Against Egypt, part 1

Posted: October 9, 2016 in Ezekiel, Uncategorized

Ezekiel 29-30, “Against Egypt, part 1”

There is a long history between God & Egypt – most famously in the miraculous intervention God made by freeing the Hebrews after 400 years of Egyptian slavery.  God slammed the then-reigning superpower of the world with plague after plague, until all but the stubborn hard-hearted Pharaoh understood that Egypt had been utterly defeated.  Finally, God sent the Passover, in which every home in Egypt that had not submitted itself under the blood of sacrificial lamb experienced the death of their firstborn.  God brought out His people with a mighty hand & an outstretched arm, even parting the Red Sea on their behalf, and drowning the army of Egypt that pursued them.

At that point, our awareness of Egypt typically drops off – but by no means did the nation pass from the world.  They continued on, well into the timeframe of the Major Prophets & beyond – even post-exile, well into the onset of the Roman empire.  Was God aware of them during that time?  Without question, yes.  God is aware of every nation of the world, whether or not they recognize Him or worship Him. God knows their sins, their future judgment, and He is sovereign over all of their acts & future.  For as much as the Bible shows us the interactions of God among His own people, it also shows us the interactions of God among those who are not His people…at least, who are not yet His people.  Eventually all people everywhere from every nation will recognize the Lord God as God, and that even includes nations that historically rebelled against Him as God – nations like Egypt.

Egypt may have been powerful, but it was nothing against the All-powerful God.  Our God is over all!

Ezekiel 29
1 In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt.

  • The date: January 5, 587BC.  Basically two years into the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem.  At this point, the Jews are feeling the crunch of the crisis that literally surrounded them.  They are becoming desperate for help, and many began looking to the military powers around them for help – including Egypt (which would prove to be no help at all).
  • The Pharaoh: Hophra (589-570BC).  He is actually mentioned by name in Jeremiah 44:30, as God tells the prophet that He will give Hophra into the hand of his enemies, just like God did with Zedekiah.  IOW, Pharaoh Hophra & the Egyptians would face the same fate as did the Jews: defeat by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
  • Question: why Egypt?  Why does God care at all?  Because Egypt was a snare for Israel.  The Jews always looked back to Egypt as a place of comfort.  Not only during their initial wanderings in the wilderness, but also during the years of the Babylonian siege and invasion.  Instead of submitting themselves into the hands of their God, the Jews sought rescue from the most ungodly place around: Egypt.  Many of them chose to take refuge in the world, rather than in the Lord their God.  Thus God would make it absolutely clear to the Jews that Egypt offered no refuge whatsoever.  God had a plan to break Egypt, just as He had broken them centuries earlier during the time of the plagues and Passover.  And just like before, it would serve as a testimony to the greatness of the God of Israel.
    • As we look at the next several chapters, we might ask ourselves where it is we run for refuge.  Where do we turn when we are desperate for help: are we quick to turn to the world, or to the Lord Jesus?  Only one is trustworthy because only one is sovereign.
  • Dealing with the Egyptian monster (3-7)

3 Speak, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against you, O Pharaoh king of Egypt, O great monster who lies in the midst of his rivers, Who has said, ‘My River is my own; I have made it for myself.’

  • In case there was any doubt, God declared Himself to be “against” Pharaoh (truly a sobering position in which to be!).  He described Pharaoh as a “monster” – what precisely is in mind here is unclear from the actual text.  The word is תַּנִּין (tannîn) and the older dictionaries refer to a dragon, sea monster, or serpent.  Newer dictionaries point out the possibility of this referring to a crocodile, particularly the Nile crocodile which was not uncommonly seen in the area.  [PIC]  The Nile crocodile is the 2nd largest reptile in the world (rivaled only by the saltwater crocodile), and can grow between 11-16 feet.  Truly this could be considered a “monster” lying within the “rivers” of Egypt.  The Egyptians actually had a god associated with the Nile crocodile by the name of Sobek. [PIC]  According to some scholars, the Pharaoh was considered to be the living incarnation of Sobek, which once again, fits well with the wording given by God to Ezekiel.
  • Whether or not this is a specific reference to Pharaoh’s claim to being the Egyptian god Sobek, Pharaoh certainly claimed to be the a god among the Egyptians, even saying that he was involved with the creation of the Nile River.  It was this arrogance that drew the attention of the true God (YHWH), and He would certainly act in response.
  • Although it is Pharaoh Hophra that is undoubtedly in view, it is interesting that the Bible describes another enemy of God as a monster/serpent/dragon: the devil.  Likewise, Satan attempts to take credit for the things of God & steal the glory of God for his own.  And just as certain as God acted against the earthly Pharaoh, so is it that God acts against the devil – with just as much power!

