1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel; 3 And say, The Lord GOD says this; A great eagle with great wings, long-winged, full of feathers of various colors, came to Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar: 4 He cropped off the top of its young twigs, and carried it into a land of merchants; he set it in a city of merchants. 5 He also took of the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful field; he placed it by great waters, and set it like a willow tree. 6 And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and its roots were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs. 7 There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and, behold, this vine bent her roots toward him, and shot her branches toward him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation. 8 It was planted in good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a splendid vine. 9 Say, The Lord God says this; Will it prosper? Will he not pull up its roots, and cut off its fruit so that it withers? It will wither in all the leaves of her spring, without great power or many people to pluck it up by its roots. 10 Yes behold, being planted, will it prosper? Will it not utterly wither, when the east wind touches it? It will wither in the furrows where it grew.
- God tells parables to give understanding, make remembering easier, and to obscure the truth from those who refuse to bow before their Maker (Mark 4:11).
- God always explains to those who will listen. The rest of the chapter explains this story.
11 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 12 Now say to the rebellious house, Do you not know what these things mean? Tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon has come to Jerusalem, and has taken its king and its princes, and led them with him to Babylon; 13 And has taken of the king’s seed, and made a covenant with him, and has taken an oath of him: he has also taken the mighty of the land: 14 That the kingdom might be low, that it might not lift itself up, but that by keeping his covenant it might stand.
- The king of Babylon was the great eagle.
- By taking the royal family and the mighty men of the land he hoped to keep the rest of Israel in subjection to him.
- If they would submit, God would preserve them as a nation.
15 But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Will he prosper? Will he escape that does such things? Will he break the covenant, and be delivered? 16 As I live, says the Lord GOD, surely in the place where the king dwells that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he broke, even with him in the midst of Babylon he will die. 17 And Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company will not help him in the war, by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons: 18 Since he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when he had given his hand/sworn, and has done all these things, he will not escape. 19 So the Lord God says this; As I live, surely my oath that he has despised, and my covenant that he has broken, I will repay it on his own head.
- Israel broke its covenant with the king of Babylon, though they had sworn loyalty.
- The larger application is that we have a covenant with God.
- Because God lives we live. He is eternal life. He sustains our earthly life.
- In BC 1400 the people of Israel made a covenant with God to be His people. But as a nation they broke that covenant.
- Remember God is life. They were leading the people to eternal death by trusting these false things.
- It was 861 years from the time of the first warning until God brought it to pass.
- Job 12:10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
God pleads with us and promises restoration
20 And I will spread my net on him, and he will be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and plead with him there for his trespass that he has trespassed against me. 21 And all his fugitives with all his troops will fall by the sword, and those that remain will be scattered toward all winds: and you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken it.
- 1Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world have come.
22 The Lord God says this; I will take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 I will plant it in the mountain heights of Israel: and it will bring forth boughs, bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar: and under it will dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. 24 And all the trees of the field will know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it.
- The words of God to Ezekiel came while he was in exile in Babylon.
- God ends His message with a promise of hope.
- This message came around 595 BC.
- In 536 BC God’s altar was rebuilt in Jerusalem. The foundation of the temple laid and the worship festivals reinstated.
All the souls are God’s
1 And the word of the LORD came to me again, saying, 2 What do you mean, that you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? 3 As I live, says the Lord GOD, you will not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. 4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it will die. 5 But if a man is just, and does what is lawful and right, 6 And has not eaten on the mountains or lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or has not defiled his neighbor’s wife or has come not near to a menstruous woman, 7 And has not oppressed any, but has restored to the debtor his pledge, has robbed no one by violence, has given his bread to the hungry, and has covered the naked with a garment; 8 He that has not loaned on interest or has taken any increase, that has withdrawn his hand from iniquity, has executed true judgment between man and man, 9 has walked in my statutes, and kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he will surely live, says the Lord GOD.
- Eating on the mountains was not having a picnic but worshipping in the groves of idols that were in the mountains.
- These people were disobeying God, behaving dishonorably and blaming the trouble it brought on their forefathers actions rather than their own.
