A Lamentation

Ezekiel 19:1-14

Would you take your Bibles please and turn to Ezekiel chapter 19...

We continue our study of this book.

This chapter brings to us a conclusion of one of the major sections of the book.

>Thus far in the book of Ezekiel we have seen Ezekiel the actor and Ezekiel the preacher.

Youíll remember that in the first part of the book of Ezekiel, God said to Ezekiel...

"Now I donít want you to say anything...I donít want you to preach...

I donít want you to teach...I donít want you to give a message."

But rather, he said, "Iím going to give you scenes to act out."

And we saw several of them in those first few chapters of the book of Ezekiel where he did not preach.

He did not have public messages to proclaim.

But he acted out scenes that God gave him to act out.

But not only have we seen Ezekiel as an actor, we did finally see him as a preacher...

Because in the most recent chapters of the book of Ezekiel, God has said to Ezekiel...

"Now you say this to my people and tell them, Ďthus saith the Lord God"í.

So weíve seen him as actor...

Weíve seen him as preacher...

But today weíre introduced to Ezekiel as singer.

>Now we know that David was a singer.

We know that there were other singers.

But we do not normally think of Ezekiel as a singer.

But look there in verse 1...God says to him: take up a lament.

Now that expression "take up" literally means to sing.

He says, "I want you to take up a certain kind of song...

I want you to sing a song."

Ezekiel, the singer.

>Now in the Bible there are a lot of different kinds of songs.

For example, there are victory songs.

When David had killed Goliath with that slingshot and that sword and they were coming back into town.

People were lining the byways and singing, "Saul hath slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands."

They were songs of victory.

When the armies of Israel would come back from battle...

The people would line the streets and sing as the armies came back after experiencing victory.

They were victory songs.

>Also, there were worship songs.

There were songs that they sang on their way to the house of God.

In the book of Psalms, youíll find that above the first verse of many of those psalms...

There will be a little inscription that says, "A song of degrees" or "a song of ascents."

And those were songs that were sung as people made their way to the house of God.

Sometimes there would be some singing going on on the outside...

As people were making their way to the house of God...

And there would be some singing going on inside.

And they would just sing back and forth to each other.

Those were songs of worship, songs of going to the house of God.

In the New Testament in the 5th chapter of the book of Ephesians...

Paul says that weíre to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs...

And sometimes we run through that verse as though heís being redundant...

That heís just saying the same thing three times.

But thatís not true.

Thereís a difference in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

A psalm was a song of scripture.

A song of scripture is getting the word of God in our hearts.

Thatís one purpose of singing in church.

The reason we sing scripture songs is to get the word of God in our hearts.

We donít always remember what we memorize in our minds.

But usually if it is set to music it is something thatís there forever.

And weíll find ourselves driving down the road or walking down the lane...

And all of a sudden weíll begin to whistle a tune and sing a song...

And those scriptures weíve learned to sing begin to come out.

Thatís what psalms are.

They are scripture songs.

>But then he said there are hymns.

Do you know what a hymn is?

A hymn is a song that teaches us theology.

Many folks have the wrong idea.

Many folks think that all singing in church is supposed to be praise to God.

Thatís not true.

That never has been the purpose of singing in church, the only purpose...

And it never will be because God understood that singing not only should be an expression of praise to him...

But singing should be something that gets Bible truth on the inside of our hearts.

And when we sing those great old hymns, "Rock of Ages", and...

"What a Wonderful Change in my Life Has Been Wrought"...

And "Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound"...

When we sing those hymns itís putting theology into our lives.

Many people know what they believe because of what theyíve been singing through the years.

We sing about the cross.

We sing about the person of God.

We sing about the work of God.

We sing about the resurrection.

We sing about the Holy Spirit indwelling us.

Thatís hymn singing.

Weíre singing songs of theological truth to impress upon our hearts...

Deeper and more meaningfully the importance of theology.

>And then thereís spiritual songs.

We call them today "choruses".

They are those light and frothy songs that are songs of praise.

Sometimes itís saying the same phrase over and over and over again.

I have to tell you, I get a little wary of that, but I can tolerate it if I know the heart of the people.

>And so there are all kinds of songs in the Bible.

There are happy songs, joyous songs, church songs...

Praise songs, spiritual songs, hymn songs, theological songs, all kinds of songs.

>Interestingly enough, God did not say to Ezekiel, "I want you to sing a victory song."

He did not say, "I want you to sing a church-going song."

He did not say, "I want you to sing a happy song or a praise song or even a theological song."

