Ezekiel, chapter 28. Pride destroys everything. There was once a lion who knew he was the king of the jungle, and he wanted to convince every other animal that he was. So he first went to the bear and said, who's the king of the jungle? And the bear said, why everybody knows you are the king of the jungle, O mighty lion. So the lion gave a roar of approval, as if to say that's right. Glad you figured that out.
Then the lion went to the tiger and said, who's king of the jungle? Again, the tiger affirmed that the lion was the king of the jungle. And he made his way down the line to all the animals, till he came to the elephant. And he said, who's the king of the jungle?
The elephant said nothing. But rather, with his long trunk, picked up the elephant, tossed him in the air, then threw him against the trunk of a tree, then pounded him into the earth a few times, threw him in the water, and then tossed him up on the shore. The lion struggled, staggered to his feet with bloodshot eyes. And he said to the elephant, look, just because you don't know the answer, doesn't mean you have to get so mean.
It was Dwight L. Moody who said, be humble or you'll stumble. The lion would have agreed after that encounter with the elephant. And so would the rulers of Tyre, and Sidon, and the pharaoh of Egypt, all of them prideful rulers, arrogant, defiant against God. Each of them would have said, I am the king of the jungle. I, and I alone, rule. There is none like me.
And all of them are remarkable in the kind of arrogance and pride that they displayed, as these next three chapters will tell us. The city of Tyre-- and we began looking at Tyre last week, a couple of chapters ago. We continue tonight. And then looking on to Sidon and Egypt.
But the city of Tyre first appears in the scripture in Joshua, chapter 19, where it is called the strong city. Isaiah describes the city of Tyre as the crowning city. It was renowned for its strength. It was renowned for its wealth. It was renowned for the kind of entrepreneurs at sea that it possessed. It colonized so much of the Aegean and Mediterranean world.
And Tyre came into prominence around the time of King David and his son, King Solomon. The city of Tyre played a very important role in the political, economic, and even spiritual history of the nation of Israel, as King Hiram of Tyre supplied some of the building materials, the cedar wood, for the temple in Jerusalem and the palaces of the king there in Jerusalem. Also, because they were great at navigating the seas, they were sometimes the sailors hired by different nations to go along on some of the sea voyages. Even Solomon did this.
When Solomon wanted to mine gold in Ophir, he took some of the sailors of Tyre with him. It's recorded in First Kings, chapter 9. Then Hiram sent his servants with the fleet, sea men, who knew the sea, to work with the servants of Solomon.
But Tyre is a picture of a worldly city, prideful, wealthy, defiant against God, and dependent upon itself, rather than upon God. Therefore, we are not surprised in this chapter to see a segue between the physical city of Tyre, the physical ruler of Tyre, and the spiritual king of Tyre, Satan himself. We shouldn't be surprised that Ezekiel makes that shift of focus from off the earthly, onto the spiritual realm.
Verse 1. The word of the Lord came to me again, saying. Now, you notice that phrase over and over again. God speaks to Ezekiel. Ezekiel isn't there by the Kebar River. And said, one day, I was just sort of meditating on my own by the Kebar Canal. And I sort of felt that I should say such and such. Or I believe the Lord laid on my heart. There's none of that.
There is this certainty that this is the word of the Lord. And yet, so many people, so many churches, will rob themselves of understanding and reading through all of the Bible. They'll say, well, you can't take it all literally. It's not all the word of God. I like the New Testament, especially the words in red. I like that.
But I suggest that you cannot take the Lord Jesus Christ seriously unless you take all of the Bible seriously. Jesus said, in John, chapter 10, the scripture cannot be broken. What scripture was He referring to? This scripture. He had the Tanakh, the Old Testament, that which was the Bible to the Jews at that time.
He said that not one jot or tittle will pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Heaven and earth will pass away. My word will never pass away.
I was told an interesting true story about a couple that came to visit our church in Albuquerque several years back. They were sitting there. They didn't bring a Bible. But they noticed that I said, "turn in your Bible too." And it was an Old Testament passage.
They noticed that other people were turning in their Bibles. And as I began to go through the message and explaining the text, this fella in our church overheard the couple talking to each other. And she turned to her husband and said, my goodness, he believes it literally.
You bet I do. Because Jesus believed it literally. And we believe Him. We believe his words as our Savior, that all of it is for us, the full council of God. The word of the Lord came to me, again saying, son of man, say to the prince of Tyre.
Thus says the Lord God, because your heart is lifted up. And you say, I am a god. I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas. Yet you are a man, not a god. Though you set your heart as the heart of a god.
This individual, notice, is called the prince of Tyre. It's a Hebrew word, nagid, or ruler. It means man at the top. And we don't have to guess who this was. Josephus, in his history of the Jews, tells us that the prince of Tyre, the ruler of Tyre, the nagid, or man at the top, was a man by the name of Ithobaal II, who reigned in this city from 590 BC to 572 or 573 BC. Sometimes we're not absolutely certain on the date. Some say 572. Some say 573. But this was the prince of Tyre.
He had an underlying sin. And that was his own arrogance, his own pride. He feigns himself as a god. And he sits with his heart elevated and lifted up as a god, wealthy, powerful ruler.