4 But I will put hooks in your jaws, And cause the fish of your rivers to stick to your scales; I will bring you up out of the midst of your rivers, And all the fish in your rivers will stick to your scales. 5 I will leave you in the wilderness, You and all the fish of your rivers; You shall fall on the open field; You shall not be picked up or gathered. I have given you as food To the beasts of the field And to the birds of the heavens.

  • The sea monster/crocodile is shown being fished from the river, drawn out by a mighty hand.  Not too many people have the courage to go head-to-head with a crocodile – normally we would run in the opposite direction!  Not God.  The true God warned how He would drag this monster from his place of hiding, and all who clung to it would be dragged out with it.  God would leave it for dead in the wilderness, and it would suffer the humiliation of becoming food for the carrion scavengers.
  • The bottom line is that Pharaoh would be utterly defeated, along with those who put their misguided trust in him.  The king who showed himself to the world to be a paragon of power would be revealed as weak, bloodied, and beaten.  Historically speaking, Hophra (also known as Aphries) experienced defeat by both the Babylonians & the Dorian Greeks.  Civil war broke out among his armies, and he died on the battlefield.

6 “Then all the inhabitants of Egypt Shall know that I am the LORD, Because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel. 7 When they took hold of you with the hand, You broke and tore all their shoulders; When they leaned on you, You broke and made all their backs quiver.”

  • As has been the refrain throughout the book of Ezekiel, God’s power testifies to His person.  When Egypt witnessed what God did in their midst, they could not help by admit that it was the Lord who brought this tragedy upon them.  They believed themselves to be strong, but they were revealed to be weak.  They thought they could be a support to Israel, but God showed them to be “a staff of reed.”  Instead of being the mighty crocodile of the Nile, they were like the fragile reeds that lined its banks.  Jerusalem may have put their trust in them, but Egypt was of no help.  Imagine someone reaching for a walker for support, only to find it was made of cardboard.  They’d go crashing to the ground, likely injuring themselves in the process.  Such was the case with Israel and Egypt.  Israel leaned upon Egypt for support, but they were like an easily-broken reed.  They may have looked good, but looks can be deceiving.
  • Some lessons have to be learned the hard way.  How often have we done the same thing?  We’ve experienced a crisis, looked to the world & its counsel for help, only to end up worse off than how we started.  People have marriage problems, and they listen to other people with marriage problems on how to solve it.  Or people have ethical issues, and they turn to self-centered counselors for advice.  We’re told to do what’s best for us, rather than being told to do what’s best, period.  At that point, we’re leaning upon cardboard crutches, and we’re bound to get hurt.  Far better to go to the sure foundation of the word of God!  When we build our lives upon the words of Jesus, we can be sure that we are building upon the rock!

To this point, God has painted a picture of the defeat He would bring to Egypt by figuratively showing them as a defeated crocodile or broken reed.  From here, God gets more precise in His language, saying how He planned to go about all of this.

  • Description of Egyptian defeat (8-16)

8 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will bring a sword upon you and cut off from you man and beast. 9 And the land of Egypt shall become desolate and waste; then they will know that I am the LORD, because he said, ‘The River is mine, and I have made it.’

  • This is a reiteration of Pharaoh’s blasphemy (29:3).  He believed himself to be a god, thus the true God would show him to be anything but.  A real deity could not be threatened by a sword of men, but that’s exactly what would happen to Pharaoh.  God promised to come against him & to cut him off.

10 Indeed, therefore, I am against you and against your rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Ethiopia. 11 Neither foot of man shall pass through it nor foot of beast pass through it, and it shall be uninhabited forty years. 12 I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate; and among the cities that are laid waste, her cities shall be desolate forty years; and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries.”

