Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ezekiel 19

This chapter is written in the dirge form. It is truly a lament from God over how things turned out. It was not what He wished, but it was what justice demanded. We have two parables using common symbols for Hebrew history.

In the first parable, we have the nation, but specifically the royal house of Israel, Judah, depicted as the lion. The household is the lioness, and her whelps are various royal sons. One of them, Jehoahaz, was taken hostage to Egypt by Pharaoh Necho. Another, Jehoiachin, was taken hostage to Babylon. These things need not have happened. They were not what God had planned for the nation, but results from the nation standing under God's wrath by choosing to disobey the Law and the prophets God sent.

The second parable depicts the nation as God's vine. The best grape vines grew stretched along a framework supported by wooden staves holding it off the ground. In this case, the rods were the kings who should have kept the kingdom strong, kept her in a condition to be fruitful. Zedekiah, so long as he was obedient to his Lord and his emperor, was in good shape, as was the nation. By his unfaithfulness, Zedekiah brought down the wrath of Babylon -- the east wind -- on his nation. As the last rod, his own punishment destroyed the nation. Now the only surviving root was planted in the spiritually barren land of Babylon. That is, only those who survived in Exile would keep the national identity alive.

This is indeed a tragedy worthy of a dirge.