Part of the pride of the Tyreans, those residents of Tyre, was their location. If you remember last week, they moved their city from off of the seacoast, off to an island out in the middle of the sea. And the island was known as the holy island because it was an island that they, as a city, dedicated to the god Hercules. And all of the colonies that Tyre had managed to colonize through the Aegean and Mediterranean world regarded Tyre as the mother city of all of these colonies and looked up to her because of the worship of Hercules.
So she was so prideful. And the pride was fostered by the prince of Tyre, Ithobaal II. Behold, the Lord says to the prophet sarcastically, behold, you are wiser than Daniel. There is no secret that can be hidden from you.
I find it absolutely wonderful to note that Daniel's fame had already spread throughout the world while he was alive and serving Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. This godly man, who trusted God, was already known. His fame had spread throughout that part of the world. And by the time that Tyre fell, Daniel had served in the court of Babylon for 25 years.
He says, behold, you're wiser than Daniel. That is, this ruler, this prince of Tyre, thought that he was wiser than Daniel. And that's, to me, ironic. That he thinks he's wiser than the one who serves the very government that is going to take him down. And God will use Babylon to do that.
With your wisdom and your understanding, you have gained riches for yourself and gathered gold and silver into your treasuries. By your great wisdom in trade, you have increased your riches. And your heart is lifted up because of your riches.
Remember, the city was opulent, very wealthy. That's because it virtually controlled the sea trade of the ancient world. It had its port. And so it would exchange goods from all over the world and take for itself, especially the ruler, Ithobaal II, the best of the best, the best fabrics, the best linens from Egypt. Stories of couches bedecked with engraved ivory, in beautiful, large palaces that filled that city, wealthy.
Therefore, thus says the Lord God, because you have set your heart as the heart of a god, behold, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, the most terrible of the nations. And they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor. They shall throw you down into the pit. And you shall die the death of the slain in the midst of the seas.
Will you still say before him who slays you, I am a god? But you shall be a man, and not a god, in the hand of him who slays you. You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of aliens. In other words, you're going to die in shame, when he says you will die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of aliens. For I have spoken, says the Lord.
Now, Ithobaal II was overtaken, at around 573 BC, by Nebuchadnezzar. He was replaced by Baal II. And so on successive accounts, successive times, this city fell. And if you remember the prophecy we uncovered last week in Ezekiel, God said that the fall of Tyre would be like successive waves of the ocean. It wouldn't just be one destruction, but several.
So in 573, Nebuchadnezzar came against it, after besieging it for over 15 years, and it fell. They moved from off the shore, to that island out in the sea, about 1,200 yards away. And they rebuilt it.
But then in 332 BC, then Alexander the Great came in and destroyed the island, scraping the very top of it. They rebuilt it again, back on the shore, some years later. And around 1200 AD, the Circassians came and destroyed it. And it was never built at all after that.
Now, there is a shift in focus in our text, where Ezekiel, through the Spirit of God, focuses off of the prince of Tyre, the earthly ruler, the man at the top, to, you might say, the man behind the curtain, the one you don't see, the motivating, spiritual force, Satan himself, filled with pride in the Garden of Eden, who is inspiring the pride of this prince of Tyre. And it shouldn't surprise us because it's not the first or the only time that the Bible will segue like this, from one to another.
You remember when Jesus announced to his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem. And Peter said, far be it from you, Lord. That Jesus turned to Peter and said, get thee behind me, Satan. Now, it's not that Peter mysteriously, suddenly became Satan. It's that Peter's suggestion, in its origin, came from Satan, who would have loved more than anything else not to allow Jesus to pay for the sins of the world on the cross.
In fact, Satan tried to persuade Jesus to take the easy way. Look, he said, bow before me and I'll give you the kingdoms of this world, for they're mine. I give them to whomsoever I wish. Or, in Isaiah 14, when the spirit behind the mind of the king of Babylon, also Satan, is mentioned. And then Satan, himself, is addressed as Lucifer in that chapter.
Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre. Notice, it's not the prince anymore. Now, it's the king of Tyre. And say to him, thus says the Lord God, you were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
Now, a different word is used, not only in English, but also in Hebrew. In the first section of the chapter, it's to the prince of Tyre, the nagid, the man at the top, the ruler, the earthly ruler. Here the word used is melech, which is king, often translated from Hebrew into English. But, though it is often a word that is used to refer to earthly kings, Ezekiel, himself, used the word king, melech, sparingly in his writings. In fact, he doesn't use the term to refer to any of the kings of Judah, save one, and that is Jehoiachin. Whereas the other prophets would often use the term to refer to earthly kings, this prophet does not, except on one occasion.
And the following description that we read cannot refer to any earthly ruler. As you go through it, it couldn't refer to any human being, whether it is the ruler of Tyre physically, or any other human ruler. It has to reach into the spiritual arena.
Notice, he says, you were the seal of perfection; that is, the model of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty. The picture that has been popularized of the devil is wrong. We grew up, either with comic books or in cartoons, thinking of the devil as having a tight red suit, little horns coming out of his head, cloven feet like a goat, a tail with a point, and a pitchfork. The suit was bright red. That was the devil.
And that is how he has been depicted. But that is a picture from Greek mythology, not from the Bible. The Greeks pictured their god Panaeus, Pan, and Bacchus, the god of pleasure and wine, as this half goat, half man, cloven feet, running through the vineyard, with horns and a pitchfork. And then that crept into the Middle Ages. And that became the popularized picture and ideal of Satan, put in so many of the paintings of the era.
