Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Vine of Faithfulness or Unfaithfulness?

“All the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD.

I bring low the high tree,

I make high the low tree;

I dry up the green tree

and make the dry tree flourish.

I the LORD have spoken;

I will accomplish it.”

~Ezekiel 17:24 (NRSV).

The chapter that concludes with this verse can be described as prophesy in the genre of the riddle, parable and fable. There are features of all three. Ezekiel seems to wish to communicate for the Lord in ways that conceal, reveal and, finally, transpose truth into realities we might find keenly fitting.

We all enjoy a good story.

This particular allegory is fresh amid images of betrayal. A vine is planted where a cedar has been torn. It is tended to by a handsome Provider—“a great eagle,” but it leaves to be tended to by another eagle; a worthless one. It is deceived.

The obvious allusion is to unfaithful Israel that turned to other gods before being taken into exile to Babylon. But, just as obvious—in our contemporary terms, bringing it closer to home—could be marital infidelity in the presence of what might be considered a good marriage.

Behind every warrant of infidelity, under all conditions of unfaithfulness, rests a decision to go that way.

Wise and Unwise Decision-Making

The story of Ezekiel 17 is a wisdom teaching.

Wisdom is a moral annexure which is not always obvious in our foresight. But it comes home with dramatic effect in our hindsight—as we live out the consequences of decisions made, particularly poor ones.

Not all decisions carry about them key components of moral things to consider, but most of them will.

Wisdom, so far as decision-making is concerned, can be seen as that guiding portent advising us to remain faithful—to ourselves, to others in our midst, to our partners in life, and ultimately to God.

The Lord Will Be Known

Those contemptuous ones, remitting toward life consternation in the manner of their decisions against logical reason, go fanatically against their very selves.

Yet, we’ve all known it—times we’ve gone our way, despite the facts of reason screaming at us to, “Stay!”

Those ‘trees’—fable equivalents for human beings—who rebel against the Provider will be brought low. Those low trees, appositely, are to be exalted in God’s very sight.

Beside our decisions rests our eventual fates. Let’s acknowledge how well we, as vines, are feed and nourished by God and works of faithfulness. Let’s stay ‘low,’ and faithful, in our decision-making that we might be favoured evermore.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

General Reference: Iain M. Duguid, The NIV Application Commentary: Ezekiel (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999), pp. 222-31.

No comments: