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The vindication of God’s judgment against Judah continues in Ezekiel 15-17, but the nature of the defense changes. Ezekiel uses parables in these chapters to paint the ingratitude, sin, and rebellion of God’s people. He describes
1. the useless vine (Ezekiel 15:1-8);
2. the faithless woman (Ezekiel 16:1-43);
3. the deeply sunken sister (Ezekiel 16:44-63);
4. the lowly vine (Ezekiel 17:1-21);
5. the stately cedar (Ezekiel 17:22-24).
Ezekiel 15 addresses the opinion that prevails among the people that it is impossible that the LORD will abandon them, His chosen people. They believe that their election is based on a preference the LORD has for them because they are better than other nations. For this reason, they do not believe Ezekiel’s message. Therefore, Ezekiel must speak from the LORD the parable of the useless vine. They must remember well that they cannot be God’s pleasure if they do not bear fruit.
The picture of the vine is perfectly suited to illustrate that message. These people think that because of their birth they are branches of the true vine that can never be destroyed. Ezekiel uses the wild vine to show how totally unfounded this thought is.
Later, the great Son of Man will also use the parable of the vine to explain its true purpose (John 15:1-Exodus :). He shows that the only way by which anyone can bear fruit is by having fellowship with Him (John 15:4). This applies both personally and to Israel and the church.
The Useless Wood of the Vine
The word comes to Ezekiel again (Ezekiel 15:1). Ezekiel is again addressed as “son of man” (Ezekiel 15:2). The LORD asks him some questions about the wood of the vine. The first question is what the excellence of that wood over other wood that is a branch is. The trees of the forest represent the nations (Isaiah 10:33-Nahum :). Compared to the nations, Israel is nothing more than a vine.
The second question is whether the wood of a vine can be made into something of use to someone, such as to make a peg to hang something on (Ezekiel 15:3; cf. Isaiah 22:23-Lamentations :; Zechariah 10:4). To ask the question is to answer it. The wood of the vine is ugly wood and useless for making anything useful out of it.
The only thing the wood of the vine is still useful for is to be used as fuel. If the fire has consumed a vine on both sides and there is still a small middle piece left, that middle piece is charred (Ezekiel 15:4). Can that still be used for something useful? If the plain wood is already useless for nothing, then wood that has been in the fire can no longer be used for anything at all (Ezekiel 15:5).
The value of the vine is in the fruit that should be on it, but that is not spoken of here. By the vine is meant, as usual, Israel (Psalms 80:9-Esther :; Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1; Hosea 14:8). God has expected fruit from Israel. That fruit is that they will honor Him as a royal priesthood and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-Joshua :). But Israel has refused to give Him His fruit (Isaiah 5:1-Judges :; Matthew 21:33-Mark :).
To God, Israel has no value in itself. Just as the wood of the vine is not worth more than other wood, Israel is not worth more than the other nations. He has chosen them in His generous love to be His people to be served and glorified by them and through them to make His Name great on earth (Deuteronomy 7:7-Ruth :).
The Application of the Parable
The value of the vine to the LORD lies in bearing fruit for Him, and Israel has guiltily failed to do that. Therefore, He gives up the inhabitants of Jerusalem as fuel to the fire (Ezekiel 15:6). He has already given up “both of its ends” (Ezekiel 15:4) to the fire. Here we can think of the carrying away of the ten tribes in 722 BC and a transport of some distinguished people from the two tribes around 606 BC.
The charred middle part (Ezekiel 15:3) are the inhabitants who remained in the middle of Jerusalem. They escaped the one fire, but the LORD turns His face against them and will also burn that middle part with fire (Ezekiel 15:7). By this they will know that He is the LORD.
This will happen when Nebuchadnezzar takes the city and completely destroy it (Ezekiel 15:8). The cause of this fire is that they have “acted unfaithfully”. They have trampled on the faithfulness they solemnly promised by saying they will do all that the LORD has commanded. Marital unfaithfulness, is one of the most shocking things that can happen to a person. Israel has not been unfaithful just once, but their entire history is one of unfaithfulness and deceit.
We are also unfaithful when our interest is in the world and worldly things. That is a spiritual marital unfaithfulness. We then do not answer the purpose, that we are here to bear fruit for God. We are not in this world to live according to our own desires and ideas. The Son created all things for Himself (Colossians 1:16), including us. Therefore, we no longer have to live for ourselves, but for Him Who died and rose again for us (2 Corinthians 5:15). The Lord Jesus says to us: “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and [that] your fruit would remain” (John 15:16).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 15". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent