2365.) Jeremiah 39

May 25, 2018

J39 Jerusalem falls

Jeremiah 39   (NLT)

The Fall of Jerusalem

“The Fall of Jerusalem was so important that Scripture relates it four times – here, in Jeremiah 52, in 2 Kings 25, and in 2 Chronicles 36.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

In January of the ninth year of King Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar came with his army to besiege Jerusalem.

Nebuchadnezzar used the common method of attack in those days of securely walled cities — a siege. A besieged city was surrounded, preventing all business and trade from entering or leaving the city, and eventually starving the population into surrender – or the defenses of the city gave way and the surrounding army poured into the weakened city.

–David Guzik

Two and a half years later, on July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, the Babylonians broke through the wall, and the city fell.

This was 586 B.C.

All the officers of the Babylonian army came in and sat in triumph at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and Nebo-sarsekim, a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser, and all the other officers.

In a modern setting, this sitting in the gates of the city was similar to an enemy conquering Washington D.C. and then sitting in the Oval Office.

When King Zedekiah and all the soldiers saw that the Babylonians had broken into the city, they fled. They waited for nightfall and then slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley.

But the Babylonian troops chased the king and caught him on the plains of Jericho. They took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. He made Zedekiah watch as they slaughtered his sons and all the nobles of Judah. Then they gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.

This fulfilled the mysterious promise God made through Ezekiel regarding Zedekiah shortly before the fall of Jerusalem: I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet he shall not see it, though he shall die there.  (Ezekiel 12:13)

“But to make the sight of his slaughtered sons the poor wretch’s last sight, was a refinement of gratuitous delight in torturing.”

–Alexander Maclaren

Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the palace, and tore down the walls of the city. Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, sent to Babylon the rest of the people who remained in the city as well as those who had defected to him. 10 But Nebuzaradan left a few of the poorest people in Judah, and he assigned them vineyards and fields to care for.

It happened just as God said.

Jeremiah Remains in Judah

11 King Nebuchadnezzar had told Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, to find Jeremiah. 12 “See that he isn’t hurt,” he said. “Look after him well, and give him anything he wants.” 13 So Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard; Nebushazban, a chief officer; Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser; and the other officers of Babylon’s king 14 sent messengers to bring Jeremiah out of the prison. They put him under the care of Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who took him back to his home. So Jeremiah stayed in Judah among his own people.

Jeremiah had to wonder what would become of him when the Babylonians eventually conquered Jerusalem. God cared for His faithful servant, keeping him safe and in favor with Nebuchadnezzar and his captains. Now an old man, Jeremiah was released from prison and allowed to live among the people once again.

15 The Lord had given the following message to Jeremiah while he was still in prison: 16 “Say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will do to this city everything I have threatened. I will send disaster, not prosperity. You will see its destruction, 17 but I will rescue you from those you fear so much. 18 Because you trusted me, I will give you your life as a reward. I will rescue you and keep you safe. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”

Remember Ebed-melech — the court official who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern, even protecting him in the process with soft rags where the ropes might rub him.  God shows kindness to him.  Amy Carmichael reminds us that “The God who knew the heart of His servant Ebed-melech knows our heart too.  And He assures us and reassures us.”

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Music:

As I look back over my life, I see that even in the hard times, the Lord has always been faithful and I have always had enough, and more than enough. The best response to a difficult situation, I have learned, is always to praise God for who He is and what He is doing, even if it is utterly beyond my understanding. So you can imagine that this chapter strikes a chord with me, and that this song is a favorite of mine.  HERE  is “Praise You in This Storm”  by Casting Crowns.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jerusalem falls.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/nebuchadnezzar.jpg
Middle Gate map.   http://www.generationword.com/jerusalem101/26-middle-gate.html
Isaiah 43:1-2.   https://twitter.com/godqoutes07
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2364.) 2 Kings 25

May 24, 2018

“The Deportation to Babylon” by Eric de Saussure, 1968.

2 Kings 25   (NIV)

The Fall of Jerusalem

Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

1 So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. 2 The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

A siege wall around the city prevented food and supplies from entering the city; eventually the population was starved out.

3 By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. 4 Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city.

At this desperate point for Judah at the siege of Jerusalem, King Zedekiah made a last-chance effort to escape the grip of the nearly-completely successful siege, planning a secret break through the city walls and the siege lines of the Babylonians, using a diversionary tactic.

They fled toward the Arabah, 5 but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, 6 and he was captured.

Date palms near Jericho.

