Today's devotion from Ezekiel 14 & 15. How tragic. God's own people, chosen for His purpose, received a devastating message from God. He would punish the idolatrous elders. Not only were they guilty of setting up idols before them, but of seating idols in their hearts, but this is not the tragedy. These elders who were supposed to lead the people in accordance with God's words and His ways had, in fact, encouraged the people to stray. Appalling, but this is still not the tragedy.
Four judgments are coming to the land because of the sin of the people. The famine will wipe out men and animals. Dangerous animals will roam the land and "depopulate" it. The sword will come against the rebellious people to the extent that there is no rescue possible. A plague will sweep across the nation. In each case, even the righteous like Noah, Daniel, and Job would not be able to save their families. Devastating, but these judgements are not the greatest tragedy.
As chapter 15 opens, God gives a parable. The parable looks to nature and the created order. From among the trees of the forest, God draws attention to the vine as useless. It can't become anything useful. It can't be made into a peg. The only usefulness God can find for this vine is to be burned and charred. If it can't be used when whole, how useless is it once it is burned and defaced?
This is the tragedy.
We do not want our lives to be meaningless and without purpose. Yet, that is exactly what many of us choose when we decide to live without, apart from, or even against God. When we allow sin to rip us from His side, we allow it to rob us of our value and joy. When idolatry and ambition take God's place, they take our purpose, because He is the only One qualified to determine our worth, our purpose, and our place.