Ezekiel 25-32 Redemption by Judgment
Review and Context:
The main argument the Prophet Ezekiel made in his book was that Yahweh is judging his enemies in order to restore Israel to the Land of Israel while they are in exile. So, though the Prophecy is fraught with judgment, it holds out hope to those in exile in Babylon. Their hope is that they will return to the land after God destroys all their enemies. Judgment is a warning, but it is necessary for salvation of God’s people. This book is thus a mixture of warning and hope.
For example, the major divisions in the book show this.
Chapters 1-24 describe God’s judgment upon Israel. Israel’s sins were graphically portrayed as an adulterous wife. Thus God sent her away into exile. And predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. Israel was now in exile being judged for her sins.
25-32, Our text, described God’s judgment upon the nations who surrounded the land of Israel. Judgment, if your look on a map, moved clockwise, beginning with Ammon, then Moab, Edom, Phillistia, Tyre. Then Egypt, the traditional Enemy if Israel who brought them into their first exile. This judgment results in real tangible deliverance for Israel!
33-48 describe the return and restoration of Israel. Though 33 begins with the destruction of Jerusalem, this section begins the hope of Israel because by judgment God cleansed his people! Now he will predict the restoration of faith, return from exile, and the rebuilt temple.
Salvation is by judgment. One Scholar (John Goldingay) called this principle the “Metanarrative of the Bible” Which means the organizing principle of the whole Christian worldview. He went on to say, “In restoring his people, Yhwh will act with his arm extended like a farmer wielding a scythe or a shepherd wielding a club or a warrior wielding a sword.” These are acts of “Sovereign power and decisiveness which demonstrate superior power” than the earthly kings.
“Salvation” in the Bible has a particular meaning. We use the term colloquially to describe conversion. We will say, “Hey when did you get saved?” This is really a misnomer, because in the Bible, the term salvation has to do with judgment upon God’s enemies in order to rescue his people. Conversion is a part of the whole Salvation. Look at the way God saved his people in our text.
Eze 29:19-21 (19) Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army. (20) I have given him the land of Egypt as his payment for which he labored, because he worked for me, declares the Lord GOD. (21) “On that day I will cause a horn to spring up for the house of Israel, and I will open your lips among them. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
God saved Israel “by the Horn he Raised up,” Babylon! He rescued her by destroying her enemies! Salvation is by judgment of God’s enemies.
Ill: Two Perspectives: It is like sports competition. When you root for one team and they win, you are excited, etc. But the fans of the other team are unhappy. Sometimes this manifests itself in riots etc. For example, I saw a TV commercial for King Stallman Bail-bonds that said, “The Raiders are Coming to Town, are You Ready?” then their phone-number flashed across the screen. The point is that winners and losers have different perspectives. Your favorite team loses, so you are unhappy. But the other team’s fans are happy. Similar, here there are two perspectives.
The phrase “then they will know that I am the Yhwh” appears 10 times in Chapters 25-32. This is the climax of each prophecy. It appears in verses 25:7, 11, 14, 17; 28:24; 29:16, 21; 30:25, 26. There are two ways to know God through judgment. These perspectives are justice and mercy. All will one day know God, the question is: from what perspective.
Justice: Ezekiel warned the nations that they would be destroyed for their sins. Thus they will know “God’s vengeance” (25:17). This is getting exactly what your deserve.
Mercy: Israel is only mentioned twice in the passage. But in a different way, by mercy.
Eze 28:25-26 “Thus says the Lord GOD: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. (26) And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God.”
The Lord is “Their God.” This means that God is for them and not against them. God fights on their behalf.
Think for example about Moses and Israel crossing the Red Sea. The waters parted, Israel walked through unharmed. But, as Egypt passed through the river, the waters came crashing down upon them. That was salvation by judgment. Think also of the cross! Judgment day came for you who believe on that cross. God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus, as a scapegoat for your sin! Also, finally think of the Final Judgment.
Thesis: 25-32 are the second great section of the Book. Ezekiel’s argument goes like this: He simultaneously warned the nations that God would judge them, and gave assurance to Israel that God will save. Let’s take this part by part
- 1. Timing of Judgment:
When did this happen? We know this to be in 586 bc. Let me describe what was happening here. Babylon (Modern Iraq) was the super-power of the world. They took over the Assyrian empire 20 years earlier, in 606 bc at the Battle of Carchemish. Nebuchadnezzar was the general of the Army. 20 years later, Nebuchadnezzar came back to come south and take over the Ports empires Sidon and Egypt. This was when Ezekiel was giving these prophecies in Babylon. He was foretelling the destruction of these nations by Nebuchadnezzar, who was now the King.
25- Judgment on Local Powers, Ammon, Moab, Edom, Phillitsia
26-28, Sidon in the North
29-32, Egypt in the South
Ezekiel warned all of the nations over several years. This is like an anthology of prophecies categorized to each nation. This is a literary device called recapitulation. He talks about the same time frame over and over, but from the perspectives of different nations. This way of doing history is not like chick Hern doing a play by play, but is more like a highlight-reel that shows the themes of the game.
Conclusion: The timing is not so important as the theme of salvation by judgment. Ezekiel is making a theological point here. He described How and Why the nations were judged, not just when! That is where we turn now.
- 2. Means of Judgment: By the Hand of His Servant Nebuchadnezzar:
Eze 30:24-25 And I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand, but I will break the arms of Pharaoh, and he will groan before him like a man mortally wounded. (25) I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh shall fall. Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt.
