Ezek 17:22-24 A Goodly Cedar 9/16/2001

 

 

 

#1. I Also Will Take a King (Ezek 17:22-23)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2. And They Shall Dwell in Safety (Ezek 17:23-24)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3. The Green Tree and the Dry Tree (Ezek 17:24, Luke 23:27-31)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter 17. Perhaps you remember, last week after the reading of the Law that I briefly touched on the contents of this chapter. I trust that you were curious enough to have read for yourself this chapter during the past week, did you? If you did, you would have seen that God placed in this chapter two parables. The first parable is easy to understand, but the second parable looks like a great mystery. Let us begin to look at:

We read the first parable, and God's explanation of it, beginning at verse 1,

Ezekiel 17:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Ezekiel 17:2 Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel;

Ezekiel 17:3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle (This eagle represents Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon) with great wings, long winged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon (because he conquered the kingdom of Assyria), and took the highest branch(He took the king of Judah) of the cedar (Which means of the line of David).

Compare this with verse 22, where you see that God wrote: the highest branch of the high cedar.

Ezekiel 17:4 He cropped off the top of his young twigs (the nobles) and carried it into a land of traffic; he set it in a city of merchants. (That city of merchants is representing the city of Babylon).

Ezekiel 17:5 He took also of the seed of the land (Zedekiah), and planted it in a fruitful field; he placed it by great waters, and set it as a willow tree. (That fruitful field repr. the land of Judah)

Ezekiel 17:6 And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature (2X), whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs.

Then God completely explained this parable beginning in verse 11,

Ezekiel 17:11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Ezekiel 17:12 Say now to the rebellious house, Know ye not what these things mean? tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof (king Jehoiachin), and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon;

Ezekiel 17:13 And hath taken of the king's seed (referring to Zedekiah), and made a covenant with him, and hath taken an oath of him (he made Zedekiah king of Judah): he hath also taken the mighty of the land (the nobles and craftsman and took them to Babylon).

But after a few years Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. Not only has he despised his oath with the king of Babylon, but he also despised God's covenant. Then we read in verse 19,

Ezekiel 17:19 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head. (Verse 21,)

Ezekiel 17:21 And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds: and ye shall know that I the LORD have spoken it.

We cannot help but notice, every time, that God's wrath abided on that congregation because of their apostasy and their departure from the only true God. But why did God write this historical lesson first in the words of this parable? There is one answer for it. God wrote the second parable using almost the same words of the first parable, so that we can compare the differences and see the contrasts. The first parable concerns God's Judgment. The second parable concerns God's mercy.

#1. God says: I Also Will Take a King (Ezek 17:22-23)

The remaining three verses are the second parable. Take a good look at verses 22-23,

Ezekiel 17:22 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent (Which means that this mountain stands out above other mountains):

Ezekiel 17:23 In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar (2X): and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.

Here we see the contrasts between the two parables. In verse 3 it was a great eagle, representing the king of Babylon, representing Satan, who took the highest branch of the cedar (a king of the line of David). In other words, Satan took a king from the line of David and carried him away to Babylon.

Then God says in verse 22: I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar (also a King of the most excellent line of David). Not of the line through Solomon, but of the line through Nathan. And then God uses a play on words in verse 22. We read in the KJV "and will set it". Literally the Hebrew says: "and will give". The Hebrew verb that God uses here is the word "nathan", which means "to give". And then notice how the word it is in italics, which means it is a suggestion by the translators. If you really want to put something there you should write "and will give Him", because this highest branch of the high cedar that God will give, refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was given to us. Satan takes away, but God gives to us.

Then your KJV reads in verse 4 "he cropped of the top of his young twigs", and we read in verse 22 almost the same thing "I will crop off from the top of his young twigs". But in the Hebrew God used two different words for the "young twigs". The first "young twigs" in verse 4 refers to sucklings. You all have seen sucklings on a tree. They are young twigs on the bottom of the tree, or they are halfway up, and they suck away the nutrients that were destined for the top of the tree. These sucklings refer to the princes around king Jehoiachin. These sucklings were taken away to Babylon.