Jericho. “It seems ironic that here, at the very spot where Israel first set foot on the Promised Land, the last of the Davidic kings was captured and his monarchy shattered. Here, where Israel experienced her first victory as the walls of Jericho fell before unarmed men who trusted God, was the scene of her last defeat.”
–Russell H. Dilday

He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. 7 They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.

So the final thing he saw — was the killing of his sons.

Blinding prisoners was unusual, since most prisoners would be put to work. But blinding the king had a highly symbolic significance–obviously he could not lead the people now–as well as a dispiriting emotional impact on the deportees.

8 On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He set fire to the temple of the LORD,

“The Talmud declares that when the Babylonians entered the temple, they held a two-day feast there to desecrate it; then, on the third day, they set fire to the building. The Talmud adds that the fire burned throughout that day and the next.”
–Russell H. Dilday

the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.

Psalm 74:3-8 (NLT)

Walk through the awful ruins of the city;
see how the enemy has destroyed your sanctuary.

There your enemies shouted their victorious battle cries;
there they set up their battle standards.
They swung their axes
like woodcutters in a forest.
With axes and picks,
they smashed the carved paneling.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground.
They defiled the place that bears your name.
Then they thought, “Let’s destroy everything!”
So they burned down all the places where God was worshiped.

10 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem.

The walls of Jerusalem–the physical security of the city–were now destroyed. Jerusalem was no longer a place of safety and security. The walls would remain a ruin until they were rebuilt by the returning exiles in the days of Nehemiah.

11 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. 12 But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.

13 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon. 14 They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. 15 The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls—all that were made of pure gold or silver.

“The Chaldees destroy the brazen Sea” by James Tissot, 1900 (Jewish Museum, New York)

16 The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed. 17 Each pillar was eighteen cubits high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was three cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar.

Jerusalem was left desolate, completely plundered under the judgment of God.

18 The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. 19 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.

So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.

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Music:

“Away from her land.” Yet — this is not the end of the story! We rejoice that some Jews will return to Judah, and particularly to Bethlehem in Judah, because not even a total military defeat and deportation to far-off lands will be able to thwart God’s plan of salvation and the coming of Jesus!

HERE  is the “Nunc Dimittis” from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers.

“Lord, now Thou lettest Thy servant depart,
According to Thy word, in peace.
For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation
Thou has prepared before the face of all people,
A Light to illuminate the Gentiles
And the glory of Thy people Israel.”

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22 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah. 23 When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maakathite, and their men. 24 Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials,” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.”

Reasonable and pragmatic advice, to humble one’s self and to submit to the judgment of God brought through the Babylonians . . . 

25 In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah. 26 At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.

. . . which was considered treason by others . . .

Jehoiachin Released

27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.

The End of 2 Kings

Give us this day our daily bread.

from Morning and Evening
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.” — 2 Kings 25:30


Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king’s palace with a store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord’s people. A daily portion is all that a man really wants. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want.

Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day’s supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy.

This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin’s case is ours, we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.

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New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
de Saussure.    https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/490-2-kings-25/
date palms.    http://sites.google.com/site/pilgrimstojerusalem/_/rsrc/1226464477774/Home/historical-background/Date_palms.jpg
the destruction of Jerusalem.    http://clintthoughts.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/jerusalem_destruction.jpg
Tissot.     https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Tissot_The_Chaldees_Destroy_the_Brazen_Sea.jpg
loaf of bread.    http://www.omaha.com/inspiredliving/baking-our-daily-bread/article_8850b254-0d44-11e6-bb9c-1bce384aa23d.html

2363.) Ezekiel 32

May 23, 2018

“And they will haul you up in my dragnet.”

Ezekiel 32   (ESV)

A Lament over Pharaoh and Egypt

Pharaoh and his kingdom were mighty forces in the world, second only to Babylon – and Babylon had only recently subdued Egypt at the battle of Carchemish in 605 bc. Egypt was still a great force with the ability to influence and trouble other nations.

In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him:

“You consider yourself a lion of the nations,
    but you are like a dragon in the seas;
you burst forth in your rivers,
    trouble the waters with your feet,
    and foul their rivers.

“Pharaoh thrashed about in the water and made a big scene, but all he did was muddy the waters and create problems by disobeying the Lord.”

–Warren W. Wiersbe

Thus says the Lord God:
    I will throw my net over you
    with a host of many peoples,
    and they will haul you up in my dragnet.
And I will cast you on the ground;
    on the open field I will fling you,
and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you,
    and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you.

