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Bible Pathways 9/5/2001

September 5

Read Ezekiel 17 -- 19

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 her 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. When you vow a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6). Lord, who shall abide in Your Tabernacle? . . . He that swears to his own hurt, and changes not (Psalms 15:1,4). You shall not swear by My Name falsely, neither shall you profane the Name of your God: I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:12).

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.

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 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 blind (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. 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; II Samuel 21:1-3; Psalms 15:4.) There are always consequences when we break our promises, whether it be a marriage vow or a business transaction. If a man vow a vow to the Lord . . . he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceeds 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 (II Cor. 5:21).

Word Study: 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 equal means fair.

Prayer Needs:
Government Officials: Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL) and Rep. Ric Keller (FL) · BPM Staff: Dr. John A. Hash · Pray for Bible Pathway Prayer Partners · Country: Vanuatu (189,000) a group of 12 large islands southwest of the Solomons in the southwestern Pacific · Major languages: English and French · Religious freedom · 78% Protestant; 17% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Pray for your brothers and sisters that they might be filled with spiritual discernment and the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3:14-18).

Optional Reading: Revelation 10

Memory Verse for the Week: I Timothy 6:9

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