Part II, Prophecies Relating To Seven Nations With Whom Israel Had Close Relationship Or Providential Dealings (chapters 25-32)

Chapter Twenty-five
Judgments On The Surrounding Nations

In 1 Peter 4:17 we read, “For the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” This suggests a principle in God’s ways of dealing with His people and with the world. We see this exemplified in the present chapter. Judgment had its inception in the sanctuary of the Lord. His rod of chastisement was stretched over the city and the people called by His name. Against these, the Chaldean conqueror was to execute His vengeance because of the grave departure of Israel and Judah from the path of obedience to Jehovah. But if thus His judgment was being executed upon His own house and His own people, then the nations surrounding, whose wickedness in some respects even surpassed that of the professed people of God, need not hope to escape. Therefore the prophet was commanded to declare that the Lord’s wrath was about to fall upon these contiguous peoples.

In verses 1 to 7 we have the judgment of Ammon.

“And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the children of Ammon, and prophesy against them: and say unto the children of Ammon, Hear the word of the Lord Jehovah: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thou saidst, Aha, against My sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel, when it was made desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they went into captivity: therefore, behold, I will deliver thee to the children of the east for a possession, and they shall set their encampments in thee, and make their dwellings in thee; they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk. And I will make Kabbah a stable for camels, and the children of Amnion a couching-place for flocks: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because thou hast clapped thy hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced with all the despite of thy soul against the land of Israel; therefore, behold, I have stretched out My hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the nations; and I will cut thee off from the peoples, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah”—vers. 1-7.

It will be remembered that the Ammonites were descended from Ammon, who was one of the illegitimate sons of Lot, the result of his incestuous relation with his own daughter, who had plied him with liquor until he fell into a drunken stupor and knew not what he was doing. The Ammonites, therefore, were in a certain sense related to the people of Israel; though that relationship was a most disgraceful one. They evidently realized that they were looked upon by Israel with a measure of contempt, because we find them from early days numbered among the enemies of God’s people.

Ezekiel was commanded to set his face against these children of Ammon and prophesy against them. They had, in their supercilious pride, sneered at the sanctuary of Jehovah, and delighted in its profanation; they rejoiced when it was made desolate, and gloried in seeing the people of God go into captivity. God is never an unconcerned witness of such conduct as this on the part of the enemies of His people. He may see fit to deal with them in chastisement because of their failures, but He will not tolerate ridicule on the part of their enemies. And so in this instance He was about to deliver the Ammonites also to the children of the East for a possession: that is, they, too, were to be overrun by the Chaldeans and their armies completely defeated. Many of their people would be carried into captivity, and their great cities would become desolate; even Rabbah, which from ancient times had been recognized as their capital, would be but a stable for camels, a couching-place for flocks. Thus by bitter experience the Ammonites would be made to realize God’s indignation. Because of the way they had rejoiced when they saw His judgments falling on the land of Israel, they, too, would be delivered for a spoil to the nations and would be cut off from the peoples: that is, they would cease to be recognized as an independent dominion. Ammon was to be utterly destroyed because of the indignation of the Lord.

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the nations; therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities, from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country, Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim, unto the children of the east, to go against the children of Ammon; and I will give them for a possession, that the children of Ammon may not be remembered among the nations: and I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am Jehovah”—vers. 8-11.

In this section the prophet’s attention is directed to Moab and Seir. The Moabites bore the same relationship to the people of Israel that the Ammonites did, Moab himself being the child of Lot’s other daughter by her own father. The pride of Moab is referred to in other scriptures: they gloried in their fortress habitations on the heights across the Jordan, and east of the Dead Sea; they fancied that their dwellings were impregnable, but they were soon to learn by bitter experience that they were powerless to stand against the armies of Nebuchadnezzar. Idolatry of the most cruel character nourished in Moab, and led the way in the sacrificing of sons and daughters to the vile gods, such as Moloch and others that were supposed to demand such offerings in order that they might turn away their wrath from the people and give rain and blessing to the land.

Now in the hour of their extremity they would find that these false gods were powerless to defend them, and would learn that He whom they had despised was indeed Jehovah the Everlasting One.

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will stretch out My hand upon Edom, and -will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; even unto Dedan shall they fall by the sword. And I will lay My vengeance upon Edom by the hand of My people Israel; and they shall do in Edom according to Mine anger and according to My wrath; and they shall know My vengeance, saith the Lord Jehovah”—vers. 12-14.

Edom, too, was related to Israel but in a far different way to the two nations we have just been considering. We read in Genesis 36:43, “He is Esau, the father of the Edomites.” That is, Edom was descended from Jacob’s twin brother, and his name is practically the same as that of the first man, Adam. He represents in a very definite way the man of the flesh. He was a man of considerable nobility of character and, in some respects, more to be admired than his scheming brother, Jacob, who nevertheless valued the covenant of the Lord in a way that Esau did not. God had given to Esau the land adjoining Moab and south of the Dead Sea. Here were built great fortress cities, some of which are in existence today, and are the wonder and admiration of travelers who go to visit them. The rock city of Petra, marvelous in its architecture cut out of the mountains, is a perpetual memorial to the truth of the Word of God which declared that Edom would be utterly destroyed even though its cities would remain. Edom hated Israel, and she arrayed herself against those whom she should have befriended. Therefore, God’s judgment was to fall upon Edom also, and He would do in her cities according to His anger and His wrath; thus they should know His vengeance and learn the folly of defying His omnipotent power.

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with despite of soul to destroy with perpetual enmity; therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will stretch out My hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites, and destroy the remnant of the sea coast. And I will execute great vengeance upon them with wrathful rebukes; and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall lay My vengeance upon them”—vers. 15-17.

The Philistines were Israel’s enemies from of old. They had an Egyptian origin and were descended from Caphtor. They entered Palestine from the south and, typically, would speak of men of the world intruding into the inheritance of the people of God: that is, they represented natural men with no spiritual discernment, yet taking authority over those to whom God had revealed Himself. Such Philistines abound today: unsaved men professing to be ministers of God and exercising authority over His people while actually they have never been born into His kingdom.

The Philistines had dwelt in the land for many centuries, and even in Israel’s most palmy days they were never able to destroy these crafty foes; though they did at times subdue them. Now the hour had struck when God was about to deal with them because they had taken vengeance with despite of soul, endeavoring to destroy His people with perpetual enmity. Because of this they themselves were to be destroyed. They must know the awfulness of Jehovah’s vengeance falling upon them; thus they, too, should know that they had to do with Jehovah the God of Israel whom they had defied.

Chapter Twenty-six
God’s Judgment On Tyre

The city of Tyre at the time of Jerusalem’s siege was still a great and prominent commercial metropolis. Its ships visited every port of the then known world, carrying goods of all kinds from western Asia, and returning with raw materials such as could be used in Phoenicia. It was renowned as a city of pleasure-lovers who lived in independence of God and vaunted themselves in their security against their foes because of their insular position, but judgment must fall on Tyre as well as on the other peoples surrounding Israel, because of their wickedness and corruption.

“And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, because that Tyre hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gate of the people; she is turned unto me; I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste: therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am against thee, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her a bare rock. She shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah; and she shall become a spoil to the nations. And her daughters that are in the field shall be slain with the sword: and they shall know that I am Jehovah”—vers. 1-6.

This prophecy was given about two years after the one we have just been considering, as recorded in the previous chapter. Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy against Tyre because she had rejoiced in the grief and sorrow that had come upon Jerusalem. He pictures her as exulting in the misfortunes of her neighbor, and counting that the troubles that had befallen Jerusalem would work out for the further upbuilding of Tyre herself. Because of her heartless attitude, Jehovah declared Himself to be against her, and announced that He would cause many nations to come up and besiege her, so that it would seem that the sea itself were hurling its waves upon the doomed city. The walls of Tyre should be destroyed; her towers broken down; the very dust of her foundations scraped away so that it would appear as but a bare rock in the midst of the water. So literally has this prophecy been fulfilled that even at this very day the rocky island on which Tyre once stood is now in exactly the same condition as foretold here. It is still a place for the spreading of the nets of fishermen, and has been the astonishment of many who have beheld it throughout the centuries. The outlying villages were to be destroyed with the mother city, and this, too, came to pass in due time.

The means whereby this destruction was wrought is predicted in the next section.

“For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will bring upon Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, from the north, “with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and a company, and much people. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field; and he shall make forts against thee, and cast up a mound against thee, and raise up the buckler against thee. And he shall set his battering engines against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers. By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wagons, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach. With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets; he shall slay thy people with the sword; and the pillars of thy strength shall go down to the ground. And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise; and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses; and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the waters. And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard. And I will make thee a bare rock; thou shalt be a place for the spreading of nets; thou shalt be built no more: for I Jehovah have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah”—vers. 7-14.

Nebuchadrezzar—note the spelling here, for the “R” in place of the “N,” in the second to the last syllable, is found upon the bricks that composed a part of the wall of the city of Babylon; evidently Nebuchadrezzar was the Chaldean form of this monarch’s name; whereas the Jews called him Nebuchadnezzar. He little realized, when fired with ambition to be monarch of all the world, leading his armies against nation after nation, that he was really the instrument in God’s hand for punishing the peoples who had turned away from the truth of God and followed after their idols. It was because of this that no power was strong enough to stand against the Chaldeans. Every engine of war then known was put into action by them and used for the breaking down of the walls and towers of the cities that they besieged; their vast cohorts of cavalry, their wagons filled with instruments to use in the siege and chariots whereby to attack their foes, made them a fearful power to be reckoned with. As we read these verses we have little difficulty visualizing the triumphant dash of the vanguard of Nebuchadnezzar’s hosts as they trod down the people in the streets of the cities that they sought to destroy: none were able to resist them, nor to save their wealth from being carried away. The riches of all the subdued nations were taken as a spoil by the Babylonians and carried into the land of Shinar. All joy and gladness disappeared from the conquered city so that not even the sound of a harp was heard again among them—and all this because of the pride and folly that led Tyre to exalt itself above the people of Jehovah’s choice. Again He says He will make them a bare rock and a place for the spreading of nets; furthermore, the declaration was given that Tyre would never be built again. Millenniums have gone by since these words were uttered and the fulfilment began to take place, but Tyre of the ancients is still as though it had never been. It is true that on the mainland another city bearing the same name has risen up, but it is poor and squalid indeed, as compared with the great seafaring city that was built upon the island at some distance from the shore.

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to Tyre: Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded groan, when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee? Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay aside their robes, and strip off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble every moment, and be astonished at thee. And they shall take up a lamentation over thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited by seafaring men, the renowned city, that was strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, that caused their terror to be on all that dwelt there! Now shall the isles tremble in the day of thy fall; yea, the isles that are in the sea shall be dismayed at thy departure”—vers. 15-18.

The many cities and nations in distant parts of the world with which the merchants of Tyre had done business would be filled with fear and dread when they heard of the fall of this great commercial center. The description here given is very much like that which we have in the book of the Revelation concerning the downfall of Babylon the Great. All hope of rehabilitation would be at an end, and with this would go all possibility of restoring the traffic in goods of every kind which had worked to the advantage of the merchantmen in distant places, who would lament with great grief and crying, exclaiming, “How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited by seafaring men, the renowned city, that was strong in the sea!” The people of the isles—a term, by the way, that includes not only actual islands surrounded by water but also cities built upon the seashore—would tremble in the day of the fall of Tyre, not knowing what the future might have for them.

Further description of the desolation that was to come upon Tyre is given in verses 19 to 21.

“For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and the great waters shall cover thee; then will I bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, to the people of old time, and will make thee to dwell in the nether parts of the earth, in the places that are desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I will set glory in the land of the living. I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt no more have any being; though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord Jehovah”—vers. 19-21.

She was to be so utterly destroyed that the great water would cover her foundation, and her people would be brought down into the pit: that is, into Sheol to dwell with the people of old-time who were found there in the nether parts of the earth; that is, in the lower or infernal regions. In other words, the eternal doom of the inhabitants of Tyre is linked with the temporal destruction that would come upon the city when God, in His indignation, would manifest His glory in the land of the living by the defeat of these people who had ridiculed and despised Israel—the na- tion He had chosen for Himself. They should become a terror and be rooted out of the earth, so that, although they were sought for, they would never be found again. This is in accord with the verse in the Psalms that declares, “The wicked shall be turned into hell” (that is, into Sheol), “and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17). Tyre had forgotten God, therefore the desolation that was to come upon her with the eternal doom of her people by casting them into the outer darkness in the depths of Sheol.

Chapter Twenty-seven
The Doom Of Tyre, Continued

With great detail the prophet continues to describe the doom which was to come upon Tyre because of the people’s attitude of self-satisfaction and independence of God, which led them into all kinds of iniquity.

“The word of Jehovah came again unto me, saying, And thou, son of man, take up a lamentation over Tyre; and say unto Tyre, O thou that dwellest at the entry of the sea, that art the merchant of the peoples unto many isles, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou, O Tyre, hast said, I am perfect in beauty. Thy borders are in the heart of the seas; thy builders have perfected thy beauty. They have made all thy planks of fir-trees from Senir; they have taken a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast for thee. Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; they have made thy benches of ivory inlaid in boxwood, from the isles of Kittim. Of fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was thy sail, that it might be to thee for an ensign; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was thine awning. The inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were thy rowers: thy wise men, O Tyre, were in thee, they were thy pilots. The old men of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to deal in thy merchandise. Persia and Lud and Put were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness. The men of Arvad with thine army were upon thy walls round about, and valorous men were in thy towers; they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have perfected thy beauty”—vers. 1-11.

This is described as a lamentation over Tyre, for judgment is never God’s delight. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but His heart is grieved when it becomes necessary to deal in wrath with those who have spurned His gracious expostulations, and refused to turn from their sins.

Tyre dwelt at the entry of the sea. As already mentioned, the ancient city was built upon an island which was connected with the mainland by a causeway. To her ports came ships from all nations, and from thence her own fleet went out to all the then known world. Her people gloried in their wealth, and lived luxuriously. Nothing was too good for them. From nearby lands they brought lumber of cedar and oak with which they built magnificent mansions and palaces; they reclined upon couches inlaid with ivory. Importations of fine linen from Egypt, and blue and purple cloth from distant isles decorated their homes and were made into sails for their ships. Their sailors were conscripted from the surrounding cities and districts; and the pilots of Tyre were looked upon as experts in their calling. From the city of Gebal to the north of them came workmen to assist in shipbuilding. Gebal, which was for centuries buried beneath the sands of the desert, has only recently been uncovered by archaeologists. It is possible today to walk through the streets of this ancient city and note the arrangement of the houses: it bespeaks a remarkable civilization which, however, was long since overthrown by invading armies from other countries. Upon its ruins a Roman city was erected, which, in turn, gave place to a third city, built by the Crusaders. All these are now visible to the traveler as mute evidences of the passing glory of this world. Portions of each city have been left and stand out clearly just as the different rock strata can be seen on a hillside.

