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     As something of a lead in to the sermon this morning, one might reflect on the despair the nation of Israel was experiencing at the time in which God’s prophet Ezekiel was preaching. The southern kingdom of Israel (Judah) was in captivity because of sinful habits; their sinful habits were not particularly the kind that people often struggle with, but was of the kind that generated rebellion.

As you are aware, the Lord was very merciful to His people, but He arrived at a point in time wherein His mercy was removed. In fact, it was so bad that He had to protect His own name! But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. (Ezekiel 36.21, ESV) Think about that for a moment; because God’s people refused to take into consideration the Lord high and holy name, the Lord had to protect His own. As one man said, this was the utmost in humiliation the sinners of Israel experienced because the Lord abandoned them in order to protect the honor and dignity of His character. When the Lord leaves an individual or a nation, both fail to have any real hope for a future.

Though the Lord left Israel and protected His name, it was because of His mercy that He did not abandoned Israel to a complete and utter hopeless future.

God’s prophet Ezekiel was given a message, a message of encouragement in the midst of complete despair. The despair is described as when a defeated army abandons its dead on a battlefield, a complete humiliation of the deceased. Though in this description there is desolation, in truth, the Lord conveys there is hope. How can this be? The deceased warriors left on the battlefield, in the vision, have no ounce of life within them at all, but to the Lord, there is plenty to “work with” for life (hope) to be regained.

The Lord is not hindered by any obstacle in this material realm. In fact, He is hindered by mothering in any realm! Whatever it is that man can throw up to hinder the Lord, the Lord can simply wipe it away and start afresh, or He can make use of that which man throws up in His face and still turn a despairing situation into one of great hope. In regards to the nation Israel (or Judah), it was this latter the Lord used to give hope. Judah threw one sinful obstacle after another at the Lord. Of course, the Lord made them pay a serious price for so doing, but in the price paid, the message of hope was already “prepaid” (if you will).

How about you? Have you thrown up so many obstacles in front of the Lord that you despair of any hope? Well, think all over again about that. There is nothing in your life, not one single thing, that Lord can’t overcome to give you hope and to reward you with your loving obedience. This is why Jesus came to earth and was resurrected, even when man threw an obstacle in front of God, thinking they killed the Father’s only hope for man. Jesus said, I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33, ESV). RT

 

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