Ezekiel 15

Ezekiel 15 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence Bowlin

Speaking metaphorically to drive home the point of the certainty of God’s judgment upon those remaining in the land of Israel, Ezekiel shares a word he received from the Lord comparing Israel to the clippings from a vine. Unlike the prophet Isaiah who compares Israel to the vine itself, Ezekiel sees these unrepentant and wicked people who were not carried away into exile as merely those who were pruned from the vine, which suggests that God’s vine can no longer be found in Jerusalem and is no longer associated with the temple there.

Of course, when this parable is first shared, those hearing it are only concerned with the earthly imagery that is being used agreeing with the speaker that the wood of the vine is neither strong nor beautiful and is practically worthless except for being used as fuel for the fire. And once the clippings of the vine are partially burned they are worth less than nothing. The point of the parable is to show that although many in Israel were still boasting that they were the people of God, the reality is that they had been cut off from the vine, already had been burned through the first judgment of God under the Babylonians and would be subject to an even greater judgment in which they would be burned completely. At that time the Lord will make the land of Israel completely desolate in order to heal the land from their wickedness. Meanwhile, the vine itself had been exiled which is why the Lord’s throne-chariot had been removed from Israel and was making its way east to show that the Lord now dwelled with the remnant of his people.

The problem is that the vine itself now dwelling in exile still hasn’t produced the fruit that God desires and perhaps many more people will be cut off from the vine in the future for not producing the fruit of repentance. It is important to understand why Jesus takes up this same analogy in John 15 when he reveals that he is the true vine that always produces good fruit, and that it is only as the branches remain in him that they too would produce fruit, for apart from him they can do nothing and are worthless. Later on in Romans 9-11 Paul explains that we as Gentiles have been grafted into that same vine as we have been identified with Christ proving that we are of the people of God. But even though some of the Jews have been clipped off of that vine, they too can still be grafted back in through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

But it is only as we live in Christ and cling to Christ that we can bear the fruit that is pleasing to God. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, that vine is still here on earth through the church of Christ, which is why it is so important that cling to Christ in His Church. Anyone who is cut off from the Church is also cut off from Christ and therefore fruitless and worthless for anything except for the fire. But the wonder of the gospel is that God can take fruitless, worthless sticks and by grafting them into Christ gives them not only life but the full and abundant fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of righteousness that is pleasing to God and attractive to men as it bears fruit every month in every season.