THE UNREASONABLE REQUEST
(the most difficult truth)
Ezekiel 24:15-18 NLT
Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, I am going to take away your dearest treasure. Suddenly she will die. Yet you must not show any sorrow. Do not weep; let there be no tears. You may sigh but only quietly. Let there be no wailing at her grave. Do not uncover your head or take off your sandals. Do not perform rituals of mourning or accept any food brought to you by consoling friends.”
So I proclaimed this to the people the next morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did everything I had been told to do.
I will never forget the first time I ever read this. I literally exclaimed out loud to God, “Lord, that is so unreasonable!” You are telling Ezekiel, I am going to take from you your dearest treasure. I am going to take your wife and let her die tomorrow! You may not mourn! You may not weep! You may not show any sorrow or grief! You may not let friends console you or give you any food!! Don’t perform any rituals by her grave! Are you kidding me?! Can you even wrap your mind around this? Can you imagine this being asked of you!? And all so Ezekiel’s great loss, pain, and silent suffering would be a message of God’s coming judgment on Israel! God, how can you ask this?
I know what you are thinking, “Mark, God would never ask me anything that unreasonable!”
My friends, you could not be more mistaken.
Seventeen years ago, as I was ending the first full year of what turned out to be my daughter’s severe, costly, agonizing 7-year illness, this Bible story gripped and pierced my soul. God used it to help me understand the hardest of all truths.
God will ask you to do and to endure some of the most unreasonable things you can imagine.
My friends, to tell you the truth, I have never, ever heard anyone speak on this passage of scripture nor on the truth I just shared with you. Christians today do not want to hear this truth, this difficult reality. Christians have been more influenced and shaped by the American dream they have Christianized than with the true faith reality revealed by the Bible people and what God asked of them.
We have become so comfortable with Jesus our friend, Jesus our good buddy, Jesus the fulfiller of dreams that we have forgotten this: Jesus Christ is God, Lord and Master, Creator of all, our Commanding Officer, the Lord God Almighty and He can do and ask whatever he wants with our lives for His purposes, no matter how painful it may be to us, or how difficult to understand. He can sacrifice us on the altar of His eternal plans and purposes. He bought and paid for us with His blood, He owns us and we are His to use for His Glory.
Was it reasonable to ask Esther to marry the pagan King of Persia, only to be one of his playthings, His favored Queen, among his harem of hundreds of other women?
Was it reasonable to ask Daniel to watch his parents slaughtered in front of his eyes, have him put in chains, carried off to Babylon, only to be castrated and put into the service of a pagan Babylonian king, there to live out all his days, as a single man, who finally at 80 years old, because of his faithfulness to God was thrown into the lion’s den for praying 3 times a day?
Was it reasonable to ask Job to endure God allowing Satan himself to kill all Job’s children by collapsing the entire house on all of them at once? Plunder all Job’s wealth, steal all his sheep, all his camels, all his oxen, all his donkeys, and slaughter all his farmhands and servants?
Was it reasonable to allow Satan to then afflict Job with a terrible, wretched skin disease all over Job’s body, scraping the sores with a broken jar, as he sat in humiliation, agony, and pain?
Was it reasonable to allow Job’s friends to taunt him and mercilessly misjudge, blame, castigate and reprove him during his time of great sorrow, anguish, grief and pain, only adding to his misery and suffering? And all of these things God asked and allowed to prove a point to Satan! Job 1:8-12
Was it reasonable to rob Joseph of his family life, put him in chains, carried off captive to a foreign land, falsely accused of rape by a wicked, spiteful woman, and thrown in prison for 13 years of his life?
Was it reasonable to exile the Apostle John to the small, rocky, barren Island of Patmos there to live out his life in great deprivation, alone, without Christian fellowship?
Was it reasonable to give the Apostle Paul a terrible infirmity that plagued him his entire ministry life, one Paul pleaded with the Lord to take away, but God said no? Was it reasonable to have this infirmed suffering man, whipped, beaten, stoned, betrayed, spending almost 7 years of his life in prison? Was it reasonable to ask Paul to suffer this much?
