The Word Made Fresh
1The LORD said to me:
2“Son of man, is the wood of the wild vine
better than all the other kinds of wood?
Can the wood of the vine be compared
to the wood from the trees in the forest?
3Is the wood of the vine used to make anything?
Can anyone fashion a peg from it on which to hang things?
4It is only used as fuel for a fire.
But when the fire has burned it from end to end
and the middle is charred,
is it useful for anything?
5Even when it was alive it wasn’t used for anything worthwhile.
How much less, then, after it is burned in the fire,
can it be useful in any way?”
6So, this is what the LORD God says: “Like the wood of the vines that grow wild in the forest, wood that I have given you to use in your fires as fuel, so I will give up on the people who live in Jerusalem. 7I will turn against them, and even though they escape the fire, they will still be consumed. And then you will know that I am the LORD. 8I will empty the land because they have acted without faith,” says the LORD.
1-8: God compares the inhabitants of Jerusalem to the vines that grow wild in the forest. The vine has no structural strength. It cannot be carved and shaped into anything useful. It is not used for anything except making a fire. Likewise, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are not good for anything except to be consumed like the vine. It is a striking illustration, especially in lieu of the fact that the house of Israel has been described elsewhere as God’s beloved vineyard (see Isaiah 5:1). When the grape vines stop bearing fruit, though, they are only good for firewood and can be used only once.
If we are going through life seeking only advantage for ourselves, we become nothing more than the wild vines Ezekiel tells us about. We can only be truly helpful when we are faithful.