Ezekiel described the salvation they had was in the “horn” the Lord would raise up, Nebuchadnezzar. In this sense, Nebuchadnezzar is a foreshadow of Christ. In Revelation 19 Jesus was described as King of Kings, and with a Rumphia Sword (Lxx Ez 26:7, and 30:24). Jesus will one day return to destroy his enemies. However, he was also the Lamb who was slain, yet rose again from the Dead. Jesus is both comfort to the Christian, but a terror to those who will not bow to him.
What comes up in this discussion is the inevitable question: Does God care about what the pagans do? They are not “his people,” like Israel, so why does he care if they sin?
Clearly, from the fact that God did judge these nations, God cares. But on what basis?
Ill: Think hypothetically with me. What if out of the blue you were arrested by the North Korean police. If they came across the Border and arrested you, and brought you to North Korea and you went to trial for Spying. Well, first off, you were not spying, but secondly, you are not susceptible to North Korean law since you are an American Citizen. There is no legal basis for this charge; but why? Because you have no legal relationship with North Korea!
Now here is the connection. God used Babylon to judge these nations. Babylon is the one who comes to punish these nations, but these nations owe no allegiance to Babylon! How is this just? Look at verses 26:7, 29:19, 30:10, 30:24, 31:12 (below). In all these contexts Babylon is the great destroyer; He is doing so on the basis of God’s Rule over all nations. Nebuchadnezzar is God’s hand! They have no legal connection to Babylon, but they do to the Creator King.
Eze 26:7 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, and with horsemen and a host of many soldiers.
Eze 29:19 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army.
Eze 30:10 “Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will put an end to the wealth of Egypt, by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
Eze 30:24 And I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand, but I will break the arms of Pharaoh, and he will groan before him like a man mortally wounded.
Reason for Judgment
So, What is the Basis for the judgment? “Yhwh alone is God.” The Name Yhwh is a proper name. The Title “God” means that he is the creator, but not an uninvolved creator. He is the creator and King! He has a legal right to rule and to judge those who appose him.
Sin and Sinners: God is not an uninvolved creator, but a ruling creator. Remember there are two Covenants in the Bible, First, Adam’s Covenant of the original creation. Adam rebelled, and now all men are legally in a state of sinfulness before God. When Adam sinned, God did not stop caring about what men do. So, in one sense, all people are born Sinners by definition, and we make things worse for ourselves by continuing to commit sins. Does God care about what the pagan nations do? Yes! He is offended by them because he is in Covenant with the whole of humanity under that Covenant he made with Adam!
Many are fond of saying that ‘all people are children of God,’ which is true. All are related to God by the Covenant God made with Adam. Like adoption makes a child legally, and really, your own. But the import of this in the Bible is that all are responsible to obey God’s will, or they will be punished. You cannot be a “child of God” as related to Adam and not be marked with Adam’s sin.
There is a second Covenant which runs like a thread through human history. After Adam sinned, the promise of a Savior was given! This is the Promise, Jesus died for you! He took the our punishment upon himself. Rest assured that judgment day has already passed over you when Jesus died for you on the cross!
Do you trust in Jesus, that he died for you? If not, then you are still under that first Covenant. It does not let you off the hook! In fact, you make your case worse with every sinful desire you satisfy. You may say, well “I do more good than bad,” and that may be true, but it does not satisfy the justice of God. A murderer or rapist may do more “good deeds” than bad, but in the eyes of the state, they still must be punished. How much more then should you, who sin multiple and various ways be punished for your sins. God’s scale of justice is not a scale with good deeds on one side, and bad deeds on the other. Instead it is God’s justice on one side, and Adam’s Sin, and your sins on the other. You start at negative infinity, and then you only add to your guilt by your sins.
Here is the question: Why did Israel not get what they deserved? The answer is God’s Mercy was Promised to them already. They looked forward in time to that day when the true savior would come, Jesus, the Christ.
You have no hope for exoneration apart from Jesus. Jesus took the judgment which sinners deserve. Jesus calls you to believe, not just that he died, but to trust that he died for you! God’s promise is if you believe in Jesus you will be saved! And that is a prediction of the final day of judgment. If you believe in Jesus, then you will pass through judgment day. Final Salvation is like Israel passing through the Red Sea.
The main point of Ezekiel 25-32 is salvation by judgment. Therefore, let me take a couple more minutes to press these points home. Let me start by saying that judgment warnings like this are compassionate. It leads you to be right with God.
It leads you to righteous living: Most Americans believe in a final judgment. But they don’t believe in it in the sense of living in light of it. These warnings are compassionate because they remind you to persevere in the faith. They remind you that God care about what you do. He does not want you to be uninformed, therefore he speaks forth His Gospel through his Holy Word! There is good news, Christ is coming! But that also carries with is a solemnity with which we approach life. Mark 13:35-37 “Therefore stay awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning– (36) lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. (37) And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.””
Finally, hope for the future brings freedom: The nature of this world is death, suffering and stress. Think about your work, your bills, your health, your family relationships. Is all well? I do not have much to complain about, and maybe most of you do not either. But there are absurdities to life. The righteous suffer and die. Why does one person get so much sorrow in his or her life? Did they do something to bring it about? Of course one can never know this kind of thing. What is the point of living rightly if the righteous die like the sinner? Righteousness is absurd apart from the hope of final salvation. All this changes if you have a destiny for eternal life!
Here is true freedom. Jesus died for you, so that you may die in hope of final salvation! Latch onto that hope. I implore you, by the Word of God, trust in that day when Jesus returns.