Posts Tagged ‘Lion of Judah’

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Ezekiel 19: Joy and Two Allegories

Lions raised with care to protect become man-eaters. Vines that sprout strong branches because of abundant water die in the desert. Notes tell us that these two allegories are written in the style of a dirge, a particular kind of funeral song serving as a lamentation comparing present doom with past glory. Ezekiel writes at a time when all hope might be lost; however, as pointed out in notes, Ezekiel elsewhere rejects this sense of hopelessness.

It is difficult, in the times when all around us is dark, and when we find ourselves in drastic circumstances, to keep hope alive. The lioness in today’s reading does her best to rear strong male lions that protect and guide their pride. In the second allegory, the vine is destroyed by drought, fire, wind and heartless transplantation in desert surroundings.  In ideal circumstances, the lioness and the mother vine do all they can to nourish life and yet they fail, or seem to fail. 

What else do these images call forth? We know that the Lion of Judah later roars out of the south to redeem the universe, but in the form of the Lamb in the person of Christ Jesus. We also know that from this stump of vine in the desert which is carted off to Egypt and to Babylon, from this lineage of Jesse and David will eventually spring forth the shoot of the Messiah.  

We know that when something is bound to occur in God’s economy, no force, no circumstance, no evil intent can hold it back. We know that when things appear to be most hopeless, God is most with us. God never fails, especially in God’s time rather than in ours. 

St. Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 

In Luke 21:5-11 Jesus tells us:  All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down . . .  See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, “I am he”, and “The time has come”.  Do not follow them!  When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end. 

Jesus is constantly calming the turbulent waters, healing the blind, deaf and lame, bringing light and life out of darkness and death. When times are darkest, Jesus is nearest. The Lion of Judah roars and saves. The vine will bloom, even in the desert. In the Book of Revelation the virgin bearing the child is swept into the desert where she is kept safe from the beast. This tells us that what appears to be an end is a beginning.  What appears to be lost will be found. It tells us that we must trust God’s plan no matter how bleak it may appear. God’s plan is ever so much better than our own. St. Paul writes to the Philippians (3:7): Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Whatever plans I have, I consider as nothing in the economy of God’s providence and love.

And so we pray: On this eve of Thanksgiving Day, let us keep in mind all the times we have waited in darkness and anxiety, and let us turn our worries and complaints over to the one who handles all things well, bringing them to the light of perfection. Let us give our incompleteness to the one who completes. Let us bring our broken hearts and our dirges to God’s feet and offer these woes to the one who will transform them into blessings. Let us bring God our mourning so that it may be joy.  Amen. 


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Hosea 5Consequences

Tuesday, November 8, 2016lion-of-judah-hd-wallpaper

A Favorite from November 8, 2009.

“Hosea was one of the first prophets whose message was put into writing.  Nevertheless Hosea’s message, like those of Israel’s other ‘writing prophets,’ cannot be understood in isolation from the law and the books of Joshua and Judges, books to which Hosea often alluded”.  Zondervan 1428)

Addressing the priests and leaders directly in this chapter, Hosea speaks to the forces which shaped who and what Israel was, and how and why she acted.  Hosea calls us today to look at not only the root causes of our actions but the consequences as well.  Our own consequences as well as those for others.

A snare, a net, a trap set for the innocent.  Arrogance in believing that the voice of God does not arrive through the innocent.  Harlotry in maintaining a personal comfort level at the expense of the disadvantaged.  Unfaithfulness to the Lord.  Giving birth to illegitimate children and causes.

Using the name of the tribe of Ephraim as an equivalent for the whole of Israel, Hosea warns the people that when they turn for help to the leader they have chosen in place of God, he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores.  This warning from Hosea is stark and even frightening: It is I who rend the prey and depart, I carry it away and no one can save it from me.  I will go back to my place until they pay for their guilt and seek my presence.  Hosea is clear: If we choose to look out for own skins at the expense of those placed in our care, we will not again be wholly in God’s presence until we repent in a full and sincere conversion.  We can easily measure this conversion by the softness of our hearts, by our willingness to risk self in order to save others.

Looking at these Old Testament images and oracles we can fast forward to today.  We can examine our own lives for the times when we have collaborated with evil, when we have kept silence when lies are told, when we have been sycophants to present leaders rather than Disciples of Christ.

It will be the Lion of Judah – the Messiah – who will roar out of the south to gather in the lost sheep.  It will be this savior who will seek out those disadvantaged who were trampled and left for dead by those who looked after their own ease.   It is Christ today who attends to those whom we ought to have sheltered and aided.  It is Christ today to whom each of us must give a full accounting of who and what we are.  And it is Christ who will help us to see that the consequences we receive . . . are those that we ourselves have chosen.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1428. Print.

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