Ezekiel — Lesson 17
Ezekiel 31 & 32
Prophecies Against Egypt, Continued
1. Fall of Pharaoh, the "Cedar" of Egypt. 31:1-18.
1. The Fall of Egypt Is Like the Fall of Assyria. 31:1-9.
1. This message has been dated June 21, 587 B.C. to the time of the final siege before the fall of Jerusalem (the city was under siege at least three times from Jan. 15, 588. B. C. (ch. 24:1).
2. The siege of June 21, 587 B.C. was probably the second, and the final stage of destruction came in early 586 B.C.
3. In the historical context Jerusalem was in the final weeks of its struggle for survival when this oracle was delivered.
4. Although the prophetic words do not directly address the fate of Jerusalem, they do elaborate upon the international crises among which the holy city's fate must be seen.
5. Ezekiel prophesied against the king of Egypt. v. 2.
1. The Song of the Cedar in 17:1-24 was about the king of Assyria and recounted the pride and fall of that nation (Prov. 16:18).
1. Depicting rulers as trees was a common literary device in the ancient Near East (Ezekiel used the same idea in 17:1-10, 22-24; cf. Judg. 9:7-21; Dan. 4:1-18.)
2. Similar use of trees for people in biblical passages may be seen as early as the Jotham story in Judg. 9:7-21.
3. Jotham compared his brother to other trees in a story that exposed Abimelech's weaknesses as a ruler.
4. Daniel also used this device to characterize Nebuchadnezzar. Dan. 4:10-37.
2. The poem of vv. 1-9 has similarities to Isa. 14:1-8, a portion of the prophecy against the king of Babylon, as well as to Daniel's poem about Nebuchadnezzar. Dan. 4:1-37.
3. This poem begins with recounting the fall of the king of Assyria, who is compared to a cedar of Lebanon.
1. The cedars of Lebanon were known for their height (they were the tallest trees known in the Near East) and durability.
2. They grew taller than all of the other trees (vv. 3, 5), a symbolic reference to Assyria's former world dominance.
3. All the birds nested in the cedar (v. 6), a reference to the small nations that became dependant on Assyria.
4. This tree was a model of beauty and majesty for all to see (v. 7).
5. None of the cedars in the garden of God could rival it (v. 8).
6. "Garden of God" is a reference to Eden (v. 9), but also represents the whole world order as initially created by God.
7. Assyrian was the greatest nation in world history during its dominance as a world power.
4. The point of the image of the tree (v. 3-9) is to present the matchless splendor and power of Egypt.
1. The adulation should not be taken too far unless it is taken to represent the praise that Egypt received from its satellites, Zedekiah included.
2. Its effect, however, is to heighten the sense of downfall when it eventually takes place.
2. The Reasons for the Fall of Assyria and Egypt. 31:10-18.
1. The prophetic rhetoric lulls the reader into a state of indifference before the door of hope slammed with a resounding "therefore" (v. 10); judgment, not hope, is the message for Egypt.
2. It is at this point that Ezekiel moves to the declaration of judgment and demonstrates that its greatness was also a source of weakness.
1. Precisely because of Assyria's pride and perversion of powers, God determined to bring judgment on it (vv. 10-11), the most ruthless nation in history.
2. Inevitably, once pride has been identified, it is intimated that the tree will be cut down (v. 12); the once mighty tree would cause deep anxiety among other strong trees with aspirations for altitude.
3. God raised the most "ruthless," literally, "brutal" (v. 12), nations against it, and it fell.
4. All nations abandoned Assyria and left it to fall (vv. 12-13).
5. No other trees would ever reach such height, but God would consign them all to the "pit" v. 14).
6. On the day that Assyria went into the grave, God assisted its burial v. 15).
1. Nations trembled and mourned at the sound of its fall and descent into Sheol.
2. The allies went down with the "cedar," and all the nations were consoled (vv. 16-17).
7. All that has been said to this point laid the foundation for the conclusion in verse 18.
1. If Assyria with its splendor, power, and majesty could not escape the judgment of God, neither would Egypt.
2. The same fate that befell Assyria would befall Pharaoh, who would be Egypt's fallen "cedar" (v. 18).
3. Death is the great equalizer and the surest antidote to an excess of ambition.
4. Even the Egypt's of this world, who have success stories despite their godlessness, need to be taught the lesson in v. 9 -- God made the tree beautiful.
5. The prosperity of the wicked is, in the last analysis, all due to the mercy and goodness of God.
8. The story of the cedar revisits several themes that occurred in the prophecies against foreign nations.
1. First, God hates pride because it leads people and nations to ruin (Ezek. 27:3; 28:1-2; Prov. 16:18).
1. There is nothing wrong with a tall strong tree.
2. It is the attitude to strength and greatness that is crucial.
3. True greatness comes to only a few people is this world, though some may come to minor forms of greatness.
4. Greatness is neither something to be ashamed of nor to be proud of.
5. If it leads to pride, both in the form of self-conceit and the despising of others, then greatness cannot be retained.
2. Second, the fall of the mighty fall is a loss to the weak (cf. 27:27-36).
1. When the great tree was cut down, all those who had benefited from its strength and shade were among the losers.
2. One of the reasons that those privileged with greatness must guard their positions with humility and care is that the lives of so many others are dependent on them.
3. Third, the fall of the tree was a reminder of the mortality of human beings and individual accountability to God (cf. 2:16-21; 18:1-32).
