The Latter Major Prophets – Ezekiel 29-32

In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, 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 to him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt,
    you great monster lying among your streams.
You say, “The Nile belongs to me;
    I made it for myself.”
But I will put hooks in your jaws
    and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales.
I will pull you out from among your streams,
    with all the fish sticking to your scales.
I will leave you in the desert,
    you and all the fish of your streams.
You will fall on the open field
    and not be gathered or picked up.
I will give you as food
    to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky.
Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord.
“‘You have been a staff of reed for the people of Israel.  When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched.
“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will bring a sword against you and kill both man and beast.  Egypt will become a desolate wasteland.  Then they will know that I am the Lord.
“‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it,” therefore I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush.  The foot of neither man nor beast will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years.  I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities.  And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries.
“‘Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered.  I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry.  There they will be a lowly kingdom.  It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations.  I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations.  Egypt will no longer be a source of confidence for the people of Israel but will be a reminder of their sin in turning to her for help.  Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.’”
In the twenty-seventh year, in the first month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw.  Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre.  Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth.  He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army.  I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me, declares the Sovereign Lord.
“On that day I will make a horn grow for the Israelites, and I will open your mouth among them.  Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

  • Ezekiel 29:1-36

Ezekiel 30:1-26 – Click the link HERE to read this at Biblegateway.com

Ezekiel 31:1-18 – Click the link HERE to read this at Biblegateway.com

Ezekiel 32:1-32 – Click the link HERE to read this at Biblegateway.com

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Ezekiel 29-30 ‘introduction’: “It’s a little difficult to see an immediate application of this Word of the Lord to our lives, isn’t it?  We can certainly be reminded that the actions of the Lord are to lead us to see Him and know that He is the Lord.  There’s also a phrase in the midst of this chapter that can direct us to do some evaluation of our lives: ‘No longer shall it [Egypt] be the confidence of the house of Israel.’  Israel had a long history of turning to Egypt for help instead of turning to the Lord.  When Egypt was judged, its cities were turned into abandoned places, the people were scattered throughout the nations, and Egypt lost its powerful status for all time.  It was no longer a nation that could help Israel.
“Is there something or someone in your own life that you turn to for help instead of turning to the Lord?  Has the Lord removed anything or anyone from your life so that you would have to turn to Him instead?  What or who do you put your confidence in?  Do you realize that the Lord transforms you by changing the circumstances around you?
“Ezekiel himself experienced quite a change in his circumstances.  He was taken from his home in Jerusalem.  He was placed in a foreign land.  He had been preparing for the priesthood but was seized by the Lord to be a prophet!  In Ezekiel 3:24, the Lord said to him: ‘Go, shut yourself inside your house.’  His social activities were limited.  And, in Ezekiel 3:26, the Lord said: ‘I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute…’  He lost his voice, except for the times when the Lord wanted to speak through him.  I continue to be amazed at Ezekiel’s surrender and submission to the Lord’s plans for him.”

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

Ezekiel 29:1 ‘the tenth year’: “587 B.C. is the tenth year after Jehoiachin’s deportation.  It is a year and two days after Nebuchadnezzar had come to Jerusalem (24:1, 2; 2 Kin. 25:1) and seven months before its destruction (2 Kin. 25:3-8).  This is the first of seven oracles against Egypt (cf. 29:17; 30:1; 32:1; 32:17).”

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

Ezekiel 29:2 ‘against all Egypt’: “Cf. Isaiah 19; Jeremiah 4611-26.  Egypt was to fall, even though it could be pictured as a water monster (vv. 3-5), a towering tree like Assyria (31:3), a young lion (32:2), and a sea monster (32:2- 8).  The judgment looks ahead to 570 B.C. when the Greeks of Cyrene defeated Pharaoh (Apries) Hophra and 568/67 B.C. when Babylon conquered Egypt.”

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

Ezekiel 29:3 ‘great monster’: “Most likely, the crocodile is the figure used for the king.  Crocodiles were worshiped by the Egyptians, and lived in their rivers.  Rahab is a general term used for a monster which often symbolized Egypt.”