From Persia, Lud, and Put, mariners were obtained to serve for the defense of Tyre, and the men of Arvad also were engaged to protect the city against its enemies.

In verses 12 to 25 we have a list of names of cities and districts with which the merchants of Tyre traded.

“Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded for thy wares. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy traffickers; they traded the persons of men and vessels of brass for thy merchandise. They of the house of Togarmah traded for thy wares with horses and warhorses and mules. The men of Dedan were thy traffickers; many isles were the mart of thy hand: they brought thee in exchange horns of ivory and ebony. Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of thy handiworks: they traded for thy wares with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and rubies. Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy traffickers: they traded for thy merchandise wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm. Damascus was thy merchant for the multitude of thy handiworks, by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches, with the wine of Helbon, and white wool. Vedan and Javan traded with yarn for thy wares: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were among thy merchandise. Dedan was thy trafficker in precious cloths for riding. Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they were the merchants of thy hand; in lambs, and rams, and goats, in these were they thy merchants. The traffickers of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy traffickers; they traded for thy wares with the chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold. Haran and Canneh and Eden, the traffickers of Sheba, Asshur and Chilmad, were thy traffickers. These were thy traffickers in choice wares, in wrappings of blue and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords and made of cedar, among thy merchandise. The ships of Tarshish were thy caravans for thy merchandise: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the heart of the seas”—vers. 12-25.

Tarshish seems to have been a name used not simply, as some have thought, for Spain, but even including the British Isles. Observe that from Tarshish came tin and lead as well as silver and iron. The very word Britannia means “land of tin”; and it is believed that some of the Tyrian ships sailed beyond Gibraltar and reached Britain at a very early period.

Javan is generally supposed to refer to Greece; Tubal, and Meshech were settled by Scythian tribes, north of the Black Sea: the one in Asia, and the other in Europe. From them apparently came the Muscovites, the founders of the great Russian empire.

Togarmah is generally considered to be identical with Armenia; Dedan is somewhat uncertain, but was also located, in all likelihood, in the region of the Black Sea. Syria and Judah were respectively north and south of Tyre, Damascus being the chief city of Syria. It is not possible to identify with certainty every one of the places mentioned, some of which would have passed away forever had it not been that the names have been preserved in Ezekiel’s prophecy.

Arabia, settled by the descendants of Ishmael, was already a land in which nomadic tribes raised great numbers of large and small cattle. The Sheba of ver. 22 is undoubtedly the city whose queen, centuries before, went to visit King Solomon.

It is evident from ver. 23 that the name “Eden” was applied to a part of Mesopotamia, and may indeed have been the very district in which the ancient Eden was located.

All these various places poured their riches into the markets of Tyre and obtained, in return from them, other goods which they needed in their respective localities.

It must have seemed to the haughty, independent merchant princes of this great city, that there was little likelihood of their great commercial system ever being destroyed, but just as in a future day Babylon the Great is to go down in a moment, so Tyre’s judgment was to fall with terrible and sudden force upon the godless city which had dared to defy the Eternal One.

“Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the heart of the seas. Thy riches, and thy wares, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the dealers in thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, with all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the heart of the seas in the day of thy ruin. At the sound of the cry of thy pilots the suburbs shall shake. And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea, shall come down from their ships; they shall stand upon the land, and shall cause their voice to be heard over thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads; they shall wallow themselves in the ashes: and they shall make themselves bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee in bitterness of soul with bitter mourning. And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, Who is there like Tyre, like her that is brought to silence in the midst of the sea? When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many peoples; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise. In the time that thou wast broken by the seas in the depths of the waters, thy merchandise and all thy company did fall in the midst of thee. All the inhabitants of the isles are astonished at thee, and their kings are horribly afraid; they are troubled in their countenance. The merchandise among the peoples hiss at thee; thou art become a terror, and thou Shalt nevermore have any being”—vera. 26-36.

Her rowers: that is, her statesmen, had brought her into great waters, and the east wind of adversity was to break her in the heart of the seas. All her wealth would then avail her nothing: her palaces, her warehouses, her great mansions, would all go down together and fall into the heart of the sea in the day of her ruin. The ships’ officers, pilots, and mariners, beholding from afar the burning of the city, would bewail its utter destruction, exclaiming, “Who is there like Tyre, like her that is brought to silence in the midst of the sea?” Realizing that their opportunities for enrichment were now gone forever, they would lament with a bitter cry the overthrow of the great Phoenician metropolis which God Himself declared should never more have any being. The island city of Tyre, when once destroyed, was never to rise again.

Chapter Twenty-eight
The Supernatural Ruler Of Tyre

As we read this chapter carefully it is very evident that two personalities come into view: first the literal prince of Tyre, the one who actually sat on the throne when Nebuchadnezzar’s armies besieged and eventually sacked the city. But back of this earthly ruler was a sinister supernatural king who controlled the heart of the Tyrian prince, filling him with pride and self-confidence and leading him to defy the armies that God, as the Creator and Governor of the universe, had sent against him. The same thing comes out in Isa. 14, where we see Lucifer, a fallen angel, dominating the mind and controlling the spirit of the king of Babylon. These chapters throw a great deal of light on the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6. He tells us that our conflict as Christians is not with flesh and blood but is a spiritual warfare. We are called upon to put on the whole armour of God in order that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, who works through “wicked spirits in the heavenlies, the world rulers of this darkness,” as a more literal translation would read.

The real world rulers of the great earthly powers are not the men who seem to hold the reins of government and dominate the nations. These men are often but puppets under the control of Satan’s minions, angelic personalities and powers who are doing all that they can to thwart the carrying out of God’s counsels. That their efforts will avail nothing in the end is perfectly clear from Scripture; nevertheless, they are able to cause the saints of God and the peoples of the world a great deal of trouble and distress, while the conflict between righteousness and unrighteousness goes on.

The tenth chapter of the book of Daniel gives us added light as to this spiritual warfare. There we find a man of God in prayer for three full weeks; and then an amazing declaration is made by the angel Gabriel who comes at last to answer his petition. He tells the prophet that the request was granted from the first day that he began to intercede for his people; but for one-and-twenty days the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood this angel of the Lord. Now this prince was certainly not the man who sat on the throne of Persia but an evil angel seeking to keep that man from carrying out God’s purpose regarding the restoration of His people.

Another evil prince is mentioned in the closing verses, where Gabriel tells Daniel that he must now go again to fight with the prince of Persia, and later the prince of Grecia would come into the picture; for it was under the great power of Greece that Israel was to come next; and Satan was seeking to control the rulers of that land in order that he might work evil against the people of God.

With all this in view, history becomes a most interesting study indeed. As we look back over the centuries and note the rise and fall of nations and their attitude toward the things of God, we can almost visualize the conflict going on in the heavenlies. Sometimes it looks as though Satan is about to be victor, then his hosts are driven back in ignominious defeat. Thank God, the day will soon come when Satan’s last hold upon the heavenlies will come to an end, and Michael the Archangel, with his attendant angels, will participate in the final battle with Satan and his minions, as a result of which the devil and his angels will be cast out of the created heavens into the earth, where he will have great wrath, knowing that his time is short. This will be the event that will precipitate the great tribulation which immediately precedes the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with His holy angels to execute judgment on all the enemies of God, whether they be men or evil angels.