He said, "I want you to sing a funeral song."

Thatís what a lamentation is.

A lamentation is a funeral song.

And oh, there are some songs that immediately make us think of a funeral.

>In the first nine verses we find the first part of the song...

And in the second nine verses we find the second part of the song.

The first nine verses, heís singing about things that have already happened.

And in verses 10-14, heís singing about something that is going to happen.

But itís all one song and itís all a song of funeral dirge.

Itís a song of lamentation.

>Now I want to share with you three things about the song.

#1 Ė I want you to see the subjects of the song.

What or who is he singing about?

Whose funeral is he singing about?

Well first of all heís singing the funeral song of a mother.

Look in verse 2: and say, "what a lioness was your mother".

Here we find a mother who is pictured as a lioness, a mother who is a lioness.

>But now look down in verse 10: your mother was like a vine.

In verse 2, the mother is a lioness.

In verse 10, the mother is a vine.

But I submit to you that itís not talking about a woman at all.

Itís not talking about any earthly woman.

Itís talking about the nation of Israel, at least what part of the nation was still left.

The northern kingdom had already been conquered by Babylon.

All that was left was the southern kingdom better known as Judah.

But here we find this mother is not the mother of any king except the nation of Israel.

It is not an earthly mother.

It is the motherland of the Jewish people.

Oftentimes we refer to America as our motherland.

Other folks will refer to their nations as their motherland.

Where did that come from?

It came from the book of Ezekiel chapter 19.

Because here God refers to the nation of Israel as the mother.

And so here we find that the first subject of this song is the mother.

>But secondly, there are the princes of Israel.

Look in verse 1: take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel.

Now who is he talking about?

Heís talking about three specific kings of Israel.

You say, "Well why did he call them princes when they were kings?"

Because you hardly ever find an Old Testament prophet referring to the kings of Israel as kings.

I mean, that is very rare.

Most of the time the OT prophets referred to the kings of Israel...

Whether the northern kingdom or southern kingdom...

They referred to them as princes. Why?

Because the prophets of God knew that all the kings of Israel were men who had feet of clay.

The prophets knew the kings were going to have serious moral failure.

They knew that many of the kings of Israel were going to be men who did evil in the sight of God.

Therefore, they referred to them primarily as princes to distinguish them...

And to contrast them with the king of kings and the lord of Lords...

The Messiah that they knew one day would come.

Now they didnít know when the Messiah was going to come.

They just knew that one day the Messiah was going to come.

God had already told that to the prophets.

Now they had preached it and preached it and preached it...

And hardly anyone believed it...

But the prophets believed it.

They believed that all earthly kings would fall into insignificance...

When placed up against the one who would be the king of Kings, the Messiah.

And so these princes of Israel are three specific kings of Israel.

>Now who are these kings?

Well Iím going to tell you who they are, and then weíll refer to them a little bit later on.

The first two kings are spoken about in the first nine verses.

And I shared with you that those first nine verses...

Heís singing about something that has already happened.

The first one is a king by the name of Jehoahaz.

The second one is a king by the name of Jehoiachin.

Now heís singing about these two and yet their reign is already over.

But now in verse 10 and following he begins to sing about a third king.

His name is Zedekiah.

Zedekiah was on the throne of Judah at the very moment that Ezekiel is singing this song.

Ezekiel and many of the Jews are already over in Babylon in captivity.

But the nation of Judah is still in existence and the current king is this man Zedekiah.

And so verses 1-9, these two boys that are the lion cubs of their lioness mother...

The lioness mother is Israel and the two cubs that grew up to be lions are Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin.

And in verse 10, this mother who was a vine, her offshoot is a man by the name of Zedekiah.

Now just remember that.

Iím going to deal with it in just a minute right before we get through.

And so these are the subjects of this song.

Heís not singing about Blue Suede Shoes...or Blueberry Hill...

Heís not singing about eating crackers in somebodyís bed...

Heís singing about the nation of Israel and three specific princes or kings of Judah:

Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah.

>Now think with me secondly about the scope of this song.

We have seen the subjects of the song, but think about the scope of the song.

As Iíve already said, the first nine verses look to the past.

They look at something that has already happened.

But what has already happened?

>Well first of all, he tells us about this king Jehoahaz.

What happened to Jehoahaz?

If you want to take the time to read 2 Kings 23:31, this is what youíll find.

The Bible says: Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king. And he reigned in Jerusalem three months.

He only reigned for three months.

But his reign was very, very significant.

Thatís why back in the book of Ezekiel 19, the Bible says there in verse 3: and she (that mother, Israel) brought up one of her cubs (KJV uses "whelps") and he became a strong lion, he learned to tear the prey and he devoured men.

In other words, here is Jehoahaz, a young man in his early twenties...

Who comes to the throne with great prospect and great potential and great ability.

He immediately has the respect of everyone.

He immediately has the golden opportunity to do something wonderful for the Lord.

But guess what?

He doesnít do anything wonderful for the Lord.

As a matter of fact, verse 32 of 2 Kings 23 says: he did evil in the sight of the Lord.

>Well what happened to him?

Listen to what verse 33 says: and Pharaoh-neco put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath, so that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on Judah a levy of 100 talents of silver, and a talent of gold.

And verse 34 says that he died, Jehoahaz died down there in Egypt.

He was captured by an Egyptian Pharaoh named Neco.

Neco came in...he invaded Jerusalem...

He invaded the nation of Israel, and he carried their king, Jehoahaz, a young man...

A man of great promise, a man of great potential, but a man who had done evil in the sight of the Lord...

And Pharaoh-Neco captured him.

Carried him down there into Egypt where he died.

Now that had already happened.

Everybody knew that had already happened.

Everybody in Babylonian exile knew that had already happened.

And when he starts singing this song about this mother lion that gave birth to these two cubs...

And one of these two cubs was taken captive and carried down into Egypt...

Everybody knew exactly what he was singing about.

He was singing about something in the past because Jehoahaz was already gone.

He was already taken to Egypt and he was already dead.

>But then he keeps on singing.

He starts singing again.

There in verse 5 of Ezekiel 19: when she saw (the mother) her hope unfulfilled, he expectation gone.

That means Jehoahaz was gone.

She took another of her cubs and made him a strong lion. And he prowled among the lions, for he was now a strong lion, and he learned to tear the prey, and he devoured men.

Thereís another king.

Who is this? This is Jehoiachin.

You find him over again in the book of 2 Kings chapter 24 verse 10:

At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem, and laid siege to it. And Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city, while his officers were besieging it. Jehoiachin the king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him, and Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple.

What is he doing?

Here comes Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

He invades the nation of Israel.

Jehoiachin is the king...what does he do?

Does he fight? No, he surrenders.

I mean here comes the army and here he comes walking out.

Got his mama with him...got his army with him...

Got all these treasures...he surrenders.

>Well what do you think Nebuchadnezzar is going to do?

He takes him captive back to Babylon.

Guess who was one of the ones taken captive?


This is when Ezekiel is taken captive.

And so Ezekiel and all of these other fine young most brilliant Jewish young people...

All of them are taken captive at the same time Jehoiachin is taken captive.

>Now go back to Ezekiel in chapter 19 and listen to what it says in verse 8:

Then the nations came against him, those from regions round about, they spread their net for him; he was trapped in their pit. With hooks they pulled him into a cage and brought him to the king of Babylon.

Hey, everybody knew who he was talking about.

Thatís why they were over there.

And so what has Ezekiel done in this first part of this funeral hymn he is singing?

Heís just singing.

"What a lioness was your mother..."

I donít know what the tune was.

"She had two cubs, and the first one became...and he was carried to Egypt."

Who was that? Jehoahaz.

"But she had another and he was carried to Babylon."

Who was that? Jehoiachin.

Everything heís singing, the people knew exactly what he was talking about.

We could sing about John Brown...heís dead...we know it.

We can sing about Jesse James.

"And the dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard and put poor Jesse in his grave."

We know thatís historical fact.

Heís dead...see?

And so here is what Ezekiel is doing.

Heís singing a funeral hymn about folks that are already either dead or in captivity...as good as dead.

>Well thatís what you do.

You sing funeral songs about dead people.

You donít sing funeral songs about living people.

>But now in verse 10, he changes the description.

Heís not talking about a lioness and her cubs.

Heís talking about the vine and its branches.

We saw this same thing back in chapter 15, so Iím not going to major on that a great deal.

But look at what he says in verse 10 of Ezekiel 19:

Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard.

What does that mean?

The KJV says "in your blood"...in your bloodline.

Anybody ever said, "Man, Iíve just got it in my blood...

I do what I do because Iíve got it in my blood."


"Iím mean and ornery and cantankerous because Iíve got it in my blood...

My mama was mean and ornery and cantankerous...

My daddy was mean and ornery and cantankerous...

My grandparents were mean and ornery and cantankerous...

Iíve just got it in my blood."

