Wildfires have been ravaging sections of the western USA. It happens every years during the hot, dry months of summer, but 2021 is particularly bad. I heard a news report that the acreage destroyed to this point in 2021 is three times that of 2020, and we thought 2020 was bad. A few weeks ago, those of us in the eastern USA could look up into the sky a see the haze fading out the sun, as smoke from western wildfires was so expansive and hit the right wind current that it traveled the long distance across our country. The wildfires are a serious problem deserving serious attention in their own right. They also serve as a metaphor, as it seems our world is on fire in many other ways.
Is there hope for a world on fire? Do you feel like it is hopeless? Lately watching the Delta variant on the rise, it can feel hopeless. Do you know what I mean? Are you wondering if we’re going to have to start wearing masks again? Have you had disagreements or differences of opinion among family and friends about the vaccine? It can feel so frustrating, right?
Or what about politics? Do you feel like it hopeless? Watching politicians disagree about seemingly everything, and rarely trying to reach across the aisle to work together, can be so disheartening. Each side seems to have gravitated to the extreme ends of their belief system, and they caricature the other side as evil. Have you had disagreements or differences of opinions among family and friends about politics?
Or what about sexual ethics? Do you feel like it is hopeless? The school board meetings, the proposals in government for fairness in sports, and the actual human people affected…it’s all so fraught. Maybe you’ve had discussions and disagreements about that too.
Then there is Critical Race Theory. What is true? What is false? It can feel hopeless.
Last week we left Ezekiel in a bit of a cliffhanger. God had transported Ezekiel through a wild virtual reality vision back to his hometown, Jerusalem, where God gave Ezekiel an unsettling tour through the temple. Room after room in the temple, God showed Ezekiel how the Jews living there were worshiping idols and practicing pagan religion. Then God says he has had enough of the Jews’ adultery, and he not only begins leaving the temple, but he also unleashes judgment on the city. While the judgment is awful, God first saves those who remained faithful. Remember that all of this took place in a vision, meaning that it was a prophecy of what was to come upon the people there in Jerusalem. That is where we stopped, with Ezekiel still in the middle of the vision, a vision that mostly seems hopeless.
There is more to come, including an important message from God that will become a major theme throughout the rest of the book of Ezekiel. Let me give you a hint: it’s not hopeless! But why? Check out Ezekiel chapter 11 ahead of time, then I’ll look forward to discussing it further with you next week. I’m very thankful because we’ll have a guest teacher, David Hundert, leading us through Ezekiel 11.