“Here we have Pharaoh’s regard for himself as a lion, whereas he is no more than a crocodile stirring up filth. So God will haul him out and throw him on land to be eaten by birds and beasts.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

I will strew your flesh upon the mountains
    and fill the valleys with your carcass.
I will drench the land even to the mountains
    with your flowing blood,
    and the ravines will be full of you.
When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens
    and make their stars 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 you,
    and put darkness on your land,
declares the Lord God.

by fashioneyes (Hishom)

This promise of darkness reminds us of the ninth of the plagues that came upon Egypt in Moses’ day, darkness for three days over the whole land (Exodus 10:21-29). God had judged Egypt before and would do it again. God had exalted Himself over the idols of Egypt then and would do it again.

–David Guzik

“I will trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries that you have not known. 10 I will make many peoples appalled at you, and the hair of their kings shall bristle with horror because of you, when I brandish my sword before them. They shall tremble every moment, every one for his own life, on the day of your downfall.

“The effect of this downfall would be widespread, bringing desolation to his own land, supplying booty to other lands, and making men everywhere tremble in the presence of the judgment of Jehovah.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

11 “For thus says the Lord God: The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon you. 12 I will cause your multitude to fall by the swords of mighty ones, all of them most ruthless of nations.

“They shall bring to ruin the pride of Egypt,
    and all its multitude shall perish.
13 I will destroy all its beasts
    from beside many waters;
and no foot of man shall trouble them anymore,
    nor shall the hoofs of beasts trouble them.
14 Then I will make their waters clear,
    and cause their rivers to run like oil,
declares the Lord God.
15 When I make the land of Egypt desolate,
    and when the land is desolate of all that fills it,
when I strike down all who dwell in it,
    then they will know that I am the Lord.

“Break her strength, rob her treasures, sack her cities, captivate her people, and make the kingdom tributary, and so stain all her glory.”

–Matthew Poole

16 This is a lamentation that shall be chanted; the daughters of the nations shall chant it; over Egypt, and over all her multitude, shall they chant it, declares the Lord God.”

17 In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and send them down, her and the daughters of majestic nations, to the world below, to those who have gone down to the pit:

19 ‘Whom do you surpass in beauty?
    Go down and be laid to rest with the uncircumcised.’

“How little does it signify, whether a mummy be well embalmed, wrapped round with rich stuff, and beautifully painted on the outside, or not. Go down into the tombs, examine the niches, and see whether one dead carcass be preferable to another.”

–Adam Clarke

20 They shall fall amid those who are slain by the sword. Egypt is delivered to the sword; drag her away, and all her multitudes. 21 The mighty chiefs shall speak of them, with their helpers, out of the midst of Sheol: ‘They have come down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.’

22 Assyria is there, and all her company, its graves all around it, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, 23 whose graves are set in the uttermost parts of the pit; and her company is all around her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who spread terror in the land of the living.

24 Elam is there, and all her multitude around her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who went down uncircumcised into the world below, who spread their terror in the land of the living; and they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit. 25 They have made her a bed among the slain with all her multitude, her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for terror of them was spread in the land of the living, and they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit; they are placed among the slain.

26 Meshech-Tubal is there, and all her multitude, her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for they spread their terror in the land of the living. 27 And they do not lie with the mighty, the fallen from among the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, whose swords were laid under their heads, and whose iniquities are upon their bones; for the terror of the mighty men was in the land of the living. 28 But as for you, you shall be broken and lie among the uncircumcised, with those who are slain by the sword.

29 Edom is there, her kings and all her princes, who for all their might are laid with those who are killed by the sword; they lie with the uncircumcised, with those who go down to the pit.

30 The princes of the north are there, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who have gone down in shame with the slain, for all the terror that they caused by their might; they lie uncircumcised with those who are slain by the sword, and bear their shame with those who go down to the pit.

“Each empire, with its ruler, imagines that it has found the secret of immortality, but one follows another to death.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

31 “When Pharaoh sees them, he will be comforted for all his multitude, Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword, declares the Lord God.32 For I spread terror in the land of the living; and he shall be laid to rest among the uncircumcised, with those who are slain by the sword, Pharaoh and all his multitude, declares the Lord God.”

“This is the only consolation Pharaoh can find. He is in the company of every kind of fallen greatness.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

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Music:

Sometimes it doesn’t bear thinking — all the lives lost in wars over the centuries. So many sons and husbands! So many innocents! So much disruption and destruction! I think of the line from the hymn, “God of Grace and God of Glory” that goes — “Cure your children’s warring madness.”

