Ezekiel 19:1–14 (NKJV)
19:1 “Moreover take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel, 2 and say:
‘What is your mother? A lioness:
She lay down among the lions;
Among the young lions she nourished her cubs.
3 She brought up one of her cubs,
And he became a young lion;
He learned to catch prey,
And he devoured men.
4 The nations also heard of him;
He was trapped in their pit,
And they brought him with chains to the land of Egypt.
5 ‘When she saw that she waited, that her hope was lost,
She took another of her cubs and made him a young lion.
6 He roved among the lions,
And became a young lion;
He learned to catch prey;
He devoured men.
7 He knew their desolate places,
And laid waste their cities;
The land with its fullness was desolated
By the noise of his roaring.
8 Then the nations set against him from the provinces on every side,
And spread their net over him;
He was trapped in their pit.
9 They put him in a cage with chains,
And brought him to the king of Babylon;
They brought him in nets,
That his voice should no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel.
This first allegory describes Israel as a lioness who raised cubs. One cub resembles the Israel of the fathers, who rose up and was eventually brought into submission to Egypt under Pharoah. Then, the Lord brought them out as another cub, and led them to the land of Canaan, where they overcame the nations and took their land, as God promised. However, that cub also was defeated and brought into bondage, perhaps by Babylon. Many scholars, though, point to rulers in the current time period of the writing of the prophecy, such as Jehoahaz, who was taken captive to Egypt. The second cub would be Zedekiah in this scheme, who ruled violently, but eventually was overcome and the nation taken into exile by surrounding nations.
10 ‘Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline,
Planted by the waters,
Fruitful and full of branches
Because of many waters.
11 She had strong branches for scepters of rulers.
She towered in stature above the thick branches,
And was seen in her height amid the dense foliage.
12 But she was plucked up in fury,
She was cast down to the ground,
And the east wind dried her fruit.
Her strong branches were broken and withered;
The fire consumed them.
13 And now she is planted in the wilderness,
In a dry and thirsty land.
14 Fire has come out from a rod of her branches
And devoured her fruit,
So that she has no strong branch—a scepter for ruling.’ ”
This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.
In this passage, the allegory shifts to that of a vine or cedar, who grows prominently from the lineage of David, presumably again Zedekiah, who is fruitful and prominent, but is then plucked up and dried up, broken, and withered. Fire consumes it, and the strong branch, a scepter for ruling is not longer part of the vine. Strength and power are not guaranteed when one operates in their own system of morality and in their own spirit. The power and strength of Israel was lost when they forsook the law of God and lived according to what was right in their own eyes. Be certain that what you do in the name of the Lord must be bathed in His presence and carried out according to His holiness and righteous decree. When one attempts to minister in his or her own talents and abilities and ignores the voice of God, they step out of the great protection of the Creator God, and walk in their own strength, which is puny and futile. Be sure that when you play with fire, you will get burned.