Read: Ezekiel 17-18
Two very different chapters, one a parable, the other offers encouragement to parents.
Two Eagles and a Vine
Two powerful leaders are portrayed in this parable as mighty eagles that pluck the top-most shoot from a choice cedar tree and plant them in fertile soil near water. The first was Nebuchadnezzar and the second was Pharaoh, king of Egypt (either Psammetichus II or Hophra according to the NIV Study Bible notes).
A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar, he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders. Ezekiel 17:3-4
“‘But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water. Ezekiel 17:7
Zedekiah was plucked from the leaders and given an opportunity to flourish, if he would but listen to the prophets. He chose to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar by attempting to make a deal with Egypt.
But the king rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape? Ezekiel 17:15
This decision will result in nothing but death and destruction. Ezekiel paints the vivid picture for all who would see to understand.
“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, I will repay him for despising my oath and breaking my covenant. I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment on him there because he was unfaithful to me. Ezekiel 17:19-20
The end of the story is classic:
All the trees of the forest 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 17:24
The Lord will do it. End of story.
The One Who Sins Will Die
There is much talk about the sins of one being applied to generations that follow. Ezekiel provides some clarity here:
The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. Ezekiel 18:20
As a parent, I have done all I can to raise Christ-honoring children, but that is all I can do. I have given my best to each, now they are on their own and as God has given free will, so they make the choices they make. I can take no credit for their good decisions, nor will I be held accountable for their poor choices.
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! Ezekiel 18:32
There is some comfort here, but as Ezekiel concludes, I find no joy in watching anyone fail, let alone my own children. Holy Spirit, do what only you can do. Show me what to say or do if I am able or silence me if that is a better solution. Either is fine. Eternity is a very long time.