HERE  is a touching piece from Franz Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer of the Classical period:  “Mass No.10 in C major Hob.XXII, 9, ‘Paukenmesse’ [Mass in the Time of War] : VI Agnus Dei.” The periodic drumbeats on the tympani create a driving sense of battlefield as the choir pleads for the sins of the world to be taken away.

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English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Dragon in the dragnet.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/78/05/55/780555bef75c3790e7ba119e892a8f14.jpg
darkness over the pyramids.   https://fashioneyes.deviantart.com/art/Egyptian-pyramids-120954120
Nesperennub’s beautiful coffin which survived the ravage of time.    https://www.flickr.com/photos/alvinology/9386703350/sizes/o/in/photostream/
Robert Bolt quote.   https://izquotes.com/quote/20377

2362.) Ezekiel 31

May 22, 2018

 

Ezekiel 31   (ESV)

Pharaoh to Be Slain

In the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude:

“Whom are you like in your greatness?

“In just a matter of a few weeks, Jerusalem will fall to the Babylonians. In the allegory of the tree, Ezekiel helps Judah to see its fate from a more universal perspective. Judah is not the only nation that stands under divine judgment. No king and no nation can escape that judgment—not even Egypt.”

–Vawter and Hoppe

    Behold, Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon,
with beautiful branches and forest shade,
    and of towering height,
    its top among the clouds.

Using the figure of a great tree, God here used the empire of Assyria to teach Egypt how He could establish a great power, and then bring it down in judgment. Assyria was, in the near past, a great empire.

The waters nourished it;
    the deep made it grow tall,
making its rivers flow
    around the place of its planting,
sending forth its streams
    to all the trees of the field.

“The great cedar, Assyria (verse 3), was well-watered, perhaps an indirect reference to her great water sources in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (verse 4). Egypt, of course, equally prided herself in her unending supply of Nile water.”

–Ralph H. Alexander

So it towered high
    above all the trees of the field;
its boughs grew large
    and its branches long
    from abundant water in its shoots.
All the birds of the heavens
    made their nests in its boughs;
under its branches all the beasts of the field
    gave birth to their young,
and under its shadow
    lived all great nations.
It was beautiful in its greatness,
    in the length of its branches;
for its roots went down
    to abundant waters.

Not only powerful, but also beautiful!

The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it,
    nor the fir trees equal its boughs;
neither were the plane trees
    like its branches;
no tree in the garden of God
    was its equal in beauty.
I made it beautiful
    in the mass of its branches,
and all the trees of Eden envied it,
    that were in the garden of God.

10 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because it towered high and set its top among the clouds, and its heart was proud of its height,

11 I will give it into the hand of a mighty one of the nations. He shall surely deal with it as its wickedness deserves. I have cast it out. 12 Foreigners, the most ruthless of nations, have cut it down and left it. On the mountains and in all the valleys its branches have fallen, and its boughs have been broken in all the ravines of the land, and all the peoples of the earth have gone away from its shadow and left it. 13 On its fallen trunk dwell all the birds of the heavens, and on its branches are all the beasts of the field. 14 All this is in order that no trees by the waters may grow to towering height or set their tops among the clouds, and that no trees that drink water may reach up to them in height. For they are all given over to death, to the world below, among the children of man, with those who go down to the pit.

God would use His dealings with the Assyrians to be a lesson to all the nations of the world – if they would listen. They would see what happens to a great power when it becomes proud and arrogant.

15 “Thus says the Lord God: On the day the cedar went down to Sheol I caused mourning; I closed the deep over it, and restrained its rivers, and many waters were stopped. I clothed Lebanon in gloom for it, and all the trees of the field fainted because of it. 16 I made the nations quake at the sound of its fall, when I cast it down to Sheol with those who go down to the pit. And all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the world below.17 They also went down to Sheol with it, to those who are slain by the sword; yes, those who were its arm, who lived under its shadow among the nations.

Death is the great equalizer.

18 “Whom are you thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? You shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the world below. You shall lie among the uncircumcised, with those who are slain by the sword.

“This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, declares the Lord God.”

“The argument the prophet presented was simple. Egypt boasted in its greatness, yet Egypt wasn’t as great as Assyria, and Assyria was conquered by Babylon. Conclusion: if Babylon can conquer Assyria, Babylon can conquer Egypt.”

–Warren W. Wiersbe

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Joyce Kilmer’s poem, “Trees,” sung by Bob McGrath (of television’s Sing Along with Mitch and later, Sesame Street).

