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6. The unprofitable vine of Jerusalem ch. 15
This is the first in a series of three parables designed to impress on the overly optimistic exiles that there was no possibility that Jerusalem would escape destruction (cf. chs. 16-17).
The Lord asked Ezekiel how the wood of a vine was superior to the wood of other trees.
Vine wood was not good for making much of anything because it was too soft, weak, and crooked. It was not even good for making a peg on which to hang a vessel because it was so weak. It was only good for producing grapes. If vine wood was naturally of so little value, it was of even less value when charred by fire.
The Lord compared the inhabitants of Jerusalem to a piece of vine wood that He had used for fuel. Vine wood is not even good for fuel since it is so soft and burns so quickly. The vine was one of the most common symbols of Israel (Genesis 49:22; Deuteronomy 32:32; Psalms 80:8-16; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1; Matthew 21:33-41; John 15:1-6). Clusters of grapes decorated Herod’s temple as national symbols. [Note: Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 15:11:3.] Israel’s purpose was to bless the nations with fruitfulness; she was to be a source of blessing to the world (Genesis 12:1-3). If she failed to do that, she was of very little value.
"John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, prayed, ’Lord, let me not live to be useless!’" [Note: Wiersbe, p. 190.]
The Lord had set His face against His people in judgment twice already (cf. Psalms 66:12). They had experienced two invasions and deportations, in 605 and 597 B.C. Even though some of them had escaped complete destruction, they were still not bearing fruit and would end up completely burned (cf. John 15:6; Hebrews 12:28-29). This would happen when the Chaldeans destroyed the city and deported the rest of the Judahites in 586 B.C. (2 Chronicles 36:10; cf. Joshua 6:24; Joshua 8:19; Joshua 11:11). It will happen again in the Tribulation (Revelation 14:18).
Yahweh would desolate the land of Judah because His people had not been faithful to the Mosaic Covenant. The exiles could still be fruitful, but only if they remained faithful to the Lord.
"It is clear from Matthew 21:33-41 and other passages that God desires fruit. This is spiritual fruit, fruit of the spiritual life. Instead, God finds sour grapes or none at all. Unless men come into vital relationship with the true vine [cf. John 15:1], there can be no fruit. The vital link must be formed by faith." [Note: Feinberg, p. 84.]
"This parable implies that the exiles had asked about God’s consistency. They understood that they were his chosen people, his choice vine. How could he destroy them? They had been through the fire of two invasions and deportations by the Babylonians, but each time they had endured and sprouted up again. They did not believe that God’s judgments would destroy Judah as Ezekiel had proclaimed." [Note: Alexander, "Ezekiel," p. 808.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 15". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany