Why was Ezekiel’s wife killed by God?
During the exile, Ezekiel served as a prophet for God from Babylon. Ezekiel suffered the unexpected loss of his wife in addition to the destruction of his homeland. God utilized the tragic death of Ezekiel’s wife to impart wisdom to His captive people.
When God took Ezekiel’s wife, why did He do it? Though the Bible never says it explicitly, it’s apparent that her death, like everyone else’s, was predestined by God (see Psalm 31:15; 139:16; Ecclesiastes 3:2). First, Ezekiel relates how God broke the news to him that his wife would soon die: “The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, with one strike I am going to take away from you the delight of your eyes'” (Ezekiel 24:15–16).
So God forewarned Ezekiel that He would soon take away “the pleasure of his eyes,” his wife. We wonder why this had to happen, and God’s further instructions to Ezekiel, “Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears,” raise even more doubts. Let out a low groan, but don’t cry over the dead. Wear your sandals and turban securely, but skip the traditional mourner’s fare and don’t shave your facial hair (Ezekiel 24:16–17).
As the prophet Ezekiel was carrying out his severe orders, his wife passed away that evening. I complied with the instructions given to me the following morning (Ezekiel 24:18). In other words, when Ezekiel’s wife passed away, he did not publicly grieve or engage in other rites associated with the death of a spouse. He suppressed his feelings because it was God’s will.
The death of Ezekiel’s wife was a sign from God to the people of Judah. Ezekiel’s friends and family started to wonder aloud, “Why are you acting like this?” (Ezekiel 24:19).
God told Ezekiel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to defile my sanctuary—the citadel in which you take pleasure, the delight of your eyes, the object of your adoration. The children you abandoned will be killed in battle. Moreover, you will follow my lead. Your mustache and beard will remain uncovered, and you won’t partake in the traditional fare of the bereaved. It is expected that you will continue to wear turbans and sandals. You won’t shed any tears over your sins, but rather you’ll deteriorate and grumble to one another as you die. You will take Ezekiel as a role model and follow in his footsteps. And then you will know that I am the Supreme Ruler, for I have caused this to occur (Ezekiel 24:21–24).
After Ezekiel’s wife passed away, he received a foreboding premonition. People’s hopes would be dashed when Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, a source of pride for the Israelites, will be destroyed without warning. In Babylon, the response to the news was usually a surprised, somber silence. Because of the magnitude of their loss, all they could do is moan and pine away in silence. It was their sins that caused this calamity, so they would act accordingly (Ezekiel 24:23).
To accept such a mandate, Ezekiel must have had immense faith in God. Like Abraham did when he sacrificed Isaac, he probably hoped that the dead would rise again (see Hebrews 11:17–19). The pain his people were going through as a result of their transgressions hit Ezekiel hard, but he remained true to his divine calling. God finally used the death of Ezekiel’s wife as a symbol to demonstrate His deity to the Jews (Ezekiel 24:24). He always keeps His promise and makes fair decisions.
Like Ezekiel, we too must keep our pride in check and acknowledge God’s omniscience (see James 4:7–10). God took Ezekiel’s wife’s life for His own purposes, and those reasons were made clear to Ezekiel. God doesn’t require our approval to take anyone’s life because He is the giver of life and the owner of the keys to death. It is His prerogative to decide whether one lives or dies; He is the absolute monarch.
Let us, by faith, take on Job’s response to tragedy: “Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.” He knelt down in a posture of submission and declared, “Nude I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.”
May God’s holy name be exalted for he gave and he has taken away.
Job did not commit sin by accusing God of wrongdoing in the face of all this adversity (Job 1:20–22).