Monday, October 3rd Ezekiel 19:1, 10-14

As for you, raise up a lamentation for the princes of Israel… Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard transplanted by the water, fruitful and full of branches from abundant water. Its strongest stem became a ruler’s scepter; it towered aloft among the thick boughs; it stood out in its height with its mass of branches. But it was plucked up in fury, cast down to the ground; the east wind dried it up; its fruit was stripped off, its strong stem was withered; the fire consumed it. Now it is transplanted into the wilderness, into a dry and thirsty land. And fire has gone out from its stem, has consumed its branches and fruit, so that there remains in it no strong stem, no scepter for ruling. This is a lamentation, and it is used as a lamentation. Ezekiel 19:1, 10-14

Ezekiel was written through the early stages of the occupation of Jerusalem by the army of Babylon and on into the first years of the Babylonian exile. A rough estimate might be the years 591 BCE – 570 BCE. He would have watched the life he once knew crumble before his eyes.

Life in Jerusalem would have had a nice rhythm – a bustling place of commerce, trade and religious observance. Its memories would stretch back before the reigns of Solomon and David, back to the early days of promise, back to creation itself. It would have been a good place to live.

But then the Babylonian army would have marched on the city. Unable to defend themselves against those forces, Israel’s king chose the disgrace of capitulation in order to buy some time. The Babylonian army got whatever it wanted. Israel paid for “peace” for over a decade.

Through those years, anyone causing problems would be eliminated. Any prominent leaders, political or religious, would be taken away. And then finally, needing his army elsewhere, Nebuchadnezzar gave the order to bring the occupation to an end. The temple, Solomon’s palace, the city walls of Jerusalem – all were destroyed.

Seeking to hold the territory without the presence of the Babylonian army, all of the remaining citizens of any stature were forcibly marched to refugee camps in Babylon where they lived for at least a generation. Perhaps much smaller in scale than the Holocaust, the stain on the psyche of the Israelites was just as deep and painful.

What went wrong? What did we do to deserve this? Where has God gone? These are exile questions. Seeking understanding, seeking hope, seeking answers, Ezekiel spoke and wrote. Cast in poetry, in vision, in metaphor, Ezekiel sought language that could capture their experience, could make sense out of the senselessness that surrounded his people.

Sometimes, when life gets bad enough, that is all that we can do. Simply voice our pain and ask the wind for answers which don’t come.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, how deep is the pain that we can cause one another in our quest to be little gods unto ourselves? How long will it take before we learn that violence and conquest lead only to destruction? Our hearts go out to those now living in the midst of warfare over turf, over power, over ego. Protect the innocent. Guide the peacemakers. Hear the laments of the suffering. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Monday, October 3rd Ezekiel 19:1, 10-14”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for this so meaningful message at a time when so many feel forgotten and hopeless. Thank you too for returning to these timely and daily messages. I’ve missed them, Louise

  2. Ray Kilminster Says:

    I often pray that the leaders of our great nations unite in a quest for peace and the destruction of evil so that we can use our vast resources for the stewardship of this world that God gave us and the people who dwell on it. Instead of using these resources to kill each other.
    Interesting also that Ezekiel had a beautiful wife, whom he adored, who was killed at the time of the Babylonian invasion. He was 25 years old at the time.

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