  • How much of Egypt would be affected?  All of it.  The phrase “from Migdol to Syene” seems to be equivalent to the phrase “from Dan to Beersheba,” when referring to Israel.  It’s the whole breadth of the land, from top to bottom.  The entire kingdom would feel the impact of God’s wrath upon them, and He would make the land “desolate” for “forty years” while He scattered “the Egyptians among the nations,” much like God did with Israel.
  • This particular statement has come under a lot of scrutiny, in the fact that we don’t (yet) have any historical record of Egyptian citizens being removed from their land & scattered throughout the Babylonian empire.  First of all, that is an argument from silence.  Simply because we don’t have evidence of it now, doesn’t mean that evidence of it will not be found in the future.  Although there is not always archaeological evidence of everything the Bible says, archaeology has never proven the Bible wrong.  In example after example, where people have laughed off the historicity of Biblical accounts, archaeological evidence has been later discovered, proving the Bible true.  We need to give the Bible the benefit of the doubt.  Secondly, although we have no hard evidence of an Egyptian dispersion, we have no reason to believe it did not happen.  After all, the Egyptians were indeed defeated by Babylon, and just from the Jews we know that the Babylonians have a record of carting conquered people away from their homelands.  Again, from the Jews we know that during the subsequent reign of Cyrus of Persia, people groups were allowed to return home.  If it happened with Israel, why assume it impossible with Egypt?  In fact, the Jewish experience is reason enough to give credence to the number of “forty years,” rather than simply assuming it to be symbolic of a long period of time.  The Jews were captive for 70 years, and they were conquered prior to Egypt.  By the time of Egypt’s full defeat, 40 years of captivity seems plausible indeed.
  • The point?  God can do what He says.  Not only does God have the power to conquer Egypt, leaving them weak & broken.  He also has the power & opportunity to scatter the people throughout the Babylonian empire…and God’s word can be trusted on that account.  In addition, God also has the power to bring them back.  Vs. 13…

13 ‘Yet, thus says the Lord GOD: “At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered. 14 I will bring back the captives of Egypt and cause them to return to the land of Pathros, to the land of their origin, and there they shall be a lowly kingdom. 15 It shall be the lowliest of kingdoms; it shall never again exalt itself above the nations, for I will diminish them so that they will not rule over the nations anymore.

  • Just as Israel was dispersed and later regathered, so did God say He would do with Egypt.  The Egyptians would not forever remain scattered through the world – they would return to their homeland, “to the land of their origin,” though it would be a mere shadow of what they had experienced in the past.  At one time, Egypt was the primary superpower in the world, but upon their return they would “be a lowly kingdom.
  • How lowly & downtrodden would they be?  “Never again” would they be able to “exalt itself” – never again would they “rule over the nations.”  History has proven this to be true.  There was a time after the Babylonian and Persian empires that Egypt attempted to assert itself again, though technically the Ptolemaic Kingdom (mentioned in great detail in Daniel) was a Greek offshoot from Alexander the Great.  They were based in Egypt, but they were not a continuation of the dynasties of the Pharaohs.  Even then, Egypt was not successful in rising to its former strength, and it dwindled into the Middle Eastern third-world state we know today.
  • Why did it dwindle?  Because God willed it to be so.  The rise & fall of the Egyptians is not the result of the historical ebb & flow of world powers; it is due to the sovereign will of God.  We need to remember that our God rules over the nations…every single one.  No land or kingdom is outside of the reach of God, including ours.  We certainly have the free choice to either follow Him or reject Him, but we cannot remove ourselves from His hand.  What God wants to do with our nation will be done…period.
  • That said, God had an additional purpose in mind, stated in vs. 16…

16 No longer shall it be the confidence of the house of Israel, but will remind them of their iniquity when they turned to follow them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” ’ ”

  • Egypt would dwindle as a witness to Israel.  The Jews had consistently turned to Egypt for help, and God would make it abundantly clear that no help would be found there.  The humbling of Egypt serves as a perpetual reminder to Israel that their hope & help is only found in the Lord.
  • Sometimes we need markers in our lives to help us remember what’s truly important, and many times those markers can come from our weaknesses or failings.  Not every bad memory is something that needs to be forgotten.  God can use our failures to shape us into the men & women that He wants us to be.  It’s not that He holds those things against us, but He certainly uses those things in His sovereign plan.  We can look back on the times that we failed and remember how important it is to remain humble before God, fully dependent upon Jesus Christ.
  • Declaration of Babylon’s victory (17-21)

17 And it came to pass in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

  • Notice the leap forward in dates.  Yes, this is another very specific time-stamp in the prophecies of Ezekiel, but this one is conspicuously out of order, chronologically speaking.  April 26, 571BC.  When compared with the previous date of 29:1 (January 5, 587), we find this comes approximately 15 years later.  To this point, Egypt had not yet been conquered, but it was about to come – as God makes clear.

