by Pastor Mark Hudson
Here is a brief outline of this chapter about 2 eagles and a vine. This was told to the people in Babylon before this happened. This chapter concerns the exile of 587/6. What happened was recorded in the II Kings 24, II Chr 36, Jer. 39, 52.
First Jehoiachin goes to Babylon and then Zedekiah attempts to rebel against Babylon by trying to switch allegiance to Egypt. It looked promising but it was not to be. Here is an outline of the chapter:
- Identify the eagles and vine
- Greatest eagle is Nebuchadnezzar (v. 3)
- Takes Jehoiachin to Babylon (v. 4)
- Focus from Jehoiachin to Zedekiah
- The seed planted becomes a vine (Zedekiah) in Israel (v. 5)
- There is ample soil and water to prosper (v. 5)
- The vine begins to grow (v. 6)
- The lesser eagle is Egypt (Pharaoh Hophra) (v. 7)
- The eagle is not as beautiful nor active (v. 7)
- Zedekiah breaks his oath & turns to Egypt (v. 7)
- Zed. punished (II Kings 24 & II Chr. 36, Jer. 39, 52)
- Zedekiah made a vow (vs. 13, 15, 16, 18-21) and broke it
- God is using Babylon to punish Israel. (Jer. 25:9)
- What should Zedekiah have done?
- Kept his word/covenant
- Submit to God (Jer. 27:8; Ez. 17:19-20)
The exile had been promised as early as Deut 28:62-68. If God’s people acted like God’s people, they could stay in the land He promised to give them as a gift. If they did not, they would be removed. Since they were turning into the people that were originally on the land (they became Canaanized as one author put it), they would be treated the way God treated those people: they would be removed from the land.
That is exactly what happened in 722 BC and 586 BC. The latter is called the Babylonian exile. Jeremiah is back in Israel and Ezekiel in in Babylon. They are saying similar things but to different people in a different place. Ezekiel acted out his message, used parables and riddles, minced no words describing their spiritual whoredom and was not well received, which is an understatement.
This is one of the many chapters that brings out the wrath of God. The wrath of God is one of the main themes in the Bible. Here are just two verses that remind us that God judges: The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. (Nah. 1:3). I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished. (Jer. 30:11). God’s wrath is not overcome, swallowed up, or changed in the New Testament. Love does not conquer His wrath. God’s wrath is a beautiful thing. You long for God’s wrath.
In heaven, they do not say what people have told me, “My God is a god of love. My god is not a god of wrath.” Better to say, “My idol is an idol of love.” Because their “god” is not the God of the Bible but a mere idol. In heaven (Rev 6:10), “They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” In heaven, they are begging God to judge because the wicked hurt the righteous, disobey God, work against His kingdom, and spurn His laws. When we are in heaven, those of us in who are squeamish about God’s wrath, will think radically different about God and His justice.
The teaching of God’s wrath is indispensable to the church. First, God’s anger and wrath is the truth about God. As is His love, His mercy, His holiness, purity, etc. We should never exalt one attribute at the expense of another of His perfections. While we do not want to pound the pulpit harder than it should be pounded neither do we want to speak in a whisper when God speaks clearly and loudly. Yet, this truth of God must be handled with care and sensitivity. We should, as one said, have a tear in our eyes when we tell others about God’s wrath.
God’s wrath is certain and determined. Those of you who are younger and years, even decades, away from grey hair: do not think your age precludes you from meeting God. Many young people die every year. All of us should think about the gravity of meeting God without a true and active faith in Jesus Christ alone. This is serious and you ought not think you will get serious later. Do not harden your heart. What a serious and tragic mistake for you to harden your heart against God.
This truth, this doctrine refocuses God’s holiness and justice. God’s wrath warns sinners and humbles saints. Without God’s wrath, the cross makes no sense at all. But if we have a Biblical understanding of God’s wrath and refuse to round off His sharp edges, we can better grasp the cross. Any time you understand God better, that insight opens new vistas of God’s glorious worth, glory, and honor. He is not merely just; He is perfectly and infinitely just. His anger and wrath are not out of proportion or uncalled for. How many times in Ezekiel does he repeat sentences similar to 7:8, “Now I will soon pour out my wrath upon you, and spend my anger against you, and judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations.” Once we are no longer twisted by sin, we will praise His wrath.
Lord, we long for the day You speak of in 17:22ff. We are in a pitiful condition in this life. We love our sin but hate the consequences. We say we love Your Word but don’t like the way You despise sin. We cling to this world, yet You try to break our gripe as we hang on for dear life. We refuse to die to live and would rather slowly die. Oh, Lord, save us by Your grace. We need Jesus Christ to save our eternal souls. Thank You that if we genuinely repent there is more than enough grace for us. Come Lord Jesus. Amen.