Scripture reading – Ezekiel 17

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We are considering the third of three prophecies the LORD revealed to Ezekiel, and commanded him to tell the elders of Israel (Ezekiel 14:1). The prophecies were given to Ezekiel as symbolic revelations of the judgment that would befall Jerusalem.

The first prophecy portrayed Jerusalem as an unfruitful vine to be cut down and cast into a fire (symbolic of the fire that would destroy the Temple and the city, Ezekiel 15). The second prophecy portrayed Jerusalem as an adulterous wife, indicating the spiritual harlotry of the people and their worship of idols (Ezekiel 16). Ezekiel 17 presents the third prophecy, with Jerusalem again represented as a vine the LORD planted in Canaan (Ezekiel 17:1-24).

Ezekiel 17

Two Eagles and a Vine (Ezekiel 17:1-2)

Presented as a riddle and parable, Ezekiel 17 introduced a third prophecy foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was again represented as a vine the LORD planted in Canaan (Ezekiel 17:1-24). The vine and the cedar of Lebanon are symbols of Israel (Ezekiel 17:3, 6).

Zedekiah’s Rebellion and Provocation of Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 17:1-10)

In this chapter, we find Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, portrayed as the first of two eagles (the prophet Jeremiah described him as, “he shall fly as an eagle,” Jeremiah 48:40; 49:22). The LORD revealed to Ezekiel that the top branches of the cedar (i.e., Judah and Jerusalem) would be clipped off by the eagle (this occurred when Nebuchadnezzar removed King Jehoiachin from his throne in Jerusalem, and brought him as a prisoner to Babylon, 2 Kings 24:7-16).

Nebuchadnezzar then took a “seed of the land and planted it” (Ezekiel 17:5-6). That seed would be Zedekiah, whom the king of Babylon chose to rule Judah as his puppet in Jerusalem. King Zedekiah, however, rebelled against Babylon’s rule and made an alliance with Egypt (represented as the second “great eagle” in this parable, Ezekiel 17:7). When Babylon returned to lay siege to Jerusalem, rather than turning to the LORD, Zedekiah asked Egypt for help (Ezekiel 17:8). Therefore, the LORD declared that Judah and Jerusalem would not prosper. They would “wither” and be plucked up by the roots (implying the captivity that followed, Ezekiel 17:9).

An Explanation of the Parable (Ezekiel 17:11-21)


The LORD’s imminent judgment of Judah and Jerusalem was foretold in Ezekiel 17:11-21. The riddle (Ezekiel 17:1-10) was explained in this passage, and the Scriptures reviewed the history of God’s judgment against Judah that we have considered in earlier studies (2 Kings 23:31-24:20, 2 Chronicles 36, and Jeremiah 37).

A Prophetic Promise of Restoration and the Messiah’s Kingdom (Ezekiel 17:22-24)

Despite Jerusalem and Judah’s utter destruction and devastation, the LORD remembered His covenant. He promised to take a “twig” and replant it in Israel (Ezekiel 17:22). Scholars believe—and I am inclined to agree—that the twig represented the humble birth of Jesus Christ.

As He promised, the LORD will plant Christ like a great tree that will “bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar” (Ezekiel 17:23). Ezekiel prophesied the LORD would exalt “the low tree” among the trees (i.e., nations of the earth; Ezekiel 17:24) and all will worship Christ as the King of kings and LORD of lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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