Broken Promises

In The Word

Read: Ezekiel 17


Parable of Two Eagles and a Vine

17 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, ask a riddle and present a parable to the house of Israel, saying, ‘This is what the Lord God says: “A great eagle with great wings, long pinions, and a full plumage of many colors came to Lebanon and took away the top of the cedar. He broke off the topmost of its young twigs and brought it to a land of merchants; he set it in a city of traders. He also took from the seed of the land and planted it in fertile soil, a meadow beside abundant waters; he set it like a willow. Then it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine with its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced shoots and sent out branches.

“But there was another great eagle with great wings and much plumage; and behold, this vine turned its roots toward him and sent out its branches toward him from the beds where it was planted, so that he might water it. It was planted in good soil beside abundant waters, so that it would produce branches and bear fruit, and become a splendid vine.”’ Say, ‘This is what the Lord God says: “Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots and cut off its fruit, so that it withers—so that all its sprouting shoots wither? And neither by great strength nor by many people can it be raised from its roots again. 10 Behold, though it is planted, will it thrive? Will it not completely wither as soon as the east wind strikes it—wither on the beds where it grew?”’”

Zedekiah’s Rebellion

11 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 12 “Say now to the rebellious house, ‘Do you not know what these things mean?’ Say, ‘Behold, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took its king and leaders, and brought them to him in Babylon. 13 Then he took one of the royal family and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath. He also took away the mighty of the land, 14 so that the kingdom would be humbled, not exalting itself, but keeping his covenant so that it might continue. 15 But he revolted against him by sending his messengers to Egypt so that they might give him horses and many troops. Will he succeed? Will he who does these things escape? Can he indeed break the covenant and escape? 16 As I live,’ declares the Lord God, ‘In the country of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke, in Babylon he shall certainly die. 17 Pharaoh with his mighty army and great contingent will not help him in the war, when they pile up assault ramps and build siege walls to eliminate many lives. 18 Now he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and behold, he pledged his allegiance, yet did all these things; he shall not escape.’” 19 Therefore, this is what the Lord God says: “As I live, My oath which he despised and My covenant which he broke, I will certainly inflict on his head.20 And I will spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My net. Then I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there regarding the unfaithful act which he has committed against Me. 21 All the choice men in all his troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to every wind; and you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken.”

22 This is what the Lord God says: “I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, so that it may bring forth branches and bear fruit, and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will perform it.”

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation

Walking In The Word


God gave Ezekiel a Word in the form of a parable. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon who conquered Judah, killed the king of Judah and appointed Zedekiah to be king. Nebuchadnezzar and Zedekiah made a covenant with each other (Ezekiel 17: 13). Zedekiah despised the promise portion and broke the covenant with Nebuchadnezzar by sending to Egypt for horses and an army (Ezekiel 17: 15-21). God’s judgment on Zedekiah for breaking his word was having his eyes put out and slavery in Babylon (2 Kings 25).

This passage indicates God’s view of a promise. A covenant requires a promise from both parties. This is found in legal documents, a signature from each participant. If a building contract is made, a promise is made as to the expectations of each party. When two people get married, promises are made “to love and to cherish, for better for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others till death we do part.” There are also promises made in everyday conversations.

The idea of “keeping our word” or of a promise is not as much a social norm as it once was. Our world is one of manipulation, deceit, and lies. As a Christian living in this environment, what should be my attitude toward “keeping my word”? If we make a promise, we should do everything in our power to keep that promise. God expects us to keep our promises as if they were made unto Him. Broken promises always wind up with consequences.

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