Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ezekiel 29 - The Sin of Egypt

LINK: Ezekiel 29

BACKGROUND

Ezekiel 29-32 contains seven prophecies or "oracles" dealing with judgment on Egypt.

The first prophecy in this chapter was delivered on January 7, 586 B.C. and was seven months before Jerusalem was destroyed. It is a prophecy against Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt (the "monster") who ruled from 589 to 570 B.C. (Jeremiah 44:30). His major sin was pride because he took credit for things that only the true God could do! He and his people would be dragged into a field to die, and he would not receive a proper burial. He also sinned because, after encouraging Judah to break their agreement with Babylon, he did not help them when they turned to him for help.

Ezekiel prophesied that the Babylonian army would come to Egypt and destroy man, beast, and the land from top to bottom ("from the Migdol [north] to Aswan [south] even to the border of Ethiopia"). Nebuchadnezzar attacked Egypt in 568-67 B.C. After forty years, Egypt would return as a lower kingdom.

The second prophecy was given April 26, 571 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar needed more than just the spoils from the conquest of Tyre since much of their treasures were transported elsewhere by sea during the 14 year siege. Therefore, God sentenced Egypt to compensate the Babylonian army. Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt in 586 B.C. sweeping the country and leaving it desolate.

The chapter ends with a promise to His people that he would make "a horn sprout for the house of Israel" (29:21). A horn symbolized strength and would lead to a time of restoration. After the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. (Daniel 5), Cyrus became that "horn" and issued an edict permitting the Jews to return to their land in order to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1). There would be a future time when Ezekiel's words would be "respected" (29:21, NLT). His perplexing prophecies would be crystal clear.

REFLECTION

Ezekiel had to speak truth to a stubborn and rebellious people, and it would be 32 years before the budding horn would sprout for the house of Israel, and Ezekiel's words would be fully understood and respected. Ezekiel would have been 83 years old at the time of the edict.

It is hard to speak truth and be misunderstood for it, but it is even harder to see people walk into walls because they will not listen. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Ezekiel speaking to a whole nation. I hope he lived to see the day of Cyrus' edict, but we will never know.

Ezekiel encourages me not to be afraid to speak truth that God gives me to speak. Of course, I need to do it in love, but I should not let fear of rejection keep me from speaking it, especially since it will benefit the person and others!

I had to speak the truth in love to someone the other day, and that person was so grateful! He invited me to continue to speak truth so he could grow. This person knows that the truth can set him free! Thankfully, most of the people I hang with these days are wise like that. They long for the truth.

It has not always happened that way. A few years ago, God led me to speak truth (even though, out of fear, I ignored the promptings for far too long). Sadly, the person rejected it and spread nasty lies about me. That person continues in the same sinful patterns with others and rejects their attempts to speak truth. When I hear of that person's newest victim, I do not want to say "I told you so" (something Ezekiel might have been tempted to do). I just want to cry! I want to see the "edict" for that person's release from captivity to sin and lies!

I hope I do not have to wait as long as Ezekiel.

APPLICATION

God may be calling you to speak truth. Maybe it is to share with someone who does not know that Jesus is the way to life in the Kingdom of God! Maybe it is truth for a Kingdom brother or sister who has lost their way? Just be sensitive to the Spirit's leading.

Also, you may be someone who does not receive truth very well. Ask God to soften Your heart to receive His truth through others.

PRAYER

Lord, I thank You for my brother in Christ who welcomed truth with joy. Bless him and make him more like You! Soften our hearts to receive Your truth through other brothers and sisters so that we, too, can be transformed. Also, I pray that You would soften the heart of a particular person to receive Your truth so that person can be set free! I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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