November 14, 2021

Ezekiel 29:1–30:26

As Ezekiel pens the first of seven prophecies against Egypt, Jerusalem has been surrounded by the Babylonians for just two days shy of one year (Ezekiel 24:1-2; 29:1). Jerusalem had once hoped for Egypt’s help, relying on this nation numerous times throughout her history, but God would strip that reliance away. As a matter of fact, God would judge Egypt to such an extremity, that this once powerful nation, would never recover its greatness again.

Ezekiel points directly to Hophra, the Pharaoh of Egypt at that time (he reigned from 589 to 570 B.C.) describing him as a monster, a man who claimed the Nile River to be his, even claiming to make the Nile River. God would humble him and his nation for their pride.

Ezekiel mentions the cities of Migdol and Syene in order to describe the extent of the judgment. Although we don’t extra biblical records of the 40 years  of Egyptian deportation, it is safe to assume this is what took place, since Babylon did conquer Egypt and deportation was their standard practice.

Egypt has never returned anywhere near the place she once was, in spite of such ambitions. Bible Knowledge Commentary, “She tried to exert herself during the intertestamental period, but she was held in check by Greece, Syria, and Rome. Egypt’s political weakness would be a continual object lesson to Israel. She would look at Egypt and remember her folly of depending on men instead of God.”

Make no mistake about it, God wants us, His children, to trust ONLY in Him!

Ezekiel 29:16 (NKJV) “No longer shall it be the confidence of the house of Israel, but will remind them of their iniquity when they turned to follow them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” 

Seventeen years later, Ezekiel again describes Babylon’s plundering of Egypt; by now the prophecies against Tyre have been partially fulfilled (Ezekiel 29:17-21). The Babylonians had sieged the city of Tyre for 13 years; they’d worked hard in the process, but only gathered meager spoils. Apparently Tyre had shipped their treasures off. God was now “paying” the Babylonians for their labor at the expense of the Egyptians.

Although not in chronological order, the details of judgment upon Egypt continue tin Ezekiel 30, and not only Egypt, but also upon her allies. The Day of the Lord is near, indeed it is coming, then they shall know, God says “…that I am the LORD.”

Egypt’s idols, judged, her cities, leveled, her yokes, broken, “…her arrogant strength shall cease…” (Ezekiel 30:18). We get that visual of Pharaoh’s broken arm, unable to hold a sword, but the king of Babylon’s arm strengthened by God, defeating this once “undefeated” nation.

Ezekiel 30:26 (NKJV) “I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”

How many people are in hell right now – who now know, the truth, justice, and existence of the God of the Bible? If only they had humbled themselves to look up, before it was too late. 

God will deal thus, with every nation of the world – the truth is the ultimate Day of the LORD can begin, any day now.

Hebrews 11:32–12:13

By faith they lived, they conquered, they suffered, they died (Isaiah was sawn in two – Hebrews 11:37) all this is mentioned to us, so we also might live and die by faith. Take God at His Word, His promises are true, Jesus will always be with us, and one day we’ll be home in heaven, we can see it…we can even see Him with the eyes of our heart.

In Hebrews 12, I’m not certain, but it appears that there still may be an opportunity for us to make it into the hall of faith. The chapter begins with the words, “we also…”

I like what Warren Wiersbe said, “The people listed in chapter 11 are the ‘cloud’ that witnesses to us, ‘God can be trusted!’ When you read the Old Testament, your faith should grow, for the account shows what God did in and through people who dared to trust His promises (Romans 15:4).”

Again, we have that analogy, the reality of running…in our Christian life. As we run this race, we must run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) (to be the best possible me) so we need to travel light. When was the last time you saw an Olympic runner running with a backpack on? The writer commands us to lay aside every weight. I believe the weights that need to be laid aside aren’t always things that are sinful, they may be things that are permissible – but they’re things that slow us down in the race. As you go through life and choose what to include along way, each and every day, ask yourself, “Is this a wing or a weight? Does it build me up, or slow me down?”

The sin which easily ensnares us might be in reference to our own unique vulnerabilities (some people struggle with anger more than others, or jealousy, pornography, laziness, etc.) we’re all uniquely wired with different strengths and weaknesses. It could also be the sin of unbelief. Some lean in this direction, with this interpretation by saying that this is the overall warning in the book of Hebrews (see Hebrews 3:12).

Another important aspect of this race is that we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Don’t look around or you’ll be distressed, don’t focus on yourself or you’ll be depressed, just keep your eyes on Jesus – you’ll be blessed. As we keep in mind and heart that Jesus died for us, we’ll always remember His love, even though we go through the fiery trials of life.

The Hebrews were being persecuted, but they were also being chastened by their heavenly Father. This was another proof of their Father’s love for them, He cared enough to correct them. Whenever we experience Divine discipline, we shouldn’t cry, kick, and complain, we should conform and ask the Lord what needs to change in our lives. I agree wholeheartedly with G. Campbell Morgan who said, “We cry too often to be delivered from the punishment, instead of the sin that lies behind it. We are anxious to escape from the things that cause us pain rather than from the things that cause God pain.”

Let’s also remember the words of Pastor Chuck who said, “The chastening of the Lord is never punitive, but always corrective.”

Psalm 112:1-10

I love the way this Psalm stands out (this is one of those verses to memorize).

Psalm 112:1 (NKJV) “Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in His commandments.”

Do you want to be blessed? Of course we do, we should therefore cultivate a healthy fear of the LORD, and have a heart to obey His Word!

The only valid fear is a healthy fear of God. We will not be afraid of “bad” news, or as the Psalmist puts it, “evil tidings,” (Psalm 112:7) our heart will be steadfast.

This Psalm lists the way such people will be blessed…and some of their characteristics.

Blessed in family, in provision, with salvation (that’s a big one), with light, with stability, with victory over one’s enemies. The person who fears the LORD and longs to live God’s Word will be imputed with the righteousness of Christ forever and ever (Psalm 112:9; Romans 10:4).

This person will be gracious, compassionate, and righteous – both positionally and practically. This person will be generous and wise, will disperse abroad, and give to the poor.

Our haters will throw tantrums at the sight of us being blessed, experiencing this abundant life, but it’s there for us to enjoy, the life of those who fear God, love God, and have that heart to obey Him.

Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV) “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

I would describe this “sharpening” as genuine, and at times intense, friendship and fellowship. What a difference it makes in our lives!

Countenance usually speaks of one’s face, which is a reflection of the heart (we see that in Proverbs 27:19). We read in:

Ecclesiastes 8:1 (NKJV) “Who is like a wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, and the sternness of his face is changed.”

You’ll see it first of all in their face, but then there’s more. The Hebrew word can refer to a person’s personality. I’ve seen it over the years, people who are poisoned by bad influences, and people who are sharpened by good ones.

We are shaped, we are sharpened, by whoever we share life with, even those random discussions, suggestions, criticisms.

Be aware of that; do your best to be around, and surrounded by those who are strong in the Word. We need to stay sharp.

I like what Pastor Sandy Adams said, “No one sharpens a knife on a stick of butter.”

No, it takes friction to forge an enduring faith.

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