Why did God providentially take Ezekiel’s wife?


Why did God kill Ezekiel’s wife? That seems pretty evil?


What God says in Ezekiel 24:15-17 (NASB) can also be confounding: "And the word of the Lord came to me saying, Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn, and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come." Ezekiel wasn’t to lament, weep, or shed any tears at her passing. He wasn’t to mourn her death. And he was told all of this in advance of his wife’s death! How grim!

Step back for a moment and let these thoughts all sink in. God was taking this man's wife. She was going to die. Yet he is not to lament, weep, shed any tears or even mourn? What kind of man can take such horrifying news as he did? Only a man of faith! Ezekiel's theology told him that the days of man are all numbered (Psa. 31:5; 139:16; Eccl. 3:2). He knew death was a divine appointment given by God alone (Heb. 9:27). But would this make the news any easier emotionally? I’m sure he desired to grieve as any loving husband would. Instead, Ezekiel listened to and obeyed the Lord. Ezekiel was a man ruled by faith. And faith often demands serious and otherwise unthinkable actions on our part.

This man of impeccable faith followed through with God’s instructions. Ezekiel 24:18: "So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded." The text says that God carried out his will and Ezekiel kept everything bottled up inside and didn’t mourn for his now deceased wife.

Those around Ezekiel were bewildered. They may have been thinking, "What’s going on with this guy? Didn’t he love his wife?" They did, in fact, inquire, and straight from the voice of God through the lips of the prophet, they received this answer (Ezek. 24:21-24):

Say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power, the delight of your eyes, and the yearning of your soul, and your sons and your daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men. Your turbans shall be on your heads and your shoes on your feet; you shall not mourn or weep, but you shall rot away in your iniquities and groan to one another. Thus shall Ezekiel be to you a sign; according to all that he has done you shall do. When this comes, then you will know that I am the Lord GOD.

As the "delight of Ezekiel’s eyes" (his wife) had been taken away in an instant, the delight of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem would suffer a similar dreadful consequence. God’s people would be utterly stunned and display a sorrowful silence. All of this because of their sins (Ezek. 24:23). They would know that God meant business when he said to conform to his word and not to one’s sinful culture.

Ezekiel was faithful over all his house to do what the Lord instructed. Ultimately, the death of Ezekiel’s wife would be God’s way of showing his people that he is God (Ezek. 24:24). He controls life and death (Job 14:5; Psa. 139:16; Acts 17:25-26). He controls the nations (Psa 22:28; 75:7; Dan. 4:32). He was faithful to his word and his judgments then and still is today! "The LORD works out everything to its proper end — even the wicked for a day of disaster" (Prov. 16:4).

In humility, Ezekiel submitted himself to God’s will; his wife knew she was serving the Lord in her death. The text doesn’t record a single complaint from her. Christians serve God until their mission is over on this spinning globe we call earth. When our divine purpose here is finished we die and await the consummation of the kingdom when we are raised again. So too could Ezekiel and his wife rest in the fact they would see one another again on the last day.

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).