18 “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre; every head was made bald, and every shoulder rubbed raw; yet neither he nor his army received wages from Tyre, for the labor which they expended on it.

  • When God says that the Babylonian siege of Tyre was hard labor, He wasn’t exaggerating.  Historically, it lasted 15 years, and apparently there wasn’t much to show for it at the end.  Although Tyre was extremely wealthy, it seems that they were able to ship their wealth elsewhere, and once Nebuchadnezzar got into the city, there was hardly anything within that would pay the bill for his soldiers.  What would he do?  God would provide their wages via the promised defeat of the Egyptians.  The time had come for the Babylonian conquest & 40-year scattering of the people.  Vs. 19…

19 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Surely I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he shall take away her wealth, carry off her spoil, and remove her pillage; and that will be the wages for his army. 20 I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor, because they worked for Me,’ says the Lord GOD.

  • The wages were finally given.  Just as God gave the Hebrews 400 years of back-pay for their slave labor when Egypt finally pushed them out of the land, so did God give the Babylonian soldiers 15 years of back-pay from the spoils of Egypt.
  • In all of this, don’t miss the key phrase regarding the Babylonians: “ ‘because they worked for Me,’ says the Lord GOD.”  Can a pagan people – an evil army – a ruthless nation (use your worst description of choice) actually be used by the Righteous Lord God as His employees?  Yes.  The Babylonians were unquestionably brutal, but they were sovereignly used by Almighty God as His tool in the Middle East.  It once more underscores the fact that God is sovereign, and He does as He pleases among the nations of the world.
  • Question: “If God uses evil nations, does that mean God approves of evil?”  No.  Other prophecies make it clear that God declared a future judgment for Babylon precisely because they were so brutal & evil.  By no means did God endorse their sin, and He certainly did not ignore it.  Yet that doesn’t stop the sovereign God from using them.  Think of it in personal terms.  Does God force us to sin?  Of course not – heaven forbid that we would think so!  But does God use our sin, turning things around to His will, for His glory?  Yes.  The oft-quoted promise of Romans 8:28 makes it clear He uses all things in the lives of His followers for His glory:  Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."  When Paul writes “all things,” he really means “all things,”…including our sins & other failings.  God certainly does not desire us to sin, but He can use even the things like our sin to work together for His good.  Joseph affirmed the same truth to his (eventually) repentant brothers when he told them, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” (Gen 50:20)  What God does with individuals, He does with nations.  Babylon may have meant their actions for evil, but God is able to turn them around for His good.
    • This is where the sovereignty of God becomes such a comfort to us as believers!  Whatever the circumstance, whatever the tragedy, the trouble, the issue, etc., God promises to turn those things to His glory.  And for those who love God & are called by Him, those things will even work to good.  That is amazing!  That means for all the ups & downs that life throws at us, we don’t have to get bent out of shape, or consumed with worry.  All we need to do is trust God.  Because we belong to Him through Jesus, we can rest with ease knowing that He is fully in control.
  • In all of this judgment for Egypt, there is also good news for Israel.  Vs. 21…

21 ‘In that day I will cause the horn of the house of Israel to spring forth, and I will open your mouth to speak in their midst. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.’ ”

  • Remember the date in vs. 17: 571BC.  The Babylonian captivity of the Jews has been well underway, and it would be easy for them to think that this was their forever-future.  God assures them it wasn’t.  Though Israel was now weak, God promised them a future strength.  Their “horn” (symbol of power) would “spring forth,” and when it did, the people would finally understand the truth behind the words of Ezekiel & all the prophets.  At 83 years old at the end of the captivity, Ezekiel would once again speak among his people (though we do not know that he was ever able to physically travel to Israel again).  At the very least, his prophetic ministry would continue & Israel would know that the Lord is God because they would see His word fulfilled.
  • This is always the blessing of seeing prophecy fulfilled.  It reaffirms our faith – it helps us remember that our God is trustworthy & that He is in control.  When God fulfills the “minor” prophecies or prophecies of the past, we know that He will fulfill the “major” ones & ones yet to come.

Ezekiel 30

  • Four declarations of judgment (1-19)

1 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Wail, ‘Woe to the day!’ 3 For the day is near, Even the day of the LORD is near; It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. 4 The sword shall come upon Egypt, And great anguish shall be in Ethiopia, When the slain fall in Egypt, And they take away her wealth, And her foundations are broken down.

