God presents two stories as lamentations for Judah and her rulers.
Ezekiel Chapter 19
Lessons from the text
God Will Uproot the Mighty In this chapter, God describes the kings of Judah as a mighty lion whose roar conquered men. Yet when the nations came against him, the lion was captured and carried away conquered. How does the conqueror become the conquered? How does a mighty predator become a spectacle of men?
God raised Israel. He established her in a plentiful land and fought on her behalf. Then, as she grew strong, she was able to conquer other lands and establish her boarders through their tribute. But her strength is not what sustained her.
Who gives the lion his strength? God, who created the lion. Even so, the Jews military conquests and well-established kingdom were sustained by God. No matter how strong she may have appeared to the nations, it was not Israel that was strong, but instead it was God who gave her strength.
If you plant a garden, do you not have the ability to go and uproot it? God gives nations, kings, and individuals strength. Even so, He can easily remove that strength.
This chapter is a humbling reminder that since God is the source of all of our strength and prosperity, He can take it away as easily as He can give it. As Jesus said, if we seek first after God and His kingdom, then God will take care of all of our needs (Mt. 6:33). But if we turn away from God, we are assured that God will uproot us and plant us in the wilderness, turning us into a spectacle of men.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 Continuing from the previous chapter, God shows how He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked by issuing a lamentation for the princes of Israel. Even though God must punish the sinner, He mourns having to do so.
2-9 God tells a story about a lioness and her sons to illustrate what has happened to Judah; the lioness is Judah and the whelps are Judah’s kings. Judah was a mighty nation that under David had conquered much land, but in recent history Jehoahaz was attacked and taken prisoner by Egypt (II Ki. 23:31-34). The next king, Jehoiakin his brother, reigned in his stead, first paying tribute to Egypt and then Babylon (II Ki. 23:35-24:1; II Chro. 36:2-6). As the nation began to grow strong again, Jehoiakin decided to rebel against Babylon, causing Nebuchadnezzar to lay siege on Jerusalem. While the siege was ongoing, Jehoiakin died. His son Jehoiachin lasted only three more months against Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiachin was deported along with most of the people and the riches of the country. (II Chro. 36:9-10) While Judah had all of the potential for strong, kingly lions, they were cut off in their strength and dragged away under the mastery of other nations. Just as man has mastery over lions, these nations of Egypt and Babylon have mastery over the Jews. This is a lamentation because the Jews should be having the mastery over the nations; the lions of Judah should be thriving under the protection of the hand of God instead of being vulnerable to the nations of the world. This vulnerability is because of the people’s sins, and the result is that the strength of Judah has departed and will not return (will “no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel.”) This has been fulfilled in that from the point in history when Zedekiah was taken to Babylon up to today, there has not been a reigning king in Jerusalem.
10-14 God takes up a new imagery for Judah. The nation was a healthy, thriving vine, but now it has been plucked up and burned in a fire. This fire is the wrath of God; in judgment God has removed Judah’s kings and broken the kingdom such that no more kings will reign in her (Jer. 7:20). The wilderness is spiritual wilderness; separated from God because of their sins, the people are left thirsting for God.
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