But the Bible describes Satan originally, in his creation, as a very beautiful being. In Genesis, he's called a serpent. The Hebrew, Nachash, of a brilliant, fiery, shining one, beautiful. As it says here, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty. It says that he was full of wisdom. And I think that is an important thing to note about Satan.
He is a powerful being. He's not the opposite of God, certainly not. He was created, as we see here. But he's full of wisdom, in that, he has studied human nature for thousands of years and he knows our weaknesses.
Now, that's not to frighten you. The Bible also says, we are not ignorant of his devices. He follows a predictable pattern, that the Bible describes. But there is a wisdom. And there is a well-networked group of his minions, demons, that are in cooperation with him.
Verse 13, you were in Eden, the garden of God. Now, the earthly prince of Tyre was never in Eden. This has to refer to the devil. You are in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, the topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes were prepared for you on the day you were created.
These stones are nine of the gemstones that were on the 12-stoned breastplate of the high priest. Nine of these stones mentioned are nine of the 12 that the high priest wore. And it mentions here, the pipes and the timbrels, showing that he had some kind of musical inclination. I'm not going to make a huge deal out of this. Though J. Vernon McGee once said that when Satan fell, he must have fallen into the choir loft because he had more problems in his church over music and in the choir than any other area of the church. Enough said.
You were the anointed cherub who covers. That is, the angelic guardian. I established you. You were on the holy mountain of God. You walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones.
So he was a cherub. And if you remember, the cherubim, that's plural for cherub, were these angelic guardians, this sort of special class that guarded the holiness and the throne of God. The four living creatures in chapter 1 of Ezekiel and chapter 10 must be these cherubim, the four living creatures in Revelation.
It was the cherubim that guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve fell. And they were kept from entering in by that fiery sword, in every direction. It was the cherubim that were carved over the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant. And Solomon built huge cherubim, 15 feet tall, with a 15-foot wingspan, that he put in the Holy of Holies of that temple.
So there are these special creatures, these guardians, sort of like heavenly Secret Service or FBI agents. They have special missions from God. And they're close at hand to the throne. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until iniquity was found in you.
Satan was not created by God as a fallen being, as Satan. God never created some prime minister of evil to be his opposite. But what happened to him is seen here, as well as Isaiah, chapter 14, the anointed cherub who covers, the shining one, who fell. It says, until iniquity was found in you.
That word, till, has got to be the saddest word in the English language. Because here, this word introduces us to an event that has caused havoc throughout history. And we are still feeling the awful repercussions of it today. Until iniquity, sin, was found in you. More will be discussed.
By the abundance of your trading, you became filled with violence within, and you sinned. Therefore, I cast you, as a profane thing, out of the mountain of God. And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.
For your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground. I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.
The sin that corrupted Satan, here seen as the king of Tyre, was the same sin that corrupted the prince of Tyre, Ithobaal II. It was the sin of pride. And notice three stages are mentioned in these verses, verse 15, iniquity was found in you; verse 16, you sinned; and verse 17, it's described more fully, your heart was lifted up.
So evidently, Satan was ill-content. He wasn't content at being the covering cherub, the guardian cherub. Because it meant he was number one, minus one. And his heart became inflated. He became arrogant.
He wanted to be number one. He wanted to be like God.
In Isaiah, chapter 14, it's further described, how are you fallen from heaven, O, Lucifer, son of the morning? How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations. For you said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven.
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the Mount of the Congregation, on the farthest sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the most high.
I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, five times. That's where it began. That's the iniquity that was found in him. His heart was lifted up. I will be like the most high.
I believe that this is what Jesus referred to when He said to his disciples, I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning. In a flash, at that moment of self-exaltation, Satan was cast out of heaven, out of the presence of God, as an occupant. Now, we know he has access, as a visitor, up to some point. In Job, chapter one, when the sons of God are called to give an account before God, the Bible tells us that Satan was among them. That's how it all began.
You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading. Therefore, I brought fire from your midst. It devoured you. And I turned you to ashes upon the earth, in the sight of all who saw you.
Interesting, the word here for trading, it's used twice. It's used a few verses up. And it's mentioned here again in verse 18. It means to go about, from one person to another. And we know that Satan, when he fell, when he rebelled, he was not content in rebelling himself, but in persuading a host of the other angelic beings to fall with him. As much as a third of the angels fell with him.
In Revelation 12, Satan draws a third of the stars of heaven with him, down to the earth. Now, how many is that exactly? Well, we don't know. It must be a lot. Because John, in the worship of heaven, says the number of the angels praising God were 10,000 times 10,000, and thousands of thousands. So if you look at that as over 100 million, then a third of that is a bunch.
The good news, however, is 2/3 did not fall. And that's what we ought to think about, instead of being so worried about the devil behind every incident and every bush. Oh, yes, he's malevolent. Oh, yes, he's very powerful. Oh, yes, he has a host of workers with him in these trades, you might say, influencing several to fall with him. But 2/3 remain, loyal and committed to the Lord.