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

Ezekiel 29:6-9a ‘not just Pharoah, but all Egypt’: “Verses 6b-9a represent the second unit, and there is a shift in addressee and metaphor.  All who live in Egypt are now spoken to, and not just the Pharaoh.  The Egyptians are compared to a staff of reed for the house of Israel.  This is not a new metaphor but goes back to Isaiah.  The Assyrian Sennacherib sneered at Hezekiah for depending on ‘Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff’ (Isa. 36:6) in a time of crisis.
“The point here is not that Egypt failed to provide sufficient support and aid to Judah in her fight against the Babylonians.  Quite the opposite.  Her fault is that she even encouraged Israel to look upon her as a source of confidence (v. 16).  She gave every impression of collaborating with Israel in her fight for independence from Babylon, and as such pictured herself as a false hope and a false comfort.  What good is it, Ezekiel protests, to offer drowning men straws?  Do not try to stop or sidetrack, Ezekiel fulminates, what God has instituted.”

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

Ezekiel 29:9b-16 ‘punished for hubris’: “In the third section (29:9b-16) there is an amazing word.  God will punish Egypt for her hubris for forty years.  But when the forty years are over God will bring the Egyptians back from captivity.  He will return them to Pathros (v. 14), an Egyptian word meaning ‘land of the South.’  To be sure, she will not be restored to a position of international eminence, but she will be restored.
“Ezekiel has no such hopeful word for any of the other nations (chaps. 25-28).  Egypt is unique, then, in receiving some clemency, some ray of hope for her future.”

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

Ezekiel 29:21 ‘a red-letter day’: “’In that day.’  The judgment against Egypt would be a red-letter day for Israel and for Ezekiel!  Israel would see that the Lord is keeping His word, and Ezekiel would be able to speak words!”

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

Ezekiel 30:3 ‘the day of the Lord is near’: “This is a common expression for God’s judgment, especially His future judgment (cf. Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11; 3:14; Zech. 14:1; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:10).  God’s judgment day for Egypt embraces a near fulfillment in Babylon’s 568/67 invasion (v. 10; 32:11), as well as the distant day of the Lord in the future tribulation period when God calls all nations to judgment (Dan. 11:42, 43).”

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

Ezekiel 30:20-26 ‘no true help from Egypt’: “The second section of the chapter (30:20-26) is dated to the eleventh year, first month, seventh day (April S87 B.C.).  God has broken the arm of Pharaoh, and there will be no healing to follow.  This may refer to Neco’s defeat at Carchemish in 605 B.C., or to Pharaoh Hophra’s frustrated attempt to deliver Jerusalem from the Babylonians (588 B.C.).  God has broken the arms of the Pharaoh, but he will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, enabling him to brandish the sword against Egypt.
“Israel expects help from Egypt, but it will be help from a wounded, disabled ally.  The prospects for real assistance from such a handicapped partner are bleak.”

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

Ezekiel 31-32 ‘introduction’: “One more day of judgment on the nations.  You just might be thinking, ‘I really don’t care about what happened to Pharaoh!’  But the Lord thought it eternally important to proclaim.  Through Ezekiel in 585 B.C. and even now in the 21st century.  So please persevere in your study once more, as we look at the figurative descriptions of the nations of Assyria and Egypt.
“In Ezekiel 31 you will see that most of the chapter describes the nation of Assyria as a great, strong, beautiful cedar tree.  Verse 2 and verse 18 are spoken to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
“In Ezekiel 32, you will see poetic descriptions of the Pharaoh as a lion and as a sea monster (possibly a crocodile).  In verses 17 through 32 you will see those from the underworld taunting the Pharaoh as he joins them in the grave.
“Sounds really encouraging doesn’t it?  Keep this in mind: you take great comfort and relief in knowing that one day in the future, Satan, that enemy of our souls, will be bound and cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where he will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  That’s good news to us!  The judgment and lamentation against Egypt and its Pharaoh was good news to the Israelite exiles.  If the Lord is for us, who can stand against us?”

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

Ezekiel 31:2-18 ‘Whom are you like?’: “Ezekiel filled this chapter with a metaphor/analogy comparing Egypt to a huge tree that dominates a forest to a king/nation that dominates the world (cf. 17:22-24; Dan. 4:1-12, 19-27).  He reasoned that just as a strong tree like Assyria (v. 3) fell (c. 609 B.C.), so will Egypt (c. 568 B.C.).  If the Egyptians tend to be proud and feel invincible, let them remember how powerful Assyria had fallen already.”

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

Ezekiel 31:6-14 ‘pride, again’: “Once again, the pride of the rulers of nations is exposed, condemned, and eternally penalized.  I expect that few of you are kings, presidents, and rulers, but you may be a leader in your community, school, or church.  Beware of subtle pride.”

