Published on
December 28, 2023

Ezekiel 19

“‘Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline, Planted by the waters, Fruitful and full of branches Because of many waters..."

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Ezekiel 19
“‘Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline, planted by the waters, fruitful and full of branches because of many waters. She had strong branches for scepters of rulers. She towered in stature above the thick branches, and was seen in her height amid the dense foliage. But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried her fruit. Her strong branches were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty land. Fire has come out from a rod of her branches and devoured her fruit, so that she has no strong branch—a scepter for ruling.’” Ezekiel 19:10-14 (NKJV)

Today’s passage is the 2nd half of a lament. The first half used the imagery of a lioness and her cubs to depict the false hopes of Israel to raise up a leader to deliver her. Deliverance comes not from man’s efforts but God’s design. It is not Judah’s “lions” but the Lion of Judah who will deliver these people from their bondage.

Moving beyond the lion imagery, Ezekiel chooses a different image: that of a vine and its branches. We should note that the theme is altogether different from the allegory of chapter 17 and the transplanted vine.)  The mother of the last kings of Israel, Hamutal, was like a vine planted “by the water.”  Her family grew abundantly, sprawled out, and bore the fruit of success. Her branches represent twenty-two kings that appeared from David’s day to Zedekiah’s day. But this vine had been pulled up, left lying on the ground, its roots exposed and dried by the east wind, and burnt. She reminds me of a “lost dog” poster I once saw: Blind, three legs, no tail, goes by the name of “Lucky.”  

Apart from their fruit, grapevines aren’t useful for much more than fire fuel. Even Jesus alluded to Israel’s past as He warned of the consequences of apostasy.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:5-6 (HCSB)

What happened next to this vine seems impossible; it was planted in a dry and thirsty land. This is in Babylon. Even assuming that such a thing might be possible, any vestige of hope is removed at a stroke; the vine catches fire, consuming its fruit. Zedekiah’s rebellion against Babylon brought the collapse of Judah; the nation was defeated. Ezekiel gave a glimpse of what lay ahead of Judah in the not-too-distant future. Judah fell in a few short years, and this dirge was her song of lament.

At first glance, it appears cruel to tell these Judean exiles that Judah will be destroyed in a few short years. We tend to want to assure people that some hope remains, no matter how dark the circumstances might be. But Judah’s problem lay in the object of her hope: herself! What saves us from our sin is not ourselves or the combined resources of other sinners! Our “Yeshua” (Salvation) comes from the power of the Messiah alone!

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