Ezekiel 30 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence
Israel has shared a very peculiar history with Egypt over the years. If you remember, one of the ancient pharaoh’s was rather taken with Abraham’s wife Sarai when he thought that she was merely his sister, but when he took her into his palace, God afflicted him and his house with great plagues so that the Pharaoh actually exiled Abraham and his wife from Egypt. Later on, another Pharaoh appoints Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph as a prince in Egypt during the time of the great famine and Israel is preserved and flourishes for many years living in Egypt. But then another Pharaoh comes to power who knew not Joseph, who feared the multitude of Israelites living in his land, enslaved them and even killed many of their firstborn sons. As a result, once again, God sends plagues upon Abraham and his household and the Pharaoh finally but reluctantly exiles God’s people from Egypt. Strangely, after being treated so badly for many years under the yoke of slavery, the Israelites still worship their gods and still long to return to the great prosperous pagan city. But especially when Israel is afflicted by foreign nations, she has a tendency to look back to Egypt thinking somehow that the Pharaoh will protect them. Ezekiel’s prophecies are given to assure Israel that that will never happen.
Any time Egypt has offered to help Israel in any way she has had suspect motives desiring merely to acquire Israel’s land and to re-enslave Israel’s citizens. Unlike the other prophecies against the nations given against Israel’s neighbors who were simply jealous of her and sought to take advantage of her misfortune, these prophecies against Egypt also stood against any of her offers to help Israel with God promising to break both of the arms of Pharaoh, leaving him without any ability to even make such offers to Israel in the future. In the near future, Egypt would be cut to pieces when the strong arm of the Lord is revealed.
That day would be described as the Day of the Lord, which is a designation often used in the New Testament to describe the final day of judgment when the Lord Jesus returns to earth in the fullness of his glory, but, here, it is used to refer to a more immediate day of reckoning that foreshadows that final day to come. Here, Ezekiel uses language similar to the prophet Zephaniah in the first chapter of his prophecy when he says, “The great day of the Lord is near and hastening fast…a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry.” Again, Zephaniah’s description was speaking of a judgment to come upon all the earth, but Ezekiel’s reference to the day is more provincial Day of Judgment reserved particularly for Israel’s fickle friend and foe, the Pharaoh and the house of Egypt.
Using very vivid imagery, on this dreaded day there will be a great and mighty storm with anvil-shaped storm clouds and darkness covering the face of the earth. It will be a day of great fear and distress when the Egyptians lose all hope of survival as they witness the idols of their gods being trampled, their mighty men being slaughtered in the streets and all her wealth being carried away by babbling foreigners. It will only be when her cities are utterly destroyed and her women being taken captive that both she and Israel will know that God is the Lord. It will only be when both of the Pharaoh’s arms are completely broken that Israel will look to the Lord once again for protection and provision.
Similar to the Israelites with the idols of Egypt, we too have a peculiar relationship with the idols of our hearts. At times we have acted as if we were not betrothed to the Lord and have willingly entered into foreign palaces and temples in search of love and protection. After being redeemed from our enslavement to idolatry, we too have longed to go back to idolatrous places seeking rest and comfort and yet finding none. And we too have looked to idols in the midst of our fears and anxieties. But the Lord is a jealous God and will not tolerate such unfaithfulness in his people. On a day of His choosing, He will destroy every vain and lofty image that seeks to capture our hearts. It will seem to us at the time to be a very dark and fearful day, but once it is done, life and peace and joy will fill our hearts.
Of course, we already see the beginning of that promise fulfilled at the cross of Christ when Jesus takes on the very curse and wrath of God for our many sins and idolatries. It too was a very dark and fearful day, but once God’s judgment was poured out upon his son for our sin, on the third day there was new life and hope for us in Christ Jesus. Because he has set us apart as his very own, the Lord will continue to destroy the idols in our lives, breaking their arms and showing us their vanity so that we too will know and trust that the Lord alone is God.