All who knew you, among the peoples, are astonished at you. You have become a horror, and shall be no more forever. Again, Isaiah 14 sort of fills in the blank and comes alongside this passage and helps us to understand. As it says, those who see you, referring to Lucifer, will gaze at you and consider you, saying, is this the man who made the earth to tremble and who shook the kingdoms?
I think people make two basic mistakes concerning the devil. The first mistake is pretty obvious. And that is denial.
The average unbeliever denies the existence of the devil, which is a trick of the devil. An enemy is never more powerful than the one you don't believe exists. As long as you don't believe your enemy is out there, your enemy has gotcha.
The other mistake that can be made is sometimes made by Christians. And that is obsession with the devil. And there are some circles where it would seem that the devil is glorified more than God. As people will even talk to the devil, long conversations of rebuking the devil, rather than just leaving the devil to God, who created him and will destroy him.
So I think two mistakes can be made, denial and obsession. In our country today, a lot of people don't believe in the devil. It has been reported that 70% of our population does believe in a devil. However, half believe it's just an idea of evil, a principle of evil, not a real person.
And another poll was taken. 32% of those who consider themselves born-again Christians didn't believe in a literal devil. So we've got problems. Dwight L. Moody, once again, said I believe in the devil for two reasons. Number one, the Bible says he exists. Number two, I've done business with him.
And I know you have too. And if there is no devil, then who is it that's carrying his business on? Because it's everywhere. And here is the reason for it, in the verses that we have read.
Now, in verse 20, and onward in the chapter, we turn our focus to a city, about 20, 25 miles north of Tyre, the city of Sidon, which is still in existence in some form today, though the biblical Sidon does not exist. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, son of man, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against her.
And just a footnote here. You may remember in the Book of Judges, chapter one, that there were several tribes that failed to remove the Canaanites out of the land and take possession. One was the tribe of Asher. And it says, in Judges 1, they did not fully kick out or push away the inhabitants of Sidon.
And that was a mistake, as you'll see. Because it was the Sidonians that brought an awful lot of idolatry into the land of Israel. And say, verse 22, thus says the Lord God, behold I am against you, O Sidon. I will be glorified in your midst.
And they shall know that I am the Lord when I execute judgments in her and am hollowed in her. For I will send pestilence upon her and blood in her streets. The wounded shall be judged in her midst by the sword against her on every side.
Then they shall know that I am the Lord. And there shall no longer be a pricking brier or painful thorn for the House of Israel from among all who are around them, who despise them. And they shall know that I am the Lord God.
It would seem that the worship of Baal, that the children of Israel eventually practiced a lot, was introduced by Sidon, by a woman named Jezebel, who was the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of Sidon. And she brought that worship system, as she married her husband, the king of Israel, and infected the land over the years.
Now, God does not say that Sidon will be destroyed forever. And Sidon was burned with fire after it rebelled against a ruler, a Persian ruler, by the name of Artaxerxes, Ochus, around 351 BC. They rebuilt it. Today, there is the city of Sidon. But the biblical city of Sidon is no longer in existence.
Oh, by the way, Jesus visited the regions of Tyre and Sidon. And while he was there, a Syrophoenician woman begged Jesus to come and cast the demon out of her daughter, which he did graciously. And so that city saw the Lord Jesus Christ was graced with the presence of Jesus, in the New Testament.
Thus says the Lord God, when I have gathered the House of Israel from the peoples, among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the side of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. And they will dwell safely there, build houses, plant vineyards. Yes, they will dwell securely when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord, their God.
So the punishment of these nations, that God outlines in the last several chapters, will result in the restoration of His people, the Jews. The Jews will repent.
Now, there is a partial fulfillment after the 70 years' captivity. It would seem that the Jews learned their lesson, after 70 years being in Babylon. They repented. They never once again, after that, subscribed to the kind of idolatry that was in their land prior to the captivity. So that's a partial fulfillment.
Another partial fulfillment, I suppose would be 1948, when the Jews returned back to their land. But the ultimate restoration, where they will dwell securely, will be in the Millennium. And keep in mind, that one of the reasons the Millennium is necessary and why we believe in a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ is because God made a promise, a covenant, to the nation of Israel, to the Jews, a covenant that he started with King David.
He promised to them a kingdom, not only a heavenly kingdom, but an earthly kingdom. That has not yet been fulfilled. How will that take place? It'll take place, that for a thousand years, Jesus Christ Himself will reign from Mount Zion, reign over the earth, in the Millennial kingdom from Jerusalem.
And then after the 1,000-year period, everything that we know upon the earth, in the natural world, will be destroyed because the earth has been marred by sin. All of the promises will be fulfilled to Israel. And a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness, will come into view. And a new Jerusalem, coming out of heaven, into the eternal state.
Now, in Ezekiel 29, we take a shift again, not Tyre, not Sidon, but Egypt, in the next few chapters. And Egypt is given more press in the Bible than any other nation outside of Israel. It has a long history partially because the early stages of the nation of Israel were formed there, as Joseph was sold into slavery, later on became the prime minister. Jacob and his group of 70 went there, grew into a fairly large nation of about a million and a half slaves, who were delivered by Moses through the wilderness, and brought into the land of Canaan. And so they occupy a lot of space.
