Branches and fruit.
Ezekiel brought a prophesy against the nation of Israel for being dead in their relationship with God. The nation was not bearing fruit, they were not worshipping YHWH and had stopped producing spiritual fruit. Ezekiel’s prophesy came along in a time when there were a lot of false prophets that tickled the ears of the nation, saying things that they felt to say, not that they were given to say by Elohim. There was a lack of fear and awe for YHWH and a great deal of self-importance that lead to idolatry by both men and women.
In the prophesy Israel is compared to a fruitless vine, the branches are deemed useless as they do not bear fruit and the wood can’t be fashioned into tools or implements. The branches are not even thought of as fire wood as they burn too quickly, therefore they are discarded and burnt as waste. In John 15: 1-8, Yeshua uses the same comparison and talks of branches that are useless as being piled up and burnt. Yeshua tells us that YHWH will cut off dead and useless branches and throw them into the fire, Ezekiel prophesied the same, he even said that those that escaped the fire would be burnt for sure. This was a dismal prophesy for the nation.
Let us for a moment consider what the nation had done that caused the branches to die. In Ezekiel 3:7 we read that the people had become hard-hearted and stubborn. They had stopped listening to YHWH, stopped obeying Him and therefore no longer followed Him. A song comes to mind, “I’m doing it my way”. The nation had taken to following their own gods, listening to ear tickling prophesy – things that they wanted to hear because it suited them. They had built alters and shrines to worship idols.
In Ezekiel 7: 10 we pick up on words such as wickedness, violence, pride.
Ezekiel 7:14 – ‘no one listens’. Ezekiel 7:19-20 – mention of wealth that was being used to create idols. Yeshua did warn that man can’t serve two masters, it is either mammon or YHWH. There are further references made in Ezekiel 12: 2 & 24 to rebelliousness and listening to prophets that told of false visions and made false predictions.
Ezekiel 13:2 & 17 refers to false prophets bringing words of their own, not from YHWH and deceiving the nation. There is mention of women as false prophets with their magic charms.
Even when Ezekiel demonstrated physically what the impact of the prophesies he received from YHWH would have on the nation, they still did not turn from their ways. The prophecy that Ezekiel brought was not an ear tickler and the hearts of the nation were hard. We may very well stand back and judge this nation, but that is dangerous to do because if we examine our own life we may find some of these attitudes and actions in our own hearts. I may be harbouring stubbornness, not wanting to let something go or not wanting to forgive and forget. Holding on to the past and allowing it to fester and eat away at the sap in my branch, making us unbearable to be around and not bearing fruit. There may be a sense of self-importance and pride in what we have achieved with no recognition given to YHWH for the provision of the opportunities and talents. I did it my way, it is my way or the highway? This is a spirit of stubborness and rebellion.
We don’t drive past houses and see big shrines in the garden depicting the family idols, but there are idols in our lives. They could be jobs, family, cars, possessions….the list goes on. An idol is anything that gets more time devoted to it than YHWH, it is that thing that keeps you from priorities, from serving and obeying. Should we not have possessions and take care of them? Is our family not our responsibility? Yes, and the Father gives us many things, but when you lose focus, when these things become your reason for living and stop you from spending undistracted time with Him then it is time to check where our priorities lie. Chasing a dream can become an obsession and quickly turn into an idol, where you devote all your time in trying to make it happen, instead of letting YHWH guide you and show you what His dream is for you. When you achieve something and know that you did not do it alone, but by the strength of Jesus will guard your heart and mind against pride and self-importance.
In John 15 Yeshua tells us how to be branches that bear fruit. This passage is the good news, it is not a prophecy of doom, but an encouragement to living a fruitful and blessed life. Yeshua is the vine, He is the root to our lives in Him. He refers to YHWH as the gardener that tends the branches on the vine by pruning. Some branches are pruned back so that they will grow strong and produce more fruit, others are cut off from the vine because they are useless and dead.. as in Ezekiel 15. We have a passion fruit vine and I regularly prune and retrain branches so that the vine produces a good crop and the branches remain where I want them to grow. This is how the Father prunes us, He chops off the bits that are getting a bit wild, the ones that are straying off on their own and He puts them back on the right track again. The branches that remain on the vine feed off the sap that runs from the vine, we that are in the vine are fed by the Word of God and guided by the Set-Apart Spirit of Truth. This is live-giving and the fruit we produce is found in Galatians 5:22 – love, joy, patience, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Yeshua tells us that people we know we belong to Him by the fruit that we bear. These fruits are opposite to what causes branches to die.
Yeshua urges us to remain in Him, to obey Him and to produce fruit that will last. In John 15:16 there is a promise that if we act in and out of the knowledge that we have been chosen and appointed by Yeshua, the Father will give you whatever you ask in Yeshua’s name. If you are joined to the vine you will love others, serve the Lord and want the best for others around you. You will want to honour and bring glory to the Lamb above all, you will know where everything you have comes from, that the plans of the Father are to give you an expectancy and future, that they are good. When you pray from this knowledge your prayers are not self-seeking or full of pride, they are prayers for others in love and in line with the will of the Father for glorification of the Son.
There is no room for idolatry, because we know that all we have comes from Him, all we are is because of Him and all we will be is because of Him. We boast in Christ alone. Remaining in Him means living with Him, praying and reading the Word, walking like a child in wonderment and awe at all He has planned and set apart for us, in the now and in the Everlasting. It is not always rosey and plain sailing but we have the hope and assurance that He, YHWH is omnipresent, omnipotent and loving-committed to those He calls friends and children.
Oh Father, search my heart and reveal to me those areas that I am stubborn about, remove the hard-heartedness from me and break down the shrines I have built around me that hinders me from being all I can be for You. Please do not severe me from the vine, but prune and retrain me, filling me with Your Set-Apart- Spirit of Truth that I may bear fruit and bring glory to the Son.