READ: Ezekiel 11:14-25
It must have been a good day for everybody’s favorite exilic priest, Ezekiel. To spend any time with the guy means to know that he isn’t in danger of being too optimistic. Other than a few happy moments like the wheels within wheels and the valley of dry bones, he’s mostly ticked about the Israelite’s flagrant breach of their covenant with God. What a wet blanket! Chill man, like do you really need to be so negative? Like I don’t need that energy in my life.
But if I care about redemption, maybe I do.
The Bible has a really strange way of getting at hope: hopelessness. A whole lot of the Bible is just hopeless. The earth is formless and void, the slave is banished to the wilderness, the lawgiver strikes the rock, the widow is starving to death, the savior of the world is executed violently by the state. The Bible does not steer away from reality but focuses on it so harshly that it’s painful. Ezekiel isn’t permanently disposed to negativity but describing the hard truth of how things are. By this point the Israelites are in exile. There is no impending destruction, just shrapnel.
But there is a difference between the Bible and Grimms’ Fairy Tales. The Bible presents the place of hopelessness as the exact place of hope. Destruction and hope, exile and restoration, death and resurrection all work together. Yes, the Israelites committed abominations and set up detestable idols. And yes, God scattered them because of their disobedience.
But God is going to regather them. He is going to remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Sin is abounding. But the grace? Just you wait.
Chase Benefiel, Organist