- God said no! That’s not the way it is.
10 If he begets a son that is violent, that sheds blood, and that does any one of these things, 11 and that does not do any of those duties, but has eaten on the mountains, and defiled his neighbor’s wife, 12 has oppressed the poor and needy, has stolen by violence, has not restored the pledge, and has lifted up his eyes to the idols, has committed abomination, 13 has lent on interest, and has taken increase: will he then live? He will not live: he has done all these abominations; he will certainly die; his blood will be upon him. 14 Now look, if he begets a son that sees all his father’s sins which he has done, and considers, and does nothing like that, 15 that has not eaten on the mountains or lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, has not defiled his neighbor’s wife, 16 or has not oppressed any, has not withheld the pledge, or robbed by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry, and covered the naked with a garment, 17 that has withdrawn his hand from the poor, that has not received interest or increase, has executed my judgments and walked in my statutes; he will not die for the iniquity of his father, he will definitely live.
- Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
18 As for his father, because he did extortion, robbed his brother by violence, and did what is not good among his people, look, he will die in his iniquity. 19 Yet you say, Why? Does the son not bear the iniquity of the father? When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all my statutes, and has done them, he will certainly live. 20 The soul that sins it will die. The son will not bear the iniquity of the father nor will the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous will be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon him. 21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do what is lawful and right, he will surely live, he will not die. 22 All his transgressions that he has committed, they will not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he has done he will live.
God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked
23 Do I have any pleasure that the wicked should die? asks the Lord GOD: and not that he should turn from his ways, and live? 24 But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does the abominations that the wicked man does, will he live? All his righteousness that he has done will not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, he will die in them. 25 Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is my way not equal? Are not your ways unequal? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies in them; he will die for his iniquity that he has done. 27 Again, when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed, and does what is lawful and right, he will save his soul alive. 28 Because he considers, and turns away from all his transgressions that he has committed, he will definitely live, he will not die. 29 Yet says the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? Are not your ways unequal?
- They were saying that they were just and God was unfair.
30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away all your transgressions by which have transgressed; and make yourself a new heart and a new spirit: why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the Lord GOD: therefore turn yourselves and live.
- Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
- John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they will never perish, neither will any man pluck them out of my hand.
God’s song of sorrow for the leaders of Israel
1 As for you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel, 2 And say, What is your mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions; she nourished her cubs among young lions. 3 And when she raised one of her cubs: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; he ate men. 4 The nations heard of him; and he was taken in their pit, and they brought him with chains to the land of Egypt. 5 Now when she saw that she had waited and her hope was lost, then she took another of her cubs and made him a young lion. 6 And he walked about among the lions, he became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, he ate men. 7 And he knew his widows and he lay waste their cities; the land was desolate, and its fullness by the noise of his roaring.
- The mother refers to the nation of Israel.
- She nourished strong cubs but they turned to evil.
- Remember the two trees in Eden? These young leaders chose to eat from the tree of evil rather than knowing God and following Him.
- Their ways led away from God and therefore killed men because God is life.
- Good leaders shepherd people to God.
8 Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces, and spread their net over him: he was taken in their pit. 9 And they put him in a cage in chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into a hunting net so that his voice would no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel. 10 Your mother is like a vine in your bloodline, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches because of many waters. 11 And she had strong rods for the scepters of them that rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches. 12 But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. 13 And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground. 14 And fire has gone out of a rod of her branches that has devoured her fruit, so that she has no strong rod to be a scepter to rule. This is a lamentation, and will be for a lamentation.
- A lamentation is a song of mourning, an expression of grief or sorrow.
- God gave this to Israel to be heard, sung, and spoken by the people.
- Israel had no strong rod to rule because she had turned from the Lord, her life and her strength.
- Joseph, David, and many other of Israel’s kings ruled by God’s strength. They were strong rods.
- But God plucked these leaders up in fury because of the ruin and loss caused by their evil choices.
SUMMARY: Ezekiel 17-19
- God pleads with us and promises restoration
- All the souls are God’s
- God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked
- God’s song of sorrow for the leaders of Israel