Tuesdays with Ezekiel (Chapter 25)

Chapter 25 begins a new section in the book of Ezekiel.  In chapters 25-32, Ezekiel receives a series of warnings and judgments for surrounding nations.  The Lord addresses four nations—Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia—in chapter 25. He pronounces judgment on the coastal country of Tyre in chapters 26-28.  Finally, the Lord confronts and condemns Egypt in chapters 29-31.

God’s prophetic word of judgment for the nations begins with Ammon (1-7).  The Lord rebukes the Ammonites for rejoicing over Judah’s demise and Jerusalem’s destruction:  “Because you said, ‘Aha!’ over my sanctuary when it was profaned, and over the land of Israel when it was made desolate, and over the house of Judah when they went into exile . . .” (3).  Even though the Lord was bringing judgment on His disobedient people, He did not approve of others celebrating their pain.  As a result, the Lord promises to hand the Ammonites’ land over to the Babylonians (“the people of the East”—4).  The Lord makes it clear that the Babylonian invasion is the expression of God’s active judgment (7).  The outcome will be the demolition of the nation of Ammon:  “I will cut you off from the peoples and will make you perish out of the countries; I will destroy you” (7).

Moab is the focus of God’s judgment in verses 8-11.  Moab’s crime was asserting that Judah was just “like all the other nations” (8).  In other words, there was nothing special about Judah—not even her God!  For this, the Lord promises to hand Moab over to the same “people of the East” (10).  When He executes judgment upon Moab, they will know He is the Lord (11).  They will have to admit that there was indeed something special about the Israelites—the Lord who rules over the nations.

In verses 12-14, the Lord gives a prophetic word against Edom.  Edom sinned by acting “revengefully against the house of Judah” and “taking vengeance on them” (12).  As a result, the Lord promises to stretch out his hand against Edom and make it “desolate” (13).  God’s judgment would come by the “hand” of His people Israel.   They will be the instruments of His “anger” and wrath” (14).

The fourth nation to receive God’s rebuke is Philistia (15-17).  Like Edom, the Philistines had “acted revengefully” against Judah and taken “vengeance with malice of soul” (15).  As a consequence, the Lord will “execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes” (17).  We are not told how this judgment will come upon Philistia (from the Babylonians or the Israelites?).  However, when it comes, the Lord declares the Philistines will know “that I am the Lord” (17).

Visions of God

The Lord still defends with Israel even though He judges Israel.  In each of the four messages in chapter 25, the Lord brings rebuke and retribution on Israel’s enemies who celebrated or participated in Israel’s devastation. God may bring severe judgment on His people but He judges those who oppose His people. The Abrahamic covenant is still in force:  those who bless Abram will be blessed; those who curse will be cursed (Genesis 12:1-3).

The Lord can use nations to carry out His divine judgment upon nations.  God sends the “people of the East” to judge the Ammonites and Moabites.  He uses Israel to carry out His vengeance upon Edom.  As we’ve already noted, He uses Babylon to judge Israel.  In each of these cases, God sovereignly carries out His will through earthly powers.  His prophetic announcement of coming judgment is meant to show that He is behind political, military events.  History must be viewed on two levels:  human and divine.  God is at work in the world to accomplish His larger purposes.

It’s a dangerous and deadly mistake to hate or oppose God’s people.  While the Edomites and Philistines are punished for acting “revengefully” against Israel (12, 15), the Ammonites are destroyed for their malice towards Israel.  While it seems they did not actively participate in Judah’s destruction, they celebrated it.  The Lord takes note of the attitudes and actions of those who oppose His people. 

Words to Watchmen

Watchmen’s support for Israel is not uncritical, but it should be unwavering.  The Abrahamic covenant is still in force.  While from the writings of Paul, we can see the true seed of Abraham as those who have faith in Christ (Gal. 3), we should not conclude that God is finished with national Israel.  There is a future hope of Israel (Roman 11) that endures.  As such, our reverence for God should cause us to support Israel.  The example of the prophets show that support does not mean sanctioning sinful behaviour from the leaders or people of Israel.  However, it’s folly to hold malice towards Israel or to actively engage is attacking Israel. 

Watchmen see world history from God’s perspective.  Ezekiel’s words give a heavenly perspective of international events.  Without denying the human side of history, watchmen help people see that God is still controlling world events for His greater purposes.

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