The Latter Major Prophets – Ezekiel 25-26

  • Ezekiel 25:1-17

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them.  Say to them, ‘Hear the word of the Sovereign Lord.  This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you said “Aha!” over my sanctuary when it was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile, therefore I am going to give you to the people of the East as a possession.  They will set up their camps and pitch their tents among you; they will eat your fruit and drink your milk.  I will turn Rabbah into a pasture for camels and Ammon into a resting place for sheep.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.  For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel, therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations.  I will wipe you out from among the nations and exterminate you from the countries.  I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the Lord.’”
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because Moab and Seir said, “Look, Judah has become like all the other nations,” therefore I will expose the flank of Moab, beginning at its frontier towns—Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon and Kiriathaim—the glory of that land.  I will give Moab along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, so that the Ammonites will not be remembered among the nations; and I will inflict punishment on Moab.  Then they will know that I am the Lord.’”
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because Edom took revenge on Judah and became very guilty by doing so, therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will stretch out my hand against Edom and kill both man and beast.  I will lay it waste, and from Teman to Dedan they will fall by the sword.  I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because the Philistines acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah, therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will wipe out the Kerethites and destroy those remaining along the coast.  I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath.  Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I take vengeance on them.’”

In the eleventh month of the twelfth year, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, because Tyre has said of Jerusalem, ‘Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper,’ therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves.  They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock.  Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.  She will become plunder for the nations, and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword.  Then they will know that I am the Lord.
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army.  He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you.  He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons.  His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust.  Your walls will tremble at the noise of the warhorses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through.  The hooves of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground.  They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea.  I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more.  I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets.  You will never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Tyre: Will not the coastlands tremble at the sound of your fall, when the wounded groan and the slaughter takes place in you?  Then all the princes of the coast will step down from their thrones and lay aside their robes and take off their embroidered garments.  Clothed with terror, they will sit on the ground, trembling every moment, appalled at you.  Then they will take up a lament concerning you and say to you:
“‘How you are destroyed, city of renown,
    peopled by men of the sea!
You were a power on the seas,
    you and your citizens;
you put your terror
    on all who lived there.
Now the coastlands tremble
    on the day of your fall;
the islands in the sea
    are terrified at your collapse.’
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I make you a desolate city, like cities no longer inhabited, and when I bring the ocean depths over you and its vast waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of long ago.  I will make you dwell in the earth below, as in ancient ruins, with those who go down to the pit, and you will not return or take your place in the land of the living.  I will bring you to a horrible end and you will be no more.  You will be sought, but you will never again be found, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

