The Parable of the Two Eagles

Ezekiel 17:1-24

Would you take your Bibles please and turn to Ezekiel chapter 17...

If you donít listen and hear as you listen, then youíre not going to get this.

This is the most difficult chapter so far in this book; and youíll see that as we go through it.

Ezekiel 17...Iím going to deal with the entire chapter, but I want to read just the first 10 verses before I start commenting on them...

>This is the third chapter, the third straight chapter that has given to us a parable.

Most of the time in scripture parables are very obvious in their meaning.

Very few parables have real hidden meaning.

When Jesus was on the earth preaching and teaching, he often spoke in parables.

Most of the time when Jesus gave a parable, everybody, the disciples and everybody...

Understood the meaning of the parable because most of the time a parable is very obvious in its meaning.

But there were a couple of times when Jesus gave a parable...

And a little later on when the disciples had him off by themselves...

They came to him and said, "Lord, tell us, what did this parable that you gave, what did it mean?"

There were a couple of times when the parables that Jesus used were not quite as obvious...

In their meaning as the great majority of the rest of them.

>The same thing is true about OT parables.

Most of the time in the OT the parable is very obvious in what it means.

In chapter 15, we saw the parable of the unfruitful vine.

In chapter 16, we saw the parable of the unfaithful wife.

Now those parables were very obvious in their meaning.

Israel is the unfruitful vine of chapter 15.

God had called the nation of Israel to bear spiritual fruit in his name and for his honor.

But Israel did not bear fruit.

They were an unfruitful vine.

Thatís obvious in its meaning.

In chapter 16, Israel is that unfaithful wife.

God had set his heart on Israel.

They were his bride.

He loved them and cared for them.

And yet, they were not faithful in their commitment to God.

They committed spiritual adultery.

The Bible says they went "awhoring" after idols.

They turned their back on the faithful love of God and went after false gods that do not even exist.

And so in chapter 15, the parable of the unfruitful vine is very easy to understand.

>In chapter 16, though it is a very long chapter, the parable of the unfaithful wife is very easy to understand.

But when you come to this chapter, I guarantee you, it is not at all obvious what this parable means.

Thatís why in verse 2 it is spoken of not only as a parable, it is spoken of as a riddle.

It is a parable in the sense that it has spiritual meaning.

But it is a riddle in the sense that it has to be explained.

Chapter 15 was not explained.

We just understood what it was.

Chapter 16 was not explained.

We just understood what it was.

But this parable has to be explained because we would no know what it was...

Especially us sitting here tonight, most of us who are very ignorant of Hebrew history.

And so I want to share with you this chapter in the three divisions in which it divides itself.

>First of all, in verses 1-10, which I have read for you, we find this parable of the two eagles simply stated.

He just simply gives the parable.

Itís a parable...itís a riddle...itís an allegory.

All of it speaks of this one story.

Beginning in verse 11 and going down through verse 21, he explains what the parable is about.

What he doesnít do in chapter 15 and he doesnít do in chapter 16, he does here in chapter 17.

He gives the parable, and then he gives an explanation for it.

And then in verses 22 through 24, he gives a future prophecy based upon this same parable he just spoke.

So those are the three headings that weíre going to see.

>First of all, in the first ten verses he gives to us the parable simply stated.

Now letís look at what he says.

In verse 3, he says...

Now weíre going to see two eagles in this story.

This is the first of the two.

It is described with great majesty and splendor.

If he had simply said, "a great eagle", all of us would know heís speaking of something of importance.

He does not say, "a do-do bird".

He does not say, "a gooney bird".

He does not say, "a sparrow" or "a parrot".

He says, "a great eagle."

>Eagles throughout history have always been a symbol of something very glorious and majestic...

And something of honor.

And it is no exception here.

But notice he doesnít just say a great eagle and quit.

He says a great eagle "with great wings, long wings, full of feathers which had many different kinds of colors."

It is an awesome sight, this great eagle.

Most eagles are not multicolored in the sense of having many colors.

They may have two colors or sometimes three, but most eagles are no multicolored.

But here is a great eagle with a great wing span, full of feathers and those fathers are multicolored.

It is an image of greatness.

>But I want you to see not only what this eagle looks like, I want you to see what it does.

Look there in verse 3.

It says that this great eagle "came to Lebanon, and took hold of the top of a cedar."

Now thatís what it says in the original text.