He says: your mother is like a vine in your vineyard, planted by the waters.

Ah, couldnít ask for a better place to be planted than that.

It was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant waters.

Oh, Israel in her early days, the glory of God was there.

Israel, Godís chosen people.

God chose them as a matter of sovereignty.

He didnít choose them because they were bigger or better or finer or sweeter or stronger.

He chose them as a matter of his sovereign will.

He could have chosen anybody.

But he chose the nation of Israel to be his chosen people...

And he poured out his blessing.

No nation has ever had the blessing of God like the nation of Israel had.

They had many, many waters.

>Itís branches were strong, fit for a rulerís scepter.

Thatís talking about the kings.

They started, many of them were strong.

There were 22 Davidic kings.

22...David was the first.

Now he wasnít the first king of Israel.

Who was the first king of Israel? Saul.

But David was the first dividic king.

Saul was chosen because the people wanted him.

David was chosen because God set his heart upon him.

David was Godís king, and there would come a line of kings after him, 20 of them.

The last one, Zedekiah, he was the one who was now on the throne in Judah.

Jehoihaz is dead...Jehoiachin is in Babylonian captivity...

But now Zedekiah is on the throne, and the people over here in captivity...

Their dreams, their hopes were that one day Zedekiah would raise up an army...

And that he would come over to Babylon and defeat the Babylonians...

And set the people of God free so that one day they could go back to their motherland.

One day they could go back to their temple worship.

One day they could go back to the place of their birth and the place of their home.

One day they could go home again.

Oh, thatís what they dreamed about.

Thatís what they thought about.

They knew that Jehoihaz couldnít help them.

He died down there in Egypt.

They knew that Jehoiachin couldnít help them...

Because he was over there in the same plight they were.

But oh, their dreams and hopes were fixed on this man Zedekiah, the king of Judah.

>But look what he says in verse 11: its branches were strong, fit for a rulerís scepter, it towered high above the thick foliage, conspicuous for its height and for its many branches.

Whatís he singing about?

Heís singing about Israel.

Israel in her glory...Israel in her honor...

Israel experiencing the blessing of God.

Strong and tall and blessed with many waters.

Fruitful...oh, a blessed nation.

>But now is song is fixing to change.

He goes back to the lament, the funeral song...

And now heís not going to sing about something already passed.

Heís going to sing about something that is going to happen.

Heís not singing about history now.

Heís singing about prophecy at that time.

(Verse 12) But it was uprooted in fury and thrown to the ground, the east wind made it shrivel, it was stripped of its fruit.

Thatís the lineage from which the kings came.

Its strong branches withered and fire consumed them. Now it is planted on the desert in a dry and thirsty land.

You know what heís saying?

He says that the nation of Judah in which you are trusting is going to collapse.

Itís going to be like a vine thatís been pulled up.

Itís going to be taken into a far, dry and thirsty land and planted.

Heís saying, "Babylon, those of us already in Babylon...

Many of you are hoping that one day Judah will rise up and come and deliver you...

But thatís not going to happen because the same Babylonians that conquered us...

Are going to come in and theyíre going to conquer them.

And theyíre going to be brought up over here to be captives, prisoners just like us.

There is no hope. There is no hope in them."

>(Verse 14) Fire spread from one of its main branches and consumed its fruit. No strong branch is left on it fit for a rulerís scepter.

There are no more kings.

When this one, Zedekiah, when he is gone there will be no more kings.

The book of 2 Kings tells us that when this finally did happen...

And it happened in just a matter of months after Ezekiel said it...

Zedekiah was taken captive over to Babylon.

They brought his children before him and each one of his children was executed in his presence.

He saw with his own eyes all of his children being put to death.

And after they had killed all of his children...

Then they took a spike and pushed it in both of Zedekiahís eyes...

And he was blind until he died.

And God said in this funeral song, "No more kings."

>So now we have seen the subjects of the song and weíve seen the scope of the song...

But lastly and very quickly I want you to see the significance of the song.

Why is this song so significant?

Because of what Ezekiel was saying to the people because God told him to say it.

And hereís what he was saying.

He said, "There is no earthly king that is going to deliver us.

There is no earthly army that is going to deliver us."

He has totally destroyed all of their hope.

>Some writers who try to write commentaries on the book of Ezekiel, they say...

"Oh, he was very cruel...Ezekiel became very cruel...

Ezekiel became very mean at this part of his life and ministry...

Because the only think these people over there in Babylon had, they were in captivity...

They were slaves, they were nothing more than property...

