Posts Tagged ‘God and nations’

Day 3

WORD:  Ezekiel 31:1-14 (NLT)

31 On June 21, during the eleventh year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, give this message to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and all his hordes:

“To whom would you compare your greatness?
You are like mighty Assyria,
    which was once like a cedar of Lebanon,
with beautiful branches that cast deep forest shade
    and with its top high among the clouds.
Deep springs watered it
    and helped it to grow tall and luxuriant.
The water flowed around it like a river,
    streaming to all the trees nearby.
This great tree towered high,
    higher than all the other trees around it.
It prospered and grew long thick branches
    because of all the water at its roots.
The birds nested in its branches,
    and in its shade all the wild animals gave birth.
All the great nations of the world
    lived in its shadow.
It was strong and beautiful,
    with wide-spreading branches,
for its roots went deep
    into abundant water.
No other cedar in the garden of God
    could rival it.
No cypress had branches to equal it;
    no plane tree had boughs to compare.
No tree in the garden of God
    came close to it in beauty.
Because I made this tree so beautiful,
    and gave it such magnificent foliage,
it was the envy of all the other trees of Eden,
    the garden of God.

10 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because Egypt became proud and arrogant, and because it set itself so high above the others, with its top reaching to the clouds, 11 I will hand it over to a mighty nation that will destroy it as its wickedness deserves. I have already discarded it. 12 A foreign army—the terror of the nations—has cut it down and left it fallen on the ground. Its branches are scattered across the mountains and valleys and ravines of the land. All those who lived in its shadow have gone away and left it lying there.

13 “The birds roost on its fallen trunk,
    and the wild animals lie among its branches.
14 Let the tree of no other nation
    proudly exult in its own prosperity,
though it be higher than the clouds
    and it be watered from the depths.
For all are doomed to die,
    to go down to the depths of the earth.
They will land in the pit
    along with everyone else on earth

Some who read the prophets like Ezekiel forget that many words were spoken about nations other than ancient Israel.  As we learn about God and the nations, we should begin to realize that God has always been concerned about the whole world—about all the nations.  And His sovereignty has extended to those who acknowledged Him as well as those who consistently turned to other gods.

Ancient Egypt had a special place in God’s plan.  From the earliest Hebrew (Abram) forward, Egypt was a nation that people in God’s story often turned to for shelter and protection. Just think of Abram going to Egypt, then the sons of Jacob finding food in Egypt during seven years of world famine. In Egypt, the children of Jacob grew into the nation of Israel, but then were enslaved by the Egyptians.  That’s the other side of the Egyptian coin.  Egypt was often a major threat to surrounding nations.

Almost a millennium had passed since Abram first went to Egypt when Ezekiel was instructed to speak God’s words to Egypt, a millennium of blessing and punishing, a millennium of God’s intervening in their history, not just at the time of Moses.  And now, God’s patience with Egypt was coming to an end.

This story is about a nation that rose to greatness but was doomed to die in  its arrogance and pride because it set itself above all others. 

Prayer:  Forgive, O God, the foolish pride and arrogance of my nation. We thrive in your blessing; but too often when we prosper, we think we have created our own prosperity.  You, O Lord, are the source of every good thing our nation enjoys. We are just one of your nations; forgive our haughtiness to think that because you bless us, that you are confined to our national boundaries. Amen

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