Declaring Universal Accountability

Explore the Bible Series

 

Background Passage: Ezekiel 25:1-32:32

Lesson Passage: Ezekiel 25:1-4a; 15, 17: 26:2-3; 28:2,5

 

Introduction:

The sovereignty of God! What do we mean by this expression?We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God.To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:35).To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat his counsels, thwart His purposes, or resist His will (Ps. 115:3).To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is ďThe Governor among the nationsĒ (Ps. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best,To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the ďOnly Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lordsĒ (I Tim. 6:15).Such is the God of the Bible.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††Arthur W. Pink

 

Ezekiel declared the judgment of God against the nations that surrounded Judah.Until this point in his prophecy Ezekiel focused on the judgment of Judah and, to a lesser degree the people of Israel.Now, however, the prophet turned his attention to the Lordís displeasure with the pagan nations of the Middle East.In particular, he centered his thoughts on the haughty and violent sins of Judahís neighbors.It is clear from this section that God did not approve of the pagans rejoicing over the destruction of Judah. Perhaps they believed that the fall of Judah signaled the superiority of their idols to the God of Judah.They could not have been more mistaken.

 

In Ezekiel 2-32, God asserted his sovereignty over the nations of the earth.They did not possess the spiritual and moral light that God had entrusted to Israel, but the Lord held them accountable for their considerable sin.Above all, these nations took pride in their military prowess and their political security.Foolishly, they believed that the greatest threat to their security was the military ascension of other nations (like the Babylonians and Assyrians).They feared insulting the kings of the earth, but they thought little of offending the Lord of Hosts.Ezekiel made clear that God would punish the sins of the nations, just as he pledged to judge the transgressions of Judah.

 

Ezekiel initially turned his piercing, prophetic gaze on several small nations that bordered Judah: Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia; then, the prophet set his attention on two major powers in the region: Phoenicia (Tyre and Sidon) and Egypt.No nation was too small to escape the attention of the Lord, and no nation was too powerful to wiggle out ofGodís grip of judgment.††† The prophet asserted Godís sovereignty over all the nations, great and small.

 

A Brief Historical and Geographical Background of the Nations God Intended to Judge

 

  1. Ammon: This nomadic culture descended from the incestuous relationship between Lot and his youngest daughter (See Genesis 19:30-38).Their society centered on the city of Rabbah, and was located east of the Dead Sea in modern-day Jordan.The Ammonites had constant territorial disputes with Israel, and the relationship between the two nations was often strained.
  2. Moab:Moab, the descendants of Lotís relations with his oldest daughter, lived in a small, fertile area just east of the Dead Sea and south of Ammon.Unusual climate conditions rendered Moab more fertile than many other areas in the region, and the inhabitants raised cereal crops.Generally, the Israelites and Moabites got along well, but periods of peace were occasionally punctuated by hostility.
  3. Edom: The Edomites, descendents of Esau (See Genesis 25:30), lived in an arid region south of the Dead Sea.Again, the Edomites generally regarded Israel as a close relative, but periodic bloody warfare broke out between the nations on occasion (particularly intense during the period of the United Kingdom.
  4. Philistia: The Philistines inhabited the land east of Judah, and hostility characterized most of the relations between these people and Israel.Five cities made up the Philistine confederation, and they enjoyed considerable military prowess for many years.
  5. Tyre and Sidon:The two chief cities of Phoenicia were Tyre and Sidon.Both cities were known for their sea power and trade, and they were strategically located to the northeast of Israel.During the reign of Solomon, Israel enjoyed a warm relationship with these cities, but, of course, the relationship had soured by the time of Ezekiel.
  6. Egypt: This once powerful nation had declined somewhat during Ezekielís day.The Egyptians still dominated much of Northern Africa, but they struggled with the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

 

 

 

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                    Godís Displeasure with the Small Nations that Surrounded Judah (25:1-17)

A.     Godís Judgment on Ammon (vv. 1-7)

1.      Ammon mocked the people of Israel and Judah (vv. 1-3).

2.      God pledged to destroy Ammon (vv. 4-7).

B.     Godís Judgment on Moab (vv. 8-11)

1.      Moab sinfully rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem (v. 8).

2.      Moab had no hope of restoration after Godís judgment (vv. 9-11).

C.     Godís Judgment on Edom (vv. 12-14)

1.      Edom relished a long-standing hatred against Judah (v. 12).

2.      God promised destruction for the people of Edom (vv. 13-14).

††††††††††††††††† D. Godís Judgment on Philistia (vv.15-17)

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1.†† Philistia treated Judah with contempt and vengefulness (v.15).

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2.†† God promised to take vengeance of his own (vv. 16-17).

 

II.                 Godís Displeasure with Tyre and Sidon (26:1-28:26)

A.     Godís Judgment on Tyre (26:1-28:19)

1.      Tyre mocked the fall of Jerusalem (26:1-2)

2.      God planned to use Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Tyre (28:3-21).

3.      Ezekiel raised a song of lament for the once glorious city of Tyre (27:1-36)

4.      God promised to judge the king of Tyre (29:1-10).

5.      Ezekiel raised a song of lament for the king of Tyre (29:11-24).

B.     Godís Judgment of Sidon (28:20-23)

1.      God will be glorified in Sidon (28:20-24)

2.      God promised to judge Sidon with pestilence and the sword (28:23-24).

C.     God pledged to re-gather and restore Israel (28:25-26)

 

III.               Godís Displeasure with Egypt (29:1-32:32)

A.     Egypt would be judged for its cruelty toward Godís people (29:1-16).

B.     God raised up the Babylonians to devastate Egypt (29:17-21).

C.     The allies of Egypt will be destroyed (30:1-19)

D.     God planned to bring judgment against Pharaoh (30:20-26).

E.      Egypt will be cut down like a great tree (31:1-18).

F.      Ezekiel composed a song of lament for Pharaoh (32:1-32).

1.      The nations will be astonished at the desolation of Egypt (32:1-16).

2.      God will use the Babylonians to judge Egypt (32:11-16).

3.      Egypt and her allies will be cast down to the pit (32:17-32)

 

Observations on the Lesson Passage:

 

  1. (25:1-4a) The pagan neighbors of Judah took delight in the chastening that God brought upon his people. They mocked the people of Judah, and the Lord took offense at the haughty, unseemly attitude of these nations.Often, we may be tempted to take some secret delight in the misfortune of others.Perhaps, we reason, they deserved the hardship that has overtaken them.Godís people must not relish the suffering of others, even if they ďdeserveĒ the hardship.Humility should characterize our attitudes toward the sufferings of others.
  2. (25:15, 17) The Philistines held Judah in longstanding contempt.Their perpetual bitterness produced a spirit of spiteful vengeance in the Philistines.Consider the damage that bitterness and vengefulness can produce in the heart.The ďacidĒ of resentment can consume a person. The vengeful person broods over and nurses his bitterness.He believes he has every right to his ungodly attitude, and he convinces himself that his spirit and actions are justified.Above all, vengeance is idolatry.It seeks to assume the place of God.Our text reminds us that vengeance belongs to the Lord.We must leave these matters in the hands of an all-knowing, all-powerful God.
  3. (26:2-3 and 28:2,5)) The city of Tyre viewed the destruction of Jerusalem a bit differently than did the people of Philistia.No doubt, they took delight in Judahís chastisement, but they saw the fall of Jerusalem as an avenue of financial advancement. They anticipated that the decline of Jerusalemís economic importance would lead to additional trade for Tyre.The spiritual dimensions of Jerusalemís fall carried little weight with the men of Tyre.They were carnal, greedy men.