And here, the judgments are slated. Seven oracles are given concerning Egypt. And they're all introduced by the same clause, the word of the Lord came to me. When Ezekiel writes about Egypt, he normally-- and I say "normally" with an underline-- he normally gives them chronologically, but not always. There will be one that is not in chronological order. But it is in logical order or theological order.
It shows the emphasis of, the one who would come and be the instrument. The king of Babylon will be named. That is Nebuchadnezzar. The other ones are chronological. But the other, last one, as you'll see, is theological.
In the 10th year, in the tenth month, on the 12th day of the month-- that's January 5, 587 BC-- the word of the Lord came to me, saying. So this is about a year after the siege on Jerusalem began, that final siege. Remember, there were three. And the final one, this is about a year into it.
Son of man, set your face against pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And prophesy against him and against all of Egypt. Speak and say, thus says the Lord God. Behold, I am against you, O pharaoh, king of Egypt, O great monster, who lies in the midst of his rivers, who has said, my river is my own. I have made it for myself.
What's it talking about? Well, if you go over to Egypt, you find that, first of all, it's a pretty dry place. It's barren. It has about an average of one inch, at best, rainfall per year.
So it's not going to get moisture for crops out of the skies. The way it gets its moisture is its lifeline, the Nile River. Were it not for the Nile, that would flood over, bringing silt and nutrients and fill up the canals that they used for the agriculture, they would die. They depend upon the Nile. In fact, the Nile was worshiped as a god.
But the pharaoh, and this is Pharaoh Hophra, who was the grandson of Pharaoh Necho, this pharaoh was considered to be one of the gods of Egypt. He was worshiped as a god. And he considered that he, himself, made, created the Nile River. So once again, like Tyre, puffing himself up, to be like a god.
The Greek historian Herodotus tells us that part of the pride of this pharaoh is that he had unbroken success for 25 years. Nobody could take him down. So with each success, as years went on, nobody could displace him. He thought he was impervious. He thought that Egypt was impenetrable.
Look at-- God calls him a monster. In Hebrew, it's tanim, which refers to a reptile. And most people think it refers to the crocodile, which was all over the Nile River. And one of the gods of Egypt was the crocodile god. They saw him as the one who protected Egypt.
They worshipped him. God calls him a monster. And God's going to destroy the protector.
But I will put hooks in your jaws and cause the fish of your rivers to stick to your scales. I will bring you up out of the midst of your rivers. And all the fish of your rivers will stick to your scales.
I will leave you in the wilderness. You and all the fish of your rivers, you shall fall on the open field. You shall not be picked up or gathered. I have given you as food to the beasts of the field and to the birds of the heavens.
The fish are the people of Egypt. God will drag them, along with him, the pharaoh, to an unprotected, vulnerable spot. And they will die. They won't be protected by the Nile River. They'll die in the wilderness. Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord because they have been a staff of reed to the House of Israel.
When they took a hold of you with the hand, you broke and tore all their shoulders. When they leaned on you, you broke and made all their backs quiver. Therefore, thus says the Lord God, surely I will bring a sword upon you and cut you off, or cut off from you, man and beast.
You will recall that the Jews, on a couple of occasions, and most recently, had trusted in Egypt, formed a political alliance with the Egyptians, in hoping that this alliance would fortify them against the attacks of Nebuchadnezzar. And so they leaned upon Egypt. But it was an unreliable crutch. It was a broken, flimsy reed, like so many of those reeds that dot the landscape of the Nile River.
Now, I believe that-- and this is a great verse to just mention this-- that God is in the business of removing whatever crutches we are relying on, when we're not relying on him because they're flimsy. And so often, rather than totally, simply, authentically relying on, trusting in the Lord in times of trouble, we turn to our own Egypt, our own flimsy reed, our own crutches, for satisfaction, for fulfillment. But in reality, they're at best idols.
They can't help. It's vain. And we discover that we turn to them for joy, momentary pleasure. But we're left emptier. There's no deliverance.
And God wants to take away every crutch, every dependence we might have, except depending on Him. It's the safest place. And the land of Egypt shall become desolate and waste. And they shall know that I am the Lord, because he said, the river is mine. I have made it.
So because Pharaoh Hophra, said that, claimed that he was a god, claimed that the Nile River originated from his dynasty, God's going to judge. Indeed, therefore, I am against you and against your rivers. And I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate from Migdol, which is in the Nile Delta region of the northern part of the country, to Syene, that's Aswan, as far as the border of Ethiopia. Neither foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it. And it shall be uninhabited for 40 years.
And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate. And among the cities that are laid waste, her cities shall be desolate for 40 years. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries.
Now, most commentators will admit that it's difficult to find a 40-year period, archeologically, historically, that this precisely fits into. It doesn't mean it's not there. It just means they haven't found it yet.
And I underscore "yet" because this is often the case. When it comes to archeology and history, we'll uncover some piece of pottery or some find, some dig. And it'll be there
But we do know that it was a 40-year period-- and I don't have the exact dates-- from Nebuchadnezzar's advance upon Egypt and removal as a world power, to the time of Cyrus, the Persian. But from the time of the Persian Empire, that really took root, after that, Egypt never recovered to the stature that it once was as a world empire, never again. After this, they were out of there.
Now, they tried to exert themselves. You won't find this in the Bible. But between the Old and the New Testament, the intertestamental period, that 400 year period, the Grecian Empire had dispersed into four different areas.
And down in Egypt, the Ptolemaic Empire exerted itself and tried to be a world power once again. But they never could do it. They had too much pressure from the north, out in, Syria Cassandra, over in Greece, and the Roman Empire that was burgeoning at the time. So they never made it.
These prophecies were literally fulfilled. They were dispersed. And they never made it to any kind of world domination. Yet, thus says the Lord, at the end of 40 years, I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they are scattered. And I will bring back the captives of Egypt and cause them to return to the land of Pathros, to the land of their origin. And there, they shall be a lowly kingdom.
It shall be the lowliest of kingdoms. It shall never again exalt itself above the nations. For I will diminish them, so that they will not rule over the nations anymore. And there again, the prophecy has been literally fulfilled.
No longer shall it be the confidence of the House of Israel. But will remind them of their iniquity when they turn to follow them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord God.
The Egyptian culture fascinates a lot of people. It fascinates me. Since I was a little boy, the whole culture of Egypt, with its mummies and its pyramids, fascinated me. But you would think that with its Nile River, there it was dependent upon that as the only source of life. If it didn't have the yearly annual flooding of the Nile, if rains weren't good in other parts of the world, they would suffer.
You would think that they would be a culture that would celebrate life. But, no. It's strange that Egypt is a culture traditionally, historically, that has celebrated death. The most famous book of the Egyptians is the Book of the Dead. Outside of modern Cairo is the city of dead.
The kings, the pharaohs of Egypt, built small palaces, but huge tombs. The pyramids are just fancy graves. And the embalming procedures of the Egyptians, second to none. And you can still walk through the British Museum in London and see rulers, with their skin still on their bones, with their hair still on their head, because of the elaborate embalming procedures.
I was in the British Museum recently. And it was described to me how that first thing they would do is open up a hole into the skull, through the nasal passage, removing the ethmoid bone and taking the brains out. Then they would make an incision in the left part of the abdomen, in the peritoneum, and remove the organs of that ruler and wrap them up in a preserving substance. And either place them back into the body or place them in individual jars, with heads of different gods that would protect them. And it was about a 40- to 50-day preparation period to embalm and preserve these bodies so that they could go into the afterlife and enjoy it.
They didn't celebrate life. They celebrated death. Thus, here is one of the reasons why Egypt is a perfect picture of the world apart from God. It's a culture that celebrates death, not life. And God is all about giving life.
It came to pass in the 27th year, in the first month, on the first day of the month-- that's April 26, 517 BC-- 571 BC, that the word of the Lord came to me again, saying-- now, this is a prophecy that's out of the chronology of the others. The reason it's inserted here is because it follows logically and theologically because Nebuchadnezzar, who is mentioned, is the one God raises up to be the instrument of punishment to the Egyptian nation at the time.
Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre. Every head was made bald. Every shoulder rubbed raw or bare. Yet, neither he nor his army received wages from Tyre for the labor which they expended on it.
Therefore, thus says the Lord God, surely, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. And he shall take away her wealth, carry off her spoil, remove her pillage. And that will be the wages for his army. I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor because they worked for me, says the Lord God.
Now, mark that. The Lord is taking the credit for the fall of Egypt, the fall of Tyre, and, if you remember, the fall of Jerusalem. Yes. He will punish Nebuchadnezzar for his pride. But right now, God is using him as his instrument of judgment. He has appointed him to this end.
I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor because they worked for me, says the Lord. In that day, I will cause the horn-- that is, the authority-- of the power of the House of Israel to spring forth. And I will open up your mouth to speak in their midst. And they shall know that I am the Lord.
Now, this is how it worked. Nebuchadnezzar came and besieged the city of Tyre. And it fell in 573 BC. And it was a long, long siege, as we described last week and mentioned a few moments ago.
One of the things that the inhabitants of Tyre did, is they fled the city, out to that island 1,200 yards out in sea. And they managed to take the wealth of the city of Tyre and put it on ships and remove it from Tyre. So that when Nebuchadnezzar did fell the city, when he took it over, when he destroyed its walls, there was no wealth for him to take.
15-plus years of besieging the city of Tyre, and he gets in. And there's no spoils. So he has no gold, no silver, no rainment, nothing with which to pay his army.
So God says, tell you what, you worked for me. I used you as my chastening rod to come against this proud area. So I'm going to give you the spoils of Egypt. That'll be your wage.
And truly, they came against Egypt. And they took the spoils of that land. And that paid them back, paying the wages by using Egypt.
It says that every head will be bald, every shoulder was rubbed raw. That's a picture of the Babylonian soldiers wearing their helmets for prolonged periods of time and having strenuous loads on their shoulders, on their backs, of wood and stone, with which to build those siege walls. But there was no payoff, no wage, no spoil, till they got to Egypt.
Now, in chapter 30, it's a lament. It's a dirge. It paints a picture of Nebuchadnezzar and his armies marching against Egypt after taking the city of Tyre and Nebuchadnezzar's army destroying it.
The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, son of man, prophesy and say-- and by the way, this is not dated at all, as you can see. It's just, the word of the Lord came to me again, saying. Son of man, prophesy and say, thus says the Lord God, wail, woe to that day.
For the day is near. Even the day of the Lord is near. It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. Now, cloudy days would be unusual for Egypt, with less than an inch of rain per year as the average rainfall. Cloudy days would be out of the ordinary.
