I doubt anyone can read Ezekiel 24:15-27 without raising an eyebrow. God gave the prophets a lot of hard analogies to live out: walk around naked for three years (Isaiah 20:3); cook and eat bread prepared by cow poop (Ezekiel 4:12-15); marry a prostitute to show how God is faithful to those who aren’t faithful to him (Hosea 1:2)—but in Ezekiel 24 where God tells the prophet that his wife is going to pass away and that he is supposed to not mourn her as a prophetic sign to Israel—well that’s a hard command to follow.
But strangely, there’s something else in this passage that catches my attention: Ezekiel had a wife—one that God recognized as the delight of Ezekiel’s eyes, so it must have been a good marriage.
There’s something I love about that simple fact. I don’t know about you, but I have this image in my head of the prophets being these wandering vagabonds who show up amidst the crowds and speak a hard word on behalf of God and everyone hates them for it. Then they scurry back to a cave or something and write God’s new commands down and go back out and do it again. In my mind, they’re lonely, hurting, hated people.
But then I read a passage like that of Ezekiel 24 and I’m like, Wait—Ezekiel was married? You mean to tell me that he participated in something normal? He had a wife whom he loved, ate with, conversed with, lived with, and had sex with? You mean he could come home from prophesying just to find his faithful companion ask him how his day went?
“How was work today? Did they listen to your message?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder if I’m really cut out for this job.”
“Of course you are, sweetie. Don’t give up.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I love that image. It makes the prophets more accessible to me and it makes them human again.
And just to take this beautiful picture even further is the fact that Isaiah had a wife who was a “prophetess.” The two of them both did the same kind of ministry, all while practicing marriage and raising children (Isaiah 8:3). And before you simply attribute her title to her marriage, some commentaries would insist that,
Isaiah’s wife is hardly called Prophetess, because she was the wife of a Prophet, but because she herself was a prophetic woman. We do not indeed know of prophecies of which she was the authoress, but she, along with other things of the Prophet’s family, was set for a sign and wonder (ver. 18).
It wouldn’t be that weird for them both to be prophets. It’s an easy attraction that could have pulled them together, just like how so many ministerial couples today both want to pastor. Or maybe one of them got blessed with the gift of prophecy later on in their marriage. It seems God sometimes gift families with similar giftings. After all, Philip had four daughters who all prophesied (Acts 21:9).
A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Isaiah by Carl Wilhelm Eduard Nägelsbach, p. 131.
Photo Credit: Alvin Mahmudov