Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
15:1. “And the word of the Lord came unto me,
15:2. “Son of man, What is the vine tree more
than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?”
The Lord’s question is rhetorical, for compared to other trees the wood of the
vine is worthless except for fuel. The vine’s only function is to bear
fruit. But the vine is a symbol of Israel, see e.g., Ps 80:8 where Israel is
described as a vine, ”Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt ...” and Isa 5:7,
“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of
Judah his pleasant plant,” so that the worthlessness of the wood of the vine
declares the inherent worthlessness of Israel compared to the other nations.
In His sovereign grace God choose Israel to be His special people, not because
she had anything to commend her, but because He loved her, as it is written,
“The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more
in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because
the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto
your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed
you out of the house of bondmen ...” Dt 7:7-8.
She, however, had failed to fulfill her function: she had not produced any
fruit for God’s glory; and a question we would do well to ask ourselves is
whether we have produced any fruit for His glory.
15:3. “Shall the wood be taken thereof to do any
work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?”
Clearly No was the only honest answer that could be given.
Nothing can be made from its wood, not even a peg upon which to hang
something, nor could any other answer be given relative to the same question
As the fruitless vine is fit only for burning, so Israel, by her base
ingratitude in turning from God to idols, had proved herself to be fit only
for the same end.
15:4. “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 (fit) for any work?”
One end of God’s vine, Israel, the ten northern tribes, had been “burnt” by
Assyria in 722 BC; and the other end, Judah, had been “burnt” by Egypt; and
now Jerusalem “the center” was to be destroyed by Babylon.
15:5. “Behold, when it was whole, it was meet
(suitable) for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when
the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned?”
The spiritual lesson transcends the literal. When God first choose Israel to
be His special people she was of no value, much less has she value now that He
has had to cast her aside in judgment.
15:6. “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.”
As the wood of the vine is worthless except as fuel, so was God about to
deliver the inhabitants of Jerusalem up to the fire of His fierce judgment
because of their wickedness.
15:7. “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.”
Those spoken of were the Israelites who had survived Babylon’s first two
incursions in 605 and 597 BC. They had escaped that fire, but they would not
escape that which was to come in 586 BC. Neither did they escape that which
came much later in AD 70 at the hand of Rome, nor will they escape the still
more terrible judgment that will fall upon them in the coming Great
Foolish Israel who should have known God through His beneficence, would now
come to know Him as the great and terrible God Who must punish rebellion. And
so will this present world learn the same lesson in the terrible judgments of
the Great Tribulation.
15:8. “And I will make the land desolate,
because they have committed a trespass, saith the Lord God.”
“... committed a trespass” is also translated have acted faithlessly: have
broken faith: have acted treacherously. Part of the punishment of their
treachery would be that God would cause their land to become a desolation; and
so also will the judgments of the Great Tribulation leave this present world a
desolate ruin because of similar treachery on the part of its inhabitants.
Relative to this verse The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary
makes the following instructive remark, “The Jews were not merely sinners
as other nations, but revolters and apostates. It is one thing
to neglect what we know not, but quite another thing to despise what we
profess to worship, as the Jews did
towards God and the law.”