23 February 2017Ezekiel 17:22-24
“On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind.” (v. 23)
Psalm: Psalm 113
These verses bring to a conclusion a picture started in Ezekiel 17:3 where a great eagle takes a twig and plants it in a city. The image seems to break off in verse 11 and takes a different path before returning in verse 22. The first great eagle refers to a human agent (maybe Nebuchadnezzar) but here God identifies God's own self as the one who takes the twig and plants it.
In the first instance the twig is planted in a merchant city (Ezekiel 17:4) but now we are told it is planted in Israel (verse 23). This twig sprouts and becomes a great tree, like the noble cedar, producing fruit and become a home for all the birds. This is an image we see shared by Jesus in his parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:32). The emphasis seems to be the same in both these images with all the birds (people or nations) coming to nest in the tree. This is an encouraging word to those in exile, God will take a shoot and plant it in Israel where it will grow into a great tree. So the people will return to the land they were taken from and they will become great again.
The final verse ties this all together with a number of short sayings that each speak of God's sovereignty in what is happening. With the tall tree being made low the people would have thought of King Zedekiah (Ezekiel 17:16-21 and Jeremiah 32) whom God brought low with the exile, and the low tree made high would be the king that God would restore in Jerusalem. The final words are that of assurance, God is capable of all things and will be faithful to God's word now just as much as in the past.
- How easy do we find it trust God's promises to us, particularly when we are in difficult situations?