The Parable of the Eagles
Open Your Bible
Ezekiel 17:1-24, Matthew 11:20-30, Matthew 13:24-30
BY Seana Scott
My husband insisted we live in student housing during graduate school. I envisioned myself squeezed in a one-bedroom with a growing family, schlepping milk gallons from the parking lot with a cranky toddler, trading our fenced back yard for a common area. Nope. I was not happy about living in a too-tight-for-my-comfort community.
So, I understand slightly the rebellion in Zedekiah’s heart in Ezekiel 17. The king of Babylon strategically ruled. He exported Judah’s top leadership and priests to Babylon (Ezekiel 17:4), and installed a puppet king, Zedekiah, to oversee the land. He also left some people to live in humble peace and thrive like seeds planted in a fertile field by abundant water (v.5). The vine (Israel) turned its branches toward Babylon (the earthly ruler) and started flourishing (vv.6,8).
But Zedekiah wanted to rule on his own terms. So instead of learning to thrive in the boundaries and position established by God through the Babylonian king (Ezekiel 17:19,24), Zedekiah reached out to the Egyptians to support him in a revolt (Ezekiel 17:7,15).
But what Zedekiah failed to realize was God orchestrated the humiliation of Judah for their rebellion in the first place. The deportations of Judah to Babylon were God’s judgment for their idolatrous ways. God is the One who exalts and the One who humbles (Matthew 11:23). God is the One who causes green trees to wither, and withered trees thrive (Ezekiel 17:24). How would Zedekiah’s rebellion to break the covenant between the nations turn out any differently?
When a treaty was enacted between two nations, it was signed under oath to the respective deities. So, if someone broke the treaty, they also violated their commitment to their own god(s). Zedekiah broke the treaty with Babylon, so he also invited the retribution of the Lord. God took Zedekiah to Babylon and exacted judgment on him for the betrayal (v.20).
But God is not done with Israel or the nations at this point. Ezekiel also prophesied that one day, there will be a planting by the Lord on Israel’s high mountains (vv.22–24)—the Messianic rule of Israel.
We can take heed from the imagery God gifted Ezekiel. When we bend our hearts toward rebellion—our way, our will, our strength—we begin to wither like the vine (v.10). But when we bend our hearts toward the Lord, He provides us the sustenance we need to flourish—His way, His will, His strength—even among the tares that grow up around us (Matthew 13:24–30).
My family moved into the teeny apartment, and it turned into a bountiful planting by God. My neighbors from all around the world became extended family. Our children grew up together for a short while. And now we have loved ones all throughout the world. It was hard—and good.