And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, what is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?
3 Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?
4 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?
5 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?
6 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.
7 And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them.
8 And I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass, saith the Lord God.
Ezekiel enlists the metaphor of the vine three times, all in the space of five chapters (15:1–8; 17:5–10; 19:10–14).
The sole purpose of any tree is to bear fruit. When it does not bear fruit, it is inferior to other trees. So if God's people lose their distinctive purpose by not bearing fruits of righteousness, they are more unprofitable than worldly people. From this standpoint, except in their being planted by God, the Jews were considered inferior to other nations.
Ezekiel now turns the biblical metaphor of the vine upside down. The vine usually connotates a positive image in the Bible (cf. John 15). But now the prophet criticizes the vine’s very nature: the worthlessness of its wood, as compared to the wood of trees. The people of Jerusalem are worthless, he says, by their very nature! Man is capable of yielding precious fruit, in living for God and others; this is the purpose of his existence. But if he fails in this, he is of no use but to be destroyed.
Let us beware of an unfruitful profession. Let us come to Christ, and seek to abide in Him, and to have His words abide in us.
Spicer Adventist University, Pune, India