February 19, 2023
This week we continued to read the book of Ezekiel from 16 to 30. Ezekiel was a prophet chosen by God. He was a little different than Jeremiah in that Ezekiel acted out many of the prophesies told by God. He was taken to Babylon and was living in exile with many other Israelites.
Like Jeremiah, he told the Israelites about God’s judgement because of their sin and lack of repentance. Israel worshipped other God’s and defiled herself as a nation, defiled the temple, the city and the land. Because of this, God judged the people, withdrew himself, and caused national destruction. Many of God’s people were killed by the Babylonians under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar, and those who were not killed were taken into captivity in Babylon. God’s intention was that the Israelites would know him better. He said “then they will know that I am the Lord” 65 times in this book.
Ezekiel is not just about judgement. It is also about future redemption. God had promised David an everlasting kingdom (2 Samuel 7:11-16), and God would not break his covenant. Even though God caused judged his people, showed compassion, cleansed his people, and gave them hope.
We will be talking more about this hope from a parable in chapter 17:22-24 “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. 23 On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”
Before we understand these 2 verses, we must understand the verses before.
“Two Eagles and a Vine”
17 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set forth an allegory and tell it to the Israelites as a parable. 3 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar, 4 he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders.
5 “‘He took one of the seedlings of the land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water, 6 and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs.
7 “‘But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water. 8 It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine.’
9 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots. 10 It has been planted, but will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?’”
11 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Say to this rebellious people, ‘Do you not know what these things mean?’ Say to them: ‘The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles, bringing them back with him to Babylon. 13 Then he took a member of the royal family and made a treaty with him, putting him under oath. He also carried away the leading men of the land, 14 so that the kingdom would be brought low, unable to rise again, surviving only by keeping his treaty. 15 But the king rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape?
16 “‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, he shall die in Babylon, in the land of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose treaty he broke. 17 Pharaoh with his mighty army and great horde will be of no help to him in war, when ramps are built and siege works erected to destroy many lives. 18 He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. Because he had given his hand in pledge and yet did all these things, he shall not escape.
19 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, I will repay him for despising my oath and breaking my covenant. 20 I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment on him there because he was unfaithful to me. 21 All his choice troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to the winds. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken.”
The meaning of verses 1-10 is stated in verses 11-21.
- The great eagle is King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon
- The top of the cedar (in David’s line) is Jehoiachin, king of Judah
- Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin into exile in 597 BC.
- The seed of the land is King Zedekiah (descendant of David).
- King Zedekiah was placed on Jerusalem’s throne by Nebuchadnezzar.
- Another great eagle is the pharaoh of Egypt
- King Zedekiah aligned with the king of Egypt to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar, but it failed and Zedekiah was taken into captivity, blinded and then died in 587 BC.
After King Zedekiah died, there were no more descendants of David on the throne. That is why God promised the coming of a Messiah in verses 22-24. 24 “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. 23 On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”
God will take a shoot from the very top of the cedar: God will take someone from the Davidic line himself. There are references to this in Is 11:1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” And from Jeremiah 23:5-6 ““The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.”
The term “tender sprig” refers to the Messiah. Planted on a high and lofty mountain is the high mountain of Israel; Zion.
The twig will grow large, produce fruit, and every type of bird will nest in it. The Messiah grows into a kingdom which all inhabitants of the earth will find both food (from the fruits of the tree) and protection (under its shadow).
I the LORD bring down the tall tree: these are the people who think they are great.
Make the low tree grow tall: this means the Messiah.
Thus, God was giving a prophecy about the coming Messiah.
This chapter started with judgement but ended with redemption, mercy and grace. God completely intervened on everyone’s behalf by sending his son Jesus.
How do you see God? Do you see him as the angry, mean God or do you see him as the forgiving and merciful father? God is righteous and just. But he is also a God who loves you more than you can fathom. He sent his son to die for you on a cross so that you would have everlasting life. Have you excepted this free gift?
Next week we will finish the book of Ezekiel reading chapters 31-48.