Summary: When it comes to God’s kingdom, at times we are unimpressed. But wait and see.
Ezekiel 17:22-24 WAIT AND SEE
Where do fireworks come from? This past weekend, many of you watched fireworks, and if you weren’t watching them, then you probably heard them. Where do they come from? How did this custom of shooting off fireworks begin?
Fireworks were invented in China. Very early in history, during the first thousand years after Christ, Chinese scientists discovered gunpowder. And from this discovery came the concept of fireworks. The ancient Chinese people were very superstitious, and believed that fire could disperse evil spirits. Sparks were a good omen, they thought, a good indication of the future. Loud sounds, they believed, would frighten away ghosts. And smoke was good for your health. And so in ancient China, fireworks were the perfect thing. All the fire and noise would chase away the spirits and ghosts, and the sparks and smoke would make you healthy.
Chinese kings were given fireworks as a form of tribute. Today, Chinese people set off fireworks to express their happiness and to invite good luck into their lives. Today, we use fireworks as a form of entertainment, and often as a way celebrating of some sort event or holiday, like the Fourth of July.
Today in the Word of God, the prophet Ezekiel talks about something similar to fireworks, and here is the comparison. With fireworks, it’s always amazing to me that one of those little rockets could give off so much light and so much noise. One little rocket – it doesn’t seem like much as it sits in the box – there doesn’t seem to be much to it. But wait and see - when it’s lit off, it lights up the night sky and gives off a boom that you can hear for miles.
Today the prophet Ezekiel talks about something that seems small, seems insignificant. But wait and see - it becomes something much greater than you would ever expect. What Ezekiel is talking about is the Kingdom of God. He compares the Kingdom of God to a tiny little stalk. God plants that stalk, and it doesn’t look like much as it sits on top of a high mountain. But you must wait and see – eventually it becomes the greatest, most amazing tree in all the world. Today God teaches us about his kingdom, and how he works. God does things that seem small in our eyes, to begin with. But the things that God does turn out to be the greatest, most amazing things we could ever imagine.
Today, as we focus on this picture that the Old Testament prophet paints for us this morning, we learn two lessons about God’s kingdom. Lesson number one – we will learn why we are sometimes unimpressed by God and his work. And lesson number two, we will learn why we can be impressed by God and his work.
Look at verse 22, where God says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it. I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.” God describes himself as a gardener planting a tree. He plants a small shoot onto a high mountain. God finishes his work, brushes off his hands, and walks away. It doesn’t look like much – just a small green stalk sitting by itself on top of a high mountain. Not very impressive.
What God is talking about here is Christ, and the Christian church. When Jesus was born, he didn’t look like much - a tiny baby born to a poor Middle Eastern family. And as Jesus carried out his ministry, he didn’t look like much. Sometimes he would perform a miracle, but most of the time he talked about things that people didn’t care about – he talked about repentance and faith and the life to come. And when Jesus died on he cross, he didn’t look like much – very unimpressive, as he died between two common criminals on a Friday afternoon. His early followers didn’t look like much either – a group of uneducated fishermen who didn’t fit in with the rest of society. One needs to wait and see.
Today, you and I are tempted to look at Christ, to look at God’s church, and think to ourselves, “I am not impressed. This doesn’t look like much to me.” We look at our world today, and often times, it’s hard to see the greatness of Christ. We look at the state of Christianity in our world today, with all of its problems, and it’s hard to see the greatness of Christ. We look at our own lives – all of our own problems, and it’s hard to see the greatness of Christ. You need to wait, and see.