Ezekiel 17:24 All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.
Ezekiel 17 consists of two ‘parables’ or ‘allegories’ where the Prophet draws the attention of God’s People in the Southern Kingdom of Judah to the complex political intrigues involving their own nation and rulers in relation to the dominant powerful nations of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, and Egypt under Pharaoh Psammetichus II.
The first parable (verses 1-10, explained in 11-21) refers to a tall cedar tree, two great eagles and a creeping vine, and the second parable refers to a tall cedar tree and a replanted cutting from it (verses 22-24). Although reconstructing the application of the parables might be a bit difficult for us (John B. Taylor makes a good and helpful effort to do so in the IVP Commentary), their meaning to Ezekiel’s original target readership would have been much clearer.
The ‘take-home’ message for us is, that no matter how discouraging the geo-political situation might seem to be, our loving, powerful God is still in control of EVERYthing that happens. We live in an age like many others when human power and success dominate our culture and our thinking, and God’s people feel intimidated by it as we survey our own limited resources, and the seemingly insignificant impact we have on where things are heading.
But the greatest threat we face in this situation is the temptation to absorb this thinking and let it become the basis of our strategy for doing God’s work in the world. The OT prophets had to warn Israel against this mistake, and the nation’s continual failure to heed the warning was its downfall. Do we see our task in terms of God’s sovereign plan and purpose, seeking always to submit our strategies to his scrutiny through his Word? Do we identify with the words of the old hymn: ‘Pride of man and earthly glory, sword and crown betray his trust; what with care and toil he buildeth, tower and temple, fall to dust. But God’s power, hour by hour, is my temple and my tower.’?
Are we trusting God ALONE, regardless of what happens, and not man’s approval, for the effectiveness of our work for him? Does our prayer life reflect this outlook? Are we really hearing God say, “I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.”?