Was it reasonable to ask Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God to endure ridicule, shame, and false accusations that he did nothing to deserve, but in fact deserved the opposite? Was it reasonable to ask Jesus Christ to suffer pain and agony, to be mocked and scourged, marred beyond all human recognition, brutally nailed to a cross, where God himself placed on him all our wickedness, sin, and acts of depravity, as a sacrificial lamb, then poured out His divine wrath upon Christ, so our guilt could be assuaged and forgiven!?? Is that fair?!
Here is a truth to change and sustain your life of faith.
Victory is only achieved when the unreasonable is done!
Victory is only achieved when the unendurable is endured!
Have you ever seen the movie, Saving Private Ryan? I will never forget watching this graphic reenactment of the U.S invasion of Normandy during WW2. It is a mind-blowing, gut-wrenching scene as the landing boats approach Omaha beach, the soldiers huddled together, the sound of mortars, machine guns, and artillery piercing the air, it is absolutely horrific! The Allied Commander, Dwight Eisenhower has ordered those landing boats to lower their doors and commanded the men to run through the water onto the beach, with German machine guns cutting them to shreds. It is a bloodbath! It is savagely horrific!
I have never seen anything like it. Tears filled my eyes when I saw it, and I asked how could any General knowingly do that to his men? How could our leaders at the time ask the wives and parents of those men back home, give me your husbands and sons, so I can go slaughter and maim them in Normandy?
Was it reasonable to ask those wives to endure this? Was it reasonable to ask these parents to endure this?
And yet we know the truth: Victory was only achieved in WW2, the bloodiest, most horrific time in all of history because the unreasonable was done, the unendurable was endured!
What unreasonable thing is God asking you to do or to endure?
Perhaps it is to endure a difficult marriage, to keep loving your spouse and keep trusting Him.
Perhaps it is to accept and endure an illness or infirmity that just won’t go away.
Perhaps it is to endure the persistent financial hardships that just never seem to change because of the perplexing, out of the blue, financial problems and challenges that keep on happening.
Perhaps it is the constant sufferings and injustices that seem to come into your life unabated.
Perhaps it is the harsh judgments of friends who treat you as Job’s friends treated him, falsely accusing you of wrongdoing, sternly rebuking you, beating you with their words, not realizing you did nothing to deserve your suffering and afflictions, God is simply allowing it for reasons only He truly knows!
Perhaps it is the tragic loss of a loved one taken before their time.
Perhaps it is an illness with a child you love so dearly.
Perhaps it is the abandonment by your spouse, who leaves and forsakes you.
Perhaps it is the defamation and destruction of your good name, the slander and false accusation that is branded on you like the scarlet letter, that in the internet age, follows you around to the grave, causing untold pain, sorrow and loss.
Perhaps it is an exile of sorts, as you have been canceled by the mob, or betrayed by those who called themselves your friends.
Perhaps it is the loss of all you worked so hard to gain, only to have it stolen from you, or taken through tragedy or great injustice.
Perhaps it is the critical and harsh misjudgements of family and friends who impugn your motives, and intentions and treat you with disdain.
Will you do and endure that unreasonable thing God is asking of you and keep trusting God?
This is the truest test of our faith! This is the reality of authentic Biblical Christianity!
I promise you this: Though in the here and now, much of what God asks you to do or endure may seem unreasonable, unbearable, and even harsh, once in eternity, looking back through the lens of God’s eternal history and the story of your life, you will see it was as vital, significant, and purposeful as those soldiers cut to shreds by machine-gun fire on Omaha beach, whose savage deaths paved the way to victory in the bloodiest and most important battle of all human history!
That war was won because of wives, parents, and soldiers who did what was unreasonable and endured the unendurable.
Please hear this podcast, The Unreasonable Request.
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling