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Glorious God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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But these oracles against the nations did have a positive purpose in assuring the people in their utter desolation that Yahweh was neither blind nor beaten and would yet rise up against their enemies as of old. Set against the final flames of the destruction of their city, temple and land, that must have been cold comfort, but comfort nevertheless.

Pray
It’s been a while since we last spent time with Ezekiel in his refuge camp in Babylon,
500 mile from his home land,
and he thought from God.
If you’ve been following the series,
then you may remember that right back in Chapter 1,
God himself turned up in Babylon,
right before Ezekiel in that great vision.
The appearance of the likeness of the Glory of the Lord!
But if God is in Babylon,
what’s happening to their home city of Jerusalem where they,
all 10,000 of them were from!
Ezekiel was commissioned to prophesie,
to warn, to be a watchman for God’s people in exile.
But in a terrifying twist,
Ezekiel was to warn them not of enemy attacks or invasions (although that is the reality of what would happen),
but of God’s displeasure and judgement on them.
God’s people had turned their backs on God for too long,
and he could bear it no longer.
In weird charade type plays Ezekeiel has spent chapter after chapter, telling of the iminent destruction that awaits Jerusalmn for the disobeidnce of the people.
And we left the people listening to Ezekiel, in a bad way last time..
Ezekiel 24:2 NIV - Anglicised
“Son of man, record this date, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day.
eze 24
Write it down, Ezekiel is told.
This is a grave day for the nation of Israel.
The fall of the city Jerusalem has begun.
The great king of the Babylonians, Nebuchanezza,
is finally going to take the capital of the nation, and make it his own.
With the internet still thousands of years away,
it would take 2 weeks for even the fastest news to reach the exiles in Babylon.
Could it be, has it happened,
is our home finally destroyed.
Is the temple being destroyed?
Has God left his place!
It must have been an agonising wait.
But wait they must.
And as if the author of Ezekiel, most likely Ezekiel himself,
knows a thing or 2 about John Grisham style suspense,
we too are left waiting!
Chapters 25 to 32 take a left turn out off the main street and hit the ring road around Israel, through the surrounding nations.
7 Nations are listed in these chapters, 5 briefly,
and then Tyre, at some length, and Egypt extensively.
Here they are on a map/
Ammon - Moab - Edom - Philistia - Tyre - Sidon - Egypt
Those 2 longer accounts are each broken into 7 neat sections in their arrangement.
And the author places the key to the purpose of these chapters right in the middle.
This is the message God relays to his exciled people while they wait agonisingly for news of Jerusalm.
And he emphasises the main purpose even more so through repetition.
Have a look at it
eze
Ezekiel 28:24–26 NIV - Anglicised
“ ‘No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbours who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. “ ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will show myself holy among them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbours who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’ ”
You see these 8 chapters,
that fill the agonising silence between the prophesy of the fall of Jerusalem, and any real news of it,
bring an uncomfortable but real hint of hope.
God was not blind or beaten
While Jerusalem may be falling, there is an uncomfortable but real hint of hope.
The surrounding nations will also pay for their ignorance of God -
the surrounding nations will also pay for their ignorance of God.
and that in itself is to benefit God’s people.
Ezekiel 28:24 NIV - Anglicised
“ ‘No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbours who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.
This is not the end says God.
God cannot bring shame to His Glory,
so amidst the great tragedy of judgement,
brought about by the terrible rejection of their loving God,
God reminds them of the promise he has for his people,
made up of exiles from all around who will be restored one day to their promised land.
From a personal perspective -
this is still as I said an uncomfortable hope -
Ezekiel will never return to Jerusalem, he will die in exile.
But - from a God’s Glory at stake perspective -
this is a wonderful reassurance that God is faithful,
and so his Glory is protected,
as are a faithful people whom he loves.
How is God protecting His glory in all this tragedy?
It’s repeated 3 times in those 3 verses...
‘Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’
All 7 nations will be brought down by another.
All will be invaded, overthrown, destroyed.
Chapter 30 is a funeral lament for the might of Egypt that will now fall -
and never again have a significant world influence.
Chapter 32 is a funeral lament specifically for the mighty Pharaoh.
Why? Because they have not acknowledge the Lord as God.
Prophesying against Tyre
Ezekiel 28:5 NIV - Anglicised
By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud.
Nothing worng it seems with great trading skill and wealth - unless it makes you proud before God!
Or Egypt is described in chapter 29 as being like the garden of Eden -
eze 29 29
beautiful, blessed by God - until
Ezekiel 29:9 NIV - Anglicised
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,”
It went to their head.
Pharoah believed HE had created the great River Nile that supplied all the beauty they enjoyed.
They had forgotten who was God.
You see God is glorious.
Massive world powers and economic foundations wiped out.
If they were our enemies, then that would bring us hope wouldn’t it, however unlikely it sounded.
I’m not suggesting any of those things are
You see God is glorious. And no matter how good or bad humanity is, God will bring glory to his name, he will ensure the world bows down to him. That all people of all time know that He is the Lord their God.
And no matter how good or bad humanity is,
God will bring glory to his name,
he will ensure the world bows down to him.
That all people of all time know that He is the Lord their God.
It’s the same message we’ve heard again and again through Ezekiel.
It’s the same message we hear through the Gospel of Jesus.
We can know God,
we can enjoy his favour and love eternally through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Even though humanity rejects God, God will make a people for himslef that he loves, and enjoys becasue they bring glory to Him. ANd he acheives it through the death and ressurection of His perfect and loved son, Jesus - as we’ve been celebrating over Easter.
- as we’ve been celebrating over Easter.
We can bow to him joyfully,
But if we do not, we will still bow but it will be by force.
We will ‘know that the Lord is God’
All nations will bow down.
All nations,
all people,
every tribe and tongue will know that the Lord is God.
That includes you and me here today.
You see the big picture of these chapters is that there is hope,
becasue God
... is faithful to his promises,
even though he must bring about justice on a rebellious world,
he will lovingly protect a people for himself who bow joyfully to him,
becasue we ‘know’ Him.
But it is only a message of hope if we accept God as God.
And the inivitation remains open. The idea that all will know that the ‘Lord is God’, leaves the option for ‘all’ to bow down willingly.
The first question you must ask yourself in this life is - Do I know the God of the Bible as God of my life?
Will you ?
If you have not willingly turned to God, then you need to be aware that you will one day bow, either willingly and joyfully for you have seen his wonderful faithfulness in protecting His people, or when Jesus returns or you die, and then is will be by force, like the nations in this passage.
If not, then you need to find out more about him.
FIND OUT MORE - BOW DOWN
Now, we’ve used up nearly half our time considering that big picture of this passage.
But this ring-road journey around the main event of Jerusalem
has some significant implications for our understanding of
God
, the world
and the church today.
So let’s spend the rest of our time looking at these 3 points:
And these chapters are no different - in that they reveal the ‘Glory of God’s sovereignty’
And they have a significant challenge for us today.
There must have been a little comfort to know that there was still hope for their people, knowing that God would restore a remnant.
And their must have been, for those that remained faithful to God, a great joy to hear that God is soverign over all things, even the super powers of the day, the great traders of the day, and the tyrant leaders of the day.
Soverign God
1 - Sovereign God
Sovereign God
2 - Temporary Empires
3 - Missional Church
1 - God is Sovereign
2 - Empires are Temporary
3 - Church has a Mission

1 - God is Sovereign

If you read through these chapters, and I hope you will,
I suspect you will find some things hard to swallow.
:
Ezekiel 29:19–20 NIV - Anglicised
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.
God is going to reward King Nebuchadnezzar for invading Egypt,
even though he is the King laying seige to Jerusalm
and holding the exiles captive!
More than that, God is saying, King Nebuchadnezzar is doing it ‘for God’.
There are 2 ways to take that statement - there is the way we would naturally think of it
1 - That Nebuchadnezzar’s motive is to please God - he’s doing it for God, much like you might stand on the side of a cold football pitch, ‘for your son’.
But that really doesn’t sit right with who we know Nebuchanezzar to be.
He’s not a God pleaser!
So, the other way of understanding it is
2 - That God is using Nebuchanezzar’s evil actions for His own purposes.
The reward in this case would simply be the normal spoils gained from an invasion.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly as the bible never fails to be historically accurate,
this invasion did take place just 3 years after this prophesy.
Historians of the time recorded such events on stone cuniforms, and a fragmanet still exists with reference to Nebbuchanezzars invasion.
There is a picture of a cuniform on the screen.
As we start to think more deeply about this,
there is a deep well of application here. Best summarised by simply saying God is Soverign over all things.
It is ‘for God’ and his sovereign purpose, but not knowingly.
Nebuchanaezzar is wholly accountable before God for his actions.
But he is equally at the mercy of God’s great soverign plan for the world.
God allowed and used Nebuchanezzar to both rise to power and fulfill God’s own purposes.
It reminds me of the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers in Genesis.
Later the brothers were reunited, and this is what Jospeh said to them:
Genesis 50:20 NIV - Anglicised
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Were his brothers acting as innocent robots for God - NO, they had evil intentions at heart.
they had evil intentions at heart.
So Were they acting outside of God’s control? - No!
Did God desire them to do evil? - No - that is clear and against God’s character
But Did God use their evil for his sovereign purposes? absolutely - Yes.
God is sovereign over all things, ....what a relief!
What a great God we have.
A God who has not lost control of even the most evil people.
He allows them to condemn themsleves,
but he does not allow them to harm His mission of ensuring the World knows that he is God.
We can’t always see it -
I doubt the Egyptians understood literally who God was as the Babylonians invaded -
but that doesn’t remove the truth -
that God was working his purposes out,
so that the world would know that he is God.
Do not fear that God has lost control over North Korea.
Do not think that God cannot exist becasue of Hitler.
Do not think that the evil operates outside of God’s sovereignty.
Do not think that your tyranical boss can harm your faith.
Do not think that loosing control of your body in mind or physically means God has forgotten you.
Romans 8:28 NIV - Anglicised
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
God is soverign.
We have hope in the smallest and the biggest of situation.
The best and the worst of situations.
We do not need to understand the evil we see.
We do need to stand against the evil we see.
We need to know that the Lord is God, and have hope in him,
God is soverign - know that he the Lord is God.
This idea leads us onto our second point.

2 - Empires are Temporary

There is a pattern that God uses, in his sovereignty,
that is clear in our passage today.
Human empires will rise, and fall, under the sovereignty of God.
Power is given by God, for God’s purposes,
and taken away by God as just punishment according to God’s purposes.
No-one would have thought Egypt would fall.
No-one would have thought that the Babylonias, or the Assyrians would fall
No-one would have though the Roman Empire would fall.
And in living memory for some,
What about the Nazi’s
Or the Soviet Union and the cold war,
Or
Or the British Empire that ruled a quarter of the world’s land area!
And the bible doesn’t just limit this pattern to empires of dictatorships, but to trade and economy.
Tyre in Chapter 26
Ezekiel 26:12 NIV - Anglicised
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.
Ezekiel 26:14 NIV - Anglicised
I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishing nets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.
eve 26 12
A nation built on trade and merchandise, reduced to a fishing beach.
Enron,
Watch this space Microsoft or Facebook - or the EU, China, governments, leaders, corporations.
There are 6 individual men alive today who have more wealth each than the 10 poorest countries combined!
We could go into all sorts or assessments of whether these
corporations,
countries,
empires,
individuals are good or evil,
I dont think that is the point right here in this passage.
There is clearly a warning that they,
with so much influence,
ought to aware that the Lord is God,
but the bigger message for us here today in Worcester Park is this....
Empires are temporary.
Do not put any trust or faith in them.
Of course out lives will intertwine with them everyday.
We have to buy and sell, work and play.
But put no trust or faith in them.
They are not and cannot be God. They will be temporary.
But God is eternal.
He never stops,
never rests,
never sleeps.
Never ceases to be at work to reveal himself to the world through the rise and fall of empires.
Do not turn to anything else for hope, trust, faith or love.
I don’t know what that means for you.
It does not mean we cannot enjoy the services and good things that these empires offer the world.
Enjoy the blessings they bring as God allows, but see them for what they are.
Temporary and Temptation,
Temporary,
But it does not mean that that is what we live for, as the world would tell us.
True Life is not found in material things,
or your image on facebook,
or in patriotism.
All those things are temporary, they will fall.
They cannot last eternally,
even if they manage to last your earthly life time.
All those who followed blindly their great Pharaoh or Egypt would have had a rude awakening one day.
Now who do they follow? Where is their security, where is life?
But God - he will bring those empires down so that the world will see that he is God.
Temptation
Be aware that they are potential idols. They have the potential to replace God as God.
No other ruler, nation, empire, economy. They are temporary - God is eternal!
Finally then

