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The Patient Gardner

Jesus often used parables to teach the people of Israel the lessons He wanted them to learn. The parables were allegories that used everyday language, objects, and circumstances to help the people relate to his teachings.

Israel, for example, was often portrayed as a vine or fig tree. In Luke 13:6-9, Jesus tells about a man who looked for fruit on his fig tree for three years. After coming up short over and over again, he ordered the caretaker to cut the tree down since it was useless. The caretaker respectfully requested one more year to give it some TLC.

In this week's readings, we see how Jesus's in Luke 13 teaching points back to Israel. Ezekiel 19:10-11 describes Israel as a fruitful vine planted by the water, producing full branches bearing much fruit. It was grand and produced strong branches; it was conspicuous because of its height and many branches, flourishing because of the abundant water supply.

However, the first part of Ezekiel 15 gives a much more dismal comparison of Israel to the vine. The LORD asks Ezekiel about the quality of the wood of a vine. In contrast to the wood of a tree that can be used for sturdy furniture, the frame of a home, or a simple peg to hang a pot on, the wood of the vine is useless for anything other than kindling. Once burned, the vine serves no purpose. It is useless while living and even more useless after being burned.

The LORD continues explaining to Ezekiel that the people of Jerusalem have been unfaithful and as a result, will be consumed by fire just like the wood of the vine. The LORD said, "And when I set my face against them, you will know that I am the LORD. I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful ...."

Our LORD is amazingly patient. He proved it over and over with Israel. His anger burned against them and He wanted to pass judgment upon them; yet, He would stay His hand when his servants humbly interceded on behalf of the people. He was the tender gardener, granting the requests of the caretakers who asked for time to nurture the stubborn, fruitless vines. But as Israel has taught us, if there is no repentance and no fruit, judgment will ensue. God is patient, but He is just.

This is a good reminder for all of us. While it is tempting to point accusing fingers at Israel, berating them for their continuously wayward lives and disobedience to the Lord, I have a feeling God's intention wasn't for us to use His Word to pass judgment. It is more likely that He wants us to take an honest look inward, evaluating the priorities of our own lives. We may discover we are just as rebellious or idolatrous as Israel.

Our own country has been sinking further into sin and open depravity, shaking its fist at God and His righteousness. Thankfully, the LORD has shown great patience towards us, but He has also sent warnings to us which we have not heeded. The prayers of the righteous may stay His judgments for a time before we feel the weight of His wrath. But for how long? God is patient, but He is just. This should be a call to repentance and prayer for us and our nation.

~ Lori Voss

August 19th Readings
EZEKIEL 14:1-16:63

August 20th Readings
EZEKIEL 17:1-19:14

August 21st Readings
EZEKIEL 20:1-22:16

August 22nd Readings
EZEKIEL 22:17-23:49
2 KINGS 24:20-25:2
EZEKIEL 24:1-14

August 23rd Readings
EZEKIEL 24:15-25:17
JEREMIAH 34:1-22
JEREMIAH 21:1-14
EZEKIEL 29:1-16
EZEKIEL 30:20-31:18

August 24th Readings
JEREMIAH 32:1-33:26
EZEKIEL 26:1-14

August 25th Readings
EZEKIEL 26:15-28:26
2 KINGS 25:3-7
JEREMIAH 52:6-11
JEREMIAH 39:2-10