God gave them several parables to try and get their attention (Ek 17:1-21). Let’s see what he told them. First, God gave them a parable of two eagles. The first eagle takes the highest branch of a cedar of Lebanon and carries it off. It is planted in the soil and grows into a healthy vine. In this instance, Nebuchadnezzar is the eagle and king Jehoiachin of Judah is the vine. He was a very wicked king and God had him removed from being king after he reigned for only three months. Jeremiah even prophesied against his wickedness. He was taken to Babylon and placed in prison. Yet, a future king of Babylon took him out of prison and placed him in a place of prominence (2Ki 25:27-30).
Ezekiel then talked about a second eagle. This second eagle also took a branch, but this branch did not prosper. Those who remained in Judah reached out to this second eagle who represented king Hophra of Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar’s forces reached as far south as Egypt. When Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jehoiachin, he put Zedekiah on the throne in Jerusalem. Because Zedekiah looked to king Hophra of Egypt for help and defied paying takes to Babylon (2Ch 36:13), Nebuchadnezzar had Jerusalem captured, the temple burned, put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and brought him to Babylon where he later died (2Ki 25:1-21).
God then contrasts what he will do as opposed to what these human kings have done for the Israelites (Ek 17:22-24). He stated he would take the highest branch of the cedar, plant it on the heights of Israel, and it will become a large cedar bearing much fruit where all kinds of birds will use it as a habitat and find shade within its branches. This represents the prosperous reign of the coming Messiah. God stated this was his promise to Israel. This shows us two things: God’s way is always superior to ours, and he always provides a message of hope during his prophecies of destruction.
God went further. The people quoted the following proverb: The parents eat sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge (Ek 18:2). The people used this as an excuse not to change as they stated their circumstances were not their fault. They were just reaping the judgment of the acts of their ancestors. Ezekiel stated God was now going to hold each individual accountable for their own actions and it would not matter what one’s ancestors had or had not done. It would only matter what an individual did, and an individual would stand or fall on his own merit. While they then stated that was not fair, God stated he was offering them a new heart for their positive response to him (Ek 18:31-21). This brings us to the point that God has never claimed to be fair. This is not a concept you find in scripture. Remember Christ’s parable of the talents (Mt 25)? It was the one who had the most that got the talent of the foolish servant. It was not about being fair but about doing what the master required of his servants.
Ezekiel than proclaimed a lament for the two kings of Judah who each reigned only three months and were taken captive (Ek 19). The first was king Jehoahaz who was the successor and son of Josiah. After reigning for only three months, king Necho of Egypt deposed him and took him to Egypt. The second was king Jehoiachin who we talked about earlier. After reigning for three months, Nebuchadnezzar had him deposed and took him to Babylon.
Despite reigning for only three months, Jehoiachin was so wicked Jeremiah prophesied against him stating no descendent of him would sit on the throne of David (Jr 22:30). Yet, Jeremiah also stated there would never cease to be a king on the throne of Israel (Jr 33:17). Hosea also prophesied that Israel would be innumerable in the land where they were not his people (Ho 1:10). So, it is likely that once Jehoiachin was taken out of prison, he was made ruler over the Israelites who had been taken into Babylonia, although his job would be to make them remain loyal to the throne of Babylon. Yet, history tells us that it is likely these Israelites were the genesis of the Parthian empire since it has been found to have Semitic origins and language.
This also set the stage for Christ being able to fulfill such a convoluted prophecy, as only he could fulfill such a prophecy where he would have legal rights to the throne of David and not be a descendent of Jehoiachin through whom the bloodline of the throne resides. You see, Christ was not the son of Joseph who was a direct descendent of Jehoiachin, as Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit. Mary was his mother, and she was a descendent of David through Nathan and not through Solomon, and thereby not a descendent of Jehoiachin. When Joseph took Mary as his wife, he claimed Jesus as his own son which then gave Jesus the legal inheritance of the throne of David even through he was not a direct descendent of Jehoiachin. Only God could have choreographed such a deed.
So, let’s take notice of this. We may balk at what God is trying to get us to do, yet what we can’t see at the time is that his plans are so much more wonderful that we could ever imagine them to be. Let’s let go and let God. It is truly the best way.
Prophecy Of Captivity Of Judah By Babylon
Why Study Ezekiel?