Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ezekiel 17 - Eagles, a Vine, and a Tender Sprig

LINK: Ezekiel 17

Here is where Ezekiel 17 fits in chronologically with the history and the prophecies of Jeremiah:


2 Kings 24:18-20
2 Chronicles 36:11-14
Jeremiah 49:34-51:64
Jeremiah 11:18-12:6
Jeremiah 23:9-40
Jeremiah 27:1-28:17
Ezekiel 1-23
Jeremiah 21:1-14
Ezekiel 24-25
Jeremiah 37-38
Ezekiel 29-31
Jeremiah 32-34
2 Kings 25
2 Chronicles 36:15-21

If you want to see how all the later prophets fit in chronological with the 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles accounts, see HERE.

As I have said before, I chose not to do a strict chronology because we would be jumping back and forth between books. I think it is easier to read each book as a whole and fit them together semi-chronologically. As you can see Ezekiel is much more chronological than Jeremiah! 

BACKGROUND

The first eagle in this allegory symbolized King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (17:12) who went to "Lebanon" (Jerusalem) and clipped off the top (King Jehoiachin, 2 Kings 24:8-16) of a cedar tree (Davidic dynasty) and replanted that top bough in a city of traders (Babylon). This occurred in 597 B.C.

The eagle (Nebuchadnezzar) took some of the seed of the land and planted it by abundant water and it grew into a spreading vine. After King Jehoiachin died in captivity, Nebuchadnezzar "planted" King Zedekiah as a vassal king in Jerusalem. This meant he was in a treaty with Nebuchadnezzar and under oath. He and Jerusalem would grow and prosper as long as Zedekiah kept his side of the bargain.

We know from the the accounts in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles that he did not. The vine (Zedekiah) stretched out toward a new eagle (Pharaoh of Egypt) in order to receive water (protection) and forgot the oath of allegiance made to the first eagle (Nebuchadnezzar) and rebelled against it. When Ezekiel prophesied this in captivity (sometime between 592 and 591 B.C.), this final revolt had not yet happened in Jerusalem (588 B.C.). Jeremiah prophesied the same thing in Judah (Jeremiah 2:36, 37; 38). Isaiah had preached it over a century before (Isaiah 31:1; 36:9).

The result of this rebellion was a disaster. The vine would not thrive. Zedekiah was not only rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar but also against God (17:19-21). Nebuchadnezzar captured Zedekiah, killed his sons, blinded him, and took him captive to Babylon, where he died in captivity (Ezekiel 17:16; 2 Kings 24:17-25:7; Jeremiah 52:1-11).

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Ezekiel's prophecy does end in a ray of hope. God said he would take a sprig (Jesus) from the very top  of the cedar (Davidic dynasty) and plant it on the mountain heights of Israel. It would prosper and provide shelter for all who come to it (17:22-24). 

Jesus came from the stem of Jesse and will one day establish His kingdom on earth (Isaiah 11:1-10; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-17; Zechariah 6:12-13) and all other kingdoms will fall.

REFLECTION

How often do we in our human wisdom try to trade the abundant, life-giving water of the Lord for "foreign" water that can do nothing to quench our thirst? The treaty with Babylon was God's protection for Judah, but they didn't drink.

Where is your water source?

APPLICATION

Meditate on Psalm 1 and talk to God about where you are getting your water these days.

PRAYER

Lord, help us to drink deeply from Your abundant, living water. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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