New birth

76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus

Sermon 58 - God’s loss of Jerusalem symbolized by the death of the prophet’s wife.

April 15th, 1963

Received by Dr Samuels

Washington D.C.

 

I am here, Jesus.

For Jerusalem, however, it seemed to Ezekiel that God had utterly turned His face from the city, and the prophet’s personal experience with its destruction is one of the most touching in all of the Old Hebrew prophetic writings. Ezekiel’s wife, “the desire of his eyes,” was suddenly taken ill one morning and died that evening. She was a young woman in her mid-thirties, named Chavah, or first woman; modest and long-suffering in spirit and frail in health. Her death coincided with the capture of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians in July, 586 B.C. Ezekiel did not know, to be sure, that this had happened until several months later, when a refugee having escaped from the destruction appeared in Tel-abib to relate the events of the fall of the city and gave the date of its capture.

Ezekiel had been expecting the worst for several years. His mind had gone back to Hosea, and the relationship between God and Israel, described as husband and wife (Ezekiel 23). For example, the story of the foundling in Chapter 16 is that of a faithless Jerusalem, and God, the Royal Lover. On continuing the prophetic vein, Ezekiel thought of himself as reliving, in his own marriage, the spiritual union between God and Judah; and, given the demise of his beloved wife and the destruction of Jerusalem on the same day, he was struck by the thought that, as spokesman for God, his wife’s death was symbolic of the loss of God’s spouse - Jerusalem. Ezekiel, despite his sorrow and bereavement, was better able to console himself with this thought. But knowinq in his heart that the city’s loss represented a necessary and inevitable punishment for flaunting His Ways, he was moved to declare that he was commanded by God not to mourn the death of his wife by sitting the “Shivah,” or customary mourning rites (removal of headgear, shoes, covering of the face and fasting for a week) as a sign that neither did God mourn the loss of his own spouse, Jerusalem. Ezekiel tells us that, with Chavah’s death, he ceased his prophecies regarding Jerusalem’s fall, inasmuch as the prophecy was thus fulfilled. But with the news of the disaster, he felt that “his mouth was opened,” and that he could express his hopes for a future resurrection.

The simple passage of his wife’s death, coming from the pen of the otherwise emphatic and oratorical prophet, is a most poignant account of a man’s bereavement, illuminated by implicit faith in the Father:

“The word from the Eternal came to me: ‘Son of man, behold I am taking from you at one stroke the treasure of your eyes. Yet thou shalt neither mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud, make no mourning for the dead, bind thy headgear upon thee, and put thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy beard, and eat not the bread of mourners.’ So I spoke to the people in the morning: and at even my wife died, and I did in the morning as I was commanded.”

(Ezekiel: 24: 15 - 18)

I have used the words “future resurrection” in describing Ezekiel’s hopes after the death of his wife, both in his personal life and with respect to the possibility of a restoration for Jerusalem. If Jehovah was the one, true God, He would restore His people and His own city not for their sake, but to show that the destruction and exile resulted from merited punishment and not from His own weakness, as pagan people of the times would assuredly assume. He therefore wrote the vision of the Dry Bones (Chapter 37), which relates the material bringing forth of the dead from their resting places, their return to life through the Spirit of God, and return of a righteous remnant to their homeland. Upon these elect, God would pour out His Spirit, making them, as Jeremiah had already predicted and which Ezekiel recognized as truth, new creatures walking in His Statutes:

“A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your bosom, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep Mine Ordinances, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.”

(Ezekiel 36: 26 - 28)

When I came to Jerusalem, I preached the fulfillment of this prophecy in me, the Messiah.

Jesus of the Bible

and

Master of the Celestial Heavens