07 July 2011

"Then he took a seed from the land, placed it in fertile soil; A plant by abundant waters, he set it like a willow twig." (v. 5)


As in yesterday's passage, Ezekiel continues to use the parable as a means of delivering the judgement of God on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. One of the great advantages of the parable is that it forces the listener to look beyond the word to the meaning hidden within, whereas a simple statement of condemnation might be ignored.

The great eagle is held to be Nebuchadnezzar, together with all the regions and peoples over which he presided. He took into captivity in Babylon the young King Jeconiah, and many of the chiefs and people with him. He then appointed the puppet king Zedekiah to govern Judah and Jerusalem in Jeconiah's place.

But another great eagle, Egypt's Pharaoh, entices Zedekiah from his sworn allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar and an oath made in the name of Yahweh. It wasn't for want of resources that Zedekiah changed allegiance, more to do with ambition and pride.

This being a parable, there has to be a question at this point. Will his treachery bring prosperity or downfall? The answer is that the vine will be uprooted, and with ease because this is God's will (verse 9).

Ezekiel's message is clear, and it is related to the similar parable inchapter 15 about the vine. The seed had been planted in a fertile place, but now Zedekiah had purposely cut off his own roots and it will wither and die.

This is a story rooted (literally) in the history of God's people in exile, but the message within it is still relevant. The oath that Zedekiah made was in God's name, and it was this oath that he broke. In doing so he brought judgement upon himself. Faith is a serious business, the commitment we make to God is not one to be taken lightly.

To Ponder

There's a saying that 'the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence'. How easy is it to fall prey to the temptation to believe that this is true for us as Christians? What examples can you think of? And how might you resist the temptation?

What is the 'other great eagle' of our generation that we might be exposed to?

Bible notes author: John Birch

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