Many people ask — how can a good God be so mean and nasty in the Old Testament? You have to look at it all from His point of view. First, Israel wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Him. All God wanted was a relationship with humans, yet the humans cheated on Him with other pagan gods. That’s what Ezekiel 16 is about. Parts of it are rated “R” so I’ll let you read that on your own. Chapter 17 is an interesting parable of 2 eagles. Let’s dig in…
Ezekiel 16 – Jerusalem—an Unfaithful Wife
Then another message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable sins. 3 Give her this message from the Sovereign Lord: You are nothing but a Canaanite! Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. 4 On the day you were born, no one cared about you. Your umbilical cord was not cut, and you were never washed, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in cloth. 5 No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you. On the day you were born, you were unwanted, dumped in a field and left to die.
6 “But I came by and saw you there, helplessly kicking about in your own blood. As you lay there, I said, ‘Live!’ 7 And I helped you to thrive like a plant in the field. You grew up and became a beautiful jewel. Your breasts became full, and your body hair grew, but you were still naked. 8 And when I passed by again, I saw that you were old enough for love. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.
9 “Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. 10 I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather. 11 I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, beautiful necklaces, 12 a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. 13 And so you were adorned with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and costly fabric and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods—choice flour, honey, and olive oil—and became more beautiful than ever. You looked like a queen, and so you were! 14 Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord.
15 “But you thought your fame and beauty were your own…. Read the rest here…
…62 And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. 63 You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you of all that you have done. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”Ezekiel 16:1-15, 62-63 NLT
See, God warns, then the people don’t listen and obey. They sin over an over again. God warns again, and they still don’t listen and obey. Ultimately, God bestows judgment. God’s Great White Throne Judgment is coming and EVERYONE will be judged. That’s all in the Book of Revelation. However, those who trust their lives to Jesus, get pardoned because He took our well-deserved judgment to the cross. So, born–again Christians get rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Ezekiel 17 – A Parable of Two Eagles
Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, give this riddle, and tell this story to the people of Israel. 3 Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord:
“A great eagle with broad wings and long feathers,
covered with many-colored plumage,
came to Lebanon.
He seized the top of a cedar tree
4 and plucked off its highest branch.
He carried it away to a city filled with merchants.
He planted it in a city of traders.
5 He also took a seedling from the land
and planted it in fertile soil.
He placed it beside a broad river,
where it could grow like a willow tree.
6 It took root there and
grew into a low, spreading vine.
Its branches turned up toward the eagle,
and its roots grew down into the ground.
It produced strong branches
and put out shoots.
7 But then another great eagle came
with broad wings and full plumage.
So the vine now sent its roots and branches
toward him for water,
8 even though it was already planted in good soil
and had plenty of water
so it could grow into a splendid vine
and produce rich leaves and luscious fruit.
9 “So now the Sovereign Lord asks:
Will this vine grow and prosper?
No! I will pull it up, roots and all!
I will cut off its fruit
and let its leaves wither and die.
I will pull it up easily
without a strong arm or a large army.
10 But when the vine is transplanted,
will it thrive?
No, it will wither away
when the east wind blows against it.
It will die in the same good soil
where it had grown so well.”
The Riddle Explained
11 Then this message came to me from the Lord: 12 “Say to these rebels of Israel: Don’t you understand the meaning of this riddle of the eagles? The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took away her king and princes, and brought them to Babylon. 13 He made a treaty with a member of the royal family and forced him to take an oath of loyalty. He also exiled Israel’s most influential leaders, 14 so Israel would not become strong again and revolt. Only by keeping her treaty with Babylon could Israel survive.
15 “Nevertheless, this man of Israel’s royal family rebelled against Babylon, sending ambassadors to Egypt to request a great army and many horses. Can Israel break her sworn treaties like that and get away with it? 16 No! For as surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, the king of Israel will die in Babylon, the land of the king who put him in power and whose treaty he disregarded and broke. 17 Pharaoh and all his mighty army will fail to help Israel when the king of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem again and destroys many lives. 18 For the king of Israel disregarded his treaty and broke it after swearing to obey; therefore, he will not escape.