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

Ezekiel 31:18 ‘Key Word – Glory’: “1:28; 3:23; 9:3; 10:18; 31:18; 43:2; 44:4 – derived from a Hebrew verb which is used to describe the weight or worthiness of something.  It can refer to something negative.  For example, in reference to Sodom, it depicts the severe degree of sin that had reached the point of making that city worthy of complete destruction (Gen. 18:20).  But usually the word is used to depict greatness and splendor (Gen. 31:1).  The noun form is translated ‘honor’ in some instances (1 Kin. 3:13).  God’s glory is described in the Old Testament as taking the form of a cloud (Ex. 24:15-18) and filling the temple (1 Kin. 8:11).  The appropriate response to God’s glory is to reverence Him by bowing before Him, as Ezekiel did (3:23; 43:3).”

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

Ezekiel 32:1-16 ‘’: “The lament for Pharaoh (32:1-16) is dated to the twelfth year, twelfth month, first day (March 585 B.C.), after the capture and destruction of Jerusalem.
“Two figures of speech in verse 2 describe the Pharaoh.  He is compared to a lion and to a sea monster.  God himself throws his net over the beast, rendering him immobile.  Then he hurls him on the land, and leaves him as food for the birds and animals.  The blood and the remains of the carcass are so great that they fill the land.  This is not just hyperbole, but a way of indicating the international stature and esteem of the fallen Pharaoh.
“The demise of the Pharaoh is such that it sends shockwaves into creation and the surrounding nations.  It is actually the Lord who is brandishing the sword (v. 10) attributed to the king of Babylon (v. 11) and mighty men (v. 12).  Even the cattle will experience the effects of the divine judgment.”

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

Ezekiel 32:11-14 ‘The sword of … Babylon’: “This is the definite identification of the conqueror, as in 30:10 when Nebuchadnezzar is actually named (cf. 21:19; 29:19; Jer. 46:26).
“With no men or beasts to stir up the mud in the Nile River and its branches, the water will be clear and flow smoothly.  Since the river was the center of all life, this pictures the devastation graphically.”

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

Ezekiel 32:17-32 ‘’: “In Ezekiel 32:17-32, the Lord gives His final words against the nation of Egypt and concludes His oracles against the nations.  Ezekiel is commanded to ‘wail,’ which means to groan or cry aloud, over the multitude of Egypt.”

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

Ezekiel 32 ‘Reflections’: “Let a flood or a fire hit a populous countryside and no able-bodied citizen feels that he has any right to rest till he has done all he can to save as many as he can.  While death stalks farmhouse and village no one dares relax; this is the accepted code by which we live.  The critical emergency for some becomes an emergency for all, from the highest government official to the local Boy Scout troop.  As long as the flood rages or the fire roars on, no one talks of ‘normal times.”  No times are normal while helpless people cower in the path of destruction.
“In times of extraordinary crisis ordinary measures will not suffice.  The world lives in such a time of crisis.  Christians alone are in a position to rescue the perishing.  We dare not settle down to try to live as if things were ‘normal.’  Nothing is normal while sin and lust and death roam the world, pouncing upon one and another till the whole population has been destroyed.
“To me it has always been difficult to understand those evangelical Christians who insist upon living in the crisis as if no crisis existed.  They say they serve the Lord, but they divide their days so as to leave plenty of time to play and loaf and enjoy the pleasures of the world as well.  They are at ease while the world burns; and they can furnish many convincing reasons for their conduct, even quoting Scripture if you press them a bit.
“I wonder whether such Christians actually believe in the fall of man.”

  • A. W. Tozer, Born After Midnight

Ezekiel 25-32 ‘’: “You’ve just attended the wakes of seven nations and their rulers.  You’ve heard the truthful eulogies that stated the power and the pride, the greatness and the greed, the dominance and the disdain, of these nations toward the Lord’s people, Israel.  For their attitude and actions against His chosen nation, they were condemned.
“But the Lord had another purpose in mind in addition to judgment on behalf of Israel.  [What is] the phrase repeated in the verses[?] …  What did the Lord purpose for these nations?  (One answer fits all!  [And know that I am Lord.]”

  • 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

The last of the great nations, the nations that enticed Israel to sin, is cursed, but the curse is different than the others.

Israel perfected their worship of false gods while in Egypt.  Whenever Israel was in trouble, they turned to Egypt.  Abram went there during a famine, Genesis 12.  This was the first of two times that he passed off his wife as his sister.  After Joseph was discovered to not only be alive but second to Pharaoh in Egypt, Israel and his entire family moved there also due to famine, eventually becoming slaves, and then set free by God when Moses returned to plead for their release before Pharaoh.  Jeroboam escape to Egypt when he started a rebellion against Solomon, returning after Solomon died to renew and succeed in the rebellion.  Jeremiah prophesied against the governor turning to Egypt for help, but the governor did not listen.  Jeremiah went into exile in Egypt along with the others from Judah.

