Year 3 Day 132
Read - Ezekiel 15:1-5
Message - Alan Burke
This week we focus on the shortest chapter in the book of Ezekiel and it will be the last chapter we focus on for some time as we start a new series come September. The chapter itself may be short but it is one that packs some punch. From a cursory glance this is God telling His people that they are useless, worthless, good for nothing, only fit for the fire. Even if the people in exile along with Ezekiel had missed what God was going to do in the previous oracles that had been given, they weren’t going to miss it now.
I want you to park the second half of the chapter v6-8 for a moment or two and imagine that you were hearing these words for the first time as the people in Ezekiel’s day would have. The reason why is that we know from the latter part that God is talking about Jerusalem in this oracle but the imagery of vine would have been for any Jew something they would have been familiar with even if we are not.
The question asks is the wood of the vine better than a branch on any other tree? The answer is of course no! The wood of the vine is only good for one thing, one thing and that is bearing fruit. This is the only way in which the wood of the vine is better than the wood of any other tree. The wood isn’t any use other than that, it can’t be used for furniture because it is too pliable and weak, it can’t be carved into something as simple as a peg or a pin to hang something on because it is so weak that it bends, cracks and breaks far too easily, any other wood is better.
The vines themselves as today would have been usually pruned twice annually, in late winter and again in summer, branches that bore no fruit were cut off, bundled for firewood but even then the wood of the vine only burns a part life, it wasn’t even good fuel for the fire. That’s what is signified about how it burns at both ends and chars in the middle, what happens is that the thick trunk doesn’t burn properly, you’d not use it in your wood-burning stove at home, any other type of wood would be better. So the wood of the vine was useless for anything other than bearing fruit when it was part of the vine, and it wasn’t great as a firewood. The question that is then asked in this word of the Lord is what happens a useless piece of wood when it has been burnt at both ends, charred in the middle is it good for anything then?
Well the answer is obvious I hope, of course if it was no good for anything before hand it is going to be even less use now, and that is what we are told so clearly in v5. No-one there listening to Ezekiel speak the word of the Lord could have disagreed with the word of the Lord that came to Ezekiel and that he took to the people. They may not have understood at this stage but he was talking about them. A vine is of course is to produce grapes, that is its purpose, to be fruitful, the purpose of the people of God were to be fruitful, their purpose was to bear fruit. They were a chosen people, they were part of the vine, but they were not living as they were called to they had failed to live in His ways according to His purposes, they had not followed His decrees or kept His laws but had conformed to the standards of the nations around (11:12).
How do we as God’s people today bear fruit in our lives, how we do that is simple, it is told to us in John’s gospel and it is by abiding in Christ. To abide in Christ is to enjoy fellowship with him, to pray to him, spend time in his word, to Worship him with God’s people, looking to him in all things. There is nothing too small or insignificant to come him with nor is there anything to big. Apart from him we can do nothing. Ezekiel said it in a slightly different way but it has the same meaning, for we can do nothing, we will be useless apart from Christ (Jn 15:1-17).
Q14 What is sin?
Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. (1 John 3:4)