June 17, 2018-No More Worst, Only Best

Martin Luther said, “…this vision is the spiritual chariot of Christ in which he rides here in the world, meaning thereby his entire Holy church…”(AE 35:284, LSB Pg. 1306 Luther on Ezekiel)

July 31st, 593 BC 2,611 years before we gathered here today; the prophet/priest Ezekiel prophesied that the Heavens were opened and he saw this vision of God!

Judgement would be levied against idolatry

There would be a day of the Lord’s Wrath

The temple would become an abomination to Him and the Glory of the Lord would leave it

Wicked counselors would be judged

False Prophets would be condemned

Idolatrous Elders would be condemned

And Jerusalem would be sieged, destroyed and become like a useless vine. (Ezekiel 1-17)

But amidst all the horrible consequences that would be the result of their unfaithfulness, there was hope for temporal and eternal restoration. 

Watchmen like the prophet/priest Ezekiel, would bear the true word of God.

Even though they would be scattered abroad, God would be their sanctuary there and promised to gather them up and bring them home.

All the way from the inception of Ezekiel’s vision from God up to this passage you heard today, there is undeniable law, but just as we read…there was not only temporal hope, there is eternal hope as well.

This last Tuesday started out to be a day filled with temporal hope and devastating despair all at the same time.

I woke up to the anguished gasp of Marcy’s despair at the news of the children murdered in the hostage crisis in Orlando.

In the same radio news segment, while we were sleeping, bitter enemies since 1950 signed an accord over 68 years in the making between the heads of State of America and North Korea.

I don’t know if June 12, 2018 will go down in history as the day when peace in the East was achieved, all I know is that if it is…for those of us in the Orlando area, it will be an anniversary of mourning the loss of those beloved little ones.

How does one even feel about all that?  What should our take on it be?  Where do we even go from here?

Jesus, in His Spiritual Chariot of Ezekiel’ vision, responds to our uncertainty and settles our troubled hearts for the unknown future He has laid out for us.

An Anonymous English Proverb once said, “Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.”

The mature and experienced individual understands this well.

Don’t buy the car you can’t afford to pay the taxes on.  Avoid the living domicile that exceeds your ability to maintain and pay for the above and beyond living expenditures. 

Be aware of the challenges of career and job changes, but don’t avoid risk altogether lest you lose out on a great opening.

The obstacles need to be anticipated so the opportunities will not be missed.

But there is always the enemy that no one is ever fully prepared for, and He always comes at the moment when we are weakest!

Satan lurks on the streets of Jerusalem knowing that Ezekiel’s parishioners are little prepared to handle the sins He motivated them to commit.

Ezekiel 14:13-14 says, (13) “Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, (14) even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord God.”

Because of their sin, Jerusalem was little prepared for the worst and no one they knew could give them hope for the best.

God has dealt honestly with His’ children in Judah protecting them between the empires of the Babylonians and the Egyptians.

Under the Judean King Jehoiachin, they were a vassal of King Nebuchadnezzar.  But Jehoiachin’s heir, Zedekiah would rebel against Babylon, asking Pharaoh to assist him in his effort to gain independence from Nebuchadnezzar.

The Theologian Tim Saleska says, “…on the surface level you have Babylon and Egypt and even the Kings of Israel thinking that they are in control and that they are operating freely, but it is actually Yahweh who is operating through them.”

We think we are in control and though our sins may pale in comparison to the sins of God’s people in Ezekiel’s day, we put hope in those things that have no assurance of giving us permanent hope!

Thanks be to God that when we are weak he is strong! (2 Corinthians 13:4)

As the reports came out on Tuesday concerning the terrible Orlando Tragedy and the Historic Peace Accord in Singapore; for better or worse so did the comments of individuals online and on the air.

Comments are now a way of life both in online reporting and on the air, so much so it has become the obligatory 3rd level of discourse.

The first level being the report of the news itself, the second being the reporter’s commentary and interpretation of the news, hoping to make it more easily understood for the listener or the viewer.

The third level is any people replying to the commentary in an opinion poll of sorts as to how the commentary should or could be responded to.

One comment I heard on the radio responded to the tragic murder of the children and laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Orlando Police Department for not rushing the apartment sooner in an effort to save the kids.

Another responded almost immediately to the first insinuating that the first commentator knew nothing about hostage negotiations and should keep his opinion to himself.

I am sure that the internet commentators will have lots to say about the peace accord in Singapore as to whether it was a smashing success or an epic bait and switch.

No matter the report of the 1st, 2nd or 3rd level of discourse; if anyone of us believes we are actually in control…we have already been deceived by the Devil and are little prepared for the worst He will motivate us to do and give us no hope for the best. 

Ezekiel calls to us and the people of Jerusalem.  If our faith is misplaced, there is one to be faithful towards and not only in hope for our lives today, but forever!

For Ezekiel’s vision, the very chariot of Christ rides, indeed through the world and specifically through His people, the church.

When God plants a shoot it is more sure and sound a craft then the Ark that saved 8 souls through the waters of the world wide flood piloted by his righteous servant Noah.

When we are cast into the lion’s den of our enemies seeking to devour us whole, our Savior more righteous than Daniel himself is with us to close their mouths and keep us safe in his Holy Church.

And even though we might lose our homes, our possessions and possibly even our precious children just like righteous Job;  the ever more righteous Messiah comes along side us and whispers words of comfort that everything will be restored ten-fold when He comes to take us home!

Our home is the home Ezekiel alludes to today.

A righteous tree was planted on Golgotha where our Savior was nailed for our sins and his blood grows the shade of the tree and washes away our sins.

And we are the birds and the creatures that find shelter in its eternal shade.

Every kingdom of this world, whether it’s Russia, China, Korea or America will bow to this eternal kingdom where there will no longer be the worst rather only the best, Our Savior Jesus over all, AMEN.