My college roommate was best man in my wedding. We were very close. After graduating from college, we even worked together for a few years. Then he asked me to be his best man. On the one hand I was elated, but on the other hand, my wife and were very concerned about his relationship with his fiancé. There was enough trouble in the relationship that we felt it was very unwise for them to get married. So, out of that concern, I told him I couldn’t be his best man. I’m guessing it will not come as a surprise, then, when I tell you that my decision pretty much killed our relationship. We had a mediation with the pastor who was doing their premarital counseling, and we worked things out, but not to the point where I was still his best man. We attended the wedding, but that was about it. It was a wound that lingered. We didn’t talk much for the next six years.
Maybe you know the feeling. It is exceedingly emotional and painful when a close relationship changes level. It is even worse when it is the other person that wanders away, and you don’t want them to. I am not talking about when someone close to you passes away. Certainly, that is a change in relationship that carries very similar emotions. I am specifically talking about a very close relationship that gets broken. It could be a spouse. It could be a friend.
While I am deeply grateful that my friend and I reconciled to the point where we are close again, I know many broken relationships don’t. In our continuing study through Ezekiel, in chapters 15 and 16, God expresses the heart-wrenching emotion of a person whose loved one is wandering, unreconciled.
From nearly day one, God has given Ezekiel prophetic messages about a coming destruction of Jerusalem. Many of those prophecies have been in the form of skits. In Ezekiel 15 and 16, however, God gives Ezekiel two prophecies in the form of figurative language. Turn to Ezekiel 15 and read verses 1-2, looking for a riddle that introducing the first prophecy using figurative language.
The riddle is in verse 2: “How is the wood of a vine better than that of a branch on any of the trees in the forest?” Do you know the answer?
Before we see if you correctly guessed the answer to the riddle, God has two other questions in verse 3. First, is wood from grape vine useful for making things? What do you think? I asked two carpenters in our church family, and neither of them have used grape wood, and hadn’t really heard of it being used.
Why? It’s too small! Too thin. And it is really twisty. Google it and you’ll see. Of course, in 2021 you can find furniture made from grape wood. It is cool-looking because of how twisted grape wood is. But in Ezekiel 15, God is talking to people living 2600 years ago, and their options for using wood for furniture were extremely limited. They didn’t use grapevine wood for making things. So we have an answer to the first question in verse 3.
God asks a second question, because someone in that culture might respond, “Okay, true, you’re not going to be making tables or chairs from grapevine wood, but you could use it to make pegs, right?” Pegs for hanging things are very small. We make pegs out of dowels, wood that is made into rods. Maybe grape wood would work for that. Of course someone could try. Someone probably had tried. But the reality is that it is not the normal process for carpentry. You don’t use grapevine wood for making things, because it is too thin or twisted. What God is doing here is speaking the obvious. Everyone in that culture already knew that you don’t use grape wood for making things, even small pegs like dowels. The main purpose for grapevine is to make grapes! When grapevine wood is no longer making grapes, it has only one purpose remaining!
What do you think that one purpose might be?
We’ll find out in the next post!