Ezekiel’s Allegories: Burnt Vine and Adulterous Wife

Read: Ezekiel 15-16

Comparing Jerusalem to a burnt vine, one that produces no grapes and is therefore useless, is rather tame compared to the graphic novel presented in chapter 16. The detailed description provided here is disturbing. I can only imagine the message given to those in Ezekiel’s time did not go over well. In fact, if we preached this message today, even used just these words in chapter 16, we would likely be tossed out of any church!

Jerusalem compared to a piece of burnt vine (Ezekiel 15)

God’s favored city, Jerusalem, is described as a vine that yields no grapes — is good for nothing.

“Son of man, how is the wood of a vine different from that of a branch from any of the trees in the forest?
If it was not useful for anything when it was whole, how much less can it be made into something useful when the fire has burned it and it is charred? Ezekiel 15:2,5

The Story of a Rescued Baby that becomes an Adultery and Worse (Ezekiel 16)

Chapter 16 starts out with a vivid picture of a newborn baby that was tossed into a field, rejected, left to die, yet redeemed by a gracious benefactor:

On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. Ezekiel 16:4-5

Because of great love and care, the girl grew up to be a woman. Ezekiel describes a girl who goes through puberty, her body going through physical changes then as it does now,

You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord. Ezekiel 16:13-14

Rescued from rejection, this is the making of a beautiful tale; then the story makes a hard left turn:

“‘But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. Ezekiel 16:15

It goes from bad to worse:

“‘And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols. Ezekiel 16:20-21

Ezekiel holds nothing back as he rather graphically portrays Israel’s depravity, “spreading your legs with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by” (Ezekiel 16:25); with the Egyptians, Assyrians and the Babylonians. Even the daughters of the Philistines were shocked by your lewd conduct.

“‘I am filled with fury against you, declares the Sovereign Lord, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute!  Ezekiel 16:30

I don’t think I’ve ever read this chapter with such vivid visions of God’s anger against a people who had rejected his ways. Like so many passages in the Bible, this time through is more convicting than the last.

“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Ezekiel 16:59-60

Yet, even now, the Lord will remember the covenant. Lord, help us to hear your words of old, to see how our past is marred with our irreverent behavior and your consistent, constant, conscious desire to draw us back to you. Talk about crazy love!

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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