15 Also the word of Yahweh came unto me, saying,

16 Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.

17 Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men.

18 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.

The final siege had begun. In the parable of verses 3-14, the city is the caldron, the people are the flesh in it, and the roaring fire shall burn, not only until the contents are destroyed, but until the caldron itself is utterly melted and disappears, for there is no other way to cleanse its corruption. What God cannot cleanse, He must destroy.

And now, simply to enforce the lesson on wicked Israel, a terrible thing happens to Ezekiel. God suddenly - and without warning, without any time for preparation or farewells - tells him (v. 16) that his wife, the desire of his eyes, his most precious treasure, will die that day.

And all that day while he is expecting it, and all the next day after it has happened, he must not pause in his duties, but go right ahead with his work for God, and give absolutely no sign of grief or mourning.

And he simply says,

"I did as I was commanded."

Was ever man more bitterly tried? It is one of those things which natural man finds so hard to understand of the ways of God, for His thoughts are so much higher than man's. God's thoughts are on eternal good. Man's are so limited to the passing present.

Both Ezekiel's mortal life and his wife's were at best but brief flashes in the broad sweep of history. Parting must come, sooner or later, in the deepest and sweetest of human relationships. But if they are for God's Kingdom, then the brief separation is nothing: just a merciful taking away from the evil to come-

"He giveth His beloved sleep" (Psa. 127:2).

If they are not for God's Kingdom, then their present life is utterly meaningless and purposeless anyway, like the passing buzz of an insect.

"At even my wife died: and I did in the morning as I was commanded" (v. 18).

Obedience: that is all that mattered, or had any meaning and purpose.

The lesson was to shock and awake wicked Israel, and we can only hope some were saved by it. God would take away everything they considered precious and worthwhile, and they would be in such misery and distress that they would be unable to mourn or weep. How often has that been repeated in their long sad history!

They asked what it all meant - and he explained it to them. Then his mouth was closed, and his testimony to them was cut off - completely silenced for three years, all through the siege and beyond, until the news of the city's destruction reached them in Babylon.

So ends the first half of the book.

Bro Growcott - Prophecies in the captivity