Now I want to say this to you, and I want you to trust me...

Because this is going to become very obvious in just a minute.

Lebanon is absolutely worthless as far as this story is concerned.

As a matter of fact, the country of Lebanon is not even in view here at all.

The most important thing about Lebanon is that Lebanon was a place that produced great massive cedar lumber.

There were no trees in Babylon.

Have you ever seen TV shots of the Iraq war?

Desert Storm or Desert Fox whichever you want to look at?

You see how easily it is to fight a battle over there because thereís nothing there but desert.

Where the building is existing, itís out in the open.

There are not any trees there.

And the trees in the land of Israel are not anything to brag about.

Most of the trees in Israel are short and squatty trees.

But in Lebanon they had the cedars of Lebanon.

These trees would grow to be 150 feet tall, sometimes even taller.

But not only were they great tall trees, the distance around them would sometimes exceed 80 feet.

150 tall, 80 feet around them, a massive tree.

It was said that one tree could be used to build a city.

Now thatís probably an overstatement.

But I do want you to know that many, many buildings, many, many palaces...

Many, many houses could be built by one tree.

Most of the buildings that were built in Babylon, and most of the buildings that were built in Jerusalem....

Were built out of the cedars of Lebanon.

>As a matter of fact, the temple itself was built out of the cedar that came from Lebanon.

And in that temple, the Bible tells us that there were all kinds of panels that had different carvings on them.

And those carved panels came out of those cedar trees in Lebanon.

It would take a man days to cut down a tree.

It would take him months to hew out lumber from that tree.

And then it would sometimes take him years to carve out these carved panelings on this tree.

Folks, this is not something you just whipped out of the sawmill overnight.

These were massive trees.

And so hereís what God says.

God says thereís this great eagle with great wingspan, full of feathers, multiple colors...

And he comes and he lights or rests or sits or perches himself on the tallest of cedar trees of Lebanon.

>And then look what else he does in verse 4:

He (the eagle) broke off the topmost shoot of the tree.

Look what it says now.

The great eagle breaks off the top of the young twigs of the tallest tree of Lebanon of these cedar trees.

Notice what else he does.

It says that he takes those twigs, in verse 4...

And carried that twig back to the land of merchants where he planted it in a city of traders.

Now thatís what the eagle does.

He lands in the tallest cedar tree of Lebanon.

He bites off the top twig of it, and then he carries it and sets it down in a city of great merchants and traders.

>Verse 5 tells us that this same eagle, "took some of the seed of your land and put it in fertile soil.

Now this seed is a seedling from this same cedar tree.

A seedling from the same cedar tree, and he plants that seed.

And look what it says.

It says there in verse 6: and it sprouted.

It sprouted and became a low spreading vine, its branches turned toward him, but itís roots remained under him.

What does that mean?

It means that this seed that had been planted by this great eagle...

When this seed began to grow it put down roots...

And all the roots began to migrate toward where the eagle that planted it was then dwelling.

Here was a seed.

It had been planted in the ground.

It began to grow, and the roots went down...

And the roots moved in the direction where the great eagle that planted it was dwelling.

>But now look in verse 7.

Verse 7 says: But there was another great eagle with powerful wings.

Now obviously not as great as the first.

Nothing is said here about his wing span.

Nothing is said here about the many colors.

It just says another great eagle with powerful wings.

Look what he does.

The vine now set out its roots toward him.

Now this is the same vine by that seedling.

The seed was planted.

The thing began to grow, and the roots began to grow toward the eagle that planted them.

But now here comes another great eagle and those same roots that had been pointing over to the first eagle...

Now those roots begin to change and come back toward this second eagle.

>And God asked the question, "Is that thing going to prosper?"

That seed that was planted, that first moved toward the first eagle and now moves toward the second eagle...

Is it going to prosper?

Well the obvious implied answer is "no, itís not going to prosper."

Because when the roots change direction, rather than going down they come up and become exposed.

Therefore, itís going to be very easy for the first eagle that planted it...

When he sees the roots going away from him and they come up out of the grown and get exposed...

That first eagle is going to come with no real strain at all and pluck up that seedling.

>Now what does all that mean?

Well thatís why I told you, "itís not obvious."

Itís not real clear what it means.

Thatís why God explains it.

Look in verses 11 and 12...

>Now whoís the king of Babylon?

Heís the first eagle.

Who was the king of Babylon here?


Write it down...on your mind or your heart.

Who was the first eagle? Nebuchadnezzar.

Who was the first eagle? Nebuchadnezzar.

Who was the first eagle? Nebuchadnezzar.

You got it.

The first eagle was Nebuchadnezzar.

Look what verse 3 said...

The great eagle did what?

He came and perched on the highest point of the highest tree of the cedars of Lebanon.

>But now look in verse 12...

And so itís not in Babylon at all.

It is Jerusalem.

It is not in Lebanon at all...

It is Jerusalem that is in view here.

God is saying that Nebuchadnezzar is going to come into Jerusalem and heís going to do something.

Whatís he going to do?

Well look back there in verse 4.

Heís going to cut off the top of the highest twig of that tree and carry it back into a land of merchants and traders.

What does that mean?

>Look in verse 12: the king of Babylon (that great eagle, Nebuchadnezzar) went to Jerusalem, the house of David, the tree of David, the nation of Judah, comes to Jerusalem and he has carried off her and her nobles, and led them with him to Babylon.

Now what did he say in verses 3 and 4?

He says the great eagle is going to come to the highest tree...

Bite off the tope of it and carry it into a land of merchants and traders.

What does verse 12 tell us?

It tells us that this great eagle is Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.

He comes into Jerusalem and he takes the highest man in leadership, the king of Jerusalem...

The king of Judah, whose name was Jehoiachin, and he carries him back into Babylon.

>Now look over in 2 Kings 24:8: Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began to reign.

To reign where? Judah.

Heís the king of Judah.

Jerusalem is his capital city, the king of Judah.

And he reigned in Jerusalem three months.

And then it tells us who his mother was.

Thatís not important.

Verse 9 says...

Jehoiachin is the king of Judah.

He reigns for three months, and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

>Verse 10: At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and led siege to it. And Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it.

2 Kings 24:12-15...

>Now thatís the same thing Ezekiel is talking about in this parable.

God says that Nebuchadnezzar is going to come into Jerusalem.

Heís going to take the top man, the king...

But not only the top man, all of the princes, all of the warriors, all of the men of valor...

All of the men of might...

All of them and they are going to be carried over into Babylon.

Now hereís the clue.

Listen to me.

When Ezekiel wrote this, that had already happened.

Thatís why Ezekiel himself was already over in Babylon.

Heís not writing about something thatís going to happen.

Heís writing about something that has already happened.

The great eagle had already come.

The great eagle had already taken the king of Jerusalem.

The great eagle had already carried him back to Babylon.

>But what else did verses 3, 4 and 5 say that this great eagle was going to do?

Heís going to plant another seed.

That seed is going to grow, and the roots of that seed are going to go in the direction of Nebuchadnezzar.

Now who is this seed that is planted?

Well it is King Zedekiah.

Look there in Ezekiel 17:13...

The seed that was planted is the same seed of King Jehoiachin...

Who is the same seed of his father all the way back up to King David.

From David to Zedekiah, every king that ruled in Judah was a descendant of David.

They were kings in the line of David.

Now thatís very important.

Remember that.

Who was the first eagle?


Who was the twig that he plucked off the top of the tree?

It was Jehoiachin.

Who planted the seed?

It is Zedekiah.

>How do you know that?

Go back to 2 Kings 24:17...

>You say, "Bro. Joe, I thought you said his name was Zedekiah."

Well read the rest of the verse...

Jehoiachin had been taken away over into Babylon.

Now Nebuchadnezzar takes another Jew, another man in the line of David...

And makes him to be the king of Judah.

But itís just sort of a figurehead position.

Thereís no power...thereís no strength.


Because all of the soldiers, all of the men of valor...

All of the men of might, all of the princes...

Theyíve all been taken over into Babylon.

All that youíve got left is the dregs of society, and thatís the way Nebuchadnezzar wants it.

He doesnít want Judah to rise up and rebel against him.

He wants to keep them under his thumb.

And so he says to Zedekiah, "You are going to be the king.

But you are going to have to make an oath to me."

And over in the book of 2 Chronicles Ė we wonít take time to read it...

But over in the book of 2 Chronicles, Zedekiah took an oath in the name of Jehovah God...

That he would be faithful and loyal to King Nebuchadnezzar.

He says, "Nebuchadnezzar, I know that you are the one who made me king.

