Ezekiel 17

Son of man, propound a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel.” Ezekiel was called by God to teach the Lord’s people using a symbolic story about two eagles. The first great bird stood for the King of Babylon. He took some of the young people of Israel and “planted” them in his land. He then set up Zedekiah to rule in Canaan under his authority, an arrangement to which Zedekiah agreed.
A second eagle in this story was the Pharaoh in Egypt. Zedekiah and the leaders of the Jews secretly put their hopes in the Egyptians to deliver them from the hands of the Babylonians. Israel was a vine that should have been fruitful in the service of the emperor of Babylon. Instead the king in Jerusalem rejected the arrangement that God had appointed. The “vine bent its roots toward” Pharaoh assuming that this would be a more advantageous alliance.
The Lord spoke against His own “low spreading vine” because of her covenant unfaithfulness. He asked this important question: “Will it thrive?” Israel’s rebellion was not only against the Babylonians, but was also a violation of the Lord’s own instruction. God would come against Zedekiah. “I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there for the treachery he has committed against Me.” By this mighty act of judgment, the Jews would “know that I am the Lord; I have spoken.”
Yet the Almighty also told one more story through Ezekiel regarding His plan of grace for the distant future. God would take “a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar.” He would plant “a tender one” that would become a very mighty tree. “And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest.”
Ezekiel did not explain the meaning of this final tale, but a parable in the New Testament helps us to confirm that it is about Jesus and the eternal kingdom of God. In Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus taught His disciples about His worldwide mission. It would start as something so small, but would eventually provide shelter to all of God’s chosen people. “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
Isaiah 53:2 prepared the Jews for a Messiah who would be “like a young plant.” It was the will of the Lord to bring about His everlasting reign through very humble beginnings. The answer for our salvation has never been in the most powerful empires known to humanity. Our sovereign God has secured His kingdom in such a way that He alone receives the glory for what will surely come to pass. “I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”
Prayer from A Book of Prayers

O Lord, there is much that we do not understand. Speak to us clearly through Your Word, and fill us with a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Your Son. You have blessed us with so many wonderful gifts. Cause Your church to be a fruitful plant with deep roots. You know the secrets of our hearts. You know of the foolish schemes of wicked leaders among Your church. Thank You for the perfection of our One Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. He surely is a new tree of righteousness for Your people. We find protection under His branches. In Him, You have fully accomplished our rescue from sin and death.