Ezekiel 16:42-17:24; Hebrews 8:1-13;
Psalm 106:13-31; Proverbs 27:7-9
Promises are like babies: easy to make, hard to deliver.
The eagle plucks part of the tree and carries it off to a city full of merchants, where it is planted by a broad river. It takes root in this new home and prospers. This is a picture of the captives, who are royalty and intelligentsia and who Nebuchadnezzar carted off to Babylon from Judah. Zedekiah is the Judean king who Nebuchadnezzar appointed to the throne in Jerusalem to rule over the people and remained in Jerusalem. King Nebuchadnezzar had a covenant with Zedekiah that he would be loyal to Babylon.
In the parable, another great eagle comes to the willow tree and the tree reaches out to that eagle. This eagle represents the great nation of Egypt, who was a mighty power at that time. Zedekiah breaks his covenant with Nebuchadnezzar and forms an alliance with Egypt. The unbelieving pagan Babylonian king is more noble than the Judean king. Zedekiah is a liar, while Nebuchadnezzar is honest.
God concludes that He should pull the vine out and not let it prosper as a result of this behavior. It is only through this treaty that Israel was going to be able to keep her national identity. This king felt he was smarter than God and able to control his own destiny. Now he will learn that he was wrong. The end does not justify the means in God's economy. To prove that He, alone, is sovereign, God is going to have Zedekiah taken to Babylon and killed.
The parable ends with the idea that one day God will take a tender shoot from the tree (the nation of Israel) and He will plant the shoot in the land. It will become a noble tree that sends forth branches and seeds. The short tree will become the tallest tree in the garden of God. This is a picture of Jesus Christ, who will be the noble king of kings and lord of lords. God's will be done!
How do you like this story?
As the author of Hebrews writes to the Hebrew Christians, the Jewish believers are having to transition in all that they have known as far as their religious rituals go. It was hard to give up the concepts of sacrifices and the priesthood with which they grew up. Paul (I believe he is the author of Hebrews) is explaining that the old priesthood was a shadow and type of what was to come.
The Tabernacle that Moses was instructed to build was a picture of Jesus Christ. See my commentaries on the book of Leviticus to refresh your memories on this. The priesthood was a shadow of the role that Jesus Christ would take on for eternity for all those who believe in God. Jesus is the priesthood, the sacrifice, and the Tabernacle all rolled into one. The priesthood was part of the first covenant, as were the sacrifices and the tent. Jesus Christ is part of the second covenant that God gave. It is a better covenant than the first. The people were unable to keep their part of the bargain in the old covenant. This was intentional so that God could show His mercy and grace through the second covenant.
This time the law is written on the hearts of God's people. This time, God empowers the believer through the Holy Spirit to be able to obey the law and not be condemned by it. There is a promise of a future day when people will not even need to be taught about God. This is in the future. We are not there yet.
Sins are forgiven and never remembered in the second covenant. The need for daily sacrifice for sins is over. Jesus is the final sacrifice for all past, present, and future sins. This is the new era that the Hebrews are entering. The Apostle Paul is trying to teach the believers about this new covenant in Christ. The New Testament is the new covenant. The Old Testament is the old covenant.
The Hebrews must learn to eat meat, spiritually speaking. These concepts are not mother's milk. It takes some maturity to digest these new promises. The Old Testament writings do not explain these promises. The New Testament explains all of this.
Are you old enough and mature enough to digest what God is serving in this passage? Do you embrace God's new covenant through Christ? He promises to save us through the death and resurrection of His Son.
Here is why the old covenant needed to be replaced by the new covenant.
Are you hungry for God's wisdom? Do you stray away from God? Do you listen to the heartfelt counsel of your friends?
What did you see as you read today?