Women of the Word: Women Who Mourned for Tammuz

Ezekiel was a Hebrew prophet who lived during the fall of Jerusalem and was among those who were exiled to Babylon like Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. During his prophetic ministry, Ezekiel spent much of his time telling those in exile that Jerusalem would fall, the temple would be destroyed, and they should not expect a fast return to their homeland. He urged them instead to focus on repentance and being obedient to God while living in exile. Much of Ezekiel’s prophetic messages are recorded in his book of the Bible which ends on an optimistic note when Ezekiel has a vision of dry bones coming to life and dancing, a prophecy that Jerusalem would rise again, the temple would be restored, and the exiled people would one day return to their homeland.

In Ezekiel chapter 8, Ezekiel is lifted by the Spirit and through a vision is taken to Jerusalem where he sees how the Israelites have turned to idolatry and filled the temple with idols. Ezekiel 8:15 reads, “Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz.” After seeing this sight, the Spirit asks Ezekiel, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.”

Ezekiel does see more detestable things. He sees men worshiping the sun instead of God. He sees the elders of Israel offering incense to idols. He sees idols and crawling things and unclean animals portrayed all over the temple. Even though the people think that God does not see their ungodly behavior, God promises to deal with them in anger and not have pity or spare them or listen to them.

1. The women who mourned for Tammuz did not mourn for God and the things of God. I don’t know why these women were mourning for Tammuz, who was a false god and could not hear them or see them. Perhaps that was why they were mourning. But instead of engaging in idolatry and worshiping/mourning for Tammuz, the women should have been worshiping God and mourning that their fellow Israelites were not doing the same. The women should have been mourning for the things that broke God’s heart.

What breaks God’s heart?

God’s heart is broken when His people are separated from Him because of sin. God’s heart is broken when His people cease worshiping Him in order to worship gods who have “mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see…ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell.” His heart is broken when His people see His commands, but do not obey it; hear His Word, but do not listen to it. God’s heart is broken when His people are prisoners, sitting in gloom and the shadow of death, shackled in iron chains of misery. And His heart is broken when those who have seen a great light fail to shine that light on those who walk in darkness and live in a land of deep darkness.

The Gospels record a time when Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem when He was here on earth. Why did Jesus weep? Was it because He was afraid of dying a cruel death on the cross? No. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He loved the people who lived in Jerusalem and wanted to see them saved. He wept because they were visited by a Saviour and did not know. He wept because instead of accepting Him, they rejected Him and killed Him. He wept because they had an opportunity to be saved and missed it. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because God wept over Jerusalem.

God is concerned about people. He loves people. When He mourns, it is never for Himself. It is always for us. And because of the love and concern God has for us, He does not want to see anyone perish, but all come to repentance. Just as God rejoices over one sinner who is saved, He mourns over every sinner who is lost. May our eyes weep for what God’s eyes weep for. May our hearts mourn over what God’s heart mourns for.

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