  • Ezekiel 26:1-21

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Ezekiel 25-26 ‘introduction’: “There are passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel that are rich with declarations of love and promises of hope.  Even in the minor prophets you will find precious truths that will refresh you.  But you will also discover many long difficult passages regarding judgment and the destruction of nations which are not to be found on our modern maps.  These passages are the ones in which it is hard to find an encouraging word or devotional thought.  These are the type of passages that [are in these chapters].
But I hope through our study … that you will persevere through a few more chapters of prophecy regarding the wrath of the Lord, and that through this study you will see the character of the Lord.  It is in knowing Who the Lord is in His entirety that we have rest and security and understanding.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 25:2, 3 ‘against the Ammonites’: “These people lived on the edge of the desert, east of the Jordan River and north of Moab.  They had joined Babylon against Judah about 600 B.C. (2 Kin. 24:2ff.).  In 594 B.C., together with other nations, they tried to influence Judah to ally with them against Babylon (Jer. 27:2ff.).  Ezekiel 21:18-20 indicates that Babylon came after them.  There is no record of an attack, so they must have surrendered (21:28; Zeph. 2:8—11).  They were of incestuous origin (cf. Gen. 19:37, 38) and often hostile toward Judah (cf. Judg. 10; 1 Sam. 11; 2 Sam. 10, 12; Jer. 49:1-6; Lam. 2:15; Amos 1:13-15).  God judged this people because of their enmity against Israel (vv. 3,6).  They expressed malicious pleasure at the dishonoring of the temple, desolation of the land, and dispersion of the inhabitants.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 25:8-11 ‘Moab and Seir’: “The origin of these people is given in Genesis 19:37, 38.  Their land was the area south of the Arnon River along the lower region of the Dead Sea.  Cf. Isaiah 15; 16; Jeremiah 48; Amos 2:1-3.  The Babylonians destroyed cities there in 582/81 B.C.  The reason for judgment (v. 8) also included their gloating over Israel’s fall. as well as their scorn in saying Israel was like all other people with no privileged position before God.  Both Ammonites and Moabites became absorbed into the Arabian peoples.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 25:12 ‘Edom’: “Cf. chapter 35; Isaiah 21:11, 12; Jeremiah 49:7—22; Amos 1:11, 12; Obadiah; Malachi 1:3—5.  These people lived south of Moab from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqabah.  These people had been almost annihilated by David (2 Sam. 8:14), but they won back independence during the reign of Ahaz (c. 735-715 B.C.).  Their revenge was hostility toward Israel constantly (cf. Gen. 27:27-41; Is. 34:5-7).  The reason for judgment is Edom’s disdain when the Israelites were devastated in 588-86 B.C.  They acted like a cheering section for Babylon, calling out “raze it, raze it” (Ps. 137:7; Lam. 4: 21, 22).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 25:15-17 ‘the Philistines’: “Cf. Isaiah 14:29-33; Jeremiah 47; Joel 3:4; Amos 1:6-8; Obadiah 19; Zephaniah 2:4-7; Zechariah 9:5.  The reason for their judgment was perpetual enmity, and vengefulness against Israel, which perpetuated the “old hatred” from as far back as Judges 13-16.  They constantly harassed and oppressed Israel until David broke their power during Saul’s reign (1 Sam. 17).  They repeatedly rose up and were subdued by Israel.  Nebuchadnezzar invaded their land (Jer. 47).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 25 ‘summary’: “In spite of the fact that the Israelites didn’t obey the Lord, He still was on their side.  He followed through on His promise to curse those who curse them, to protect them, to be their adversary, to take vengeance on anyone who stood against their nation.  The Lord first judged His own people for their rebellion against Him, then He judged the pagan, Gentile nations for their rejection of His people and His deity.
Ezekiel 25 was basically a warm-up exercise for … Chapter 26.  In the next three chapters, the Lord communicates much to the nation of Tyre.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 26:1-6 ‘the sin of Tyre’: “The most distinctive feature of Tyre was its physical location on a rocky island just off the Phoenician coast.  Its natural and artificial harbors provided her with economic advantages and military security.  Josephus tells us, in substantiation of this, that Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Tyre lasted for thirteen years, and was somewhat inconclusive at that.  This was a much longer period than the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem.  Not until the late 300s was the city totally breached by Alexander the Great.  Tyre means “rock,” which is to be understood both literally and metaphorically.  He who lived within Tyre had security and protection.
“This particular prophecy has four sections to it.  The first (26:1-6) identifies the sin of Tyre and the judgment to come on her.  The date for this sermon, the eleventh year, first day, is 587 (or 586 if ‘eleventh month’ is inserted).  Tyre rejoices in Jerusalem’s demise, as did Ammon and Moab.  Her unusual name for Judah is ‘the gate to the nations,’ and indicates that Tyre views Judah as a trading rival.  Now she would have the market to herself.  God has something to say about this.  He will bring nations against her “like the sea casting up its waves” (v. 3b).  Here is the utter relentlessness of the ocean.  No one wave will bring destruction, but the incessant pounding of the waves will destroy even the strongest rock.  The phrase I will scrape away her rabble (v. 4) suggests erosion.  Tyre, the protecting rock, will become Tyre the bare rock.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 26:7-14 ‘against Tyre’: “The second section (26:7-14) describes the invasion of the king from the north (Nebuchadnezzar) against Tyre.  This paragraph is a particularization of verse 3.  The onslaught will be against both Tyre’s mainland towns and Tyre herself.  Destruction, plundering, and death will be the order of the day.
So devastating is this attack that even the neighboring princes will lament Tyre’s overthrow.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 26:15-18 ‘Tyre lament’: “This is the third section of the chapter (26:15-18).  The lament contrasts Tyre as she once was with what she now is, and speaks of the tremors her fall has occasioned.  If Tyre can be subjugated, what hope is there for anybody else?”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 26:19-21 ‘Tyre’s eclipse’: “The last section (26:19-21) describes Tyre’s eclipse; she descends to the realm of the dead.  The impossible has happened!  Impregnable Tyre is not so impregnable after all.  The protection she thought she had turns out to be illusory.  Tyre has been “un-tyred.”  Before the Rock, the rock has sunk.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 26:21 ‘Tyre – today’: “Where is Tyre now?  ‘Though you are sought for, you will never be found again.  (Ezekiel 26:21)  Modern day Lebanon boasts that Tyre is its fourth largest city.  In 1979 UNESCO declared Tyre a World Heritage Site.  You can take a tour to see the archeological finds of ancient Tyre, and eat at a local seafood restaurant.  Do these facts contradict Ezekiel ’s prophecy?”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

My Thoughts

One of my wife’s most vivid memories, even if it never happened (or possibly not that often), was that there were nine children in the family.  That fact is unassailable, but then…  If you were unkind to any of the nine, you had nine coming after you.  So, she took solace in those numbers and felt that was why few tried to mess with her or her siblings.

I see her memory of her childhood as a human parallel to the divine promises made by God.  Even in the total rebellion that His Chosen People made against Him, God had their backs.  Read the history within the books of the Old Testament.  The four nations that God passes judgment upon in Ezekiel 25 are giving the Israelites fits since not that long after the Exodus up until the kingdom of Judah is destroyed.  David sent an envoy to the Ammonites on the death of their king to show a courtesy (sympathy).  The new Ammonite king humiliated the envoy, and David almost totally destroyed the nation.  Moab’s king sent for Balaam to curse the people of Israel long before they had finished their wandering in the wilderness.  These nations all allied themselves against Israel and/or Judah from time to time.  And the Philistines were at war with Judah from the time of Joshua through the time of David and beyond.

