Ezekiel 19 … Consider Him, the Strong Branch

“‘And fire has gone out from its branch;
It has consumed its shoots and fruit,
So that there is not in it a strong branch,
A scepter to rule,’”

God instructs His prophet to take up a lamentation.

 “As for you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel and say…” (19:1-2).

lamentation: “7015. קִינָה qiynāh: A feminine noun referring to a lament, a funeral lamentation; a dirge. It was a song or poem composed to recognize and to mourn the death of a person (2 Sam. 1:17; 2 Chr. 35:25); or of the people of a nation, especially Judah (Jer. 7:29)…”

This funeral dirge was composed to mourn the death of the rulers of His people, deaths precipitated by their rebellion and wickedness. And the lament was dictated to Ezekiel directly by God, calling His people to sorrowfully grieve the devastation their rebellious harlotries had ushered in.

And although this chapter makes no mention of Holy God, still I saw Him clearly… in all that the earthly rulers were not. For the lament was directed at kings who were hostile and violent as lions viciously searching for prey, lions who would be captured in their savagery and taken captive by an even crueler enemy.

“‘And he walked about among the lions;
He became a young lion,
He learned to tear his prey;
He devoured men.
‘He destroyed their fortified towers
And laid waste their cities;
And the land and its fullness were appalled
Because of the sound of his roaring.
‘Then nations set against him
On every side from their provinces,
And they spread their net over him;
He was captured in their pit,'”

And after lamenting the rulers, the dirge turns its focus toward the people, God’s vineyard. For although they had everything needed to flourish, planted by the abundant waters of His favor, their blatant rejection of His Word brought His judgment and fury.

“‘Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard,
Planted by the waters;
It was fruitful and full of branches
Because of abundant waters.
11 ‘And it had strong branches fit for scepters of rulers,
And its height was raised above the clouds
So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches.
12 ‘But it was plucked up in fury;
It was cast down to the ground;
And the east wind dried up its fruit.
Its strong branch was torn off
So that it withered;
The fire consumed it,'”

But hadn’t God promised His people a place of safety, that He would plant them, never to be moved again?

“I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and not be moved again; and the wicked will not waste them anymore as formerly,” (1 Chronicles 17:9).

But now, they were a people without a king. And as the rulers go, so goes the nation. Were they to become extinct? But hadn’t God also promised that One would rule His people and sit on the throne of David forever?

“When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. 14 But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever,” (1 Chronicles 17:12-14).

But it was woefully apparent, no man was fit to wield the scepter, no man would ever rule in righteousness. And as they heard the lament, when all seemed hopeless, would they remember His promise?

For One would come; and everything the wicked rulers of Israel were incapable of being, He would be, and more. And although the fire of His fury would come upon the evil, His promise would not be consumed but fulfilled through Him, the Strong Branch.

“‘And fire has gone out from its branch;
It has consumed its shoots and fruit,
So that there is not in it a strong branch,
A scepter to rule,’”

“Jerusalem was a vine, flourishing and fruitful. This vine is now destroyed, though not plucked up by the roots. She has by wickedness made herself like tinder to the sparks of God’s wrath, so that her own branches serve as fuel to burn her. Blessed be God, one Branch of the vine here alluded to, is not only become a strong rod for the sceptre of those that rule, but is Himself the true and living Vine. This shall be for a rejoicing to all the chosen people of God throughout all generations,” Mathew Henry Commentary.

Consider Him, the Strong Branch

The Lord had spoken of Him through Isaiah almost one hundred and fifty years earlier. And more recently, Jeremiah had also been instructed to prophesy of the Strong Branch. And while the people would surely mourn when they heard the lamentation spoken by Ezekiel, did it also spark hope?

When a remnant was finally released to return to Jerusalem, the Lord would continue to encourage His people with hope through His prophet, Zechariah.

Today we will look past the failings of man as we fix our minds on the promises God gave through His prophets, promises to be fulfilled through Him, the Strong Branch

  • He is the Strong Branch, beautiful and glorious Who will bear His fruit on the earth.
    • In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel, (Isaiah 4:2).
  • He is the Strong Branch Who will rule in righteousness and faithfulness as the Spirit of the Lord rests upon Him.
    • Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
      And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
      The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
      The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
      The spirit of counsel and strength,
      The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
      And He will delight in the fear of the Lord,
      And He will not judge by what His eyes see,
      Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
      But with righteousness He will judge the poor,
      And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;
      And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
      And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
      Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,
      And faithfulness the belt about His waist,
      (Isaiah 11:1-5).
  • He is the Strong Branch, from the line of David Who will save His people and impart His righteousness.
    • “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually,’” (Jeremiah 33:15, see also Jeremiah 23:5-6).
  • He is the Strong Branch, our Great High Priest Who will remove our iniquity.
    • “Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10 ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.’” (Zechariah 3:8-10).
  • He is the Strong Branch Who will build the temple of the Lord and rule on His throne as our King and High Priest.
    • “Take silver and gold, make an ornate crown and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. 12 Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord. 13 Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices,” (Zechariah 6:11-13).

How do we respond to Him, the Strong Branch?

If we have learned anything from our days in the prophets, it is that there is no hope for our salvation in man, in rulers, in government, in power. For only in Him, the Strong Branch, will we be saved.

And if we have learned anything from our time in the New Testament, it is that Jesus is the Strong Branch, the True Living Vine, our King and High Priest Who will reign forever.

So how should we respond?

We can never be what we were created to be apart from Him. Our response must always begin there. Are we abiding in Him and His Word as our only source of True Life to bear fruit? And when we are not, let us trust the pruning process that we would bear much fruit as a branch dependent on Him, the Strong Branch.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing,” (John 15:1-5).

Let us not put our hope in anything or anyone but Jesus, the Strong Branch Who will reign forever.

Do not trust in princes,
In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.
His spirit departs, he returns to the earth;
In that very day his thoughts perish.
How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God…
10 The Lord will reign forever,
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 146:3-4, 10).

And let us seek the help that only the Strong Branch Who Is our High Priest can provide. For there is none but Jesus Who is able to give mercy and grace in our time of need.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need, (Hebrews 4:14-16).

And when the cruelties of this life threaten to darken our hope, when it seems as though all we can see are the injustices of life, while we should and will mourn evil, let us never forget His promise for our future is secure, for very promise will be fulfilled in Him, the Strong Branch.

For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. 20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us, (2 Corinthians 1:19-20).

And when we are secure in His promise for our future, we will know the hope, joy and peace given through the Holy Spirit’s filling as we believe in Him, the Strong Branch.

Again Isaiah says,
There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles,
In Him shall the Gentiles hope.”
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,
(Romans 15:12-13).

Let’s Grow Together!

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