But the young twigs in verse 22 refer to young shoots and branches on top of the high cedar. God does not take many branches. Literally God says: "I will also take of the top of the highest cedar and will give, from the chief of its young twigs I will crop off a tender one" (2X)

Who is this tender one? This can only be the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One and only who is

highly exalted by God, and God has given Him a name, which is above every name. Christ was highly exalted after His crucifixion and His resurrection. That is exactly what God says here in Ezek 17:22,

Ezekiel 17:22 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the top of the highest cedar and will give, from the chief of its young twigs I will crop off a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:

Did you notice how the word it is again in italics? If you want to put anything there, it should be Him. God planted the Lord Jesus Christ on a high mountain that was eminent. The word "mountain" in the Bible usually refers to "a kingdom". This is a kingdom that is high and eminent. It stands out above all other kingdoms in this universe. It is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ to which we are translated when we have become saved. But why does God call Christ "a tender one"?

Hold one finger in Ezek 17, and please turn with me to Isa 53. I will be referring to the Prophecy of Isaiah a great deal in this sermon, so you have to keep one finger in Isaiah also. God refers to the Lord Jesus Christ as a tender plant, in Isa 53. Let's read the first two verses in Isa 53,

Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

Isaiah 53:2 For He (Christ) shall grow up before Him (God) as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground (The nation of Israel was dry ground): He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Externally He looked like any other man. Externally there was nothing special about Him. But He was tender with little children. He was tender with the prodigal son. He was tender to harlots and publicans who sought repentance. He was tender to those who followed Him into a deserted place and He fed them there. He was tender to all those who were possessed with an evil spirit. He was tender with His disciples, not willing that any should perish, except Judas the son of perdition. But most of all, He was tender with you and me, taking our sins upon Himself and willing to pay for those sins what we would have to pay. We were not able to pay such an enormous price, and so He paid it for us. He had to pay the full price: the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Isn't that Tender Loving Care?

God speaks of the Lord Jesus in Isa 42:3, where God says:

Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

He was tender with those who repent, but we also have to keep in mind that He was not tender with Pharisees and hypocrites. He will not be tender for whom He comes as Judge. Then God said:

Speaking of the tender branch that God plucked from the highest cedar, God says in Ezek 17:23

Ezekiel 17:23 In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar (2X): and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.

God already said in verse 22 that He was going to plant it upon the highest mountain. Are the mountains there East of the Mediterranean really so high? Not at all! Here we would call them hills. But what mountain does God have in view in this verse? It is "the mountain of the height of Israel". Which Israel does God have in view? The Lord Jesus Christ is also called Israel, and this is the Israel that is in view. That is why "the mountain of the height of Israel" is the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is high and exalted. After Christ's resurrection, God planted Him in His Kingdom and has made His Kingdom to prosper. God will make sure that it come to pass.

All those who were in Christ from before the foundation of the world, were also in Christ when He went to the cross, when He endured the penalty of Hell in our place. God committed Himself to give all those a new soul sometime before their body dies. We died with Christ, we were buried with Christ, we were raised with Christ and we are seated with Him in heavenly places, and therefore there is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. The Kingdom of Christ shall prosper in a way that is described in Isa 60:21. Please turn to Isa 60:21. In Isa 60 God describes some of the conditions in the New Heaven & New Earth. God says there in Isa 60:21,

Isaiah 60:21 Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified (2X).

Isaiah 60:22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.

"Thy people" means all the people of Christ; all His people. Who are all His people? "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins". His people are all those who have been redeemed out of every tribe and nation and people and tongue. All those who have been redeemed by Christ on the cross have been made righteous. They shall inherit the NH & NE forever. And to make sure we understand that our salvation is entirely by grace, God says that we are the branch of His planting, fully the work of His hands, so that all the glory may go to God.

Please turn again to Ezekiel chapter 17. God says there:

#2. And They Shall Dwell in Safety (Ezek 17:23-24)

Paraphrased, God said in verse 22 that God will take the Lord Jesus Christ, who is of the seed of David, and will plant Him in the Kingdom of God, and with Him God will plant all those who belong to Christ, who are in Christ. God says in Ezek 17:23-24,

Ezekiel 17:23 In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar (2X): and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.

Ezekiel 17:24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.

Christ will be a goodly cedar. Why is God emphasizing the cedar tree through this entire chapter? And God has high praises for the cedar tree in many more passages in the Bible. Why is that?

We find the key in I Kings chapter 5 (Don't turn there now) where we read that the temple in Jerusalem was built mainly from cedar trees from Lebanon. But God does not dwell in a temple made by hands. That temple in Jerusalem was just a shadow of the real Temple of God. The spiritual temple of God is the N.T. body of believers. Those cedar trees from Lebanon were a spiritual picture of the saints of all times. Christ Himself is pictured here in Ezek 17 as a goodly cedar (2X), standing on the top of His Mountain, which means His Kingdom.

Why was Satan doing almost the same thing? Satan took a king from the line of David (king Jehoiachin) and planted him in his kingdom (Babylon). That is because the Devil always tries to make a counterfeit: A false king, a false gospel, a false Jerusalem; we belong to the true Jerusalem that is above, but the Bible says that the Jerusalem that is on earth is in bondage with her children. The Devil tries to make us focus on the real estate East of the Mediterranean, and to divert our eyes from our true possessions in the Jerusalem that is above.

Christ Himself is pictured here in Ezek 17 as "a goodly cedar, and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell". They dwell in safety. Who are all fowl of every wing representing? They represent all those who have been redeemed out of every tribe and nation and people and tongue. We are safe and secure in the hollow of His hand. Christ said: "No man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are One".

Let us read verse 23 again. Christ will be planted figuratively as a goodly cedar.

Ezekiel 17:23 In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.

Christ shall bring forth boughs, meaning branches, and the branches shall bear fruit. We are strongly reminded here of the words of Christ in the Gospel according to John, chapter 15. Jesus said:

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman (the vinedresser).

John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it (He cleanses it), that it may bring forth more fruit.

John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

In John 15:5, Jesus said: "I am the vine, ye are the branches, and the branches bring forth much

fruit. In Ezek 17:23, God says: Christ as the goodly cedar shall bring forth branches, and the branches shall bear fruit. What kind of fruit shall we bear: Obviously fruit is aimed at multiplication.

Please turn with me to Isa 55. The primary reason why we are still left on this earth is to evangelize the world. Our ministry here on this earth is to tell people that they are on a slippery slide into Hell, but that there is a way of escape through the precious work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. On behalf of God we call on all people to plead to God for salvation, and to repent from their sins. Tell them what the Word of God says. Do not hold anything back. God says in Isa 55:10,

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

In other words, in our witnessing we will be 100% successful. This is wonderful news. Whether we fumble, or whether we say it perfectly, God says that: "it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." To some people our Gospel may be the flavor of life unto life, and to others it may be the flavor of death unto death. Whichever way it turns out, it shall accomplish that which God intended it to be. This is the fruit that God desires to see on the branches

Please turn again to Ezek 17. Continuing in this intriguing parable we read that:

Obviously trees cannot think. What God has in view here are trees that are representing people. Our task is too find out which people God has in view. We read in Ezek 17:24,

Ezekiel 17:24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.

This statement comes on the heels of the previous verse where God declared that all the branches of the goodly cedar are bearing fruit. Let us therefore continue in Isa 55. We know now that fruit bearing has to do with bringing the Gospel. God says in Isa 55:12-13,

Isaiah 55:12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Now, here are all the trees of the field again. The trees are rejoicing when the true Gospel goes forth. The trees of the field seem to be representing the body of believers. God says in Isa 55:13,

Isaiah 55:13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

A fir tree replaces a thorn bush, and a myrtle tree replaces a brier bush, as a picture of people who have changed by hearing the Gospel and have become Born Again. These miracles of salvation are establishing a name to the Lord. I suggest that this name is "Merciful Heavenly Father". These miracles of salvation are to the Lord an everlasting sign of the victory of the cross of Christ whereby He obtained for us a deliverance from sin and Satan, and it was given to us totally free of charge.

Please turn with me to Gen 23. Can we have more evidence that this interpretation is the proper meaning of all the trees of the field? When we search for the first occurrence of all the trees of the field, we find them around Sarah's grave. Perhaps you remember, I preached from this chapter on November 26 of last year. Sarah had died and Abraham purchased for her burial a tomb. It was the cave of the field of Machpela before Mamre, which Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite, and it included the field that was around that cave. We read in Gen 23:17-18,

Genesis 23:17 And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field (2X), that were in all the borders round about, were made sure

Genesis 23:18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.

The cave, the field, and all the trees in the field were made a sure possession for Abraham, as a picture of God in Christ buying the world to Himself for a sure possession, because He paid the full price. And all the trees in the field, representing all the believers, now belong to Him.

Then we read in Ezek 17:24: "All the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have dried up:

#3. The Green Tree and made the Dry Tree to flourish" (Ezek 17:24, Luke 23:27-31)

Look at this verse more carefully. God says in Ezek 17:24,

Ezekiel 17:24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.

Does God speak about four kinds of trees here? No! In God's perspective there are only two kinds of people: Those who go to heaven and those who go to Hell. Likewise there are only two kinds of trees portrayed in verse 24: The high tree is the same as the green tree. The low tree is the same as the dry tree. The Lord Jesus touched on this situation in Luke 23. Please turn with me to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 23. In Luke 23the Lord Jesus is being led through the streets of Jerusalem to be crucified outside the gate. And then we read in Luke 23:27,

Luke 23:27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.

Luke 23:28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

Luke 23:29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.

Luke 23:30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.

Luke 23:31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

In other words, the Lord Jesus said: If they crucify the Messiah only once in the nation that is called "the green tree", how much worse shall they treat Him in the nation that is called "the dry tree". There they will crucify Him many times over. And that is a fact.

The nation of Israel was called the green tree, because they are identified with the fig tree. They considered themselves to be the high tree, because they were much closer to God than any other nation in the world. The Gentile nations were identified as the low tree. The Gentile nations were looked down upon as if they were dogs. They were ceremonially unclean and on the way to Hell. They were associated with the dry tree. But God says in Ezek 17:24 that God will bring down the nation of Israel, who consider themselves the high and green tree, and God will exalt the Gentiles that will become saved, who are considered by the Jews to be the low and dry tree.

The green tree was spiritually blind. Jesus said to them: Since ye say, "We see"; therefore your sin remaineth. At another occasion Jesus said: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance". When harlots and publicans came to repentance, the dry tree was flourishing. Therefore the dry tree received that name because it represented all the elect before their moment of salvation.

God says in Ezek 17:24,

You may want to compare carefully the ending of the first parable and the ending of the second parable. God says in Ezek 17:21,

Ezekiel 17:21 And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds: and ye shall know that I the LORD have spoken it.

The apostasy of Jerusalem and the resulting destruction of Jerusalem were things that the Lord warned against, and the Lord spoke about these consequences, knowing that they would come. But Jerusalem sinned, and Babylon sinned; God did not make them to sin. That is why God says, "I the Lord have spoken", but God did not say that He has done it.

On the other hand, when God sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to be crucified, and then God planted Christ in His Kingdom, and God exalted His name above every name, and God brought down the high tree, and God made all His people enter the Kingdom of Christ by His grace, then God said: I the Lord have spoken, and I the Lord have done it. Please turn with me to Isa 46.

Ezekiel 17:24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.

This is in complete agreement with God's statement in Isa 46:9-11,

Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and

there is none like me,

Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Isaiah 46:11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

But whatever may happen in this world, whatever crimes are committed to our country, whatever the situation may be of the churches around us, even if the world itself caves in, we can be sure that:

God says in Isa 46:3,

Isaiah 46:3 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:

Isaiah 46:4 And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

God is addressing the body of believers as "house of Jacob" and "house of Israel".

 

God says: "Even to gray hairs I will carry and I will deliver". Even when we are old, God can still deliver us from our sins

 

Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Once we have been saved we were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. He is the down payment of our inheritance in the NH & NE.

 

What God has begun, He will also finish.

 

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: