Today I am finishing up the book of Ezekiel. I’ve read it before but it has been years–probably close to a decade. Thus far, he is my favorite of the prophets. I love the way You relate to him, calling him “Son of Man.”
I don’t remember much of the past readings, but today I came across the passage that deeply disturbed me those years ago:
The word of the Lord came to me: 16 d“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. 17 Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. eBind on your turban, and fput your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, gnor eat the bread of men.”18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and hat evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did ias I was commanded.
I remember thinking that this action was particularly cruel. How could You kill the delight of his eyes when he had done so much for You.
You….the Great I AM. A
t 27, I can say that I now see this passage differently. I’ve read the book of Job and everything else in the Old Testament prior to this passage. If I have learned anything it is that You are a gracious, compassion and merciful God. Your ways are much higher than mine and I shall never grasp them. But that doesn’t mean I have to doubt your goodness. Indeed, I can take heart in knowing that You at all times are working for my good and the glory of Your Name.
Ezekiel hadn’t done incredible things for You. You had done incredible things for Ezekiel and all the rest of broken humanity.
I came across this poem by John Piper. How I praise You for that man’s life:
Ezekiel sat stunned and cold.
The word that he had just been told
Converted every large complaint
He ever made into a faint
Concern. No pain would be absurd,
He thought, if this one word
Of God could be withdrawn tonight,
“I would engage in any fight
For your great name, and be a fool
For you, bear any ridicule
In Babylon. If you would spare
Me this, I’ll serve you anywhere.”
Again the voice of God was clear:
“I know that she is far more dear
To you than life, and yet tonight
I strike and take your heart’s delight:
Your wife—at sundown she will die.
And hear my word: You shall not cry.
No tears run down, nor sigh aloud,
No sack, no ash, no mourner’s shroud.
You are a sign for Israel:
Soon messengers will come and tell
Them that Jerusalem is burned,
And everything for which they yearned
Is gone—the apple of their eye;
Nor shall they be allowed to cry,
But only groan beneath the rod.
And know that I the Lord am God!”
Beyond the River Chebar rose
The yellow sun. The cock crows,
Ezekiel makes his silent way
Toward home and ponders what to say
To his dear wife, and if he can.
“A prophet’s not an easy man
To live with, Zeke,” she used to say
And then she’d smile, “But anyway
Much ease can make a woman weak.”
(Nobody else would call him Zeke,
He thought.) Perhaps the pain of all
These years was not just bitter gall.
Perhaps she’s been prepared to hear
This final word and not to fear.
He ate his figs and barley cake
In silence. “Mara, can you take
A walk with me? This morning’s word
Has been the hardest that I’ve heard.”
They walked in silence for an hour,
And then he gathered all his power
And said, “The God of Abraham,
The God who calls himself I AM,
Demands that you must die tonight.”
But Mara’s eyes remained as bright
As ever in her life. “I know,”
She said, “Last night he came to show
Me in a dream.” And then she took
Ezekiel’s hands and said, “The Book,
Remember where we used to read
How God would someday come and lead
Us in the path of endless joy,
And how at last he would destroy
Our blinding sin and let us see
His face in all its majesty?
O dearest Zeke, last night I saw
Another world without a flaw
Beyond what we could ever know,
And I could scarcely wait to go…
O not that I could ever love
You less, but I have seen above
That everything you’ve preached is true.
Weep not, great seer, for me nor you;
I am the proof of all you’ve said;
Tomorrow I will not be dead,
Nor you, and it will not be long
Till you have joined the endless song.
Press on, Ezekiel, rejoice
With heart and soul and mighty voice.
Make music to the coming King,
Come walk with me and we will sing.”
So let us join these two and soar
As we light advent candle four.