Don’t Get Upside-Down Backwards

(Today’s post by Adam Cooper)

Ezekiel 17

upsidedownDon’t get upside-down backwards!

Ezekiel, the prophet to the Jews in captivity in Babylon, receives an interesting parable. The parable refers to an amazing eagle that was so powerful it broke off the top of a great cedar tree and carried it away and dropped it in fertile soil in a land of merchants. Here the seed grew into a lush vine that produced much growth. The interesting thing about this parable is that Ezekiel was to immediately follow the parable with its meaning. Matthew Henry’s Commentary states that riddles and parables are used by humans to amuse themselves; however, when a prophet uses the same they are used to try to get meaningful ideas to take root in the minds of the hearer. With the people and king of Judah, God knows that the meanings of the parable will be lost on them unless Ezekiel explains it soon after.

The parable relates to the treaty that the king of Babylon had made with the Jewish people from the land of Judah (Babylon is represented by the eagle and Judah is represented by the Cedar.) The Jewish people flourished under Babylonian rule until the Jewish nation began to look toward Egypt to free them from Babylonian rule. By looking to Egypt, Judah broke not only a covenant with the king of Babylon but also with God who had sent them into exile so that they would return to Him.

God then tells the people of Judah that He will also take a shoot from the very top of that great cedar and will plant it high within the mountains of Israel where it will produce great fruit and “birds of every kind will nest in it (v.23,NIV).” Ezekiel does not explain this portion of the parable but it refers to Christ being raised up from the Jewish people to begin His ministry which was to reach the masses and not just the Jews (symbolized by the wording “birds of every kind.”)

So…we have a parable which pertains directly to the people of Judah, which is explained to the people of Judah to describe their treachery in breaking the covenant with the Babylonians and God Himself; and, we have a parable that foreshadows Christ which is not explained. What does this mean to us? What can we learn from both of these parables? Well, it comes down to God’s plan. God’s plan is sovereign and He will do what needs to be done to exercise His plan. The people of Judah tried to usurp God’s plan by trying to get Egypt to free them from Babylonian rule but God calls them on this and basically tells them that His plan will be accomplished anyway by another in the line of David who will draw not only Jews but people from all walks of life to God Himself. God’s plan will be accomplished with or without us!

Now I know that hurts the pride of some of you reading who may feel that what you do is indispensable to the kingdom, but it is true. God does not need us to accomplish His will on this Earth. God does not need us to carry the wisdom of His greatness to the world’s far corners; we are told in scripture multiple times that nature reveals God’s glory and greatness. God does not need us to collect an offering or serve communion. If we rebel against God He will accomplish His will in spite of us. He will raise up others that are more attuned to His will. The reality of the whole thing is that we need God much more than He needs us and it is when we try to act like we don’t need God that things get turned upside-down backwards. The Jewish people tried to act like they didn’t need God and God delivered His wrath on the insolent.

My prayer for us all is that we remain humble and know that God is sovereign and His will shall be done whether we help or not. It is through His love for us that we are called to serve Him and if we remain humble and understand that we are simply His tool great things will happen. A hammer can’t do anything unless the carpenter wields it.

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