Scripture reading – Ezekiel 15

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The prophecies the LORD imparted to Ezekiel continue in today’s Scripture reading (Ezekiel 15). With the elders of Israel as his audience (Ezekiel 14:1), the LORD revealed three prophetic symbols of divine judgment to Ezekiel.

The first was the city of Jerusalem, which was portrayed as an unfruitful vine (Ezekiel 15). A helpless, abused, and adulterous woman served as the second symbol of Jerusalem’s spiritual condition and is recorded in Ezekiel 16. The third symbol of judgment identified Jerusalem as a vine ravaged by predators (Ezekiel 17). For today, our focus is Ezekiel 15 and the unfruitful vine.

Ezekiel 15

Israel is often portrayed in the Scriptures as a fruitful vine, a people whom the LORD chose and planted in Canaan. In Psalm 80:8, Israel was a vine the LORD “brought…out of Egypt…[Who then] cast out the heathen [out of Canaan], and planted it.” Israel was also portrayed as a vineyard the LORD planted and cultivated. Yet, it bore “wild (bitter) grapes” in Isaiah 5:1. When Ezekiel conveyed the vine in this prophecy (Ezekiel 15:2-3), the elders of the captivity living in Babylon, immediately recognized the imagery as Israel, and particularly Jerusalem (Ezekiel 15:6).


A Picture of an Unfruitful Vine (15:1-5)

The LORD proposed several questions to Ezekiel whose answers implied the obvious: A tree and its wood have far greater value than a wild vine growing in the forest (Ezekiel 15:2). The wood of a vine cannot be carved or shaped into a proper vessel (Ezekiel 15:3). Though the wood of a vine might be used as tinder for a fire, the flames soon devour it and it has no lasting purpose (Ezekiel 15:4). Therefore, a wild vine growing in the forest has little value and no value when it is burnt up (Ezekiel 15:5).

An Explanation of the Unfruitful Vine to Israel

An Explanation of the Unfruitful Vine to Israel (Ezekiel 15:6-8)

As a vinedresser judges a vine good for nothing but to be cast into a fire to fuel the flames, the wickedness of the people rendered Jerusalem (i.e., the vine) good for nothing to the LORD. As the farmer casts aside the vine (Ezekiel 15:4), the LORD determined to destroy Jerusalem by fire (Ezekiel 15:6).

Ezekiel’s prophecy foretold the certainty of the LORD’s judgment. The flames that destroyed Jerusalem would remind the people that it was the work of the LORD (Ezekiel 15:7). All that was prophesied came to pass that the children of Israel might confess and turn from their sins to the LORD (Ezekiel 15:8).


Closing thoughts –

The vine and the branches metaphor were not limited to Israel and Judah in the Scriptures.  In John 15, Christ declared to His followers, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman” (John 15:1).

Branches that grow and bear no fruit are cut and thrown away, while the branches that bear fruit are pruned to encourage more fruit (John 15:2). How does the LORD prune a believer to encourage fruitfulness? Through His Word. We read, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). Only as believers abide in the vine (i.e., Christ) can they be fruitful (John 15:4-5).

A branch that does not abide in the vine will be unfruitful, cut off, and cast into the fire (John 15:6). Only when we abide in Christ and His words abide in us will we be fruitful. To such a believer, the LORD promises, “Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

Friend, what kind of vine are you? You will be a fruitless vine with no lasting value apart from the LORD. However, in Christ, when you abide in His Word, you will find life fruitful and rewarding.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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