I know that you are the one who lets me keep on being king and I promise you that Iíll be loyal to you.

Iíll be faithful to you.

And the nation of Judah will never rise up against you.

All of my roots are gonna come your way."

And for a long time thatís the way it was.

Then Zedekiah, the last king of Judah in the lineage of David, the last one...

Said to himself, "Self, Iím tired of Nebuchadnezzar telling me what to do...

Iím tired of having to obey him. After all, weíre a nation...

Weíre a mighty nation, or at least we used to be.

We know how to fight, and besides that, thereís another power over here thatís rising...

And they have already gone on record as being the enemies of Babylon."

Who is that other nation rising?

Itís Egypt.

It is under the power of a Pharaoh by the name of Hophra.

Heís mentioned several times in the OT.

And so here is Pharaoh Hophra, leader of the nation of Egypt.

What was Egypt known for?

Egypt was known for its great horses and chariots and soldiers.

And so hereís old Zedekiah, who for all this time has been faithful and loyal and committed to Nebuchadnezzar.

Now he gets tired of it and he goes to Egypt and says, "Letís you and I become allies together...

You and I together can fight against Babylon...

You and I together can whip Babylon."

Now all this time there was Jeremiah.

Both Isaiah and Jeremiah warned King Zedekiah, "whatever you do, do not go into an alliance with Egypt...

Because all Egypt will do will be to sell you a few horses.

But when fighting comes, you cannot count on Egypt because they will not show up...

And I want to tell you, you cannot beat Nebuchadnezzarís army if all youíve got is Egyptís horses."

>Well what does Zedekiah do?

He says, "I donít care what you seed picking preachers say.

I donít care what you say, Isaiah....

I donít care what you say, Jeremiah...

Iím the king, and Iím gonna do it my way."

And he goes and makes this allegiance with Egypt...

An allegiance that God told him not to make.

He turns his back on Godís word.

He turns his back on Godís preachers.

He turns his back on God himself and goes into an alliance with Egypt.

And God says, "Do you think heís going to prosper?

Do you think a man can turn his back on me and prosper?

Do you think a man can break his oath and break his word?

Do you think a man can violate everything I stand for, truth and justice and honor and dignity?"

God says, "Do you think that kind of a man can prosper?"


God says, "Heís going to be judged."

>If I had the time, and I wonít take it, I could turn you back again to 2 Kings 24 and 25...

And we find out exactly what happened to King Zedekiah.

When Nebuchadnezzar learns that Zedekiah has turned to Egypt for an alliance...

Zedekiah gets mad and the great eagle with great wings and many colors...

Is not intimidated by this other eagle with many feathers.

And he comes against Zedekiah.

He captures him.

>Now when Ezekiel was writing this, it had not yet happened.

But in about two years it did happen.

Everything he said was going to happen came to pass.

Nebuchadnezzar came against Zedekiah.

Zedekiah calls to the king of Egypt, Pharaoh Hophra, and he says...

"Hey Pharaoh, nowís the time."

Pharaoh says, "Man, I hope you like the horses...weíre out of here."

Pharaoh goes back to Egypt and here is King Zedekiah with some great horses and nobody to ride them.

And Nebuchadnezzar has no difficulty, no problems whatsoever.

He comes and he conquers Zedekiah and all of his so-called warriors and carries them over into Babylon.

And the Bible tells us that there in Babylon Zedekiah was standing...

And Nebuchadnezzarís soldiers were around him.

And all of the sons of Zedekiah, his children, all of his sons were brought before Zedekiah...

And every one of them was executed, put to death.

The last thing Zedekiah ever saw was his own sons being killed by Nebuchadnezzarís men.

And after they had killed the last son, then they turned to Zedekiah and poked both his eyes out...

And he could never see again.

He stayed over there in Babylon until finally he died.

>Now thatís what the parable is, and thatís what the parable means.

But dear friend, I want you to look at verse 22...Ezekiel 17:22, and Iím just about through...

Hey, thatís the same tree identified back there in verse 3.

God said, "Iím going to go to the top of that same tree."

What was that tree?

It was the royal lineage of King David.

It was the royal line of King David...

After David came Solomon...

After Solomon came a long series of kings in the Davidic line.

But when Zedekiah was carried over to Babylon, he was the last Davidic king of Judah...

The last Davidic king of all Israel, the last king in the lineage of David.