9. The pride and perversion of Egypt were its downfall.
1. This example warns that the same characteristics will bring the downfall of any individual or nation.
2. For Judah the message was equally devastating.
1. If they had any hope that Egypt would save them from the hands of the Babylonians, Ezekiel had just pronounced that their "deliverer" (Pharaoh) would fall.
2. Not only would Egypt be judged, but also Israel's last (false) hope had failed.
2. Lament for the Fall of Pharaoh. 32:1-16.
1. Introduction. 32:1-2.
1. This message has been has been dated March 3, 585 B.C., sometime after those in exile would have received news of the downfall of Jerusalem.
2. It is a lament, a style used by Ezekiel several times in the prophecies against the nations; he used the dirge more than any other O.T. writer (19:1, 14; 27:2, 32; 28:12; 32:2, 16).
3. As is often the case with prophetic laments, it is in part an anticipation and warning of a coming disaster which, when it came to pass, would be followed by lamentation.
4. Egypt is compared to a lion among the nations.
1. This was the view that Egypt had of itself.
2. But the "lion" was really a sea monster or "crocodile," the same designation used in 29:3 to describe Pharaoh Hophra (vv. 1-2).
2. The Description of the Judgment of the Sea Monster. 32:3-8.
1. Ezekiel announced the judgment of Pharaoh beginning with v. 3, "I will cast my net over you."
1. This was not the net of the fowler, but of the seaman.
2. The crocodile would be dragged onto dry land and left for the beasts of the field (v. 4).
2. Egypt would meet a violent end in a foreign land; its flesh and blood would fill the mountains and the valleys (vv. 5-6).
3. Pharaoh's judgment would be part of the Day of the Lord -- he would be snuffed out and extinguished like a shining star (vv. 7-8).
3. The Reaction of the Nations. 32:9-10.
1. Egypt's destruction would bring distress mong the nations who saw it.
2. God would brandish the "sword," which was Babylon, and the nations would tremble ((vv. 9-10).
4. The Identity of the Sword of Judgment. 32:11-14.
1. So that there would be no doubt about the identity of the "sword," Ezekiel specifically made it clear (v. 11).
2. The ruthless mighty men of Babylon would shatter the pride of Egypt (v. 12).
3. The cattle would also be destroyed, and the water (v. 13) would no longer be available (the Nile or irrigation or both).
4. With neither human nor animal to disturb the water, it would flow smoothly like oil. (v. 14).
5. A Proof Saying. When the land is made a desolation then all will know that God is the one true God (32:15).
6. Conclusion. Everyone will chant Egypt's funeral dirge (32:16).
3. Pharaoh Condemned to the Pit. 32:17-32.
1. Ezekiel's final message against Egypt has been dated April 1, 585 B.C. (v. 17); it was not technically a funeral dirge, but a wailing song as evidenced by the meter.
1. The mourners were to bewail the descent of Egypt into the "pit" (v. 18), which represents the grave (see vv. 23-25, 29-30).
2. Egypt would go into the grave and join the "uncircumcised" nations that represent all others who have suffered the judgment of God.
3. These nations would recognize Egypt's arrival as a fulfillment of God's judgment against those who "killed by the sword" (vv. 19-21).
2. Already in the pit to receive Egypt was Assyria, which had been overthrown by the Babylonians (vv. 22-23), and Elam, located east of Babylon.
1. Elam had its capital at Susa and was destroyed by Ashurbanipal ca. 650 B.C.
2. Jeremiah still recognized Elam as a power to be destroyed, but for all practical purposes the nation was already dead (vv. 24-25).
3. Another two groups, Meshech and Tubal, also were in the "pit."
1. These two groups were older nations in Asia Minor (see 27:13) known for their terror and ruthlessness (v. 26).
2. These mighty warriors who had "fallen" are an allusion to the mighty men of old described in Gen. 6:4 as Nephilim.
3. They were the ancient warriors of renown who had fallen into sinful life-style that made necessary the flood judgment.
4. Like these people and nations, Pharaoh also would descend into the "pit" as a result of divine judgment (v. 28).
4. Edom was also in the "pit" (v. 29).
1. The appearance of Edom confirmed the earlier message of judgment in 25:12-14.
2. With Edom were the princes of the north and Sidonians (v. 30).
1. This is a reference to the the Phoenician coastal towns of which Tyre and Sidon were the chief cities.
2. All the nations in the pit were those who had killed by the sword, a reference to their cruelty (vv. 22-23, 25-26, 28-30).
3. Pharaoh joined them because he, too, had killed by the sword (vv. 30-31).
4. God therefore consigned him to the pit to dwell with the uncircumcised who killed ruthlessly and indiscriminately (v. 32).
4. Concluding thoughts.
1. The oracles against the nations in Ezekiel 25-32 were originally delivered to the people of Judah.
2. Although the words written seem to be solely for those particular nations, they are foremost for the people of Judah in Jerusalem and Babylon and serve at least three purposes.
1. The oracles in Ezekiel 25-32 reveal God's judgment against the nations that either mocked or aided in Jerusalem's fall.
2. As with both the king of Tyre and the Pharaoh of Egypt, God would throw them down from their self-elevated positions of power -- there is no room for such arrogance and pride in God's creation.
3. The oracles are essentially a dismantling of the gods of the nations, which is in turn a dismantling of the gods Judah had begun to rely wrongly upon, and the proclamation that Jehovah is the one and only true God for all the nations.
3. As mentioned in the introduction to this section, the phrase "know I am the Lord" occurs nineteen times -- the primary purpose is that everyone should come to know the Lord.
4. They are also written for us. Rom. 15:4.
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)