Goodnews Christian Ministry
"Son of man, ask them a riddle; propound a parable to the House of Israel."
The cedars of Lebanon in scripture stand for the most important figures of the earth. This includes presidents, kings, and especially as far as God is concerned, Hebrew and Christian religious leaders. In the following allegory Ezekiel describes a great military power (the Roman eagle) coming to Lebanon and plucking off the very top branch of the highest cedar. This top branch represents the people of God, the two Houses of Israel (i.e., Chrisitans and Jews). The eagle takes this branch to his home in Babyon. This represents the exile of the House of Israel to Rome in the first century A.D.
"Writhe, cry out daughter of Zion...for now you have to leave the city and live in the open country. To Babylon you must go and there you will be rescued; There God will ransom you out of the power of your enemies." (Micah 4:10).
The ransom Micah refers to is the blood of Christ paid on the cross. Jesus' blood sealed a temporary treaty of peace made between God and the world for the purpose of rescuing Israel's lost children from captivity.
The reign of the Church was made possible by this treaty of peace structured between God and Babylon. When Jesus went to the cross in our name, his action not only freed every Christian believer from sin, it also initiated a formal treaty of peace between this evil world and God a treaty designed to give temporary life to the world by holding back the wrath long enough for those who want to escape in Jesus, to do so in safety.
The treaty does two things. First, it offers eternal life to anyone who desires it:
"We thought of him as someone punished, struck by God, and brought low. Yet he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins. On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed." (Is.53:4-5).
Second, it holds back the vengeance of the last days. In both of these actions the treaty has lengthened the term of life. Delaying the wrath, it has offered the world a short period of reprieve from disaster a reprieve which has given each of us time to escape the catastrophe of the Wrath, the terminal sentence ordered against the world by the Law's decree.
Christ's treaty is maintained by the Perpetual Sacrifice of communion. As long as this sacrifice is offered by the one holding back the Wrath, God's invitation will remain open to the world (2 Thes. 2:7). When the one holding it back is removed, God's offer to the world will be withdrawn and the End will quickly follow.
Here is Ezekiel's allegory:
"A large eagle, with huge wings and a wide span" (Romethe king of Babylon) "covered with speckled feathers, came to Lebanon. He took hold of the top of the cedar (the House of Israel), plucked off the top branch (all the nation's leaders), carried it off to the land of merchants, and set it down in a city of shopkeepers." (Babylon). (Ez. 17:3-4).
"All Judah has been deported, deported wholesale." (Jer.13:19).
"Then he carried off a seedling vine (the people of Christ), and planted it in fertile soil. He set it by the side of a wide stream as a border" (Ez. 17:5).
The wide stream represents the Living Water that comes from the breast of Christ:
"No need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before. See, I am doing a new deed, even now it comes to light; can you not see it? Yes, I am making a road in the wilderness, paths in the wilds. The wild beasts will honor me...because I am putting water in the wilderness (rivers in the wild) to give my chosen people drink. The people I have formed for myself will sing my praises." (Is.43:18-21).
"The seedling grew, and turned into a vine, not tall but well spread out." (Ez. 17:6).
Not tall, a nation humble in Christ, but well spread out, covering the entire earth.
"It's branches grew up towards the eagle (the conversion of Rome), its roots grew down. It turned into a vine; it sent out stems and put out sprays."(Ez. 17:6).
"The surviving remnant of the House of Judah shall bring forth new roots below and fruit above. for a remnant shall go out from Jerusalem, and survivors from Mount Zion. The jealous love of the Lord God Almighty will accomplish this." (Is. 37:31-32).
The sprays represent all the churches of Christ across the world.
"There was another large eagle (Egypt), with huge wings and thickly feathered." (Ez. 17:7).
Egypt, metaphore for the military empire of the western world, preaching a message of separation a separation of state from the rule of the Church leads the people of God astray, guiding them from the way of peace and humility into slavery to the gods of Egypt the world's gods of war and finance.
"And now the vine twisted its roots toward him (the second eagle), stretched its branches towards him away from the bed where it was planted." (Ez. 17:7).
The people followed the new eagle. Few complained when the names of God and Jesus Christ were forbidden in the interests of the mania of secularism that ruled the new eagle, the western world rejecting the Savior and embracing apostasy.
"It was in a fertile field, by the side of a wide stream that the vine had been planted to grow shoots, bear fruit and become a noble vine." (Ez. 17:8).
'The Lord God says this: Will this vine (that has chased after the new eagle) thrive? Will not the (new) eagle break its roots and snap up the fruit, so that all the new leaves will wither when they shoot? It will take no effort and no strong nation to pull it up by the roots." (Ez. 17:8-9).
(Not even a nation, just one man operating out of a cave sending forth 12 men armed with box cutters).
"It is planted there; will it thrive? Will it not shrivel when the east wind blows? It will wither on the soil where it was growing." (Ez. 17:10).
The east wind is the Medes, the people of the East. The Bible's scourge of Babylon.
