“All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will perform it,” (17:24).
Okay, let’s just start with this. Trying to consider something about Him in the midst of these parables can be taxing. I got bogged down. After all, parables, like life, are not always easy to understand. And did you find yourself wondering why God called Ezekiel to speak His Word using a riddle and a parable? I sure did.
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, propound a riddle and speak a parable to the house of Israel,” (17:1-2).
Couldn’t He have just skipped down to verse twelve where He explains the meaning?
“Say now to the rebellious house, ‘Do you not know what these things mean?…’” 17:12).
Why then a parable? I really don’t have a definitive answer, but I do remember the disciples asked Jesus the same thing.
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them,’” (Matthew 13:10-15).
So was God just plain tired of speaking to those who refused to see, hear and understand His Truth? I know I would be.
Parable, From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
NT: “3850. παραβολή parabolḗ; a short story under which something else is figured or in which the fictitious is used to represent and illustrate the real.”
OT: “4912. מָשָׁל māšāl: A masculine noun meaning a proverb, an oracle, a parable. It is a literary genre, device, and style in the form of short, pithy sayings, prophetic utterances, or compositions of comparison.”
And though they would not see, hear or understand, everything the prophet spoke would illustrate His Promised reality, and God would perform every prophetic utterance spoken.
Parables and riddles. Eagles and birds. Trees and vines. Plucking and planting. And through His parable God would once again remind His people of His Promise to Bring Down the High and Exalt the Low, and to remind them He alone is able to fulfill every Promise; and whether or not it makes sense in the mind of man, whether or not it is easy to understand, He called His people to believe and obey.
Consider His Promise to Bring Down the High and Exalt the Low
The parable God gave Ezekiel described the events God had caused. A great eagle, representing Nebuchadnezzar who took from the choicest of trees, the cedar, representing His chosen people. And if His people would but believe His Promise and obey His commands, they would become a vine that would spread with prosperity throughout their land.
“Then it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine with its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and yielded shoots and sent out branches,” (17:6).
But instead of following the Lord’s command, they rebelled and looked again to another great eagle, they would look again to Egypt for their help.
“But there was another great eagle with great wings and much plumage; and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him and sent out its branches toward him from the beds where it was planted, that he might water it,” (17:7).
And as events transpired exactly as He had proclaimed, surely they would come to know that their only hope for survival would be in humbling themselves as they looked to His Promise to Bring Down the High and Exalt the Low.
“Say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots and cut off its fruit, so that it withers—so that all its sprouting leaves wither? And neither by great strength nor by many people can it be raised from its roots again. 10 Behold, though it is planted, will it thrive? Will it not completely wither as soon as the east wind strikes it—wither on the beds where it grew?”’” (17:9-10).
And for those who do not see or hear or understand, He went on to explain that that those who see their plans as Higher than His and break His covenant will not escape His wrath.
“But he rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt that they might give him horses and many troops. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Can he indeed break the covenant and escape?” (17:15).
And in continuing with the same imagery, His Promise comes. One from a Lowly beginning would be plucked from Jerusalem, a tender shoot Who would bring rest to every bird that nests under its branches.
Thus says the Lord God, “I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.23 On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches,” (17:22-23).
And again, I remembered the parable Jesus spoke, comparing His Kingdom to a tree that will gather the birds to come and nest in its branches.
He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches,” (Matthew 13:10-15).
And I wondered, did He start with His parables that had been fulfilled so that His People would pay attention to His parable Promised? Because what was coming would not be easy to understand. Was He trying to get their attention so that when One came and spoke in parables, One Who would make mention of the tree that birds would nest in, they would remember and their hearts would be prepared so as to believe? And in so doing, was He preparing them to place themselves in the branches of His protection through faith in His Promise to Bring Down the High and Exalt the Low?
For although things may have seemed hopeless, even impossible that they would see His Promise come to fruition, perhaps as they remembered that He performed every Parable He spoke to Bring Down the High and Exalt the Low, they would be strengthened to believe that He would not turn back from His Promise sworn to David, of the tender shoot Who would sit upon the throne of David forever.
The Lord has sworn to David
A truth from which He will not turn back:
“Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne,” (Psalm 132:11).
And in this parable fulfilled, all would know that He Is Lord, that He is Sovereign and Able to fulfill His Promise to Bring Down the High and Exalt the Low.
“All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will perform it.” (17:24).
How do we respond to His Promise to Bring Down the High and Exalt the Low?
Jesus. He did not fit the mold for a Messiah. Well at least not the mold that the religious leaders had manufactured. But it is a key tenet of our faith. God Brings Down the High in their own minds as He Exalts the Low in their humility.
Let us ask Him to give us the attitude of our Savior that we too would be willing to humble ourselves as we trust His Promise to Exalt the Low.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, (Philippians 2:5-11).
Because here is the truth. His Ways are not ours, but to those who belong to Him by faith in Christ, He has granted the great gift “to know the mysteries of His kingdom.”
Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted, (Matthew 13:11).
Through Christ alone we have an introduction to this knowledge, but are not given full understanding of His Ways. And when we don’t understand, it is then we are to believe His Promise to Bring Down the High and Exalt the Low.
“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted,” (Matthew 23:12).
Oh, let us humble ourselves before Him. For while He owes us no explanations, we certainly owe Him obedience.
Oh, may we not succumb to a pride that demands answers, for He Will Bring Down the High. And when life feels like an unexplained parable, let us trust His Ways as we live by faith and believe His Word. For in His perfect time and out of His compassionate care, He has Promised to Exalt the Low who humble themselves under His mighty hand.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you, (1 Peter 5:6-7).