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2361.) Ezekiel 30

May 21, 2018

Ezekiel 30   (ESV)

A Lament for Egypt

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord God:

“Wail, ‘Alas for the day!’
    For the day is near,
    the day of the Lord is near;
it will be a day of clouds,
    a time of doom for the nations.
A sword shall come upon Egypt,
    and anguish shall be in Cush,
when the slain fall in Egypt,
    and her wealth is carried away,
    and her foundations are torn down.

In context, this was an audacious statement. “Imagine an exile from Judah, a third-rate Palestinian state whose future was very much in doubt, asserting that Judah’s national deity is about to bring an end to Egypt! When Ezekiel spoke these words, Egypt had existed for two and a half millennia. The pyramids, the symbol of the achievements of that great civilization, had stood already for two thousand years. What Egypt did is without parallel in human history, ancient or modern. In the face of this, Ezekiel had the temerity to declare that Egypt, its cities, its rulers, and its people were vulnerable to the judgment of Judah’s God. It was either outrageous delusion or great faith that led the prophet to utter this oracle of judgment against Egypt.”

–Vawter and Hoppe

“Thy justice like mountains high soaring above!”

Cush, and Put, and Lud, and all Arabia, and Libya, and the people of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.

“Thus says the Lord:
Those who support Egypt shall fall,
    and her proud might shall come down;
from Migdol to Syene
    they shall fall within her by the sword,
declares the Lord God.
And they shall be desolated in the midst of desolated countries,
    and their cities shall be in the midst of cities that are laid waste.
Then they will know that I am the Lord,
    when I have set fire to Egypt,
    and all her helpers are broken.

“On that day messengers shall go out from me in ships to terrify the unsuspecting people of Cush, and anguish shall come upon them on the day of Egypt’s doom; for, behold, it comes!

10 “Thus says the Lord God:

“I will put an end to the wealth of Egypt,
    by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
11 He and his people with him, the most ruthless of 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 Nebuchadnezzar will be God’s instrument of punishment. “Nebuchadnezzar will not come alone. He will be accompanied by his troops and a host of alien forces described as ‘the most barbarous of nations,’ an expression that struck terror in the heart of anyone.”

–Daniel I. Block

12 And I will dry up the Nile
    and will sell the land into the hand of evildoers;
I will bring desolation upon the land and everything in it,
    by the hand of foreigners;
I am the Lord; I have spoken.

13 “Thus says the Lord God:

“I will destroy the idols

Some of the Egyptian gods and goddesses . . .

When God long before sent the plagues against Egypt (Exodus 7-11), each plague was directed against one of their idols. Now, many hundreds of years later, God promised to once again destroy the idols of Egypt, by bringing judgment to the land and exalting Himself over them.

“The Greek historian Herodotus related how Cambyses of Persia, son of Cyrus the Great, took Pelusium by setting before his army cats and dogs, sacred to Egypt, which the Egyptians would not attack.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

    and put an end to the images in Memphis;
there shall no longer be a prince from the land of Egypt;
    so I will put fear in the land of Egypt.

City by city, the prophet ticks off the list:

14 I will make Pathros a desolation
    and will set fire to Zoan
    and will execute judgments on Thebes.
15 And I will pour out my wrath on Pelusium,
    the stronghold of Egypt,
    and cut off the multitude of Thebes.
16 And I will set fire to Egypt;
    Pelusium shall be in great agony;
Thebes shall be breached,
    and Memphis shall face enemies by day.
17 The young men of On and of Pi-beseth shall fall by the sword,
    and the women shall go into captivity.
18 At Tehaphnehes the day shall be dark,
    when I break there the yoke bars of Egypt,
and her proud might shall come to an end in her;
    she shall be covered by a cloud,
    and her daughters shall go into captivity.
19 Thus I will execute judgments on Egypt.
    Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

“During Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, Pharaoh wouldn’t recognize the Lord; but now the nation would learn that the Lord God of the Hebrews was indeed the only true and living God.”

–Warren W. Wiersbe

Egypt Shall Fall to Babylon

20 In the eleventh year, in the first month, on the seventh day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 21 “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and behold, it has not been bound up, to heal it by binding it with a bandage, so that it may become strong to wield the sword. 22 Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt and will break his arms, both the strong arm and the one that was broken, and I will make the sword fall from his hand. 23 I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them through the countries. 24 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 will groan before him like a man mortally wounded. 25 I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh shall fall. 

