests from people who are not on Facebook to receive those daily posts, so I’ve decided for the rest of the year, I will also post those thoughts here on my blog. The danger is that some of you who follow might not want a daily blog post in your inbox. If that’s the case, please feel free to just skip over it and hopefully, you will not un-subscribe! At the end of the year, I will go back to posting once or twice a week.
So, without further introduction, here is today’s post. You’re picking up in the major prophets section of scripture; maybe not the easiest portion to read, but definitely a part of the Bible we need to consider just as important as our beloved New Testament!
Has God ever asked you to do something, or called you to walk through a circumstance that you just couldn’t understand its purpose? Even to the point that it seemed cruel to ask you to do it?
In today’s read of Ezekiel 24, God asks a very great sacrifice of his faithful prophet. He tells Ezekiel that his wife is going to die; in fact, He says clearly, “I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow.” His wife’s death was going to serve God’s purpose, and Ezekiel was to obey a very strange request…he was not to mourn her death but to put on garments of celebration (put on your turban and put your shoes on your feet). And so, it is fulfilled, just as God said. Ezekiel’s wife dies, and he does not mourn.
God’s purpose was a lesson for the exiles in Babylon, revealing the hardness of their heart. He is getting ready to take something from them that was their pride and joy, the delight of their soul, the Temple. Nebuchadnezzar has already laid siege to the city of Jerusalem and in just a couple of years, he will destroy this beautiful building, the center of their worship. But instead of mourning its loss, the exiles will not even blink. They will go on in their iniquities and complain about their captivity. The loss of something precious, something that represents their relationship to God, will not move their heart. Ezekiel’s wife’s death and his abstinence from mourning is a sign of what will happen. Of course, the people don’t believe it, but it will happen just as God said, and when it does, they will remember this sign and God says they will “know that I am the Lord.”
From God’s perspective, and we would believe from Ezekiel’s perspective as well, death was not an end, but graduation into the presence of God. It was a reward. It was the ultimate victory. But it is also a reminder of sin…the sin of Adam & Eve that brought death into the world, and our own sin which sends us to eternal spiritual death away from God in the pain and torment of hell. It is a reminder that we face a battle we can never win in our own strength or our own good works. It is the visible, tangible “elephant in the room” that the atheist, the agnostic, and the apostate can’t get around…death comes for us all, and only God can rescue us from it.
Serving God often means we must be willing to give up something we love in obedience to His higher and greater purposes. Ezekiel was able to obey God and release his wife into God’s care without mourning her death because he would meet her again. The opportunity for his people to repent and recognize God was far more important; the issue of physical death had been settled by his faith in God, so it was not too great a sacrifice. But how about you? Are you able to rejoice even in the death of a loved one, as a testimony to who God is? Has the cause of your own impending death…the sinful condition of your soul…been dealt with at the cross? If it has, rejoice. Like Ezekiel’s wife, death is just a steppingstone into the arms of God. But if it hasn’t, I urge you to consider talking to God about it. It is the final enemy which you cannot beat.