When God Takes Our Delight
What do you love most in this life? Do you treasure it more than Christ? What if God took it from you? Would you still call Him good?
I love my wife and my child more than anything else on this planet. They give me such joy and I would be devastated to lose them. If I'm honest with you, I think at times I fail at striking the right balance between them and God. At times, I put them in the place He deserves. I treasure the gift more than the Giver. The Bible calls this idolatry and we are all subject to it.
I Will Take the Delight of Your Eyes
God owes us nothing. Everything good we have and experience in this life testifies to His grace and mercy. All good things are meant to point us back to the One who gives them and should spur us on to His worship and praise.
Ezekiel was a prophet who proclaimed God's judgment to His people for their disobedience to His law. God has Ezekiel perform certain actions and experience certain things as a symbol for what He will do to His people. Some of the things God has Ezekiel do are truly shocking.
God's instruction to Ezekiel in Ezekiel 24 may particularly strike us as shocking. Verses 15-18 say:
15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. 17 Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.” 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.
Just reading that makes my heart hit the floor. God took Ezekiel's wife, his delight, as a symbol for Israel? On top of that he's not allowed to mourn? Wow. Imagine the Lord telling you this. If I was Ezekiel I'd really be reconsidering this prophet thing. I'd be sad. I'd be angry. I'd be questioning the character of this God I'm representing.
No Greater Good
How did Ezekiel obey God? He simply says that the next morning he did what God had commanded him. Would that be your response?
Ezekiel knew the God he served. He trusted in the pain that God is working all things for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28), even the taking of his wife. He knew that God's ways are higher and more righteous than his and the creature serves the Creator (Rom. 9:20-21). He knew that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, but in all things His name is to be blessed (Job 1:21). He knew that God was to be His treasure and that we are to hold on to His gifts loosely, even when it hurts.
While God Himself is good by His very nature, we are not. God did not owe Ezekiel's wife, Ezekial, or anyone another day or another breath. In fact, each day given to us is God showing His mercy and graciousness. As sinners against a Holy God, He would be completely just to take our lives at any given time, but instead He gives us the gift of life no matter how long that may be.
In "The Holiness of God" by R.C. Sproul, he says, "God would be perfectly just to allow me to be thrown in prison for life for a crime I didn't commit. I may be innocent before other people, but I am guilty before God." None of us are innocent before God. None of us deserve to live in His world, much less to live with Him for eternity. This is what makes Christ such good news.
Is Christ Your Treasure?
God is good because He has given us everything in Christ. When God gave His only Son for sinners on Calvary, He displayed His character for the world to see. People who deserved His justice and His punishment became recipients of His love, mercy, and grace. This is the free gift that God offers to those that would turn from their sins and believe in Jesus.
What does God ask from us in return? Everything. Jesus said to follow Him would mean denying yourself and taking up your cross (Luke 9:23). He said for you to find life you must lose it for His sake (Matt. 10:39). He said that your love for Him should be so strong that it looks like you hate your mom, dad, siblings, and even your wife and children in comparison (Luke 14:26).
This love for the future promised Savior enabled Ezekiel to obey God even when it meant not mourning at the death of his wife, the delight of his eyes. Ezekiel knew that his wife was a gift and the future Savior was the treasure.
Is Christ your treasure? Is He worth giving everything up for? Is He the One you can't live without? Have you given up your life with it's preferences, wants, and desires to follow Him or are you holding on tightly to something that would make you accuse God of bad character if He took it? May the Lord help us enjoy His good gifts while increasing our delight in the Giver.