21 February 2017Ezekiel 15:1-8
“Is wood taken from it to make anything? Does one take a peg from it to which to hang any object?” (v. 3)
Psalm: Psalm 111
Ezekiel received and shared his prophecies in many different and sometimes elaborate ways (eg Ezekiel 4). Here he is given a word from God that comes first, then in a set of questions and an allegory and finally a word of judgement against Jerusalem.
The image God uses in the opening questions and later allegory is that of a vine. This was an important image and was used throughout the Old Testament as an image for Israel (Jeremiah 2:21, Zechariah 8:12) and Jesus uses it in the New Testament in one of his 'I am' sayings (John 15:5). In today's passage God is questioning the vine's usefulness (verse 3) and asking Ezekiel some questions that God in fact will answer.
Is the vine useful if it is not producing fruit? No is the answer, other than to be used as firewood and once it has been burnt it is even more worthless. Those that heard these words may have hoped that this vine being spoken of was an image of Babylon or some other enemy, but not so. The vine is Jerusalem and God has declared it useless and thrown it to the fire. Again, those in exile in Babylon may have hoped that was the end of the judgement, but God continues. Those who have escaped the fire, which is most likely those taken into exile, will still suffer punishment. They may have avoided the initial fire but another will come to them.
These are hard words for the exiles to hear; far from home in a foreign land they may have asked how much worse could things get. Here Ezekiel's message offers no hope and the words of comfort the people craved are not found in this moment.
- How do you think the people reacted to hearing this word of judgement? How would you react?
- Ezekiel had to share these harsh words with the people. How easy do you find it to share difficult things with others?