TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 17-20
The parable of the eagles (chapter seventeen); Man’s responsibility for sin (chapter eighteen); God’s lamentation for Israel’s captivity (chapter nineteen); God refuses inquisition (chapter twenty).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
God instructs Ezekiel to speak a parable to the house of Israel (17:1-10). The first eagle represents Nebuchadnezzar. He came to Jerusalem and took away the kings seed (the twigs) and planted them again in Babylon. The highest branch of the cedar represents king Jehoiachin, the king of Judah who was exiled in 597 B.C.
When Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiachin, he replaced him with a native Judean prince, Zedekiah, instead of a foreign ruler. With the help of Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah was surrounded by favorable conditions and prospered in his reign. The hope of Nebuchadnezzar was that the kingdom of Judah would stay dependent on him.
However, this state of affairs did not continue. The second eagle represents Egypt, specifically Pharaoh-hophra, to whom Zedekiah looked for help. The prophet Jeremiah had warned Zedekiah not to make an alliance with Egypt (Jeremiah 37:5-7, 44:30), but Zedekiah ignored the counsel of Jeremiah and made an alliance with them (17:15). Although Egypt offered temporary relief from the oppression of Nebuchadnezzar, in the end Babylon defeated Egypt and put Zedekiah to death. If Zedekiah had only listened to the prophet Jeremiah he would have been safe. Oftentimes we find ourselves in trials and temptations. It is then imperative that we make haste to listen to the voice of God. God did not want Zedekiah to escape the adversity by making an alliance with Egypt. If Zedekiah had obeyed Jeremiah he would have been fine. People often want to escape adversity by refusing to submit to the authority that God allows in their life. Men will leave churches and quit jobs, wives will!
leave husbands, and children will rebel against parents, all the while justifying their actions by pointing out the ungodliness in the authority that God has allowed in their life.
Ezekiel 17:22-24 records a messianic prophecy. “One of the highest branches” refers to Christ, who unlike Zedekiah, will overshadow a mighty kingdom. It is interesting that God says, “I the Lord have spoken and have done it,” referring to the future as history. God’s Word is certain, whether He is talking about the past or the future.
Chapter eighteen begins with a proverb that serves as a warning to those who want to blame others for their problems. The children of Israel were blaming their forefathers (who they say had eaten the sour grapes) for the exile (“teeth are set on edge” = bitterness) they were experiencing. God rejects their blame shifting and evasion of responsibility. The rest of chapter eighteen teaches a fundamental principle found in Scripture. Judgment is according to individual faith and obedience. We each must take responsibility for our own actions and choices. It is true we can’t always control our circumstances, but we can always control our choices. The Children of Israel had been offered mercy if they would have repented. Instead they committed the same sins as their forefathers. The chapter ends with God reminding Israel that His true heart’s desire is always for repentance (18:32).
In chapter nineteen, Ezekiel records a lamentation for the princes of Israel. Lamentation means a “loud cry.” It is poetic song (usually three beats followed by two beats) that expresses deep emotion. This lamentation is for king Jehoahaz, who languished in an Egyptian prison (II Kings 23:31-33) and king Jehoiakim, who was taken captive and deported to Babylon (II Kings 24:1-12). They are depicted as lion’s whelps (19:2, 5). The lamentation ends with a summary of Israel’s current state (19:10-14). Her exile is pictured as a plant in a dry and thirsty ground. The last verse states that Israel has no sceptre to rule. It is also interesting that Ezekiel’s lamentation “shall be for a lamentation” (29:14). Israel still has a future lamentation, the great tribulation. However, with that tribulation will come a sceptre to rule! Christ!
Chapter twenty begins with the leadership of Israel coming to Ezekiel to enquire of the Lord. God instructs Ezekiel to tell the leadership that He will not be enquired of by them. He goes on to remind the leadership of Israel’s past disobedience and current disobedience. The chapter ends with a vivid and descriptive picture of God’s judgment with fire (20:45-49). The leaders of Israel reply by “spiritualizing” Ezekiel’s message instead of taking it literally. They accuse Ezekiel of speaking in parables, when it is clear that this chapter is not a parable. This is the same thing that many lost people do when confronted with the reality of hell. They will believe anything except the fact that Hell is a literal place of God’s judgment.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the “TENDER ONE” planted upon a high mountain – Ezek. 17:22.