But while the Philistines were the final surviving element of the Canaanites, the other three cursed in Ezekiel 25 were cousins of the Israelites.  Okay, everyone is related, but while Philistia were from Ham, the others were not just descendants of Shem, but not that distant Semites.  Edom was another name for Esau, Jacob’s (Israel’s) brother.  Moab was the son born of Lot’s older daughter when Lot (Abraham’s nephew) had an incestuous union with her (Genesis 19).  Ben-Ammi (father of the Ammonites) was the corresponding son of Lot’s younger daughter by the same method.  Most people remember Moab, but somehow forget that Ben-Ammi produced a rival for Israel as well.

And the land of each of these three cousins, and the Philistines, bordered the southern kingdom of Judah.  Judah’s downfall was to out sin her neighbors.  I have written many times that one of our greatest sins is that of comparison (albeit covetousness to an extent).  In this case, Judah tried to outdo her neighbors in worshipping false gods when God had set Judah aside to show the worship of the One true God to their neighbors.

So, for those three that were cousins, they provided temptation and they warred against God’s people.  The Philistines were simply vile, constantly attacking.

But God promised to protect His Chosen People up to a point and when God’s mercy limit was reached, the punishment of His people had to be carried out.  God is holy and when He threatens punishment, you can count on it.  That still did not mean the thorns in the side, those rotten neighbors that caused trouble, got away with their misdeeds.  Thus, they had to fall also.

That brings us to Tyre in Ezekiel 26, and really Ezekiel 26-28.  Look at what is said about Tyre prior to this curse of the walled, island city in the history of the Israelites, first mentioned as a boundary of the division of the Promised Land in Joshua 19 (a boundary of the tribe of Asher), but then an active role in commerce and diplomacy in 2 Samuel 5.  Tyre’s king had a friendly relationship with King David, although money had a lot to do with it.  Cedars were provided.  The king of Tyre carried on that relationship with King Solomon in the same fashion.

As far as their “sins” go, all we really know is that Tyre laughed and scoffed when Israel and then Judah fell.

But Tyre was the New York City of its day, the financial center.  It was nearly impregnable.  It was a walled city on an island.  As the Baker Commentary states, the Babylonians conducted an extended siege against the city, but they never totally conquered the city.  The city was finally destroyed and leveled in the time of the Roman Empire.

When there is a siege on dry land, you can cut off supplies going in and out of the city, but if they have a source of water in wells and cisterns beneath the city, the city can survive for a long time.  Food becomes a problem, but if you live on an island, you might have means of catching fish.  Thus, the siege lasted much longer than the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction was not total as it had been in Jerusalem, not until later.

To answer Elizabeth Ficken’s question, God promised that Tyre would never be found, once destroyed, but when you find the ruins of the city, have you really found a booming metropolis that buys and sells better than anyone else around and the central source of power based on that commerce?  Or have you found interesting ruins on a rock island – but findings that prove that the Biblical accounts are accurate?

But really!  All Tyre did was laugh?  Hardly.  They disrespected God and the notion that the Israelites were God’s Chosen People.  Of course, the Israelites never seemed to act like they were God’s people.  We, as Christians, should learn by that thought.  But Tyre probably already had an ascension plan in place that if the Israelites were kicked out, Tyre would move in and expand their business, with hints in this chapter.  They coveted the high ground around Jerusalem where all the trade of the Fertile Crescent travelled.  Tyre might rule the sea, but they wanted the control of the land economy as well.

We will discuss Tyre in more detail in our study of the next two chapters, Ezekiel 27 and 28.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. Do you recall a time when you learned “the Lord is God” through hard knocks?  Does your faith grow best in good times or adversity?  ls God really ‘putting down’ those he punishes (18:23)?
“2. What is your attitude when you hear bad things are happening to bad people?  What should it be?
“3. Does God punish the modern foes of Christianity to reveal his glory’?
“4. If God did not give Israel’s neighbors Biblical revelation, how do you think he made his will known? How does God communicate today?  With whom does God communicate?
“1. ls God ‘going overboard’ in punishing those who rejoice in Israel’s misfortune so harshly?  What does this say about God’s commitment to Israel?
“2. What does this chapter do to the ancient belief that gods only have power within territorial borders?  Was Yahweh ‘washed-up’ when Israel was destroyed?
“3. Do you rejoice or lament over the current political situation in this country?  ls God working out a plan or wringing his hands?  Should your small group be involved with the affairs of this land or other countries?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There are two sets of questions, one for each chapter.

The last question is designed for small groups, but it could be rephrased, even for small group discussion, asking if you as an individual should get involved, or your church, or your denomination.  There could be a variety of opinions on that subject.  Why would a church or denomination being involved in political affairs be a good or bad thing?  Why or why not?  I could probably debate either side.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

2 Comments

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  1. I love the way your weave all the history and geography, along with information on various groups of people. It makes the study come to life.

    Liked by 2 people

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