In my mind this morning is a verse of hope. It’s Ezekiel 1:1 which reads,
“In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.” (NIV)
It’s a bad news/good news scenario. The bad news is the word “exile.” This places this verse in a particular moment for the nation of Israel. The broad outline of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God took His people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. When His people disobeyed, God took them out of the Promised Land and into exile.
The concept of “exile” is not hard to understand intellectually‚ but emotionally I don’t have any frame of reference to know the loss embedded in those words “while I was among the exiles.” It’s an epic loss. The Kebar River is likely modern Iraq near the border of Iran. That difference in location was as difficult then as it would be today.
But in the midst of that loss, facing those dark consequences, all is not lost because Ezekiel reports “the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.”
The gospel teaches us that we can’t rely on our circumstances to indicate our standing with God. Don’t be too quick to assume about your or anyone else’s life based on your circumstances. There are people who don’t know God who are living comfortable lives. There are saints who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
What we have is hope because in the darkest of circumstances, there is God.