Summary: Ezekiel did not sit hopelessly brooding. He obeyed the imperative call of duty. The blow had fallen, life could never be the same. again, but life had to go on.
"So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded."
Ezekiel was a priest, one who was carried away captive when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem. His ministry was to the Jews who had been carried way captive into Babylon. He was a well-respected priest and prophet.
However, tragedy strikes. Ezekiel’s life is completely changed and his home emptied and wrecked within twelve hours. In the morning he is out proclaiming the Word of God which has been laid upon his heart. A terrific message declaring the hour of Jerusalem’s judgment. He had likely gone out with a heavy heart to deliver his message; and his wife, feeling what it meant to him, must have accompanied him to the door and had spoken such words of comfort and encouragement as even a strong prophet needs.
Often in the Lord’s ministry, the strain of which no man knows save he who is in it, the home serves as a shelter from the storm and a harbor from the tempest. Now, the burden of his message delivered, he turns to his home again and to her who is the desire of his eyes, his homemaker, his helpmeet and comrade; and that happens which makes it home no longer. There it is compressed into a single tine, a tragedy of sorrow. "I spake to the people in the morning, and at even my wife died,"
The word of the Lord came to him
perhaps on his way to or from his prophesying: "Son of man, behold I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke." Suddenly his wife is going to be snatched from him. And God did it, the God whom he had faithfully served, to whose truth he had borne constant witness. There was no accident about it; it was an act of God.
It is clear that even in Old Testament times God did not shield His chosen servants from the sorrows and sufferings that were the common lot of mankind. Christianity is not an insurance society against loss, sickness, or death. The promise even of old time was not, "Thou shall be kept from fire and flood," but "when thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee."
Here is a man preaching in the morning, and the message of God to him is not, "Because thou hast faithfully delivered My word, sorrow and death shall not come near thee," but, "Behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes."
Notice what tells Ezekiel, Jehovah’s faithful messenger and representative (17). Robbed of his dearest earthly comfort, deprived and stricken, the man is bidden to sigh in silence and to make no open show of sorrow.
Ezekiel does not question God; the people do that he has preached to (19). May I offer to you a explanation of the prophet’s own sorrow and loss. The first is that it might be demonstrated before the eyes of those about him how a man of faith - a representative of God - can bear sorrow. Not how he can escape it, but how, with what fortitude and courage, with what calmness and strength, he can bear it, and also what God Himself can be to such a man in such a time. Ezekiel was a witness (24).
I suggest to you that this may be God’s way of demonstrating the value of faith and religion, not that a man thereby can escape and save his own skin, but that he can endure and triumph over the things that break other men, that make them bitter, cynical, and rebellious.
Anybody can be impatient and rebellious. It requires no genius of any sort to be skeptical. The wonderful thing is when Ezekiel does, “I did in the morning as I was commanded.” His faith could not be conquered even by sorrow.
He was to be a "sign" to the people. That is, for one thing, when their sorrows come upon them they will do as he had done.
I do not doubt that God leads some men into deep experiences for the sake of others. It is a costly process, that of being qualified to be a comforter of the broken-hearted and an encourager to others.
I have dealt so far with only the purposes of trouble. Now let us observe how this man behaved in the midst of his trial. Notice what happens the very morning after the shock had fallen. "I did ........as I was commanded." That is, he went on with his prophetic ministry. He did not sit hopelessly brooding. He obeyed the imperative call of duty. The blow had fallen, life could never be the same. again, but life had to go on; there was work to he done and, there were people to live for and to minister to. So he hid his broken heart, and with such courage as he could muster went to work amid the sorrows.