Yet, Egypt will be restored in 40 years, according to the prophecy of Ezekiel.  It will never be a world power again, but it will exist.  After all, Hosea 11:1 talks of calling God’s Son out of Egypt.  Egypt must exist, for this to happen.

Note that the other kingdoms or city-states are removed from the map.  There is no more Edom, Moab, or Ammon.  Sure, that part of the area is still there.  The island that was Tyre is a ruin, but the island exists, but Egypt exists as a country called Egypt.  Yet, in saving Egypt from total destruction, it is almost a curse in itself.  Egypt will never again be influential.  Today, one of their greatest industries is the tourist trade, showing the world what they once were, still totally oblivious as to the reason for their downfall.  They did not acknowledge that God is Lord of all.

The phrase from Migdol to Aswan is mentioned in Ezekiel 29 and 30.  This phrase, in talking of total destruction, is more than just a couple of cities.  Migdol is the Hebrew word for a tall tower or high structure.  Thus, Migdol represents fortifications, while Aswan is the name of an ancient city, but is also the Egyptian symbol for trade or market.  Thus, we are not just talking about Babylon destroying the fortifications to make Egypt weak and without protection, we are talking about destruction of their economic and trade influence.  They were the land bridge between all to the East and North and, from the South, all of Africa.  Now, they are a mere bump in the road.

And is Babylon “blessed by God?”  Absolutely not.  They are used by God, and then discarded as Assyria had been before them.

Pharaoh’s arms are broken, so that Egypt can no longer raise a sword against their neighbors.  In these four chapters, there is much symbolism like that.  I agree with the scholars above that the sea monster or water monster is probably the crocodile.  Crocodiles were worshipped, as was the frog (the second of the plagues of Egypt).  God also used darkness as a plague, and Egypt worshipped the sun.  To use the crocodile here is in keeping with this line of God showing the weakness in worshipping false gods.

All this destruction is as much a symbol to the Israelites that the only God is their Heavenly Father and not all these things made by man that they continue to chase.  The words ring out over and over.  “Then, they will know that I am the Lord.”

And the problem with each of these nations is pride.  There may be other things, especially the worshipping of false gods, but in a way, that stems from pride and self-centeredness.

As for us, C. S. Lewis said that for us to achieve humility, we must first realize that we are proud.  I believe others said that we must become humble, or we will be humbled by circumstance.  This is quite true with these nations.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. Does God work in your life without your knowing it?  On hindsight, when do you recall this happening?
“2. How does God reveal his actions and plans?  How can you better understand and fit in with his purposes?
“3. ls it good to rely on others or is it wiser to be as independent as possible?  How would you define: (a) Dependence? (b) Independence? (c) Inter-dependence?
“4. Do you think Nebuchadnezzar attacked Tyre and Egypt out of conscious obedience to the Lord?  What is the significance of your answer as you consider international conflicts today?
“1. The people in Jerusalem hoped that Ezekiel was wrong about the Babylonians and that Egypt would come to their rescue.  Do you find yourself waiting for someone to rescue you?  How do you feel ‘broken’ and helpless?
“2. God had to take away Israel’s false hope before he could help them.  ls God doing this in any area to you?  How are you responding?  Are you listening or gripping your hopes more tightly?
“3. Do you know anyone with false hopes?  How can you help him or her: (a) Confrontation? (b) A gentle question? (c) ‘Break the news’? (d) Say nothing and pray?
“1. Has God ever acted in blessing or judgment in the life of someone you know?  What did you learn from that experience?  Can you really learn from other peoples’ mistakes, or must you make your own?
“2. Everyone can’t have it ‘made in the shade’ in Beverly Hills.  ls it always true that for one person to have abundance, others must have less?
“3. If the world were a forest, how much of the water would you say you get?  How much does this nation take?
“4. How does God measure success?  In what area of life do you feel you are ‘branching out’?
“1. Would you bother being a Christian if there was no afterlife?  Why or why not?
“2. Judaism has no concept of an eternal hell.  What temporal sins do you think deserve eternal punishment?  What do you fear most about dying?  Why?  What hope do you have about facing death?  What hope does God want you to have?
“3. All world powers have eventually fallen.  What might help a mighty nation survive God’s judgment?”

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

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

I think the questions stand on their own merit, although some are a lot easier to answer than others, all are thought provoking.

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.

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