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And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
This chapter represents, in the way of a brief introduction, what Ezekiel 16:1-63 details minutely.
Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?
What is the vine tree more than any tree? What has the vine-wood to make it preeminent above other forest-wood? Nothing. Nay, the reverse. Other trees yield useful timber, but vine-wood is soft, brittle, crooked, and seldom large.
Will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? Not so much as a "pin" (the large wooden peg used inside houses in the East to hang household articles on) can be made of it (Isaiah 22:23-25). Its sole excellency is that it should bear fruit: when it does not bear fruit it is not only not better, but inferior to other trees. So if God's people lose their distinctive excellency by not bearing fruits of righteousness, they are more unprofitable than the worldly (Deuteronomy 32:32); because they are the vine: the sole end of their being is to bear fruit to His glory (Psalms 80:8-9; Isaiah 5:1, etc.; Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1; Matthew 21:33). In all respects, except in their being planted by God, the Jews were inferior to other nations, as Egypt, Babylon, etc.-e. g., in antiquity, extent of territory, resources, military power, attainments in arts and sciences. In Ezekiel 15:2, instead of "or than a branch" - translate, rather, in apposition with "the vine tree." Omit or than. What superiority has the vine, if it be but a branch among the tress of the forest? i:e., if, as having no fruit, it lies cut down among other woods of trees?
Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work?
Behold, it is cast into the fire - (John 15:6, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned").
The fire devoureth both the ends - the northern kingdom having been already overturned by Assyria under Tiglath-pileser; the southern being pressed on by Egypt under Pharaoh-necho ( 2 Kings 23:29-35).
And the midst of it is burnt - rather, 'is on flame;'-namely, Jerusalem, which had now caught the flame by the attack of Nehuchadnezzar.
Is it meet for any work? - "it," i:e., the scorched part still remaining.
Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned?
Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less ... when ... burned? If useless before, much more so when almost wholly burned.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
As the vine tree ... which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give ... Jerusalem - so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as being utterly unprofitable (Matthew 21:33-41; Matthew 25:30. So Jesus said to the fig tree which had the leaves of promise, but no fruit of performance, to realize the expectations raised by the leaves, "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever," Mark 11:12-14; and to the barren fig tree, "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke 13:6-9) in answering God's design, that they should be witnesses for Yahweh before the pagan (Matthew 3:10; Matthew 5:13).
And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I set my face against them.
They shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them - (cf. Isaiah 24:18). "Fire" means here every kind of calamity (Psalms 66:12). The Jewish fugitives shall escape from the ruin of Jerusalem only to fall into some other calamity.
And I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass, saith the Lord GOD.
Because they have committed a trespass - rather, 'they have perversely fallen into perverse rebellion.' The Jews were not merely sinners as the other nations, but revolters and apostates. It is one thing to neglect what we know not, but quite another thing to despise what we profess to worship (Jerome), as the Jews did toward God and the law. [ maa`al (H4603) is to transgress through contempt and obstinacy: transgression of an inferior against a superior, willfully and presumptuously, and in disregard of one's conscience and profession. So the Reubenites (Joshua 22:16) appeared to be guilty of ma`al (H4604), a shuffling violation of duty, in wishing to appear to worship Yahweh, while they were acting in rebellion toward Him in erecting the altar by the Jordan. Also Saul (1 Chronicles 10:13) in not observing God's commands, while wishing to appear to have done so. So here the Jews.]
(1) God's people are like the vine, one of the most valuable of all trees if fruitful, the most useless if barren and fruitless. The distinctive excellence of believers is, that they show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. It is not that they are superior to others in intellect, learning, accomplishments, success in the fine arts, military prowess, and political sagacity. In these many of the worldly are far their superiors. But as the Jews, though inferior in all these respects to the great nations of antiquity-Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome-yet stood raised immeasurably above them in this one grand pre-eminence-they were called to be the "peculiar treasure" of the Lord, the depository of His revelation of Himself, "a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Exodus 19:5) - so believe are now called to the high prerogative above all others, however superior, the latter may be in worldly respects, to be "kings and priests unto God" through Christ (Revelation 1:6).
(2) When they fulfill this their sublime function O how truly great excellent and elevated they are! Already (2) When they fulfill this their sublime function, O how truly great, excellent, and elevated they are! Already in spirit seated with Christ in heavenly places, and taking rank with the highest of the heavenly peerage and reckoned as of the blood royal of the King of kings; while here on earth they are witnesses for God in the ungodly world, even as the Jews were His witnesses among the pagan kingdoms: they are the salt of the earth, seasoning its tainted mass, which would otherwise utterly putrefy in its own corruption: they are the light of the world, which but for them would be in utter darkness: they are the vine of the Lord, yielding the fruit and wine which alone can fill with joy and peace the aching hearts of sinful men.
(3) But if they fail in this the grand and sole end of their calling, they are worse than worthless; because they not only do not do good to the world, but they do it the greatest harm, by presenting before it the show of a religion which is not religion. Thus the sacred cause of God and His holy name are brought into the most grievous dishonour before the unbelieving and ungodly.
(4) God must therefore vindicate His own honour by casting all such hypocritical and carnal professors into the fire, as good for nothing-nay more, injurious cumberers of the ground. Lord keep us faithful to our high calling, useful in our day and generation, abiding in Christ, and thereby bringing forth much fruit to His glory, and to the good of the Church and of the world!
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent