What do most pastors long for the most, is it money? No, wrong profession. It is for people to return to the Lord. Beginning in chapter 40 of Ezekiel, during the 25th year of their exile, and continuing to the end of his book, God gives Ezekiel a vision. In that vision, Ezekiel is taken back to Israel and placed on top of a hill. Once there, he views the gates, courts, and the Temple. He also offers the reader significant amounts of detail about the rooms, sizes and dimensions of assorted items, to the point it nearly bores us 21st century readers to tears. The question is, why all the detail? What is its purpose?
The answer is that this is a vision of hope. One day they will return, and, when they do, the re-establishment of a place to worship needs to be at the top of the list. The need to reconnect and reestablish their covenant relationship with God, and with each other, is paramount. It is what nearly every pastor, priest and prophet hopes to see – people faithfully connecting with God. Such detailed description reminds his original audience of their glory days with God, and what is now lost can, but will be reborn. What might seem to us as mind numbing detail, is a source of hope that God has not forgotten them, and is planning with great care and intentionality what the new Israel and new relationship will be like. For a people who thought they were forgotten by God, what a source of hope and joy it is to know that they are remembered, and that God has it all planned out about what it will be like when they return to their homeland!
Our readings in Hosea, Joel and Amos take us on similar journeys from judgement, and call us to repentance, and to the reconnection with God. Our readings also remind us of the power of God to put things back together, things that people believe to be hopelessly gone forever, just like the story of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37.
Do you feel at times that God may have forgotten you? Have your past sins and failures made you feel exiled and alone from God and the Church? In what ways is your soul thirsty? Do you believe God can forgive you and has a desire to connect with you? Apart from Daniel, the theme of our readings over the next few weeks is that, despite the great depths of depravity that humankind continues to sink to, God has not washed His hands of us. God’s desire to reconnect with the lost, the forgotten, the exiled, and the powerless, remains, no matter what century it is.