And the only thing they had left was the hope that one day Judah would come to the rescue.

And Ezekiel dashes their hope against the rocks.

He destroys their hope.

What a cruel, mean man he has become."

Hogwash and slop!

>Letís suppose I have a friend and heís lost.

Heís never been saved.

And this friend contracts cancer in his body.

Somehow he becomes inflicted with cancer...and heís dying.

All the medicine has been tried...all the treatment has been tried...

Thereís nothing else to try...and heís dying.

Sometimes families out of love will make strange decisions and they will say...

"Weíre not going to tell him...weíre going to make him think heís getting better."

Iíve had folks say to me, "Now, Bro. Joe, when you go to the hospital, donít you tell him...

Donít you dare tell him how sick he is...we want him to think heís getting better."

And so his family comes in every day, and they say...

"Man, youíre looking better...youíre getting better...youíre gonna get well and go home...

Itís gonna be all right...itís gonna be fine."

But I know better...I know better...

Iíve talked to his doctor and his doctor said, "Man, heís only got a few weeks left."

And this friend is lost.

His family says, "Youíre gonna get better, youíre gonna be all right...

Youíre gonna get to go home in a few weeks...

Itís gonna be all right."

But heís not going to get well.

Thereís not any other treatment to have.

Thereís not any other medicine to give...heís dying.

And letís suppose I go to the hospital room and he says, "You know, Bro. Joe, my family says Iím getting better.

Man, they say the doctor says itís looking good...

Iím going to be all right in a few weeks."

And I say, "Bob, your family is lying to you...youíre not getting better...

Youíre getting worse...and Bob, thereís not any other miracle cures.

Theyíve tried them all...there isnít any more therapy...there isnít any more treatment...

Youíre not going to get well...Bob, youíre going to die.

Youíve just got a few weeks left and youíre gonna die."

You say, "Bro. Joe, thatís mean...Bro. Joe, thatís cruel...youíve destroyed his hope."

Listen to me.

Hope when there is no hope is not hope at all.

Hope when there is no hope is not hope at all.

So I say, "Bob, man, I love you and I wish you were getting better but youíre not.

Youíre fixing to die."

Mean? Cruel? Yes...if thatís all I tell him.

But I want to tell you, I have hope for the hopeless.

And I say, "Bob, I want to tell you, man, there is a place where no one ever gets sick...

There is a place where no one ever has cancer...

There is a place where thereís never any war or hatred, grief or strife...

Never any funeral homes or funeral shrouds or cemeteries...

Itís a place where there is joy and happiness and wellness and holiness...

Itís a place where the streets are paved with gold, and the walls are made of jasper and the gates of pearl...

And Bob, itís a place where you can go...itís called heaven.

And Bob, itís real...youíre gonna die in a few weeks, but Bob, there is a king whose name is Jesus...

And if you will put your faith and your trust in him, you can be saved...

And the very second you breathe your last here, immediately you are in heaven...

Healed...fully healed of any disease never to sicken or to face death again...

And Bob, if youíll give your heart to Jesus, he will save you right now."

>Now have I been mean and cruel because Iíve dashed his human hope of getting well?

So be it.

But I tell you, I have provided for him a hope that is real and that is true.

The hope the family has given him is not real and itís false.

But the hope that we have in Jesus is absolutely real.

Thatís what Ezekiel was doing.

Ezekiel wanted them to know, "Listen, there is no help coming from Judah...

There is no other king going to come to be our deliverer.

If weíre going to have help, if weíre going to have hope...

We must turn our eyes to the God whom weíve sinned against and insulted and offended...

And repent of sin and put our faith and our trust in him."

>About 600 years after Zedekiah was taken into Babylon and he had his eyes put out...

He was the last Davidic king until about 600 years later.

And there as born a king in a manger.

His name was King Jesus.

The Bible says: he came to his own and his own received him not.

He presented himself to the nation of Israel as the king of the Jews.

But they laughed at him.

They spit upon him...they slapped him and they crucified him.

And this king was buried in a tomb, but three days later that king was raised from the dead.

And then later that king ascended into glory where he now sits on the throne of heaven.

2,000 years have now passed, and one day very, very soon that same king is going to come again.

>Iím glad to know him.

My hope is not in the White House.

My hope is not in the Congress house.

My hope is not in the governorís house.

My hope is not in the mayorís house.

My hope is in the Fatherís house because there my king sits at the right hand of God almighty...

Until one day the trumpet sounds and he shall come again.

And every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess...

To the glory of God that Jesus is Lord of all.

Letís pray.