“These apparently mighty monarchs of Egypt and Babylon were both in the hands of Jehovah. Their apparent successes and failures resulted from His action. They were completely in His power.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

Then they shall know that I am the Lord, when I put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt. 26 And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

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Music:

What a powerful God! He strengthens some and weakens others, according to His will!  HERE  is a song that worships a strong God:  “Immortal, Invisible.”

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2360.) Ezekiel 29

May 18, 2018

Ezekiel 29   (ESV)

Prophecy Against Egypt

This prophecy regarding Egypt came to Jeremiah before the fall of Jerusalem. At this time there were still some in Judah and Jerusalem who hoped that Egypt would rescue them from the powerful Babylonians.

Ezekiel 29 begins a four-chapter series of prophecies against Egypt. This was necessary because even though Egypt held Israel in slavery for 400 years, Israel also had an impulse to look to Egypt in times of crisis that predated their years of slavery, going all the way back to Abraham’s earliest days in Canaan (Genesis 12:10-20). Isaiah warned God’s people, Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help (Isaiah 31:1). Even in Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s days, they still looked to Egypt for help instead of trusting God and His plan.

–David Guzik

In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt; speak, and say, Thus says the Lord God:

“Behold, I am against you,
    Pharaoh king of Egypt,
the great dragon that lies
    in the midst of his streams,
that says, ‘My Nile is my own;
    I made it for myself.’

God likens Egypt to a great crocodile that lives in the Nile river.  “Egyptian prayers encouraged the pharaoh to be a crocodile to his enemies.”

–Vawter and Hoppe

A proud boast of the pharaoh! “Actually, instead of his making the river, the river made him, for without it the land would have been a desert.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

“It is a graphic method of again drawing attention to the fact that all forgetfulness of God amounts at last to self-deification. That is the sin of every king and of every people who fail to recognize God and to deal with Him.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

I will put hooks in your jaws,
    and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales;
and I will draw you up out of the midst of your streams,
    with all the fish of your streams
    that stick to your scales.
And I will cast you out into the wilderness,
    you and all the fish of your streams;
you shall fall on the open field,
    and not be brought together or gathered.
To the beasts of the earth and to the birds of the heavens
    I give you as food.

Speaking like a great hunter of crocodiles, Yahweh announced that He would stop, capture, and displace Egypt. They would be terribly disrupted, as a crocodile pulled out of the Nile with a hook.

The crocodile normally was caught with hooks in the jaws and then pulled on dry land where it would be slaughtered. “For all his arrogant pretensions, the glorious lord of the Nile is no match for Yahweh, who toys with him as a fisherman plays with his catch, then throws him away as carrion, unfit for human consumption.”

–Daniel I. Block

I cannot speak for crocodile, but I do love alligator jerky and recommend it to you highly!

Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord.

“Because you have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel, when they grasped you with the hand, you broke and tore all their shoulders; and when they leaned on you, you broke and made all their loins to shake. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will bring a sword upon you, and will cut off from you man and beast, and the land of Egypt shall be a desolation and a waste. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

The Jews looked to Egypt to help them, but Egypt was a weak reed. It was a sin of Israel to look there for help, instead of to the Lord. Now Egypt will be punished for making promises and not keeping them.

“Because you said, ‘The Nile is mine, and I made it,’ 10 therefore, behold, I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt an utter waste and desolation, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Cush. 11 No foot of man shall pass through it, and no foot of beast shall pass through it; it shall be uninhabited forty years.12 And I will make the land of Egypt a desolation in the midst of desolated countries, and her cities shall be a desolation forty years among cities that are laid waste. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them through the countries.

13 “For thus says the Lord God: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered, 14 and I will restore the fortunes of Egypt and bring them back to the land of Pathros, the land of their origin, and there they shall be a lowly kingdom. 15 It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and never again exalt itself above the nations. And I will make them so small that they will never again rule over the nations. 16 And it shall never again be the reliance of the house of Israel, recalling their iniquity, when they turn to them for aid. Then they will know that I am the Lord God.”

God promises mercy and restoration to Egypt. But it will never regain its former glory.  

“The restoration of Egypt came under Greek rule, and Alexandria especially became an important centre of Judaism and Christianity, thus probably fulfilling Isaiah 19:19-25.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

“Egypt did suffer from Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion, and its rule over the nations was broken and never regained. They declined under the Persians, the Ptolemies and Rome. Egypt has been a weak country in the centuries since except for a momentary revival of power during the Middle Ages.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

17 In the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made his army labor hard against Tyre. Every head was made bald, and every shoulder was rubbed bare, yet neither he nor his army got anything from Tyre to pay for the labor that he had performed against her.

