Ezekiel 15.1-6 – Self idolatry.
Posted: 18 July 2011 in Ezekiel

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, what is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest? Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work? Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

A day or so ago I read somebody asking what the theme of the Old Testament was. The obvious answer, and the one that I gave, was that the books of the Old Testament were too many and varied for there to be any one theme. However, there is one theme which does seem to run through the entire Old Testament, which is  God’s intolerance of all idolatry, and here it is again.

The branches of the vine have no intrinsic strength of their own, and to be of any use to either man or beast, they would, in terms of the metaphor, have to rely upon God’s strength. And yet here they are, indulging a self idolatry where they want to be gods themselves, and wholly sufficient unto themselves. There awaits them the punishment which will finally strip them of any pretensions to self sufficiency. I am reminded of Jesus’ warning to his disciples in John 15 that, without him, they can do nothing. Who knows – this passage might even have been the inspiration for Jesus’ parable.

Another name for this type of idolatry is, needless to say, the sin of pride. It can be heard in the mouths of the new atheists with almost every sentence they utter.

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