  • Declaration #1: a word of woe.  We are not told precisely when this prophecy was given.  It certainly fits in with the imminent idea of Egypt’s defeat as seen in 29:17-21.  The day of God’s judgment is seen approaching, with the clouds of His glory hanging on the horizon.  Egypt was about to be destroyed, and it was indeed a day of woe for them.
  • Because this is described as “the day of the LORD,” there has been some debate whether this refers to some day in the past, or the ultimate day of the Lord that will be seen in Jesus’ Second Coming.  Contextually speaking, it seems best to look at this as a historical reference, but it is certainly possible that there is a bit of dual-fulfillment in mind.  When Jesus returns, He will come on the clouds of glory & every eye will see Him.  Every nation that had risen against Israel will fall, and those who are slain will litter the ground.  That will be a day of woe to anyone who witnesses it.
    • The good news is that no one has to witness it from that point-of-view.  Instead of watching Jesus approach, we have the opportunity to follow Jesus from behind, accompanying Him on His return.  That’s the promise to those who put their faith in Christ today.  On that day we will still see Jesus in power, but we will rejoice in His victory, not weep over our losses. 

5 “Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia, all the mingled people, Chub, and the men of the lands who are allied, shall fall with them by the sword.” 6 ‘Thus says the LORD: “Those who uphold Egypt shall fall, And the pride of her power shall come down. From Migdol to Syene Those within her shall fall by the sword,” Says the Lord GOD.

  • Declaration #2: a word against Egypt’s allies.  The earlier word-picture of Pharaoh as the crocodile showed some fish hanging to the scales of the beast – verse 5 seems to give names to the fish. At the very least, the mercenary allies of Egypt are called out by name, and they would take part in Egypt’s fall.  The same thing that came to Egypt would be received by those who upheld her.
    • Be careful whose side you’re on!  We all have a choice who we can support & uphold.  We want to be on the Lord’s side, rather than simply hoping that perchance He might be on ours.

7 “They shall be desolate in the midst of the desolate countries, And her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are laid waste. 8 Then they will know that I am the LORD, When I have set a fire in Egypt And all her helpers are destroyed.

  • Again, the refrain is heard: “Then they will know that I am the LORD.”  These pagan nations may not willingly come to saving faith in God, but they will certainly come to a point that they cannot deny Him.  What was true in the ancient world is true today & will be true in the future.  There are certain acts of God that cannot be ignored.  People might try to do so & write it off as something else – but in their heart of hearts, they know.  The book of Revelation clearly speaks of events in the Great Tribulation in which people recognize the work of God, yet refuse to repent from their sins & give Him glory (Rev 17:9,11).
    • Once more, we have a choice.  We can either willingly see Jesus as God today, or we will be confronted with Him as God later.  Choose wisely.

9 On that day messengers shall go forth from Me in ships To make the careless Ethiopians afraid, And great anguish shall come upon them, As on the day of Egypt; For indeed it is coming!”

  • Among this, a specific word is given to a specific ally of Egypt: the Ethiopians.  They had trusted in their own security, apparently not giving any thought to the threat of the Babylonians.  They were “careless.”  They would be surprised!

10 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will also make a multitude of Egypt to cease By the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. 11 He and his people with him, the most terrible of the nations, Shall be brought to destroy the land; They shall draw their swords against Egypt, And fill the land with the slain.

  • Declaration #3: an affirmation of God’s use of Babylon.  We’ve already seen how God sovereignly chose to use Babylon as His tool – the point is repeated here.  God promised that He would work, and He promised that He would work “by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.”  At the time, Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan (though he didn’t seem to remain that way), but God still chose to use him specifically.  Whether kings or other national rulers are worshippers of the true God or not, God is still the one to raise them up & put them down.  (Which again, ought to give us a lot of comfort as we head into a national election.)

12 I will make the rivers dry, And sell the land into the hand of the wicked; I will make the land waste, and all that is in it, By the hand of aliens. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

  • Note the use of the 1st person here: this is all the work of God.  Babylon is the tool; God is the hand that guides it.  This is God’s chosen work, and this work is certain.  YHWH the Lord declared it would come, so it would come.  Never doubt the declared word of God!
  • All of this leads into the 4th declaration: God would personally bring destruction to the entire land of Egypt.  Vs. 13…

13 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will also destroy the idols, And cause the images to cease from Noph; There shall no longer be princes from the land of Egypt; I will put fear in the land of Egypt.