But God says, "Ezekiel, I want to tell you, one day Iím going back to that same tree top."

And look what he says: I will break off a tender sprig.

Not one that is hard and brittle and rebellious and wicked...

Not one that is going to do evil in my sight...

Iím going to take one that is tender, one who will come out of the royal lineage of David...

One who will be the next king of Israel.


And he says, "And I will plant him."

Plant him.

"Iím going to put him underground...

Iím going to put him in the bowels of the earth...

Iím going to plant him.

But I want to tell you, once Iíve planted him, that ainít all she wrote...

Because he said, this one that Iím going to plant upon a high mountain and itís going to be over there in Babylon."

>Look in verse 23: on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it, it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid creation.

Verse 23 says: and he shall be a goodly cedar.

Zedekiah was the last in the lineage of King David.

He came out of the cedar, but he was not a goodly cedar.

He was wicked.

He was a disgrace and he faced the judgment of God.

Oh, but this one, God says, "Iím going to take out of the lineage of David, and Iím going to plant it in Israel...

And after he Ďs planted heís going to bear fruit and heís going to produce a goodly cedar."

And look what it says, "Birds of every kind will nest in it."

Under this one, under this tender plant, under this cedar of Lebanon...

All who will come to him shall find protection and provision and safety."

It doesnít matter if they come from Babylon or Egypt or China or Russia or Africa or from America.

All who will come will find refuge and safety and provision under his wing.


Iím beginning to recognize who this is.

And it says: they will find shade in the shadow of its branches.

What a place to live Ė underneath the outstretched wings of this one whom God plants...

This one who is going to rise with healing in his wings...

This one who is the source of provision and sustenance and life itself...

To all who will come from the four corners of this globe.

All of them who will come.

>And then look what it says.

Do you have any doubt who this is?

Verse 24 describes him.

>God says, "You want to know who this one is?

He is the high tree that is going to be brought low.

Oh, but then heís the low tree thatís going to be made high.

Heís the green tree full of life who is going to die.

Oh, but heís the dead tree whoís going to come back to life."

Jesus, in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

Eternal God...deity...glorified...

Jesus Christ...the Son of God...full of grace...full of truth...

Full of glory...full of majesty...full of honor...high and exalted.

He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death of the cross.

There is humiliation...there is shame...there is reproach.

He is humility...he was brought down in his exaltation...

He was raised up.

In the green tree, born of a virgin, lived a life without sin.

No disease could ever come upon him.

No illness could ever invade his royal body.

No cancer could conquer him.

He is life and the giver of life and the sustainer of life.

In him is life...the green tree.

But God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.

Gave him to be crucified.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

And the green tree was dead.

>But God said, "This doesnít end in the graveyard, because that one who was exalted...

Who became humiliated, and then exalted...

This One who was alive is dead, he shall live again."

I speak of people who were members of this church when I came here...

Many of whom I have buried away out yonder in that cemetery or over in that cemetery...

Or down there in that cemetery, or downtown in that cemetery...

And I say of those people, they were alive but are now dead.

But when you read the book of Revelation and it speaks of Jesus...

Not as the one who was alive and is now dead...

It speaks of him who was dead and is alive forevermore.

The great reversal of the course of this world.

Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior...

He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord.

Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph oíer his foes.

He arose the victor oíer the dark domain and he lives forever with his saints to reign...

Humiliated? Yes, but exalted.

Killed? Yes, but resurrected.

Thatís the one.

Thatís why we have to think about that eagle over there and that eagle over there...

Because it is only as we see them that we can see this one whom God took out of that tree.

Zedekiah was the last king in the line of David until Jesus came.

Hail thou Son of David, King of the Jews.

And they said to Pilate, "Donít say he is king of the Jews. Say he claimed to be king of the Jews."

And Pilate said, "What I have written, I have written."

And I want to tell you, it didnít matter whether Pilate wrote it or not.

God had already written it down.

>Zedekiah was an end to a Davidic line that became wicked and godless and ungodly until the son of David.

His name is Jesus, and he is the king of Israel, and one day, friends, he is going to come again.

And when he comes again and sets up his earthly kingdom...

He will not rule from Washington...

And he will not rule from Moscow or Beijing.

But when he sets up his kingdom, he will rule from Jerusalem, sitting upon the throne of David.

What a Savior!

Letís pray.