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Bible Pathways 09/05/2002

September 05

Read Ezekiel 17 -- 19

In Today's Reading:

Parable of the eagles and proverb of sour grapes; judgment upon bad conduct and blessings for good conduct; lamentation (sorrow) over the leaders of Israel.

Verses for Today:

The Word of the Lord came unto me, saying . . . A great eagle (Nebuchadnezzar) with great wings . . . full of feathers, which had diverse colors, came unto 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 (17:1-4).

Ezekial's vision of Nebuchadnezzar illustrates the vast extent of his dominion. The eagle's feathers represent the great number of conquered nations. Removing the highest branch represents the removal of Judah's king (Ezekiel 17:3). The top of his young twigs (17:4) 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] her roots toward him (17:7). Thus [says] the Lord God; Shall it prosper? shall he (Nebuchadnezzar) not 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 (2 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 that he would be brought to ruin.

However, in the ninth year of his reign, despite being forewarned, King Zedekiah made a military treaty with Egypt. As a consequence, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and the people suffered many months of famine and pestilence before the city and the Temple were destroyed. After Zedekiah was forced to watch the ruthless murder of his sons, the Babylonians gouged his eyes out. Then he was taken in chains to Babylon, where he died in prison, physically and spiritually blinded (Jeremiah 52:1-11). Thus, the strange prophecy was fulfilled: he shall be taken . . . to Babylon . . . yet shall he not see it (Ezekiel 12:13).

Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Judah could have been averted if Zedekiah had kept his vow but he didn't take seriously the Word of God that stated: When [you vow] a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; He has no pleasure in fools; pay that which [you have] vowed (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6). We too are obligated to keep promises made in the Name of God, even when they are made with the unsaved (Joshua 9:19-20; 2 Samuel 21:1-3; Psalms 15:4.) There are always consequences when we break our promises, whether it be in a marriage vow or in a business transaction. If a man vow a vow unto the Lord . . . he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth (Numbers 30:2).

Christ Revealed:

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 (2 Corinthians 5:21; John 3:16).

Word Study:

17:18 had given his hand = pledged his word; 18:8 given forth upon . . . taken any increase = loaned money at interest; 18:25 equal = fair.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL) and Rep. Ric Keller (FL) · Pray for the President · Country: Syria (17 million) in southwestern Asia · Major languages: Arabic and Kurdish · Limited religious freedom for Christians · 90% Muslim; 4% Eastern Orthodox; 2% Roman Catholic; .25% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Give thanks to the Lord and praise Him openly, for He has redeemed you through His blood and forgiven all your sins (Colossians 1:12-14).

Optional Reading: Revelation 10

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 8:28

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