 Nebuchadnezzar conducted a long siege against Tyre, one that in the end was not worth all he had invested in the siege. “The 1st-cent. a.d. Jewish historian and apologist Flavius Josephus stated that the Babylonian siege of Tyre lasted for thirteen years (Antiquities x. 11.1). Tyre consumed its treasures in its own defense or otherwise made them unavailable to the Babylonians.”

–Vawter and Hoppe

“The Tyrians, finding it at last impossible to defend their city, put all their wealth aboard their vessels, sailed out of the port, and escaped for Carthage; and thus Nebuchadnezzar lost all the spoil of one of the richest cities in the world.”

–Adam Clarke

19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army. 20 I have given him the land of Egypt as his payment for which he labored, because they worked for me, declares the Lord God.

So God gives the wealth of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar! As wages for doing the Lord’s work as an instrument of judgment!

21 “On that day I will cause a horn to spring up for the house of Israel, and I will open your lips among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

Well, if God is rewarding a heathen king for obeying him, how much more will he take care of those believers who cheerfully do his will! No need to fear! All will be well.

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Music:

In Egypt:

“Protestant churches claim a membership of about 300,000 Egyptians, and the Coptic Catholic Church is estimated to have a similar membership among Egyptians. Based on these estimates, the total number of Christians in Egypt is between 5% and 20% of a total population of 80 million Egyptians.” — Wikipedia

And from The Guardian (see January 10, 2018 article  HERE ), “Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnap of girls by Islamist extremists intent on forcing them to marry Muslims, a report says.”

In honor of these Egyptian Christians,  HERE  is a “My Life Is Yours,” sung by the Better Life Team from Egypt.

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English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Against Egypt.   http://www.elimbcc.ie/prophecy-against-egypt-ezekiel-291-21/
Green-eyed monster.   http://www.alittleperspective.com/ezekiel-29-and-30/
alligator jerky.   https://houseofjerky.net/shop/alligator-jerky/
ruins of ancient Egypt.   https://freemethodistpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/ancient-egypt.jpg

2359.) Ezekiel 28

May 17, 2018

“You were the signet of perfection,
    full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”

Ezekiel 28   (ESV)

Prophecy Against the Prince of Tyre

This continues a series of prophecies Ezekiel made against Tyre, the great commercial harbor city of the Phoenicians, north of Israel. The prophecies of Ezekiel 26 and Ezekiel 27 focused on Tyre as a city. Now Ezekiel will speak against the leader of the city, both in the sense of one man (the prince of Tyre) and a representation of the leadership of the city.

–David Guzik

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God:

“Because your heart is proud,
    and you have said, ‘I am a god,
I sit in the seat of the gods,
    in the heart of the seas,’

“Tyre regarded herself as all-powerful, superhuman and virtually eternal; she was possessed of wealth and wisdom above all other cities, and this led on to the incredible arrogance for which Tyre was notorious.”

–John B. Taylor

yet you are but a man, and no god,
    though you make your heart like the heart of a god—
you are indeed wiser than Daniel;
    no secret is hidden from you;
by your wisdom and your understanding
    you have made wealth for yourself,
and have gathered gold and silver
    into your treasuries;
by your great wisdom in your trade
    you have increased your wealth,
    and your heart has become proud in your wealth—

Significantly, God did not condemn the prince of Tyre for the possession of riches, but for how those riches corrupted him. “Significantly, the prophet castigates him neither for his shrewdness nor for his amassed wealth. Neither brilliance nor riches is reprehensible; the problem arises in his response. The wisdom that had brought him his wealth led to hubris. It was this inordinate pride that provoked Yahweh’s ire.”

–Daniel I. Block

therefore thus says the Lord God:
Because you make your heart
    like the heart of a god,
therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you,
    the most ruthless of the nations;
and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom
    and defile your splendor.
They shall thrust you down into the pit,
    and you shall die the death of the slain
    in the heart of the seas.
Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’
    in the presence of those who kill you,
though you are but a man, and no god,
    in the hands of those who slay you?
10 You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
    by the hand of foreigners;
    for I have spoken, declares the Lord God.”

“When you read Scripture, you find occasions when God judged arrogant rulers, such as Pharaoh, whom the Egyptians treated as a god (Exodus 5:2), Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4), and Herod Agrippa (Acts 12). World leaders who ignore the Lord and act as if they are gods will all be exposed and judged.”

–Warren W. Wiersbe

A Lament over the King of Tyre

Ezekiel 28:1-10 spoke to the prince of Tyre, and here Ezekiel spoke to the king of Tyre. His clear and curious description of the king of Tyre shows that this was indeed a ruler over the prince of Tyre, ruling over him in a spiritual sense. In the context of a lament for an arrogant human king, God spoke of the sin and the fall of the spiritual power behind that king.

The idea of a prophet speaking to the spiritual ruler or authority behind an earthly ruler is also present in Isaiah 14, where the description of the King of Babylon seems to go beyond any earthly king and describes Satan himself (Isaiah 14:12-14). We also see this idea in Daniel 10:10-20, where the angel Michael described his battle with a spiritual opponent he called the prince of Persia.

“This chapter and Isaiah 14 throw light on the fall of Satan, and indicate that he was a created being who fell through pride.” (Wright)

“As he viewed the thoughts and ways of that monarch, he clearly discerned behind him the motivating force and personality who was impelling him in his opposition to God. In short, he saw the work and activity of Satan, whom the king of Tyre was emulating in so many ways.” (Feinberg)

–David Guzik

11 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God:

“You were the signet of perfection,
    full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;

We immediately recognize this as describing a being higher than any earthly, human king. “Here we have the most graphic and illuminating portrayal of Satan to be found in the whole Bible. His original power and greatness, wisdom and beauty, and exalted position are all set forth.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

    every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
    beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
    and crafted in gold were your settings
    and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
    they were prepared.

Before his fall, Satan was adorned with great glory and splendor. God Himself gave him such a covering, honoring the pre-fall Satan greatly.

The collection of gemstones not only speaks of prestige and honor, but also suggests priesthood, because many of these stones were also found in the high priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28:17-20).

14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.
    I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
    in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15 You were blameless in your ways
    from the day you were created,
    till unrighteousness was found in you.

 Satan enjoyed this place of great status and honor until something happened, until iniquity was found in him. The following verses will describe something of the nature of that iniquity.

–David Guzik

16 In the abundance of your trade
    you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
    and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
    from the midst of the stones of fire.

The dishonest business practices of the leaders of Tyre were a reflection of the dishonest, deceptive dealings of the spiritual power behind them. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

“The reference to trade in verse 16 shows that there is a blend of the king of Tyre and his master. The king traded for his own power. Satan sold his glory for violent rebellion, and was cast out from the mountain of God.”

–Christopher Wright

17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
    you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.

I cast you to the ground;
    I exposed you before kings,
    to feast their eyes on you.
18 By the multitude of your iniquities,
    in the unrighteousness of your trade
    you profaned your sanctuaries;
so I brought fire out from your midst;
    it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
    in the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who know you among the peoples
    are appalled at you;
you have come to a dreadful end
    and shall be no more forever.”

Prophecy Against Sidon

The city of Sidon was another Phoenician harbor city near Tyre. God had a word of judgment to speak against them.

20 The word of the Lord came to me: 21 “Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against her 22 and say, Thus says the Lord God:

“Behold, I am against you, O Sidon,
    and I will manifest my glory in your midst.
And they shall know that I am the Lord
    when I execute judgments in her
    and manifest my holiness in her;
23 for I will send pestilence into her,
    and blood into her streets;
and the slain shall fall in her midst,
    by the sword that is against her on every side.
Then they will know that I am the Lord.

24 “And for the house of Israel there shall be no more a brier to prick or a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord God.

When God brings His judgment upon Israel’s neighbors (as described in Ezekiel chapters 25-32), it will be a relief to Israel. They would no longer be under threat from those who despise them.

–David Guzik

Israel Gathered in Security

25 “Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.”

Ezekiel looked forward to an aspect of the new covenant, one feature of which is the gathering of Israel once again as a people and into the land (Deuteronomy 30:3; Jeremiah 23:3 and 32:37; Ezekiel 11:17). 

In God’s design the Babylonian exile would not last forever. After 70 years of forced captivity, the Jewish people were allowed to go back to the promised land. Only about 50,000 of them did in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, and when they did they did not return to a safe and secure land. This means that the promises of gathering back to the land were only partially fulfilled in the return from Babylonian exile. As part of the new covenant promises, there was a greater and perfect fulfillment to come, which can rightly be said to have a significant milestone in 1948.

–David Guzik

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Music:

What kind of hymn speaks to the power of Satan while not glorifying him?  Thanks to Martin Luther,  HERE  is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” — a slightly different translation, by Koine.

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English Standard Version (ESV)