"The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows:
'Say to that set of rebels, "Do you not know what this means?" Say this, "Listen; the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem; he carried away the king and the princes, and took them to where he lives in Babylon. He took a member of the royal family and made a treaty with him, forcing him to swear loyalty, after having already deported the chief men of the land, so that the kingdom would remain modest and without ambition and so maintain his treaty faithfully." (Ez. 17:11-14).
As Paul said, "We have to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions." (Tit.2:11-12).
According to scripture, the exile to Babylon (the "Diaspora") is set to last a term of 70 years, until the Prince of Persia issues his decree ending it. Since Persia has not yet come to power, that decree remains unstated.
"The people of Israel are to serve the king of Babylon until the king of Persia comes to power." (2 Chron.36:21).
All who are in Christ (Israel's House of Christianity), return to Jerusalem at the end of their lifetime. Not to the Jerusalem of Palestine, but to the Jerusalem of heaven. It is a journey all Christians make during their lifetime.
Israel's House of Judah, however, consider the Jerusalem of this earth as their destination. Wanting to return from the exile early (before the Prince of Persia decrees its end), a group of Jewish army leaders went to Jeremiah and begged him to plead with God for their early return to Israel in advance of the decree.
"Jeremiah...summoned Johanan son of Kareah and all the army leaders who were with him, and all the people from least to greatest. He said, 'The Lord , the God of Israel, to whom you delegated me to offer your request (to return to the land of Israel before the official Diaspora ends) says this: "If you are willing to remain peaceably in this country, I will build you and not overthrow you; I will plant you, not tear you up. For I am sorry for the evil that I have done to you."
"Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon any longer; do not fear him for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hands. I will take pity on you, and move the king of Babylon to pity you and let you return to your native soil." (Jer.42:1-12).
Notice that this return is authorized by Babylon, not Persia. It is a codicle to the original terms of the dispersion structured in the Peace Treaty of Christ. This allowance has been permitted by God through Jeremiah, but with strict conditions, conditions fraught with catastrophe if disobeyed:
"But if you say: We do not want to stay in this country; if you disobey the voice of the Lord your God, and say: No, the land of Egypt is where we want to go, where we shall not see war nor hear the sound of trumpet, nor lack for bread; that is where we want to live; in that case, remnant of Judah, listen to the word of the Lord. God the Almighty, the God of Israel, says this: If you are determined to go to Egypt, and if you do go and settle there, the sword you fear will overtake you, there in the land of Egypt; the famine you dread will follow on your heels, right into Egypt; you shall die there."
"All the men who are determined to go to Egypt and settle there shall die by sword, famine and plague: not one survivor will escape the disaster I mean to bring them. Yes, the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says this: Just as my anger and my fury have been poured out on the citizens of Jerusalem, so will my fury be poured out on you if you go to Egypt: you will become an object of execration and horror, a curse, a laughing-stock; and you will never see this place again." (Jer. 42:13-18).
"Hearing these words from Jeremiah the army leaders did not believe his words had come from God and they accused him of lying." (Jer.43:1-3).
Disregarding Jeremiah's warning, the army leaders made a military pact with Egypt straightaways. Not satisfied with the borders the king of Babylon had authorized for them, they set up their settlements outside of these borders, in lands not given them by the nations.
"But the prince rebelled and sent envoys to Egypt, asking for horses and a large number of troops. Is he going to thrive? Will a man who has done this go unpunished?" (Ez. 17:15).
"Understand this clearly: today I have given you solemn warning. You were playing with your own lives when you made me your envoy to the Lord. You have not obeyed the word of God or the message he gave you, so understand this clearly, you are going to die by sword, famine and plague in the place where you have been wanting to go and settle." (Jer.42:20-22).
"Can he break a treaty and go unpunished? As I live, I swear it is the Lord God who speaks: In Babylon, in the country of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he has ignored, whose treaty he has broken, there will he die." (Ez. 17:16).
"Despite the pharaoh's great army and hordes of men, he will not be able to save him by fighting, however many earthworks are raised, however many trenches dug to the loss of many lives. He has ignored the oath and broken the treaty by which he was bound. He has done all this and shall not go unpunished." (Ez. 17:17-18).
"And so, the Lord God says this: As I live, I swear: my oath which he has ignored, my treaty which he has broken, I will make them both recoil on his own head. I mean to throw my net over him and catch him in my mesh; I mean to take him to Babylon and punish him there for breaking his oath to me. The pick of his army will fall by the sword, and the survivors be scattered to all the winds. And so you will learn that I, the Lord, have spoken." (Ez. 17:19-21).
"The Lord says this: From the top of the cedar, from the highest branch I will take a shoot and plant it myself on a very high mountain. I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel. It will sprout branches and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Every kind of bird will live beneath it, every winged creature rest in the shade of its branches. And every tree of the field will learn that I, the Lord, am the one who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow, who withers green trees and makes the withered green. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it." (Ez. 17:22-24).
All who follow Jesus Christ and obey Him will be saved and live forever. Only the rebels will perish.
Not only will the rebels perish, so will Egypt, the western world empire, the great eagle toward which the House of Israel (the House of Judah) strayed when it left the bed in which it was planted.