With these things before us, this chapter becomes exceedingly instructive. The first ten verses have to do with the prince of Tyre, the earthly ruler.

“The word of Jehovah came again unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyre, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because thy heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art man, and not God, though thou didst set thy heart as the heart of God; behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is hidden from thee; by thy wisdom and by thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures; by thy great wisdom and by thy traffic hast thou increased thy riches, and thy heart is lifted up because of thy riches; therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because thou hast set thy heart as the heart of God, therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit; and thou shalt die the death of them that are slain, in the heart of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? But thou art man, and not God, in the hand of him that woundeth thee. Thou shalt die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah”—vers. 1-10.

This monarch is pictured as the very incarnation of pride and self-will. So haughty is he that he pro- claims himself to be a god sitting in the seat of Deity, and one, therefore, whose power no armies can destroy; but he was soon to learn that he was but man and not God, though he had set his heart as the heart of God. He gloried in his wisdom; in his own judgment he was wiser than Daniel and felt that no secret was hidden from him.

This, in itself, is intensely interesting, for it shows us how widespread was Daniel’s reputation at this time as a man of probity and sagacity; his fame had gone far beyond the actual kingdom of Babylon, and this Tyrian prince compared himself with Daniel, and in his conceit considered himself wiser than the prophet whom God had raised up even in Babylon in order to make known His mind and will.

The prince of Tyre gave himself credit for the wealth and commercial standing of the city which he ruled. He was to learn that only by the will of God does any man hold authority, and when that authority is abused God wrests it from him. The army of the strangers whom the Tyrians despised, had come against the city and proven themselves to be the terrible of the nations. God was about to give Tyre into their hands. Its nobles would be brought down to the pit, and its prince was to have an ignominious death, not only unable to protect his city but also unable to save himself. This would be the end of the man who had said, “I am God.” His doom was predicted by Jehovah and none could turn it aside.

In verses 11 to 19 the supernatural ruler of Tyre comes before us; though in the latter part of this section we may find it difficult to distinguish between the human and the supernatural, because the one was so completely dominated by the other that his doom was but a picture of that awaiting Satan himself.

“Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared. Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee. By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I have cast thee to the ground; I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee. By the multitude of thine iniquities, in the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of thee; it hath devoured thee, and I have turned thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the peoples shall be astonished at thee: thou art become a terror, and thou shalt nevermore have any being”—vers.11-19.

It is very evident that of no earthly ruler could these words be spoken. Undoubtedly we have here the original condition and the fall of Satan himself. It was of him that God could say, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” Men often ask why God created the devil. The answer is He never created the devil; He created a pure spirit-being of great wisdom and glory, but this spirit dared to conspire against the throne of God, and so the greatest of all the angels became the arch-enemy of God and man.

The prophet says of this spirit leader, “Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God.” This would seem to suggest that before man himself was created, this glorious being had charge of the lower creation. There is a mystery here that we may not be able to solve, but Jesus Himself says, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). He may have been the one appointed from the beginning to take charge of this world. We do not speak dogmatically, however, as to this, but these verses seem at least to suggest it. Every precious stone was his covering. These precious stones speak of the glories in which God’s saints are yet to stand before Him, as we find in the book of Revelation; and here we see them all combined in the robes of this great angelic leader. It was his to lead the praises of the angelic host. The workmanship of his tabrets and of his pipes suggests this: in the day that he was created he was prepared to lead the heavenly choir. He is described as the “anointed cherub that covereth”: that is, he was the angel that attended on the throne of God. It was Jehovah Himself who had set him there. He dwelt in the very presence of Deity, walking up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, for we read, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). He was created perfect, but how long this condition continued we are not told. The Word simply says, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee.”

Verse 16 links the supernatural ruler very closely with the prince who sat on the throne; but God goes on to speak directly of the covering cherub in the following verse, and gives us the secret of his fall. He says, “Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.”

The Lord Jesus shows us that Satan is an apostate; he “abode not in the truth” (John 8:44). The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy not to put undue responsibility upon a novice, or one newly come to the faith, lest he be lifted up with pride and fall into the condemnation of the devil (1 Tim. 3:6). This passage is the key to both these other scriptures. It was pride that turned an archangel into a devil.

The closing verses, as we have mentioned, link this great being so intimately with the literal Tyrian ruler that one can hardly be distinguished from the other. Because of the way in which he dominated the heart of the last prince of Tyre, the judgments depicted were to fall.

The next section deals with the doom of Sidon, a city close to Tyre, which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, but afterwards rebuilt.

“And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Sidon, and prophesy against it, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, O Sidon; and I will be glorified in the midst of thee; and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her. For I will send pestilence into her, and blood into her streets; and the wounded shall fall in the midst of her, with the sword upon her on every side; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor a hurting thorn of any that are round about them, that did despite unto them; and they shall know that I am the Lord Jehovah”—vers. 20-24.

This city is often linked with Tyre in the Scripture. Jesus said, “If the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes” (Luke 10:13). It was not for them to continue until Messiah came; they fell long before because of their pride and arrogance. While God’s judgment as we have noticed before is His strange work, and He takes no delight in it, yet He is glorified even in the destruction of those cities or nations that dare to oppose themselves to His will. And so upon Sidon was to fall pestilence and bloody warfare; and this city, which had been for so long a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, a thorn in their side, was doomed to destruction. But God’s power and might is not only shown in chastising His people when they would depart from Him, and in visiting judgment upon the wicked, but also in the recovery of those who return to Him; and so in the last verses of the chapter we have a promise of Israel’s future restoration.

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the nations, then shall they dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they shall dwell securely therein; yea, they shall build houses, and plant vineyards, and shall dwell securely, when I have executed judgements upon all those that do them despite round about them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah their God”—vers. 25, 26.

These verses are to be taken as literally as the many passages that speak of the desolations of Jerusalem and the scattering of the people of Israel among the nations. The day will come when a repentant remnant will ask the way to Zion, and the Lord will reveal Himself to them and eventually settle them again in their own land where they will dwell securely, building houses and planting vineyards. This is not a picture of the coming glory of the Church in its heavenly inheritance, but is very distinctly a prophecy of blessing upon the earth in the land of Palestine for the restored people of Israel.

They are going back now to their land in unbelief; going back, little as they realize it, to greater sorrows than they have ever known among the Gentiles, even to the days of the great tribulation. But when all that is passed and the Lord Jesus is revealed to them as the Messiah for whom they have waited so long, they will look upon him whom they have pierced, and bow in contrition at His feet, and thus be restored to Jehovah, and so settled in their land in perfect peace.

Chapter Twenty-nine
Judgment On Egypt

From the days when the dynasty of the Pharaohs who were friendly to Joseph and his brethren ended, and another king arose who knew not Joseph: that is, a new dynasty which overthrew the former one and immediately began to take steps to enslave the people of Israel, Egypt had been an enemy of the Hebrew people, except for a very short time during the reign of King Solomon when it was otherwise, doubtless because of the alliance that Solomon had made with the daughter of Pharaoh. But, generally speaking, through many centuries Egypt was opposed to Israel, and either was allied with Israel’s foes or seeking to subjugate and make that nation a mere vassal state under Egyptian domination.

