Jerusalem like an unfruitful vine.
- If a vine be fruitful, it is valuable. But if not fruitful, it is worthless and useless, it is cast into the fire. Thus man is capable of yielding a precious fruit, in living to God; this is the sole end of his existence; and if he fails in this, he is of no use but to be destroyed. What blindness then attaches to those who live in the total neglect of God and of true religion! This similitude is applied to Jerusalem. Let us beware of an unfruitful profession. Let us come to Christ, and seek to abide in him, and to have his words abide in us.
Ezekiel 15:1-8 . THE WORTHLESSNESS OF THE VINE AS WOOD ESPECIALLY WHEN BURNT, IS THE IMAGE OF THE WORTHLESSNESS AND GUILT OF THE JEWS, WHO SHALL PASS FROM ONE FIRE TO ANOTHER.
This chapter represents, in the way of a brief introduction, what the sixteenth chapter details minutely.
2, 3. What has the vine-wood to make it pre-eminent above other forest-wood? Nothing. Nay, the reverse. Other trees yield useful timber, but vine-wood is soft, brittle, crooked, and seldom large; not so much as a "pin" (the large wooden peg used inside houses in the East to hang household articles on, Isaiah 22:23-25 ) can be made of it. Its sole excellency is that it should bear fruit; when it does not bear fruit, it is not only not better, but inferior to other trees: so if God's people lose their distinctive excellency by not bearing fruits of righteousness, they are more unprofitable than the worldly ( Deuteronomy 32:32 ), for they are the vine; the sole end of their being is to bear fruit to His glory ( Psalms 80:8 Psalms 80:9 , Isaiah 5:1 , &c. Jeremiah 2:21 , Hosea 10:1 , Matthew 21:33 ). In all respects, except in their being planted by God, the Jews were inferior to other nations, as Egypt, Babylon, &c., for example, in antiquity, extent of territory, resources, military power, attainments in arts and sciences.
or than a branch--rather, in apposition with "the vine tree." Omit "or than." What superiority has the vine if it be but a branch among the trees of the forest, that is, if, as having no fruit, it lies cut down among other woods of trees?
4. cast into . . . fire--( John 15:6 ).
both the ends--the north kingdom having been already overturned by Assyria under Tiglath-pileser; the south being pressed on by Egypt ( 2 Kings 23:29-35 ).
midst of it is burned--rather, "is on flame"; namely, Jerusalem, which had now caught the flame by the attack of Nebuchadnezzar.
Is it meet for any work--"it," that is, the scorched part still remaining.
5. If useless before, much more so when almost wholly burnt.
6. So will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as being utterly unprofitable ( Matthew 21:33-41 , 25:30 , mark 1:1 11:12-14 , Luke 13:6-9 ) in answering God's design that they should be witnesses for Jehovah before the heathen ( Matthew 3:10 , 5:13 ).
7. And I will set my face against
from one fire . . . another--(Compare Isaiah 24:18 ). "Fire" means here every kind of calamity ( Psalms 66:12 ). The Jewish fugitives shall escape from the ruin of Jerusalem, only to fall into some other calamity.
8. trespass--rather, "they have perversely fallen into perverse rebellion." The Jews were not merely sinners as the other nations, but revolters and apostates. It is one thing to neglect what we know not, but quite another thing to despise what we profess to worship [JEROME], as the Jews did towards God and the law.