316 - Headlines Announce the Downfall of Nations (Ezekiel 25–32)
It is evil to rejoice in the downfall of another, and it is foolish to think it can never happen to us. Let us praise God for His righteous justice and for the great truth it points us to—that He is the Lord, a just God and a gracious Savior.
Headlines Announce the Downfall of Nations
Today we arrive at chapter 25 in the book of Ezekiel. The prophecies of doom for Judah have concluded. Jerusalem is under siege and eventually will fall. But Judah is not the only nation that will meet with God’s judgment. In chapters 25–32, Ezekiel delivers the newspaper, so to speak, announcing trouble is coming on the nations surrounding Judah.
First is the nation of Ammon, east of the Jordan River. The Ammonites appear throughout the Old Testament as enemies of Israel. When Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians, the Ammonites are going to throw a party, rejoicing over Jerusalem’s destruction. And because of that, God tells them in verse 4, “I am handing you over to the people of the East for a possession.” The people of the east are the Babylonians. God will use them to destroy the people of Ammon for their defiance and unbelief.
Next is Moab, just south of Ammon, which will also fall to the Babylonians. The Moabites considered Judah “like all the other nations,” verse 8 says. In other words, they refused to acknowledge God’s special blessing on the Jewish people. They will suffer the same judgment as the Ammonites, handed over to “the people of the East” (verse 10).
Edom is next. This nation south of the Dead Sea will suffer defeat and desolation as well. The Edomites were descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau, and they are described in verse 12 as having “acted revengefully against the house of Judah.” Consequently, they will be judged by God.
Next, God promises destruction upon Philistia. The Philistines go back a long way in Israel’s history. Verse 15 says they acted with “malice of soul to destroy in never-ending enmity” God’s people. From Delilah to the giant Goliath and from Genesis all the way to the prophets, the Philistines did everything they could to destroy the Israelites. Judgment is about to finally come.
The next three chapters are devoted almost entirely to a prophecy against the city-state of Tyre. Tyre was a wealthy trade center on the Mediterranean coast north of Israel. Along with the mainland city, a fortress had been built on an island just off the coast.
This prophecy in chapter 26 came during the siege of Jerusalem. It is possible that the people of Judah had looked to Tyre for help at that time. In fact, go back to the days of King David, and you find that Israel had a friendly relationship with Tyre. But now we read in Ezekiel 26 that the city of Tyre is saying with great delight, “The gate of the peoples is broken; it has swung open to me. I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste” (verse 2). The people of Tyre consider Jerusalem’s downfall an economic advantage to them; they just got rid of some competition out there in the business world. They could not be happier.
Chapter 27 tells us Tyre’s pride will bring about its downfall. Verse 3 records, “O Tyre, you have said, ‘I am perfect in beauty.’” What a proud city. Even though they defy God and turn their back on God’s people, they think they have it all together.
But just as proud people and proud nations defy God today and boast of their military might or their financial power, Tyre is going to sink like a luxury ship. The city is going down in judgment as described by the Lord:
“You are wrecked by the seas . . . your merchandise and all your crew . . . have sunk with you. All the inhabitants of the coastlands are appalled . . . you have come to a dreadful end.” (verses 34-36)
In chapter 28, the arrogance of Tyre’s king is mentioned in verse 2: “You have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods.’” But the Lord says, “You are but a man,” and God asks the king in verse 9, “Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you?”
Now I would agree with many Bible scholars that in the next several verses the description of the king of Tyre goes beyond that of a mere man. I see this as a description of Satan; he is the evil power behind this wicked king. Various phrases here clearly refer to Satan: “You were the signet of perfection” (verse 12); “You were in Eden” (verse 13); “You were an anointed guardian cherub” (verse 14). That is exactly who Satan is—the highest cherub in the angelic order of God’s creation. He is first seen in the garden of Eden.
So, this prophecy reminds not only the world, but also the kingdom of fallen angels, that their king, their leader, Satan, is no match for the Lord.
Verses 20-24 then give a brief prophecy against Tyre’s sister city, Sidon, to its north. That city will be utterly destroyed.
The judgments upon these nations are a foretaste of future judgments that will pave the way for Israel’s regathering during the coming tribulation to dwell in their own land. I love verse 26, which prophesies, “[All Israel] will know that I am the Lord their God.”
Chapter 29 begins a series of prophecies against Egypt. Egypt was in a power struggle with Babylon over the years, and the land of Judah was between them, stuck in the middle of this tug of war.
Egypt’s pharaoh is pictured as a great dragon of the Nile, and he’s boasting in verse 3, “My Nile is my own; I made it for myself.” The Lord effectively says in verse 4, “I don’t think so! You didn’t make the Nile River. In fact, I’m going to pull you out of the Nile and give you to the wild animals for food.”
In chapter 30, we are given even greater detail of God’s judgment on Egypt. In verses 10 and 11, we read:
“I will put an end to the wealth of Egypt, by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar . . . He and his people with him . . . shall be brought in to destroy the land . . . and fill the land with the slain.”
The prophecy in chapter 31 is directed to Pharaoh, who is asked in verse 2, “Whom are you like in your greatness?” The answer is Assyria, which had been a great power and, like Egypt, was very proud. Assyria is compared to a mighty cedar of Lebanon, in verse 10 that is “proud of its height.” But mighty Assyria was cut down, just as Egypt will be.
The first eight verses in chapter 32 parallel the opening verses of chapter 29, describing Egypt’s defeat. And their defeat, verse 9 says, will “trouble the hearts of many peoples.” After all, Egypt was a great power in the ancient world. Yet, verse 12 says a multitude will fall by the sword, and the Babylonians “will bring to ruin the pride of Egypt.”
This chapter ends with a poetic description of Pharaoh and his people descending into their graves, destroyed by the Babylonians. And I would have to say, beloved, that Egypt has never regained the dominance it once had as an empire.
Now if we pull these chapters together, one overriding theme in these prophecies of judgment that stands out loud and clear is the pride of these nations—pride in themselves, pride in their defiance of God. It was pride that led them to cheer on the downfall of Judah, thinking they themselves would never fall.
Let me tell you, the human heart has not changed a bit. And so, we need to heed the Bible’s warning to this very day, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). And let us remember what James says in his New Testament letter, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble . . . humble yourselves before the Lord” (James 4:6, 10).
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