Only a few years had elapsed prior to the prophecies recorded in this chapter, since Pharaoh-Necho had invaded Palestine, besieged and conquered Jerusalem, carrying away King Jehoahaz, and setting up as a puppet king, his brother Eliakim, whose name Pharaoh-Necho changed to Jehoiakim.

The rise of Nebuchadnezzar and the enlargement of the Chaldean empire was recognized as a menace to Egyptian supremacy. Pharaoh at first sought to thwart the ambitions of the Babylonian leader, but was soon put on the defensive.

Ezekiel uttered the present prophecy, we are told, in the tenth month of the tenth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity.

“In the tenth year, in the tenth month, in the twelfth day of the month, the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt; speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great monster that lieth in the midst of his rivers, that hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself. And I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales; and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, with all the fish of thy rivers which stick unto thy scales. And I will cast thee forth into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open field; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered; I have given thee for food to the beasts of the earth and to the birds of the heavens. And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am Jehovah, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel. When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and didst rend all their shoulders; and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand”—vers. 1-7.

In Tyre we have seen a picture of the world viewed as a great commercial system, acting independently of God. Egypt is a picture of the world in a different aspect, as the place of bondage out of which God delivers His people. Pharaoh was both its prince and its god, and therefore typifies Satan, the prince and the god of this age.

Situated along the sides of the Nile, whose annual overflow fertilized its fields and provided its people with sustenance, Egypt aptly sets forth the world as the home of unsaved men dependent upon the bounty of heaven and living in independence of God. Thus Pharaoh is described here as a great monster lying in the midst of his rivers and saying in his heart, “My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.” There was no realization of his direct dependence on the one true and living God who caused the waters of Ethiopia to fill the banks of the Nile and overflow unto the alluvial fields of Egypt. The people had become so accustomed to this phenomenon year after year that they took for granted that it would always be in the future as it had been in the past. If occasionally conditions at the upper Nile were such that the water did not flow down as in former years, they turned not to the true God but offered sacrifices to the river and to their idols, in order that they might procure the favor which they needed.

In the sight of God Pharaoh had become like a great crocodile lying in his rivers. The plural form is used because of the many streams of the Delta. In his pride and conceit Pharaoh defied all who dared to disregard him. But because of their independence of God, destruction was to come upon Pharaoh and all his land; so that all the inhabitants of Egypt would know that the Jehovah of Israel, from whom His own people had turned to lean upon a broken staff, when they tried to make a league with Egypt, was the only true God. They had entered into an alliance with Israel but had proven unfaithful and powerless to protect them against the Babylonian army. Judgment was, therefore, about to fall upon the entire land for a period of forty years.

“Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I mil bring a sword upon thee, and will cut off from thee man and beast. And the land of Egypt shall be a desolation and a waste; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. Because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it; therefore, behold, I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt an utter waste and desolation, from the tower of Seveneh even unto the border of Ethiopia. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years. And I will make the land of Egypt a desolation in the midst of the countries that are desolate; and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be a desolation forty years; and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries”—vers. 8-12.

A sword was to be brought upon Egypt—that great land which had from time to time sent its armies out to battle against other nations, but had so seldom known anything in the way of an invasion on its own ground.

Only a short time before, Pharaoh-Hophra had endeavored to help the Israelites against Nebuchadnezzar, by marching an army up into the land to raise the siege of Jerusalem, but he had almost immediately returned when Nebuchadnezzar came again with an augmented host. Pharaoh-Hophra was powerless to help. The Egyptians were soon to know what it meant to have an invading army enter into their own cities, spreading ruin and desolation everywhere it went.

It was some seventeen years or more after this prophecy was given before it began to be fulfilled, but in God’s due time this haughty power was made to feel the horrors of warfare such as in the past it had inflicted on other peoples. We may not be able to trace exactly the beginning and the end of that forty years’ desolation spoken of in verses 12 and 13, but we may be certain of this: even though the monuments of the past do not tell us anything about this period, God’s Word was fulfilled to the letter.

“For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the peoples whither they were scattered; and I will bring back the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their birth; and they shall be there a base kingdom. It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it any more lift itself up above the nations: and I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations. And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, bringing iniquity to remembrance, when they turn to look after them: and they shall know that I am the Lord Jehovah”—vers. 13-16.

When the forty years should expire Egypt once more was to lift up her head, and many of its people who had fled to surrounding nations for refuge would return to their own patrimony. But never again would Egypt be the great power it had been in the past. “They shall be a base kingdom,” we are told; and verse 15 says, “It shall be the basest of the kingdoms,” which should no more rule over the nations. The time soon came when Egypt had so deteriorated that it was dependent on the nations roundabout; and through all the centuries since the days of the Ptolemies, Egypt has been a land of wretchedness and distress. Some from Israel sought to find refuge there after the destruction of Jerusalem and the first temple; and at one time there were more Jews settled in Egypt than in Palestine; yet Egypt was never again in a position to warrant Israel’s confidence.

We have seen something of a revival of Egyptian power in our own days, preparatory to the place its ruler is to take as the king of the south in the time of the end, but had it not been for Britain’s help it is questionable if Egypt would have ever occupied a place of any prominence among the nations.

The closing verses of the chapter tell us definitely just how the prophecy would be fulfilled:

“And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, in the first month, in the first day of the month, the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyre: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was worn; yet had he no wages, nor his army, from Tyre, for the service that he had served against it. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army. I have given him the land of Egypt as his recompense for which he served, because they wrought for Me, saith the Lord Jehovah. In that day will I cause a horn to bud forth unto the house of Israel, and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah”—vers. 17-21.

As intimated above, seventeen years after the former prophecy was given, God caused Egypt to become the possession of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, as reward for the vengeance He had meted against Tyre. God Himself, as the Governor of the Universe, declared, as recorded in verse 20, “I have given him the land of Egypt as his recompense for which he served, because they wrought for Me, saith the Lord Jehovah.” Little did the proud Chaldean monarch realize that his army was the sword of God executing what Jehovah had decreed upon Tyre, and later upon Egypt. But all was in accordance with the prophetic Word. And we may be certain that just as the prophecies that have to do with the past have been literally fulfilled, so will every prophecy that has to do with the future be fulfilled in due time.

While executing judgment on Egypt, God had not forgotten His promise to restore Israel in the future to Himself. The last verse reiterates this promise and assures us that the day will come when the house of Israel shall bud forth and the people of Jehovah will be recognized in the earth as those to whom has been committed the Word of the Lord.

Chapter Thirty
Details Of Egypt’s Judgment

In this chapter the prophet continues to declare the word of the Lord concerning the judgments which were to come upon Egypt, all of which were fulfilled in due time.

“The word of Jehovah came again unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Wail ye, Alas for the day! For the day is near, even the day of Jehovah is near; it shall be a day of clouds, a time of the nations. And a sword shall come upon Egypt, and anguish shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt; and they shall take away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down. Ethiopia, and Put, and Lud, and all the mingled people, and Cub, and the children of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword”—vers. 1-5.

