Ezekiel 19:10-14

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 19:10-14

This rather obscure passage is a poetic remembrance of one of the worst memories in the history of ancient Israel, their defeat at the hands of the Babylonians and subsequent captivity for a generation in Babylon.

It is a lament, a cry of pain.

To remember the “good old days” seems ingrained in us. The normal pattern is to remember portions of those days as “good”, even “better”, but always “hard.” We usually miss the irony of how it is that the days we remember as so “good” were populated at the same time by another generation of people who saw the same days as evidence that everything was falling apart.

Perspective matters. How we look at things matters.

There is no sugar coating the Babylonian exile any more than one could put a positive spin on the Holocaust or the civil/religious wars in Africa. Ugly is ugly. Loss is loss. Death is death. In the midst of such times, all that matters is finding something worth hanging on to and surviving.

Which is what the people of Israel did in Babylon. As bad as those times were, they held on to the stories and the practices and the promises of their faith in God. They looked at their circumstances from a spiritual point of view with the openness to see their part in it. Rather than writing off God, they began to write down the stories which would become big chunks of the Bibles we now treasure.

Even the worst moments in our lives can give birth to the best yet to come.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, sometimes we are down so deep into the pain circumstances of our lives that we feel hopeless. We remember times that were better and wonder if we will ever see them again. Teach us anew that the past is past yet always present to be our teacher. May we learn the lessons there for us and never give up our hope in the future you are preparing for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Ezekiel 19:10-14”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    With all of the terror and pain in this world, it is so easy to lament that nothing will be right, peace will never come. We lose faith in humanity, but we should never lose our faith in God. We can’t dwell in the depths of despair, we must look up; look up and trust in the Lord.
    Philippians 4:8
    “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

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