Foretelling the invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah said,
"Take some large stones and bury them in the prsence of the men of Judah in the cement on the square outside the entrance of Pharaoh's place...Then say to them, 'The Lord, the God of Israel, says this: I am sending for Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, my servant; he will place his throne over these stones that I have buried, and spread his canopy above them. He is coming to strike the land of Egypt:" (Jer. 43:8-10).
"Those for the plague, to the plague; those for captivity, into captivity; those for the sword, to the sword!" (Jer. 43:11).
"He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn these gods or carry them off; as a shepherd picks his cloack cealn ofvermin, so will he pick Egypt clean and leve without interference. He will brak the obelisks of the temple of the Sun at On and burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt." (Jer. 43:12-13).
There is great continuity throughout scripture with respect to the East's attack on Israel in the last days and the destruction of the "Egypt" upon whom it depended for military support. In fact, since so many parts of these prophecies are clearly centered at the end of time, it is difficult to say with certainty that some may not apply to the days immediately ahead. They apparently are a united whole.
If that is the case there is a strong correlation between the empire Daniel foresees fracturing soon after the end of the second war at the Euphrates and the powers of the western world (Dan. 8:8; 11:3-4). The recent war in Lebanon and all the violence involved points to the burning down of the great cedars in scripture. Habakkuk focuses this slaughter and destruction on Israel and foresees it boomeranging back on the nation with terrible consequences (Hab. 2:16-17; 3:1-19). Ezekiel, however has incorporated this same image of Lebanese slaughter in terms of Egypt:
"Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to all his subjects:
'To what shall I compare you in your greatness?
Surely, to a cedar of Lebanon
with noble branches, thick-set needles and lofty trunk.
Its top pierces the clouds.
The waters have made it grow, the deep has made it tall,
pouring its rivers round the place where it is planted,
sending its streams to all the other trees.
This is why its trunk grew taller than all the other trees;
its branches increased in number, its boughs stretched wide,
because the plentiful waters reached it.
All the birds of heaven used to nest in its branches;
under its boughs all wild animals used to drop their young;
in its shade every kind fo people sat.
It was beautiful in its size, in the span of its boughs;
its roots went deep into plentiful waters.
No cedar equalled it in the garden of God,
no cypress had branches such as these;
no plane tree could match its boughs,
no tree in the garden of God could rival its beauty,
I had made it lovely with branching green.
It was the envy of every tree in Eden, in the garden of God." (Ez. 31:2-9)
"Very well then, the Lord God says this: Since it (Egypt) has raised itself to the full height, has lifted its top to the clouds, and has grown arrogant in its height, I have handed it over to the prince of the nations (the ram from the East), to do with as its wickedness deserves; I have destroyed it. Foreigners, the most barbarous of the nations, have cut it down and felled it." (Ez. 31:10-12).
"In the future let no tree rise in pride beside the waters, none push its top through the clouds, no well-watered tree stretch its whole height towards them. For all of them are doomed todeath, to the regions underground..with those who go down to the pit." (Ez. 31:14).
"The Lord God says this: On the day it went down to Sheol, I closed the deep over it in a sign of mourning. I stopped its rivers, the plentiful waters dried up; I made Lebanon dark for its sake, and all the trees of the fields wilted for its sake. With the noise when it fell I made the nations quake, as I hurled it down to Sheol, with those who go down to the pit." (Ez. 31:15-16).
"...the word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows,
'Son of man, raise the dirge for Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Say to him, "Young lion of nations, you have been wiped out. You were like a crocodile in the water; you snorted through your nostrils, you churned the water with your feet, you muddied its streams." (Ez. 32:1-2).
"I am going to throw my net over you in a great concourse of nations; they will drag you ashore in my net...when I extinguish you I will cover the skies, and darken the stars. I will cover the sun with clouds and the moon will not give its light. I will dim every luminary in heaven for you, and cover your country in darkness it is the Lord God who speaks." (Ez. 32:3-8).
Here, the fate of Egypt and Babylon merge, showing the close relationship between the two. The western world that has rejected Jesus and Babylon are identical. The end of one signals the immediate end of the other. In fact they are one and the same. The use of the term, "Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar" is an allegory of the nations of the East. Their attack on the Babylon of the West fulfills all the prophecies of scripture.
Just as the fulfillment of Habakkuk's vision of Lebanon has been structured in two parts, so, Jeremiah's proof of all the end-time prophecies will probably follow a similar course.
"And here is the proof for you it is the Lord who speaks that I mean to deal with you in this place: so that you may know that the words with which I threaten you will come true. The Lord says this: I will hand the pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies and to those determined to kill him, just as I handed Zedekiah king of Judah over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, his enemy who was bent on killing him." (Jer.44:29-30).
"God says this, 'Now I am knocking down what I have built, tearing up what I have planted: I am going to strike the whole earth. And here you are asking for special treatment! Do not ask, for I am now going to bring down disaster on all mankind it is the Lord who speaks. As for you, I will let you escape with your own life, wherever you may go." (Jer.45:4-5).
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