“Alas for the day!” The day referred to was the day in which Jehovah was to use Nebuchadnezzar and his armies to chastise the people of the land of Egypt for their idolatry and corruption. It was to be a day of clouds, and it was called specifically “a time of the nations.” This expression is very much like the one used by our Lord in Luke 21:24, where He tells us that “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” While the two terms seem at first sight to be similar, the context in each instance shows that they have a very different application. The time of the nations here in Ezekiel was the time when judgment was to fall upon the nations surrounding the land of Palestine—the nations with which the people of Israel had trafficked for years, and from some of which they had suffered greatly. In Luke 21:24 the Lord uses the expression, “the times of the Gentiles,” to cover the entire period during which Palestine, the city of Jerusalem, and the people of the Jews, are under Gentile domination. This began with the rise of Nebuchadnezzar, and is still in progress, and will continue until the day when the Lord Himself appears from heaven in His glorious second advent to execute judgment upon the nations and to set up His own heavenly kingdom over all this lower universe.

The sword of Nebuchadnezzar was to come upon Egypt, and not only upon Egypt, but also upon the lands contiguous to it, Ethiopia, Put, and all the mingled people, and Cub—these are all lands bordering upon Egypt according to their ancient names. Ethiopia alone still retains the name it had at that time. In addition, judgment was to fall upon the children of the land that is in league, or, as the margin of the Revised Version gives it, the children of “the land of the covenant.” This undoubtedly refers to the Jews who had fled from Palestine and settled in the land of Egypt, hoping thereby to find relief from the troublesome times that had fallen upon their own country, but their hope was in vain. In looking to Egypt for help they trusted in a bruised reed.

“Thus saith Jehovah: They also that uphold Egypt shall fall; and the pride of her power shall come down: from the tower of Seveneh shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord Jehovah. And they shall be desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate; and her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are wasted. And they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have set a fire in Egypt, and all her helpers are destroyed. In that day shall messengers go forth from before Me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid; and there shall be anguish upon them, as in the day of Egypt: for, lo, it cometh”—vers. 6-9.

The Lord now proceeds to mention definitely certain cities and sections of the land of Egypt against which His judgment was to be executed in order that the pride of her power might be destroyed. All the way from Migdol to Seveneh (from “the tower” to Seveneh) the people were to fall by the sword. These two places mentioned are at the northern and southern extremities of upper Egypt. This entire part of the land was to become desolate and her cities wasted; thus should the Egyptians know that they had to deal with the Eternal One, Jehovah, whom they had defied in years gone by. Messengers would go from them to the careless Ethiopians who were allies of Egypt at this time. Because of the almost inaccessible character of their country, they dwelt in utter indifference to the conflicts going on elsewhere, but the fall of Egypt would be to them a serious omen, foretelling the desolation coming upon their own land.

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will also make the multitude of Egypt to cease, by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his people with him, the terrible of the nations, shall be brought in to destroy the land; and they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain. And I will make the rivers dry, and will sell the land into the hand of evil men; and I will make the land desolate, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers: I, Jehovah, have spoken it”—vers. 10-12.

By the overrunning of the armies of the King of Babylon, the multitude of Egypt would be made to cease. The terrible Chaldean conquerors would not draw their sword against Egypt in vain, but through them the land was to be filled with the slain. Moreover, providential judgments were to fall upon the country itself so that the rivers, that is, the streams of the Delta, would be made dry, and the land sold into the hands of evil men; thus should it become desolate and strangers inherit what once belonged to the Egyptians. There could be no way of escape, for Jehovah Himself had spoken it.

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause the images to cease from Memphis; and there shall be no more a prince from the land of Egypt: and I will put a fear in the land of Egypt. And I will make Pathros desolate, and will set a fire in Zoan, and will execute judgments upon No. And I will pour My wrath upon Sin, the stronghold of Egypt; and I will cut off the multitude of No. And I will set a fire in Egypt: Sin shall be in great anguish, and No shall be broken up; and Memphis shall have adversaries in the daytime. The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth shall fall by the sword; and these cities shall go into captivity. At Tehaphnehes also the day shall withdraw itself, when I shall break there the yokes of Egypt, and the pride of her power shall cease in her: as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity. Thus will I execute judgments upon Egypt; and they shall know that I am Jehovah”—vers. 13-19.

From early days Egypt had been a land of idolatry, and her great images have remained throughout the centuries as the memorials of her false religion. Against these idols, which really represented demons as we know, God’s heavy judgments were to be executed. Memphis, or Noph, was one of the leading cities devoted to such worship. Its vast temples and colossal images were among the greatest in the world, but God declared He would cause these things of nought to cease. And in that connection we are told, “There shall be no more a prince from the land of Egypt.” This prophecy was soon literally fulfilled. When the dynasty then ruling Egypt died out there was never again a genuine Egyptian king ruling over the land. The Ptolemies who were strangers from the outside came in later, but even they were destroyed eventually; and through all the years since to the present day no prince of Egyptian blood has ever ruled that land. Egypt has a king, but King Fuad was not an Egyptian but an Albanian, and his son now reigning is not of real Egyptian blood.

Pathros, which is usually the name for upper Egypt in the prophetic writings, was to be made desolate, and a fire kindled in Zoan. Zoan is generally supposed to be identical with the land of Goshen where the people of Israel dwelt. Upon a portion of this land, in which was situated the capital of the shepherd kings of the Hyksos rulers, God’s sore judgments fell in the days of His controversy with the king who knew not Joseph.

No is No-Amon or Thebes, another great center of idolatry. Upon this, too, God’s judgment was to fall, so that Thebes was to become but an empty ruin. God declared, “I will cut off the multitude of No.” His wrath was to be poured upon Sin, which is generally identified with Pelusium. All these cities were utterly ruined, and today men look with wonder on the evidences of their former greatness, and perhaps few realize that their present condition is the result of divine indignation against them.

The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth, or Bubastis, were also to fall by the sword, and the people in the cities to be carried into captivity. At Tehaphnehes where many of the Jews congregated, the power of Egypt was to be broken and a cloud cover her, and her daughters go into captivity. In this way was God to execute His judgments upon Egypt that men might know that He was Jehovah God.

In the last section of the chapter, from verse 20 to the end, the Lord makes it plain that whatever efforts Egypt might make to strengthen itself against Babylon, they would be in vain.

“And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first month, in the seventh day of the month, that the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and, lo, it hath not been bound up, to apply healing medicines, to put a bandage to bind it, that it be strong to hold the sword. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and will break his arms, the strong arm, and that which was broken; and I will cause the sword to fall out of his hand. And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse Lhem through the countries. And I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and put My sword in his hand: but I will break the arms of Pharaoh, and he shall groan before him with the groanings of a deadly wounded man. And I will hold up the arms of the king of Babylon; and the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down; and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall put My sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall stretch it out upon the land of Egypt. And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them through the countries; and they shall know that I am Jehovah”—vers. 20-26.

Pharaoh and his hosts had been completely defeated by the Chaldeans and retreated to Egypt. Pharaoh had endeavored to rebuild his army and to fit it for another trial of strength with the Babylonian leader, but God Himself declared that He was against Pharaoh, whom He likened to a man with a broken arm, endeavoring to stand against a powerful foe. Whatever efforts he might make to defend himself would prove abortive: his armies would be destroyed, and his people would be dispersed among the nations, for God who puts up one and puts down another, was at this time using the king of Babylon as a sword in order to judge the nations with whom He had a controversy. Through Nebuchadnezzar the armies of Pharaoh would be broken, and he would cry out as a deadly wounded man, but the arms of the king of Babylon were to be upheld by God Himself until He should have executed the judgments decreed upon Egypt and the nearby nations, for it was Jehovah who had put His sword into the hand of the Chaldean leader, and that sword was not to be sheathed until the predicted doom fell upon all the land of Egypt, and the Egyptians were Scattered among the nations and dispersed through the countries, to learn in abject captivity that it was a vain thing to fight against Jehovah.

