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The Lord, by His servant the Prophet, is still teaching by parable. Under the similitude of two eagles and a vine is showed God's judgments upon Jerusalem. The Chapter, however, closeth with sweet promises.
Perhaps this great eagle represents Nebuchadnezzar, who carried Jeconiah, when quite a youth, and, like a tender twig, unable to resist any bird of prey, into Babylon. 2 Kings 24:8-13 . The land of traffic exactly answers to Babylon. The other great eagle perhaps might mean the King of Egypt. And by the vine, which is intended for Israel, whom the Lord originally planted a choice vine, Jeremiah 2:21 is shown how Israel was looking to Egypt for help when under tribute to Babylon. But the Lord's sentence upon Israel was not to be altered. Ruin as a nation had been determined from the Lord.
We have here the Lord's own explanation of the parable. Israel is called a rebellious house, for it had been so to the Lord, and also to the King of Babylon. Indeed, if a nation be unfaithful to the Lord, it could not be expected that it would he found faithful to men. But what I beg the Reader more particularly to notice in this part of the chapter is, the Lord's resentment of the King of Israel's unfaithfulness to the King of Babylon. Twice the Lord swears by His great name that he will punish him for it, and that he did so, the history by Jeremiah proves. See Jeremiah 52:1-11 . The oath that is here spoken of we read in the account, 2 Chronicles 36:12 . The sin was doubly, yea, ten-fold aggravated, because the King of Babylon, for greater security, had made him swear by the God of Israel for the performance of it.
Reader! how refreshing is it, after going through a long chapter full of the history of the perfidy and baseness of man, to come to a portion of it, however short, yet full of grace, to show the goodness and loving-kindness of God. Not more grateful to the parched traveler over a long and dreary desert, is it, when he meets with a cooling stream. We have here the Lord's gracious provision for the recovery of his people, when to all human appearance the whole seed of Israel was destroyed. The Lord calls upon the Church to attend to his promise concerning it. There shall be deliverance, for the highest branch of the cedar of Lebanon is still left, and which shall be planted. This shall become a goodly tree full of branches. Under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing. And though now the Church is in Babylon, this branch shall be planted in the mountain of the height of Israel. And to give certainty to the promise, the Lord saith, that He will plant it; yea, that all the trees of the field shall know it. Reader! see, behold, and admire, with thankfulness and praise, how, under this similitude, Jesus, that plant of renown, is promised. And do not fail to remark, under the figure, the many delightful features of the Lord's Christ, which point to His person, and offices, and character. And how fully is the whole made to answer in the Church of the Lord, when, in the use of ordinances and means of grace, the people of Jesus sit down under His shadow with great delight, and find His fruit sweet to their taste. Truly hath God the Holy Ghost recorded it of Him, that His branches shall spread, and His beauty shall be as the olive tree, and His smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under His shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the vine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:6-7 .
Who can read a chapter of this nature but with wonder and astonishment, while beholding the baseness and deep-rooted sin of man, and the overflowing and preventing mercy of God! To view Israel as a nation and people overturned, in captivity and ruin, and yet unhumbled under such alarming providences! To behold them, from the king to the peasant, unfaithful, perfidious, and base; adding falsehood to rebellion; and, by the solemnity of an oath, calling in God himself to witness to a lie, and to bear testimony to an assurance which they never intended to perform! Lord! what is man, even when brought down under the most humbling providences? How evident is it from such a view of human nature, that no sufferings, no trials, no afflictions, can work any change, unless the sovereign grace of God commissions and sanctifies!
From such distressing subjects of human worthlessness, Lord give both Writer and Reader grace to turn unto Thee. Surely, blessed Lord, in the representation here made of our natural depravity, and the riches of thy mercy, taking occasion therefrom to the greater display of thy goodness, that sweet scripture is most blessedly fulfilled, Where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, so might grace through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Blessed Lord! help us to praise Thee, that Thou didst not only promise, but hast performed, that great work of redemption, in planting that branch of renown in Thine holy mountain! Yea, Lord, in the person of Thy dear Son Thou hast manifested Thy grace and Thy glory, and opened to Thy Church a blessed and everlasting tree of life in the paradise of God. Oh! for grace to come under the healing branches of it here, and under the full enjoyment of it hereafter, when there shall be no more curse, but all the captivities of sin, sorrow, and death shall be done away.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 17". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany