We are considering the third of three prophecies the LORD revealed to Ezekiel, and commanded him to tell the elders of Israel (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 that was 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 abused, adulterous wife, indicating the spiritual harlotry of the people and their worship of idols (Ezekiel 16).
Ezekiel 17 presents the third prophecy, with Jerusalem once again represented as a vine the LORD planted in Canaan (17:1-24). This is the first of two devotionals for today.
Presented as a riddle and parable, Ezekiel 17 introduces a third prophecy foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is once again represented as a vine the LORD had planted in Canaan (17:1-24). As discussed earlier, the vine, and in this chapter the cedar of Lebanon, are pictures of Israel (17:3, 6).
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was portrayed as the first eagle (the prophet Jeremiah described Nebuchadnezzar as, “he shall fly as an eagle,” Jeremiah 48:40; 49:22). God revealed to Ezekiel that the top branches of the cedar (both Judah and Jerusalem) would be clipped off by the eagle (this occurred when Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiachin from his throne in Jerusalem, and brought him as a prisoner to Babylon, 2 Kings 24:7-16).
Following the narrative of the parable, Nebuchadnezzar “took also of the seed of the land and planted it” (17:5-6). That seed was Zedekiah, whom the king of Babylon chose to rule as his puppet in Jerusalem. King Zedekiah rebelled against the rule of Babylon, and made alliance with Egypt (represented as the second “great eagle” in this parable, 17:7). When Babylon returned to lay siege to Jerusalem, rather than to the LORD, Zedekiah turned to Egypt for help (17:8). God declared Judah and Jerusalem would not prosper, but would “wither” and be plucked up by the roots (a picture of the captivity that would follow, 17:9)
In spite of the utter destruction and devastation of Jerusalem and Judah, the LORD promised He would take a “twig,” replant it in Israel (17:22-23), and exalt “the low tree” (17:24). Scholars believe, and I am inclined to agree, the twig represented the humble birth of Jesus Christ who will one day return as King of kings and LORD of lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).
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