Friday, April 3, 2015


For the week beginning Sunday April 5, 2015

(A warning for Pharaoh)
Ezekiel 31-32

Early in 587 B.C., only months before Nebuchadnezzar’s final destruction of Jerusalem, and only two months after the prophecy of doom that was recorded against Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt in chapter 30 (Vs.20-26), Ezekiel delivers yet another message to the ill-fated leader and his army from northern Africa.
In chapter 31, verses 1-9, the Lord uses the anthropomorphism of a “great cedar tree” to depict the characteristics of greatness that was once associated with Egypt’s former enemy, the fallen nation of Assyria. Here, it is GOD’s way of showing Egypt, who was not nearly as powerful as Assyria, just how easily HE could chop them down to size.
Egypt, who was just as proud as Assyria once was, was destined to fall just as hard as Assyria did. GOD, WHO brought down Assyria using Babylon as a weapon, was more than capable of doing the same to Egypt, using the same “instrument of destruction” (Babylon) that HE used to bring Assyria down with. Remember, Nineveh, Assyria’s capital city, was destroyed by Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar’a father, in 612 B.C., and now Nebuchadnezzar would finish the job that his father started, as he would crush Assyria entirely, in 609 B.C.
In this chapter (Vs.10-14), GOD uses Assyria as an example for Egypt because of their common history with each other, and their common bout with the sin of “pride”. Assyria was the only Mesopotamian nation to ever invade the nation of Egypt (see Nahum 3:8-10), where in 633 B.C. Assyria invaded and destroyed the city of Thebes, when it was Egypt’s capital city. However, the city had, since that time, been rebuilt by the Egyptians and restored to its former self, although it was no longer her capital. And so we see that both nations shared, a common history, and in a short while, both would share a common fate of destiny in destruction.
Egypt would soon die and descend to the pits of Hell, just as Assyria had, and all of the other nations that dared to defy the sovereign GOD of the universe. Pride is always a deal- breaker, as far as GOD is concerned, and so Egypt would have to fall by the same sword, for the same reason as Assyria had fell (Vs.15-18).
In Ezekiel 32, verses 1-16, we see the sixth prophecy of Ezekiel against Egypt. It comes in the twelfth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity in Babylon, and it is only two months after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces in 586 B.C. The news of Jerusalem’s fall had already reached Babylon and now Nebuchadnezzar’s work slate showed a vacancy that could be filled by an attack on Egypt.
Egypt had carefully witnessed the fall of Jerusalem, and may have even felt a sense of pride in her own survival thus far. Here Ezekiel puts a damper on those prideful feelings as he depicts Egypt as a nation that has already experienced its own death. And even though they felt confident that her gods would come to their rescue, GOD’s condemnation, as believers know, would transcend and overcome their faith in a false religious system that was fueled only by their own foolishness ingenuity. And so, it is a most appropriate time for the “funeral song” that is presented here in the opening verses of this chapter for Egypt.

2 “You think of yourself as a strong young lion among the nations,
    but you are really just a sea monster,
heaving around in your own rivers,
    stirring up mud with your feet.
Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
I will send many people
    to catch you in my net
    and haul you out of the water.
I will leave you stranded on the land to die.
    All the birds of the heavens will land on you,
and the wild animals of the whole earth
    will gorge themselves on you.
I will scatter your flesh on the hills
    and fill the valleys with your bones.
I will drench the earth with your gushing blood
    all the way to the mountains,
    filling the ravines to the brim.
When I blot you out,
    I will veil the heavens and darken the stars.
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
    and the moon will not give you its light.
I will darken the bright stars overhead
    and cover your land in darkness.
    I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!
“I will disturb many hearts when I bring news of your downfall to distant nations you have never seen. 10 Yes, I will shock many lands, and their kings will be terrified at your fate. They will shudder in fear for their lives as I brandish my sword before them on the day of your fall. 11 For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“The sword of the king of Babylon
    will come against you.
12 I will destroy your hordes with the swords of mighty warriors—
    the terror of the nations.
They will shatter the pride of Egypt,
    and all its hordes will be destroyed.
13 I will destroy all your flocks and herds
    that graze beside the streams.
Never again will people or animals
    muddy those waters with their feet.
14 Then I will let the waters of Egypt become calm again,
    and they will flow as smoothly as olive oil,
    says the Sovereign Lord.
15 And when I destroy Egypt
    and strip you of everything you own
and strike down all your people,
    then you will know that I am the Lord.
16 Yes, this is the funeral song
    they will sing for Egypt.
Let all the nations mourn.
    Let them mourn for Egypt and its hordes.
    I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

Even though Pharaoh Hophra viewed himself as being as powerful as any of the “Davidic Kings” (lions of Judah) of Israel, including David and Solomon, here in verse 2 GOD says that HE is more like the “sea monster” (Leviathan – the demon “Envy”) who was jealous of the Jewish kings. GOD says HE will send Babylon’s army on a “crocodile hunt” and pluck him out of his muddy (Nile) river (out of his element), kill him, and leave him on dry land to be consumed by the wildlife of the earth (Vs.2-6).
In verses 7-8, GOD makes reference to the Egyptian’s main god, “Ra”, or “Osiris” the sun god. Here GOD says that HE will blot out the sun that they worshipped so dearly, and neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, would shine over Egypt in the day of their demise. Ra would not be able to save them from destruction, nor would he be able to show himself to their demented minds.
Many nations that had confidence in Egypt and her gods, would be disturbed and disappointed at the shellacking that GOD puts on the idolatrous nation, at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces. Egypt’s pride would be shattered, and all of her allies would be destroyed also (Vs.9-12). All the animals and livestock would die on the banks of the Nile, the source of most of Egypt’s idol gods (v.13a). Afterwards, when all of the demons that received worship from the people are removed from the Nile, the waters would become calm again (v.13b-14).
In the seventh and final prophecy against Egypt (Vs.17-32), also coming during the twelfth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity in Babylon, the prophet Ezekiel prophesies of the descent of the nation of Egypt into the pits of Hell (Sheol), where other nations who rebelled against GOD already resided.
Here we see that GOD’s judgment of Egypt, as it is for all who defy HIM, had already been sealed, and her appointment or “reservation” to the grave was already made. Her arrival in Sheol would be mocked by those prideful armies who had previously fallen by the sword of GOD (Babylon), and were waiting for her to join them in death.
Among the host of outcasts in Sheol (Vs.22-30) were;
·         Assyria, the conqueror of northern Israel in 722 B.C. They themselves were conquered and destroyed by Babylon in 609 B.C.
·         Elam, who was subdued by Assyria and later destroyed by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army.
·         Meshech and Tubal, tribes of two of the descendants of Japheth (1 Chronicles 1:5), the son of Noah. They were located somewhere in the area that is now eastern and central Turkey. This passage states that “they once struck terror in the hearts of all people, but were now outcasts and victims of the sword”. They were not buried in honor like the fallen heroes of the other outcast nations who died, and were buried without their weapons and shields (Vs.26-27).
·         Edom was also there in Sheol with its once mighty kings and princes, all who had been slain by the sword of Babylon.
·         Sidon who was once a terror, also now lies in shame, a victim of the sword of Babylon, the instrument of GOD’s judgment.
In verses 31-32, Ezekiel says that when Pharaoh Hophra arrives in Hell he will be relieved to find that he was not alone, and he relished in the fact that he had taken a multitude of people to Hell with him (v.31).
As Christians, we need to be very careful about whom we choose to hang out with, or follow in this world. There are some among us, including spiritual leaders, who do not have our best interest at heart. They only want us to live to satisfy their own desires, and to Hell with what happens to the souls of others, in the process. Stay tuned.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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