Chapter Thirty-one
Assyria’s Pride And Fall

In this chapter God, through His prophet, in a message given about two months later than the previous predictions, directs the attention of Pharaoh and his people to the judgment that had already fallen upon Assyria in order that Egypt might learn therefrom the folly of self-exaltation and independence of God. Assyria and Egypt had been the two greatest dominions in the world of their day prior to the meteor-like rise of the Babylonian empire. At one time it seemed as though Assyria was destined to rule the world, but that was not God’s plan. The day came when this great kingdom was utterly destroyed, and Chaldea became the outstanding Asiatic power, as Egypt was the outstanding African kingdom. The same God who had dealt with Assyria was now dealing with Egypt; and He called upon Pharaoh to learn a lesson from that which had taken place in Mesopotamia in order that he himself might be humbled before God ere the predicted judgment fell in all its fury upon him.

“And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, in the first day of the month, that the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to his multitude: Whom art thou like in thy greatness? Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a forest-like shade, and of high stature; and its top was among the thick boughs. The waters nourished it, the deep made it to grow: the rivers thereof ran round about its plantation; and it sent out its channels unto all the trees of the field. Therefore its stature was exalted above all the trees of the field; and its boughs were multiplied, and its branches became long by reason of many waters, when it shot them forth. All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; and under its branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young; and under its shadow dwelt all great nations. Thus was it fair in its greatness, in the length of its branches; for its root was by many waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide it; the fir-trees were not like its boughs, and the plane-trees were not as its branches; nor was any tree in the garden of God like unto it in its beauty. I made it fair by the multitude of its branches, so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied it”—vers. 1-9.

The Assyrians were likened to a great cedar in Lebanon with outstretched branches and a forest-like shade under which the beasts of the field might find refuge, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven might build their nests. The same figure was afterwards used of Babylon as headed up in Nebuchadnezzar; and in a somewhat different way, a similar figure was used by our Lord Jesus Christ later on to depict the great world church which was to be developed as a result of the corruption of the Church by religious politics. This is seen in the parable of the mustard tree.

Assyria included that portion of Asia in which the garden of Eden originally had its place. It was a great oasis between the two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, and just as Egypt was dependent upon the Nile so was Assyria dependent upon these mighty streams.

From a small beginning a vast empire had been built up in central Asia—an empire which one might have supposed would have stood for many centuries, but when it came to the height of its power its kings were so inflated with a sense of their own superiority and so carried away by their dependence upon their false gods that Jehovah dealt with them in judgment; and Nineveh and all the great cities of Assyria fell before vast floods and invading armies. Thus Babylon came to the front soon to assume world-dominion. Let Egypt learn from the fate of Assyria the folly of vaunting itself against God.

“Therefore thus said the Lord Jehovah: Because thou art exalted in stature, and he hath set his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; I will even deliver him into the hand of the mighty one of the nations; he shall surely deal with him; I have driven him out for his wickedness. And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the watercourses of the land; and all the peoples of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him. Upon his ruin all the birds of the heavens shall dwell, and all the beasts of the field shall be upon his branches; to the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves in their stature, neither set their top among the thick boughs, nor that their mighty ones stand up in their height, even all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit”—vers. 10-16.

In this particular section God speaks retrospectively. Some have thought that these verses apply directly to Egypt inasmuch as Assyria had already fallen to rise no more until the coming day when this great kingdom will be revived under Messiah’s reign to share with Israel and with Egypt in the glory of Christ’s earthly kingdom. Of this we read in Isaiah 19:24. It seems clear that the prophet is still directing the attention of Pharaoh to that which God had wrought in connection with Assyria in order that he might learn a much-needed lesson as to his own utter inability to fight successfully against Jehovah. These verses depict the judgment that came on Assyria and carry us on to the doom of its leaders in the unseen world. We read, “They are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.”

God had declared in Psalm 9:17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Hell here is not the lake of fire, the final doom of the unsaved, but it is the same as Hades in the New Testament, the place of departed spirits awaiting the final day of judgment. In that dark abode can be found all who have fought against God and died unrepentant, and all who have lived in neglect of His Holy Word and forgotten their obligations to walk in obedience to the revelation He has given. There are those who insist that Sheol is but the grave; but it speaks of something deeper far than any tomb. Men may build sepulchers and possess them themselves, but Sheol is the abode of the spirits that have to do with God after the death of the body. Verses 15 to 17 confirm this.

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: in the day when he went down to Sheol I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the rivers thereof; and the great waters were stayed; and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him. I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to Sheol with them that descend into the pit; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the nether parts of the earth. They also went down into Sheol with him unto them that are slain by the sword; yea, they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the nations”—vers. 15-17.

The nations that had been in alliance with Assyria were struck dumb with astonishment and made to tremble in fear as those at the head of that mighty dominion were cut off with the sword and went down under divine judgment into Sheol—there to await the day when they would answer before God for their arrogant pride.

The reference to the trees of Eden has to do, as intimated, with the fact that the location of Eden as given in Genesis was the same as that of Assyria afterward. No people had been able to stand against Nebuchadnezzar. Destroyed by the triumphant Chaldean armies they, too, went down into Sheol with Assyria, unto those who before them had been slain by the sword. What hope then had Egypt to withstand the power of the Chaldeans when it was God Himself who had decreed that they should be used to visit judgment upon all nations!

“To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? Yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that are slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord Jehovah”—ver. 18.

Let Pharaoh learn from what had taken place in Asia and understand that however he might seek to guard against destruction, so long as he lifted himself up against the God of Israel he but exposed himself to the same doom as that which had overtaken Assyria. This, says the prophet, is Pharaoh and all his multitude, for they, too, must suffer in the same way as their great sister kingdom.

Chapter Thirty-two
Jehovah’s Lamentations Over Egypt

God’s judgments are reserved for individuals and nations which refuse to acknowledge His authority. As of old He sent message after message to Pharaoh through Moses, only to have the haughty monarch harden his heart against His entreaties, until at last judgment had to fall, so in the case that we have had before us in these last few chapters, God gave one warning after another through Ezekiel, which we may be certain were conveyed in some way to Pharaoh, the proud, insolent Egyptian ruler; but they brought forth no response, unless indeed, like his predecessor of so long ago, he became all the more set in his attitude of independence of God.

Finally, the last messages were given before the judgment fell; and these messages, it will be noted, take the form of lamentations because Pharaoh, like Israel in a later day, knew not the time of his visitation. Our Lord’s lamentation over Jerusalem was the expression of the heart of God over an unrepentant people, and such lamentations come before us here.

“And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month, that the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, take tip a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou wast likened unto a young lion of the nations: yet art thou as a monster in the seas; and thou didst “break forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will spread out My net upon thee with a company of many peoples; and they shall bring thee up in My net. And I will leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle upon thee, and I will satisfy the beasts of the whole earth with thee. And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy height. I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the watercourses shall be full of thee. And when I shall extinguish thee, I will cover the heavens, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord Jehovah. I will also vex the hearts of many peoples, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known. Yea, I will make many peoples amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish My sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall”—vers. 1-10.