19 “So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, I will punish him for breaking my covenant and disregarding the solemn oath he made in my name. 20 I will throw my net over him and capture him in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and put him on trial for this treason against me. 21 And all his best warriors will be killed in battle, and those who survive will be scattered to the four winds. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken.
22 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. 23 It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!Ezekiel 17 NLT
What it all Means…
- The first eagle is Babylon. The large wings are the army and the feathers of many colors are the banners under which this army marched.
- The “highest branch” is the Davidic successor, the heir to the throne. King Jehoiachin, whom Nebuchadnezzar dethroned, replaced him with His Uncle Zedekiah.
- Willows grew on the banks of the Euphrates River in Babylon and that’s where the Jews were relocated to for 70 years.
- The vine is a symbol of Israel like in chapter 15.
- The other great eagle was the other superpower of the time, Egypt. Yet, Babylon was more powerful and the Egyptians were afraid of them.
- Foolishly, Zedekiah was afraid of Nebuchadnezzar, too, breaking his oath to Babylon and trusting in Egypt, who let him down. Pastor Sandy Adams explains…
Zedekiah was destroyed because he never accepted God’s verdict on his sin. He broke his oath, trusted in Egypt, and inflamed the ire of King Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews never surrendered to the will of God. You can always tell if a person is truly repentant of their sin by how they react to its consequences. Do they accept the shame their sin has caused – or agree with the restitution – or submit to the rebuilding that’s now required? Or are they just resentful, and can’t understand why their life has gotten harder?
…In the parable the great eagle took the top twig and cropped it off. But here God does the same.
Nebuchadnezzar chose Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and took him back to Babylon, but God chooses to take another twig. God’s choice is a younger, taller, higher, more tender twig. God will also take an heir of the Davidic dynasty and replant him on the mountains of Jerusalem.
Recall that many of the Hebrew prophets foresaw Messiahas “the Branch of David.” Isaiah 53:2 envisions Him, “He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground.”
Here Ezekiel says God will plant Him on “a high and prominent mountain.” Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth in terms of altitude. But in terms of prominence, the tallest mountain is just outside the walls of Jerusalem, north of the city. It’s called Mount Calvary. And it’s here that God will plant the Messiah. He’ll attach Him to a stake – a cross. And through His death fruit will sprout all around the world. The lives of millions upon millions of people [have been] transformed.
In John 12:24, Jesus said of Himself, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” Jesus was speaking of Himself. Yet this was also Ezekiel’s message…
Here’s a foreshadowing of Matthew 13 – the parable of the mustard seed. God’s Kingdom begins as a tiny seed, but grows into a tree in which birds nest.
From a human perspective, God’s Kingdom couldn’t have had a more humble, inauspicious beginning – an unknown carpenter from Nazareth and a rag-tag bunch of fishermen. Yet the Jesus movement is spreading and it’ll one day encompass all the nations. The last 2500 years have seen Ezekiel’s parable come to pass…
God continues to turn the tables on human wisdom and power. Rome was a high tree that God cut down. Whereas, Jesus is a low tree that He exalted. Even today he exalts the humble, and pummels the proud. A dry tree flourished when Jesus rose from the dead.
Remember when God found newborn Jerusalem in the field, He said “Live, yes live!” And that’s what He said to us. The world left us for dead – but God found us, fed us, nurtured us. And now takes us as His bride! He’s clothed us in robes of His righteousness. And adorned us with blessing.
He’s done all this for us… But have you been faithful? Do you love God supremely? Is yours a loyal heart or a cheating heart?Sandy Adams
Jesus didn’t suffer torture and die so we could have religion! He died so He could have a
personal Relationship with YOU!
What are you waiting for?!