"Then I said, 'Ah, Lord GOD! They are saying of me, "Is he not a maker of parables?"'" (Ezekiel 20:49)
This verse struck me today as I read it in the context of God's very concrete predictions. Chapter 20 is a trip to the woodshed, a review of Israel's miserable behavior and God's un-killable mercy. It is also a broad overview of God's master plan: Though Israel keeps wanting to be just like all the other nations on the block, this will never be allowed to happen (verse 32): God has a special role for Israel, and there will be no wiggling out of it.
Because of this specially ordained role, no matter how many times Israel rebels, God is going to bring them back into the bond of the covenant (verse 37). He will do this not because they deserve it but because His own reputation among the nations is at stake (verses 9 and 22). He will bring them out of the countries where they're scattered (verse 34), bring them to repentance and purify them (verse 41), and keep the oath He made to Abraham about the permanent real estate of Israel (verse 42).
God has Ezekiel pantomime a scene before Israel. He has the prophet set his face southward, toward the Negev, and prophesy that the Lord will kindle a fire in its forest (verses 45-48). Ezekiel then complains that Israel is just going to brush off the prediction and think he is making up stories: "Ah, Lord God! They are saying of me, 'Is he not a maker of parables?'"
Ezekiel is right. Many of us have been averse to taking God's words literally or in a natural sense. We gloss over everything as if it were a poem, so we don't take it to heart; we don't watch for its fulfillment. We treat the prophets like mere poets (33:32).
But every word that God has ever spoken in the Bible will come true in its time. And those of us who had put our literary cunning and sophisticated assumptions over God's plain meanings will be surprised, and a little embarrassed.
A commentary on this passage reads: "Today the Negev is a semi-arid region with little rainfall and a few sources of water. But since Ezekiel referred to the Negev forest, the land must have been more densely covered in those days" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary).