Going Deeper 06.09.2021

The first reading for Pentecost 3... Ezekiel 17:22-24
Thus says the Lord God: I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out. I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind. All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord. I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken; I will accomplish it.

To say that those receiving Ezekiel's message were in desperate times would be an understatement.  Jerusalem has been destroyed, its walls and temple flattened by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar.  King Zedekiah, ignoring prophetic calls not to do so, had looked to alliances with the Egyptians in hopes of rebelling against the Babylonian dominance which had been in place over Judah for ten years, and was captured, then forced to watch his children be executed before having his eyes plucked out.  (Did I mention these were desperate times?!)

All hope seemed to be lost.  The ongoing breaking of God's Covenant with Abraham's descendants at Mt. Sinai, and the ignoring--and sometimes abusing and killing--of the prophets God had sent to call them to repentance had led to these horrific consequences.   And now the prophets were declaring that God was using the Babylonians to destroy them

Except they were not being destroyed... not completely.  This text brings hope.  God is still ultimately in control.  Not Babylon.  And certainly not Egypt.  God would one day bring down the high and lofty and raise up the low.  Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians would fall and Egypt's power continue to wane.  God would raise up Cyrus the Great and the Persians, and the remnant of Judah would one day return home.

Lesson?  We make messes of things when we fail to respond to God's gracious saving actions and instead choose rebellion over obedience.  Coming to see this truth leads (hopefully) to what we call repentance, and we return to the Lord our God, receiving His abundant grace and mercy, and seeking to be transformed by His love and to respond to His grace through obedience.  

God never gives up on His children.  There is always hope.

In His Love,  

 

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"