“Fire spread from one of its main branches and consumed its fruit. No strong branch is left on it fit for a ruler’s sceptre.” This is a lament and is to be used as a lament. Ezekiel 19:14
There were no more lion cubs (verse 1-9) and no more branches (verse 11)— no more descendants to become rulers in the Davidic line. This is a significant tragedy and God tells his people that the proper response is to lament.
Sometimes to lament is also the only response we can have towards major tragedy. We cannot reverse the past and it’s a waste of effort to consider all of the “if only’s.” To move forward we have to acknowledge the pain of the situation. We may use phrases like “lean into the pain,” to encourage ourselves and others to mourn our losses and not bury or deny our emotions.
However, we have hope. Even in this chapter, Ezekiel explains that the branch was uprooted and planted in the desert (verses 12-13). It wasn’t lost forever. We find a prophecy of future restoration, “In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land” (Jeremiah 33:15). Jesus is the Branch. Although there weren’t any more Davidic kings, God preserved his ancestry line until Jesus came. The future hope for Israel, and our hope today, lies in Jesus. He has the power to restore and redeem all that is lost.
Today we will still have times of grief and loss. Mourning allows us to let go of the past so we can move into the future. Albeit a different one to the one we imagined, but a future where Jesus is our hope.