Ezekiel 17 -- 19
In the parable of the vine that no longer produced fruit, Ezekiel warned the Israelites that, because of their sins, they had become worthless to God and would, as a worthless vine, be destroyed. Ezekiel was given another parable: The Word of the Lord came to me, saying . . . A great eagle (Nebuchadnezzar) with great wings . . . full of feathers, which had various colors, came to Lebanon (symbolic of Jerusalem, as many of the houses were built of the cedars of Lebanon), and took the highest branch (the king) of the cedar (tree): He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffic; he set it in a city of merchants (Ezekiel 17:1-4).
This vision illustrates the vast extent of Nebuchadnezzar's dominion. The eagle's feathers represent the great number of conquered nations. Removing the highest branch represents the removal of Judah's king (17:12). The top of his young twigs symbolized Jehoiachin, youthful King of Judah, and a city of merchants represented Babylon where he would be taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Eventually, there was a spreading vine of low stature (Zedekiah), whose branches turned toward him (Nebuchadnezzar) (17:6).
There was also another great eagle (the Egyptian king) . . . and, behold, this vine (Zedekiah) bent its roots toward him (17:7). Thus says the Lord God; Shall it prosper? He (Nebuchadnezzar) shall pull up the roots (the Kingdom of Judah) (17:9). The purpose of this prophecy was to warn Zedekiah not to betray his oath to Nebuchadnezzar by forming an alliance with Egypt. Zedekiah had taken an oath in the Name of the Lord God of Israel to administer the Kingdom of Judah in subjection to Nebuchadnezzar (II Chronicles 36:13). Ezekiel foretold that if Zedekiah pursued his scheme of allying himself with Egypt, he would expose his lack of integrity and loyalty to both God and Nebuchadnezzar and be brought to ruin. The king should have known from Israel's history with the Gibeonites that, once an oath is made in God's Name, it must be honored for God's honor is at stake (Joshua 9:3 -- 10:11; II Samuel 21:1-9).
However, in the ninth year of his reign, despite being forewarned, King Zedekiah made a treaty with Egypt. In addition, all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the House of the Lord (II Chronicles 36:14). Zedekiah's disregard of the Word of God after being warned by the prophet resulted in untold miseries. The people suffered many months of famine and pestilence before the city and Temple were destroyed. As Zedekiah watched the ruthless murder of his sons, the Babylonians gouged his eyes out. Afterwards, he was dragged in chains to Babylon where he died in prison, physically and spiritually blind (Jeremiah 52:1-11). Thus, the strange prophecy was fulfilled: He shall be taken . . . to Babylon . . . but shall not see it (Ezekiel 12:13).
No one can escape the consequences of disobedience to the Word of God. God is a God of love, but He is also a God of perfect justice. Genuine repentance, turning to the Lord for mercy and forgiveness of all sins with a sincere desire to faithfully do His will according to His Word, is our only assurance of eternal life.
Nebuchadnezzar's invasion could have been averted if Zedekiah had kept his vow. We too are obligated to keep vows made in the Name of God, even when they are made with the unsaved (Joshua 9:19-20; II Samuel 21:1-3.) There are always consequences when we break our vows or promises. If a man vow a vow unto the Lord . . . he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth (Numbers 30:2).
As the One whose forgiveness provides life everlasting (Ezekiel 18:20-22). For He (God) has made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Cor. 5:21).
17:18 had given his hand means pledged his word; 18:8 given forth upon . . . taken any increase means loaned money at interest; 18:25 not equal means not fair; 19:9 in ward means in a cage.
Government Official: Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL) · Pray for Bible Pathway Distributors · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in memory of Dr. Hash's mother, Iva Ann McElroy · Country: Burundi (6 million) in east-central Africa · Major languages: Kirundi and French · Losing religious freedom · 51% Roman Catholic; 12% animist; 11% Protestant; 1% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Pray and give thanks to the Lord for your brothers and sisters in Christ (Colossians 1:2-3).
Memory Verse for the Week: