Zedekiah Rebelled as a Tributary to Babylon
It was revealed to Ezekiel that Zedekiah rebelled as a tributary to Babylon despite the covenant and oath he swore to the King of Babylon (Ezek. 17:13). Zedekiah did this with hopes to be in league with Egypt who would supply him with horses and a great army, given the fact that the tributary money meant for Babylon was used to hire Egypt. In response to Zedekiah’s plan, the LORD asked: “Shall he prosper? Shall he escape that doeth such things? Or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered” (Ezek. 17:15)? Notably, this is the same question delivered to the second of three Vines addressed in the prophecy, the LORD saying, “Shall it prosper” (Ezek. 17:9-10)?
A parable was put forth of two great eagles whose plantings became two vines (Ezek. 17:3-6, 7-8), and then a third planting which became a goodly tree (Ezek. 17:22-24). The first two plantings are illustrated and then an interpretation was given (Ezek. 17:11-21), with the third planting following. According to the interpretation, the first planting of “the highest branch of cedar” (which became a vine) was by the King of Babylon, the great eagle, who took the King and the Princes of Judah to Babylon in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Captivity (Ezek. 17:12-14). Notably, this vine (in contrast to the second vine) will prosper (as God has already testified in Jer. 29:4-7)! It was God’s will that the Jews of the Kingdom of Judah were taken to Babylon (the Good Figs) as a chastisement with a promise of a future restoration (Ezek. 17:22-24).
However, the Jews located in the Kingdom of Judah (the Evil Figs) rebelled against Babylon at the time of this prophecy (approximately the 7th year of Zedekiah’s reign) in hopes to become a prosperous people and Kingdom through the nourishment of Egypt (Ezek. 17:7-8, 15, 17). Being in covenant with Egypt (the planting of the second vine), Judah hoped to be supplied with horses and much people for a mighty army (Ezek. 17:15, 17). Remember, though, to break with Babylon and join with Egypt, Zedekiah had to break the covenant he made with the King of Babylon (Ezek. 18:15-19). God took this personally, and rightfully so! This rebellion was not an offence against a mere man, the King of Babylon. It was rebellion against God who raised up the King of Babylon as a chastisement to His people (Jer. 25:9, 27:6, 43:10). The morality of Unconditional Eternal Security believers knows no bounds! In response to this, the LORD said, “I will bring him to Babylon and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against Me” (Ezek. 17:20). As for the rest, all the fugitives of this “rebellious house” of Judah remaining in Jerusalem will be slain by “the sword” or “scattered toward all winds”, and the LORD said, “ye shall know that I the LORD have spoken it” (Ezek. 17:21).
Notably, the vine which represented the Good Figs would live and prosper (at least temporarily)! And, the vine which represented the Evil Figs would be uprooted and destroyed! They were, in other words, a Good Vine and an Evil Vine. Fearfully, though, through Unconditional Eternal Security the Jews in Jerusalem were claiming the promises of pastime in hopes that they could be reckoned for the present. In every other occasion, except the Great Tribulation, the promises of pastime were authoritatively God’s revealed will for the residue of Jews in Jerusalem… but not now! This was unseen time despite the “discerning eye” of false prophets who only and always preach the promises of God. Jesus said to the generation of the Great Tribulation in His day, “Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time” (Lk. 12:56)?
Having declared that the Jews (the Good Vine) with Babylon would prosper and the Jews with Egypt would be uprooted (the Evil Vine), the LORD illustrated the latter end: namely, the Jews returning to “the Mountain of the height of Israel” to become a “goodly cedar”, not merely a vine, “and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell” (Ezek. 17:24). Much of Ezekiel’s ministry has been a rescue attempt of the impenitent and wicked Good Figs, here called the Good Vine, and the LORD says that they will return to the Land of Israel in restoration and glory, but how? Will the LORD take the Jews of the Captivity (taken from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Captivities) as a whole and bring them to Zion (the Good Vine or Good Figs in their entirety)? No.
The LORD promised to take only the elect of Babylon in the same way he took the elect from Judah and Jerusalem in the former 3 Captivities, saying, “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…” (Ezek. 17:22). Looking carefully, this is the same language used to describe the relocation and planting of the Jews in Babylon via the Captivities (Ezek. 17:3-6). Therefore, not all the Jews in Babylon would accompany the restoration that God promised to perform… only the hand-selected bunch would be. This people, above all others, will inherit the blessing God had intended for the Good Figs. This is a selected residue of the whole population of Jews who would be in Babylon, from Babylon-to-Israel just as they were hand-selected of old from Judah-to-Babylon. Triumphantly, the LORD said, “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” (Ezek. 17:24). Shocking.
Note: In response to this rebellion, Babylon would come and attack in approx. two years’ time and, after a long siege lasting approx. 2 years, she would be successfully overthrown in approx. 4 years’ time.