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Ezekiel 29-32



Here is Lawrence Boadt’s commentary on chapters 25-32….

The oracles against foreign nations in chapters 25-32 contain some of Ezekiel’s most stunning imagery. He hurls threats against seven nations: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Egypt. These represent the foreign powers that oppose Israel in the promised land. In some ways Ezekiel must have had in the back of his mind the famous command of Deuteronomy that Israel was to destroy the seven people in the promised land who were greater and mightier than itself, and make no covenant with them and show no mercy toward them (Dt 7:1-2). As Joshua had conquered the Canaanite peoples, so now God would defeat the foreign nations as a sign of his renewed gift to those in exile. Ezekiel uses these oracles against foreign nations as a prelude to the new covenant and the new blessing of the people when he brings them back from exile. Each oracle was given on a particular occasion. Some of them we can guess. Ezekiel 29:17-21 against Egypt was given when Nebuchadnezzar had to give up his attack on the island city of Tyre after thirteen years of siege in 572. Ezekiel 29:1-9 was uttered when the Egyptians sent a relief column to help Jerusalem escape the Babylonian attack of 588-586 and it failed.

Of all of these nations, Tyre and Egypt come under the most severe judgment. Both represented the allure of pagan gods. Tyre was the home of the cult of Baal, against whom the prophets had thundered for centuries. Egypt’s ruler clamed to be himself a god with unlimited power. Ezekiel says of him in mockery: “The pharaoh bragged, ‘The Nile is mine; I made it,’ but God will drag him out of it like a fish on a hook” (Ez 29:3-4). Over and over Ezekiel denounces the arrogant pride of Egypt and Tyre who think they are more powerful than Yahweh. He quotes their own religious myths back to them to show how shallow are their beliefs: pharaoh is the great sea monster (chapter 29), or the tree of life (chapter 31); the king of Tyre is the wisest of all men (chapter 28), perfect in all virtues (chapter 27).

All the gloom and doom of these chapters can be overwhelming. We may well wonder: where is the hope? It is coming.

In the meantime, what application might there be in this bit of ancient history and prophecy for us today? We all have enemies, do we not? Here I am thinking not of people who are our enemies. I do not believe God wants us to destroy our human enemies, but rather love them to Jesus. I believe the whole of the New Testament makes this quite clear for Christians. However, we do have spiritual enemies that need to be destroyed, sins that need to be mortified, put to death, to use the old spiritual and theological terminology. The good news is that when we have failed to triumph over these spiritual enemies, just as the Jews failed, God will one day judge our spiritual enemies, triumph over them, and put them to an end. There are some spiritual battles we seem to fight every day of our lives, but the battle will not last forever. One day God will pronounce over all of these struggles: “It is finished!” And he will usher us into a peace that will never end.

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