This is a picture of coming judgment. And the day of the Lord, though any day of judgment against any nation could technically be the day of the Lord, you find this term often used by the prophets, as taking the immediate context, of the immediate judgment coming, and using it as a lens to reach into the future, to the ultimate time of judgment, the great tribulation period, on the earth, which is not a single event, but a protracted period of time. And that whole period is seen as the day of the Lord and is described in similar terms.
The sword shall come upon Egypt. And great anguish shall be in Ethiopia when the slain fall in Egypt and take away her wealth. And her foundations are broken down. Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia, all the mingled people, Chub, and the men of the lands who are allied shall fall with them by the sword. Thus says the Lord, those who uphold Egypt shall fall. And the pride of her power shall come from Migdol to Syene.
Those with her shall fall by the sword, says the Lord God. They shall be desolate in the midst of the desolate countries. And her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are laid waste.
So this speaks of the defeat of those mercenary armies that sided themselves and aligned themselves with Egypt, from north to south. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have set a fire in Egypt and all the helpers are destroyed. On that day, messengers shall go forth from me, in ships, to make the careless Ethiopians afraid. And great anguish shall come upon them, as on the day of Egypt, for indeed it is coming.
The news that Egypt had fallen, by the Babylonians army, would shake up the nations around. Why? Well, for obvious reasons. If they can take Egypt, they can take us. If this great superpower, once so proud, so impenetrable, has fallen, is gone, then we ourselves are vulnerable. And it caused panic.
Thus says the Lord God, I will also make a multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He, and his people with him, the most terrible of the nations, shall be brought to destroy the land. They shall draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain.
I will make the rivers dry and sell the land into the hand of the wicked. I will make the land waste. And all that is in it, by the hand of aliens, I, the Lord, have spoken.
And truly, history proves that Nebuchadnezzar and his army, they were ruthless. They were savages. They treated captives cruelly.
King Zedekiah is the prime example. When he tried to flee and he was captured, they kill his sons in front of him. And then they put out his eyes so that the last living memory of what he saw was the death of his sons. That's the kind of army they were.
Now, the rest of it brings out the leading cities that are slated for destruction. No major city of Egypt would escape judgment. Thus says the Lord God, I will also destroy the idols and cause the images to cease, from Manf, Men that is the city of Memphis, not Tennessee, Egypt.
There shall no longer be princes from the land of Egypt. I will put fear in the land of Egypt. I will make Pathros desolate. That's southern Egypt, between Cairo and Aswan; set fire to Zoan. That's the royal residence area in the Delta region, called Tanis. And execute judgments in No. No joke, No is Thebes.
I will pour my fury on Syene. That's Pelusium. The strength of Egypt I will cut off from the multitude of No and set fire in Egypt. Syene shall have great pain. That is the city. And No shall be split open and Noph shall be in distress daily.
The young men of Aven that is the Heliopolis, a major religious center for Egypt, and Pi-beseth which is also a major religious center in ancient times, shall fall by the sword. And these cities shall go into captivity.
You know what's interesting about Egypt? Originally, when their culture first began, history tells us they were monotheistic. They worshiped a single God, often referred to El.
As time went on, they followed the spiritual degradation of so many other cultures and became highly polytheistic, worshipped, Ra, the sun god; Apis, the god of strength, the bull; Heqet, the frog goddess. They worshiped the Nile River. They worshiped the pharaoh.
And perhaps it was Egypt that Paul had in his mind when he spoke, in Romans 1, these words. They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image, made like corruptible man, and birds and four-footed animals, and creeping things. That's the legacy of the Egyptian culture. Polytheistic, turned from the worship of God to the worship of gods, and here judged.
At Tahpenes-- it's named after an Egyptian queen. It's a frontier city on the Suez. The day shall also be darkened when I break the yokes of Egypt there. And her arrogant strength shall cease in her. As for her, a cloud shall cover her. And her daughter shall go up into captivity.
By the way, this city here, Tahpenes, you remember that Jeremiah was taken to this city after the murder of Gedaliah in the Book of Jeremiah. It was that city that he was taken to, the city that they fled to after that murder.
I will execute judgments on Egypt, verse 19. Then they shall know that I am the Lord. And it came to pass, in the 11th year, in the first month, on the seventh day of the month, April 29, 587 BC in our calendar, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, son of man, I have broken the arm of pharaoh, king of Egypt. And see, it has not been bandaged for healing, nor a splint put on it to bind it, to make it strong enough to hold a sword.
Therefore, thus says the Lord God, surely I am against pharaoh, king of Egypt, and will break his arms, both the strong and the ones-- both the strong one and the one that was broken. And I will make the sword fall out of his hand. Figuratively, pharaoh's arms are broken.
We think this refers to two incidences. One that happened way before this, the battle of Carchemish, at which Pharaoh Necho was defeated. And here, Pharaoh Hophra, the current king, the current pharaoh of Egypt, who would be destroyed or broken, his arm broken, his arm of strength, by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians.
I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand. But I will break pharaoh's arms. And he will groan before him with the groanings of a mortally wounded man.
Thus, I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, put the arms of pharaoh-- the arms of pharaoh shall fall down. They shall know that I am the Lord when I put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. Then-- and here's that phrase so famous in this prophecy-- then they shall know that I am the Lord.
Now, what did all of these nations that are judged, that are mentioned, have in common? There was a certain amount of pride in attacking the Jews, the apple of God's eye, the covenant people, with which God had a long-standing covenant with, and against God himself. They were proud. They thought they were great. And they believed they made themselves great.
Now, all of that serves as a warning-- and we have touched upon this warning throughout the prophets-- about the nation in which we live. We live in a great nation. It's a blessed nation.
I love the United States of America. And I love that our currency still says, one nation under God. And that when we make a pledge of allegiance, we do it as under God. But I fear that we are turning away from the very God that made this nation great. And we're becoming so humanistic, so personally arrogant, that we're the ones that made this country great.
It's us. It's the hard work of our forefathers. We blessed ourselves. And that is the same path as so many of these nations.
Paul Harvey had an interesting commentary, that I copied down from his radio show one day. He said, if I were the devil, I would seize control of the most powerful nation in the world. I would delude their minds into thinking that their blessings had come from their own effort and goodness, rather than God's blessing. I would dupe the governments into relying on gambling for revenue; convince the people that character is not an issue in leadership; make it legal to kill babies before they took their first breath; and make it socially acceptable, attractive, and legal, and easy to take one's life, while making it a crime to confront or stop someone who is doing it.
I would raise the value of animals above that of infants and the elderly. I would remove God from the schools, to the extent that the mention of His name would be grounds for a lawsuit. If I were the devil, I would develop drugs that seduce the mind, targeting the young. And I would use celebrities to promote it.
I would justify the means by pointing to a desired result, making divorce and free love right and attractive, thus breaking the backbone of the family. If I were the devil, I would call depraved and sick fantasies art, and pay premiums to boldly display it, especially if it mocked God, the family, and character.
I'd convince people that right and wrong are determined by an elite group that can do no wrong. That it's always politically correct. I would persuade people that the Church and the Bible are irrelevant and out of date. If I were the devil, I'd tell people not to get involved, to leave it up to the experts, for they know best. And they will do best for my behalf.
If I were the devil, I would dull the minds of Christians into believing that prayer isn't important and that faith, trust, and obedience are optional. If I were the devil, I guess I would leave things pretty much as they are.
As we pray tonight, let's pray for our own nation, as we're coming up on the 4th of July. And let's have a display of dependence. Our declaration of dependence upon Him, not independence, but dependence. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, we do thank you for the nation in which we live, that we have the freedom of assembly, the freedom of speech, the freedom to have radio broadcasts, as such, to get out the word of God, to preach the gospel. We realize, Lord, that the times in which we live are dark and more and more people are turning away from you.
We pray for our nation, its rulers. We pray, Lord, that they would become utterly dependent upon you as the source of their life and look to you for wisdom. And we make our own declaration of dependence upon you this coming week, as we live our lives to please you in Jesus' name. Amen.
Shall we stand. And they shall know that I am the Lord when I have done these things. What will it take to cause people to know that the Lord has indeed spoken?
Years ago, we were in the place where we were in rapid growth. We needed a larger facility. We didn't have all of the funds available. But a very wealthy Jew was quite interested in seeing the hippie kids coming to the Lord.
And so he came. And he offered us a loan, interest free for one year, to help us through this financial crisis. Actually, to help us to complete the purchase of some property, to build our chapel.
I had a chance to witness to him about the Lord. He had family who were in the concentration camps in Germany. He had pretty much given up his faith in God. And I said, what would it take to convince you that God's word is true?
And so I began to mention a few things that the Bible had prophesied. And he said, well, there's a good chance that that would happen. And he sort of passed off the prophecies. So I said, well, the Bible tells us that the Muslim nations will be joined probably with Russia and invade Israel. And they will be soundly defeated by God.
He said, when that happens I will believe. I said, well, you'll probably be a little late. Because by then, the Lord will probably have taken His church out of the world. Of course, he was too late. He died before he got to see that. But what would it take to make you a believer?
Now, in the next, oh, three weeks or so, we will be getting into that area of Ezekiel's prophecies where he's not going to be prophesying of things that have already happened, that we can look at, as we did tonight, the prophecies against Egypt, and Tyre, and Sidon, and so forth. But we're going to be going into the future, as the Lord prophesied, of the rebirth of the nation of Israel, the gathering of the people again, the rebirth of the nation itself, and of this invasion by the Muslim nations, and their defeat.
And we'll be getting into this in just another couple of weeks, as we move along in these prophecies. But what will it take? And they shall know that I am the Lord.
Surely, there is sufficient evidence already, that if you've been following with us, as we've been going through these prophecies here in Ezekiel, and have been able to see their confirmation in history, it should be sufficient to cause you to realize that, indeed, when he said the word of the Lord came to me, that you would be convinced, yes, it had to be God that was speaking to him.
He could not have predicted these things. And them, just by happenstance, being fulfilled. God has spoken. The Bible is God's word. What God has said will come to pass. And the sooner we recognize this and submit to this, the better off we'll be.
God has said that he wants to help you. He wants to be a God to you. That he wants you to cast your cares upon him.
May the Lord watch over and keep you. May he fill you with his spirit. May you experience the power of God's spirit working in your life this week, that you might know that he is God.