It is noticeable that the first message recorded in this chapter was given in the twelfth year and the twelfth month, considerably more than a year-and-a-half from the time of the last prophecy. Ezekiel was commanded to take up a lamentation over Pharaoh, in which he was likened now not to a crocodile in the river, as previously, but to a young lion rearing himself up in his savage independence of spirit, and seeking to destroy the nations that were leagued against him. He is also likened to a great sea monster, possibly a whale, which had entered into the Nile and was slashing about in its waters, troubling them so that they were foul and unfit for drink. Against him Jehovah was to spread out a net, thus rendering him helpless when the foe came upon him.

It is an interesting fact that even at this present time, various African tribes when hunting the lion, the leopard, and other savage creatures, try to get them into a den or hut of some kind where the hunters can surround them completely with a net; for they have a saying, “The beasts know not the wisdom of the net.” The beasts become so bewildered and entangled that they are then dispatched easily. Thus it was with Pharaoh. All his efforts to recoup his fortunes were to prove vain; and in due time he was to be ignominiously defeated, and his people subjugated to his foe. The land should be watered with the blood of the slain in that day. God said He would cover the heavens and make the stars dark, veil the sun with a cloud, and so arrange it that the moon should not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven were to be darkened, and the whole land covered with gloom.

This prophecy is very interesting and helps us to understand similar prophecies concerning the judgments that are to fall upon the world in the last days. It is very evident that these words were not to be taken literally, but they indicated the destruction of delegated authority and the gloom that would settle down upon the hearts of men because of the ruin that was to fall upon the land.

Not only would judgment be visited upon the Egyptians, but upon many peoples who were allied with them, destruction was to come. While other nations standing afar off and hearing of the terrible defeat of Pharaoh and his hosts, would be amazed and horribly afraid as they realized the seeming impregnability of such power as Nebuchadnezzar’s. That it was the power of Babylon which God had in view is evidenced from the definite way in which He speaks in the next section.

“For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon thee. By the swords of the mighty will I cause thy multitude to fall; the terrible of the nations are they all: and they shall bring to nought the pride of Egypt, and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed. I will destroy also all the beasts thereof from beside many waters; neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them. Then will I make their waters clear, and cause their rivers to run like oil, saith the Lord Jehovah. When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate and waste, a land destitute of that whereof it was full, when I shall smite all them that dwell therein, then shall they know that I am Jehovah. This is the lamentation wherewith they shall lament; the daughters of the nations shall lament therewith; over Egypt, and over all her multitude, shall they lament therewith, saith the Lord Jehovah”—vers. 11-16.

The sword of the king of Babylon was the sword of Jehovah, for God Himself had commissioned Nebuchadnezzar to subjugate, not only Egypt but also every other nation of the civilized world of that day. Therefore the Babylonians are described as the terrible of the nations who are to bring to nought the pride of Egypt and all its multitude.

Destruction, too, would fall even upon the beasts beside the waters. These were undoubtedly the water-buffalo, the king of Egypt, upon which the people were so dependent. God had decreed that the very means of livelihood should, temporarily at least, come to an end, so that all the nations would realize that He was dealing in judgment with them.

As He lamented over them because of their obdurate and misguided spirit, the voice of lamentation should be heard on all sides, weeping over Egypt and her multitude because God had destroyed them.

“It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit. Whom dost thou pass in beauty? Go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised. They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword: she is delivered to the sword; draw her away and all her multitudes. The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of Sheol with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie still, even the uncircumcised, slain by the sword”—vers. 17-21.

Fifteen days elapsed ere this final message came through the prophet. In it he speaks specifically not only of Egypt but also of various other nations with whom God was dealing at this time. He was called upon to wail for the multitude of Egypt who were to be cast down unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit, as we have seen already. They had forgotten God, and therefore they were about to be turned into Sheol, their day of probation on earth having come to an end. The prophet sees them literally covering the ground as slain with the sword, but beholds the spirit going deeper down even into Sheol, there to lie with all who were unclean in the sight of God.

“Asshur is there and all her company; her graves are round about her; all of them slain, fallen by the sword: whose graves are set in the uttermost parts of the pit, and her company is round about her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who caused terror in the land of the living”—vers. 22, 23.

Upon Asshur, or Assyria, as previously noted, the judgment had fallen already. Her graves were openly manifest, and her people who once caused terror in the land of the living, had gone down into the pit. The God who had dealt with this great empire was about to exercise the fulness of His indignation against Egypt.

“There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who are gone down uncir- cumcised into the nether parts of the earth, who caused their terror in the land of the living, and have borne their shame with them that go down to the pit. They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude; her graves are found about her; all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for their terror was caused in the land of the living, and they have borne their shame with them that go down to the pit: he is put in the midst of them that are slain”—vers. 24, 25.

Elam is next mentioned, the ancient name of Persia. Nebuchadnezzar had already conquered this nation, destroyed its armies and slain vast multitudes who, with the others mentioned, had gone down into the lower parts of the earth; that is, into the pit, or Sheol. No longer would Elam be a terror to other nations. She was powerless before the might of Nebuchadnezzar’s army.

“There is Meshech, Tubal, and all their multitude; their graves are round about them; all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for they caused their terror in the land of the living. And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, that are gone down to Sheol with their weapons of war, and have laid their swords under their heads, and their iniquities are upon their bones; for they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living. But thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and shalt lie with them that are slain by the sword”—vers. 26-28.

Meshech and Tubal, of whom we are to learn more later when we come to chapters 38 and 39, were the names of tribes that had descended from Japheth, as we learn in Genesis 10. According to the most ancient records that have come down to us, they dwelt in the region bordering on the Black Sea, and at one time evidently they were people of some renown, but their encampments had been destroyed, and the slain had gone down to Sheol with their weapons of war. They were buried with these weapons under their heads, as became mighty warriors. But all their might proved unavailing against the Babylonian armies. Those who escaped fled farther north, for later on we find them in history as a nomadic people dwelling north of the Black Sea, and ranging from there to the region of the Caspian Sea. Eventually they were absorbed into the great Russian empire. Some have thought even that the names Meshech and Tubal are practically preserved for us in the two great cities of Moscow in Europe, and Tobolsk in Siberia.

“There is Edom, her kings and all her princes, who in their might are laid with them that are slain by the sword: they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with them that go down to the pit. There are the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who are gone down with the slain; in the terror which they caused by their might they are put to shame; and they lie uncircumcised with them that are slain by the sword, and bear their shame with them that go down to the pit”—vers. 29, 30.

Edom, related intimately to Israel as we have seen, descending from Jacob’s twin brother Esau, had rejoiced when they saw the sons of Jacob in adversity, but God had punished them by means of the same power that was wreaking vengeance upon the Jews. The princes of Edom, on the southeast of Palestine, and the Sidonians, a Phoenician people on the north, had been destroyed also. Their might availed nothing; they were put to shame, and they lay dead with others who had refused to obey the voice of Jehovah.

“Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, even Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword, saith the Lord Jehovah. For I have put his terror in the land of the living; and he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that are slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord Jehovah”—vers. 31, 32.

God brought these various nations before Pharaoh, indicating their doom, that he might know the day would soon come when he and his armies would join them in their utter defeat and destruction. They had simply gone into Sheol a little ahead; Pharaoh and his people would soon be with them there. Thus should the judgment of God be visited upon all the nations roundabout Palestine that had refused to heed the voice of His prophets.

With this chapter this particular section of the book of Ezekiel comes to a close.