Today’s reading begins with the same complicated metaphor of yesterday, an unfaithful bride. However, it pivots quickly to talk about a vision for restoration. This vision expands past a scorned lover to include healing between God and the land, between God and individuals, and among the people.
Ezekiel writes in the same manner as Hosea, using metaphor and image to describe this holistic healing. Through the images of dry bones and stone hearts turned to vulnerable fleshly beings, the prophet reminds us that restoration isn’t about a specific aspect or action; it’s about claiming an entirely new way of being. Instead of symbolic sacrifices, we offer to God our very essence. In doing so, we gain a heightened sense of intimacy with God.
The image of two formerly-split sticks being attached teaches us that restoration extends past ourselves and God to making right relationships among the community. Ezekiel is speaking specifically about the relationship between the Northern and Southern parts of Israel (split after the reign of Solomon), but this idea of collective restoration continues to appear in the New Testament when Jesus prays that “They may be One” (John 17). In Ezekiel, along with the unification of peoples, the land is also deeply blessed by restoration: “The land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden” (36:35).
When I think about harm and healing it is easy to get fixated on how conflict impacts me, the person I am conflicting with, and sometimes God. It takes intentionality to notice the effect I am having on my wider community or the environment. It is difficult to consider how my guilty pleasures reinforce communal values, to notice how my tone with my partner impacts the people around us, and to consider the environmental impact of our purchases.
Ezekiel’s vision challenges the idea that healing is two-dimensional and invites us into a wider understanding of restoration. This invitation will undoubtedly require that we raise our consciousness, but in return promises a more vibrant and rich life for all.
Prayer: Deepen my understanding of restoration.
Reflection: How can I be more conscious of my impact?