  • Does God care about Egyptian idolatry?  Yes!  God obviously cares about idolatry among His own people (the majority of the 1st part of the book called Israel to the carpet regarding those sins), but God also cares about the rampant idolatry among the nations.  Why?  Because God cares about them!  God loves all people of the world, everywhere.  There is not a single human being not made in the image of God, who wasn’t personally knit together in the womb of their mother by God Himself.  Out of the 6+ billion people on planet earth right now, God knows every single one by name, even having our hair follicles numbered.  So yes, God is concerned about idolatry (and other sins) among the pagans.  That sin is exactly what blinds them from His goodness & salvation – what blinds them from knowing the Lord God as God.  So when God declares that He will destroy their idols, He does it with good reason: out of compassion for their souls.
  • Likewise, God destroys the system that allowed for that rampant idolatry to take place.  The “princes” were the Pharaohs, who not only declared themselves to be gods, but who financed the pagan priests and upheld the false religious system.  Here too, God promised to act, levelling to the ground everything that made Egypt, Egypt.  His destruction would not be poured out only upon the individuals, but upon the system itself.
    • The same thing is seen in the account of the Great Tribulation when the future city of Babylon is judged & destroyed.  God doesn’t merely judge individuals for their sin, but He gets rid of the entire antichrist institution that infected it.

14 I will make Pathros desolate, Set fire to Zoan, And execute judgments in No. 15 I will pour My fury on Sin, the strength of Egypt; I will cut off the multitude of No, 16 And set a fire in Egypt; Sin shall have great pain, No shall be split open, And Noph shall be in distress daily. 17 The young men of Aven and Pi Beseth shall fall by the sword, And these cities shall go into captivity. 18 At Tehaphnehes the day shall also be darkened, When I break the yokes of Egypt there. And her arrogant strength shall cease in her; As for her, a cloud shall cover her, And her daughters shall go into captivity.

  • At this point, God runs through a list of Egyptian cities, showing how His judgment would spread through the entire land.

19 Thus I will execute judgments on Egypt, Then they shall know that I am the LORD.” ’ ”

  • Centuries earlier, Egypt had seen the power of God, and although many of them went out with the Hebrews, the nation as a whole remained pagan.  Once more they would receive an undeniable witness of God, and they again had the opportunity to respond to Him.  Sadly, many would once more turn away – but they would know from Whom they turned.
  • Egypt’s broken arm (20-26)

20 And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first month, on the seventh day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

  • Again, there is a date-stamp, and there is an indication that Ezekiel has returned to the original chronology: April 29, 587BC.  It’s still a prophecy against Egypt, but in this chronology, it is still 14-15 years into the future.

21 “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and see, it has not been bandaged for healing, nor a splint put on to bind it, to make it strong enough to hold a sword. 22 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Surely I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and will break his arms, both the strong one and the one that was broken; and I will make the sword fall out of his hand.

  • How had God broken Egypt’s arm?  It was when they had been broken as the staff of reeds (29:6).  Jerusalem had turned to Egypt for help from the Babylonians, and although the Babylonians had briefly turned back (Jer 37:10), it was Egypt that had experienced the weakening.  At that time, Egypt had one arm broken once Babylon returned in strength – in the future, Egypt would be completely broken.  God was doubly against Egypt, and no matter what “arm” it tried to raise against the will of God, it would fail.
  • The will of God will not be thwarted!  Don’t struggle against it; seek it.  Ask to see it fulfilled.

23 I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them throughout the countries. 24 I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put My sword in his hand; but I will break Pharaoh’s arms, and he will groan before him with the groanings of a mortally wounded man. 25 Thus I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down; they shall know that I am the LORD, when I put My sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt. 26 I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.’ ”

  • Once more the prophecy is made of Egypt being scattered & dispersed among the nations when Babylon brought their defeat.  And a crucial difference is shown between the nations: God breaks the arms of one, while He strengthens the arms of the other.  The one that stands against the will of God will fall.  And when they did, they would know it was the God of Israel who accomplished this among them.

God has much to say against the nation of Egypt – in fact, He has two more chapters worth left to say.  They had been arrogant, claiming to stand in the place of God.  They had set themselves up as the mightiest of all, trying to interfere with the work of God among the world.  It couldn’t be done.  They would be broken & humbled – defeated by the almighty power of the sovereign God.  What God wills among the nations will be done, no matter who or what tries to stand against Him.


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