Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lent 5, Ezekiel—Hope for the Exiles

Lent 5, Ezekiel

‘I will put my spirit with in you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil…’
Ez 37.14

It is likely that Ezekiel was one of the elite of Jerusalem, brought captive to Babylon in 597, BCE, King Nebuchadrezzar II’s attempt to end the rebellion of his vassal state. Ezekiel saw the exile and the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 as God’s judgment on Judah for failing to honor its obligations under its covenant with Yahweh.

Although Ezekiel had harshly warned of Jerusalem’s destruction, his tone changed after the defeat of Judah. In exile in Babylon he preaches comfort—that Israel does have a future. But this future is in God’s hands, not theirs (chapters 33-48). Ezekiel’s message from God in 37.14 assures the exiles that God will redeem them because they are still God’s people.

The exiles I have met in the land today are the Palestinians in the refugee camps and in towns and villages surrounded by Israel’s wall. And the Ezekiel’s words brought to my mind a particular section of the wall in Bethlehem. The wall there is covered with artwork expressing the Palestinians’ sadness and frustration and the sympathy of international visitors. It looks like everyone who visits, leaves a message on the wall.

Like Ezekiel the exiles in Palestine today have not given up on God’s promises. They cling to these promises and put their faith and trust in God.
I invite you to take five minutes to ponder this particular section of the wall, and the prophet God sent to bring hope to the exiles in Babylon.

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