Have you ever had that feeling of being dead inside? Lacking hope. Lacking energy. Blah. Depressed. Feeling like there must be more to life than this. Looking around for answers and satisfaction, and maybe finding it temporarily in TV shows, social media, food, alcohol. What do you use to ease the frustration of life?
Maybe you’re in a dead-end job. Maybe you have a relationship that is going nowhere. Maybe you’re a parent and feel like a failure in raising your kids. Maybe it’s a health situation that lingers, lingers, lingers and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Maybe you’re growing older, and you know you are closer to the finish line than to the start. Maybe you’re real close. Maybe you’re scared.
Maybe you look at the price of living and find it utterly maddening. Gas just jumped to $3.35/gallon here in Lancaster. Prices of food are going up. Car and home and rental prices seem ridiculously high. There’s a lack of affordable housing, and your salary might not be keeping up with it all. Do you ask for a raise? Do you look for another job? Or maybe you try a side hustle. But do you really want to add one more thing to your already busy life? You think to yourself that you’re already probably too busy. You go to bed exhausted, you don’t sleep that great, you wake up still tired, and you face another day to make another dollar or try to pay attention in school, and you wonder if this is what life is supposed to be about. Where can you go for help? You know the churchy answer is “God,” but maybe he feels real far away. You might have even prayed in the past, and it didn’t seem to help.
Turn to Ezekiel 17. We’re going to hear a story that I think speaks to the reality of the frustration of our world. Read Ezekiel 17, verses 1-2.
In our study of Ezekiel, we’ve watched as God has told Ezekiel to perform skits. God has given Ezekiel astounding visions. God has asked Ezekiel to declare straightforward prophetic sermons. Here in Ezekiel 17, verses 1-2 God tells Ezekiel that his next prophecy will be a parable, an allegory.
When you think of parables, you probably think of Jesus. Jesus is famous for his parables. They are creative stories, genius in their simplicity and power. But sometimes Jesus told parables, confused the heck out of people, and then did not let his listeners in on what the parable meant. Other times he told the parable and the meaning. In Ezekiel 17, thankfully, God will tell the parable and the meaning. I would like read the parable, and you see if you can figure out what it means. Before you read it, let me give you a couple important hints that I hope will help you understand Ezekiel’s parable.
First hint: Think about the content of nearly all of Ezekiel’s prophecies. More than likely this one will be similar. What was the content of his previous prophecies so far? I’m not going to tell you. Sorry. I want you to think about it and remember as you read to the parable.
Second hint: Parables are stories where one thing or group of things symbolizes another thing or group of things. So, when you hear a parable, you should think, what might that object refer to? When you are trying to understand most parables, it can be very helpful to make a cast of characters. For example, Jesus tells a parable about a man who holds a banquet and invites various guests to the banquet. But he’s not really talking about a man, a banquet, and guests. Instead, the man, the banquet and the guests stand for something else. The man stands for God, the banquet stands for the Kingdom of God, and the guest are the people God wants to enter his Kingdom. See if you can do the same thing for this parable.
The parable is recorded in verses 3-10. Please only read those verses. Don’t peek ahead! If your Bible has study notes, please don’t look at your study notes! Like I said, God will eventually explain the parable. Just keep your eyes on verses 3-10 and see if you can figure it out. Ok! Read Ezekiel 17, verses 3-10, and then in the next post we’ll try to interpret it.