3 - Church has a Mission

We’ve implied this repeatedly today, but we haven’t said it specifically, and it’s important.
There are 2 things going on this passage.
God is at work amoung His peoples enemies - so that they and God’s people will know that he is God.
And at the same time he is giving Hope to his people - so that they and the world will know that he is God.
Why is this important?
becasue this is what we are a church,
Firstly God is not only interested in us here at Grace Church.
He has a global strategic plan in place so that the world will see that he is God.
He is at work in every world super power,
economy and empire to bring about his mission.
That the world will know him as God.
We are part of something far more significant than we realise.
And not only that, but God is at work amongst the world for our benefit.
So that we can know Him as God.
As we look at Syria or North Korea, America, the EU, our own government,
we are to see that the Lord is God.
Even the fact that we cannot comprehend how he working all these things for his Glory,
should make us sit back and marvel at Him!
He is gloriously sovereign and in control!
Thank you Lord God, we bow at your feet,
though this world seems like chaos,
it is your mission field in action.
You are revealing yourself to the world.
Please may many see you before it is too late.
Thank you we are your people,
Thank you that we benefit for good, even what the world intends for evil.
And secondly, we exist, as a church, as God’s people,
to show the world that the Lord is God.
How we live,
what we do,
what we are like as a people of God matters.
We live for the God of the universe.
As people look at us,
(as they would look eventually at the restored people of Jerusalem,)
and they should see that the Lord is God!
Does the world look in at your life and see God?

They should!
We are a restored,
loved people.
We have been shown untold grace and mercy at the hands of the sovereign God of the universe.
We can tell others that.
We can share life with others so they can see that.
Do y
We can take great risks for God so others know him.
We can go to those in the world who have never heard of him,
We can stand courageously in our family gatherings and work places for Jesus.
knowing that everything is temporary, other than God.
You may loose your job, but you wont loose God.
You may loose a friend, but you wont loose God!
But who knows, you may show God to those you never thought could see,
You may find such reassurance and joy in your heart as you seek to live, to serve and declare him , that you do the impossible for Him.
You can plant a church,
become a missionary,
give half of your money to his work,
start a new ministry.
you can host friends in love,
showing them Jesus.
ou can put God before your family, work and life.
You can put God before your family, work and life.
Because God is Sovereign,
He is eternal not temporary.
And this is the mission of the church...
That the world will know that the Lord is God.
That is who we are - what a great blessing that is.
PRAY
Ezekiel 26:14 NIV - Anglicised
I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishing nets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.
Ezekiel 26:21 NIV - Anglicised
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.”
eze 26
26v14
For Tyre -
Is this the case?
eze 28 5-
Wealth is not the evil, pride is...
Ezekiel 28:5–8 NIV - Anglicised
By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud. “ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations; they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom and pierce your shining splendour. They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas.
eze 28
Ezekiel 28:13–16 NIV - Anglicised
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
eze 28
SIdon - does this happen?
Ezekiel 28:26 NIV - Anglicised
They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbours who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’ ”
Egypt - 40 years desolate? - Sin of Made the nile for myself!?
Ezekiel 29:9 NIV - Anglicised
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,”
does this happen
eze 29
Ezekiel 29:15 NIV - Anglicised
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.
WOW - God is paying Babylon for doing his bidding! - God still calls them ruthless enemy in 31v12
Ezekiel 29:19–20 NIV - Anglicised
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.
Pride again! - from egypt?
Ezekiel 31:10 NIV - Anglicised
“ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because it towered on high, lifting its top above the thick foliage, and because it was proud of its height,
Uncircumcised - parallel? Baptism? comes up 2 or 3 times
Ezekiel 31:18 NIV - Anglicised
“ ‘Which of the trees of Eden can be compared with you in splendour and majesty? Yet you, too, will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth below; you will lie among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword. “ ‘This is Pharaoh and all his hordes, declares the Sovereign Lord.’ ”
eze 31
Ezekiel 25:1–32:32 NIV - Anglicised
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 cut you off from 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, the house of 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 the house of 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 its men and their animals. 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 cut off 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 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, O 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 fishing nets, 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 war horses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. The hoofs 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 fishing nets. 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, O 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.” The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take up a lament concerning Tyre. Say to Tyre, situated at the gateway to the sea, merchant of peoples on many coasts, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘You say, O Tyre, “I am perfect in beauty.” Your domain was on the high seas; your builders brought your beauty to perfection. They made all your timbers of pine trees from Senir; they took a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast for you. Of oaks from Bashan they made your oars; of cypress wood from the coasts of Cyprus they made your deck, inlaid with ivory. Fine embroidered linen from Egypt was your sail and served as your banner; your awnings were of blue and purple from the coasts of Elishah. Men of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen; your skilled men, O Tyre, were aboard as your seamen. Veteran craftsmen of Gebal were on board as shipwrights to caulk your seams. All the ships of the sea and their sailors came alongside to trade for your wares. “ ‘Men of Persia, Lydia and Put served as soldiers in your army. They hung their shields and helmets on your walls, bringing you splendour. Men of Arvad and Helech manned your walls on every side; men of Gammad were in your towers. They hung their shields around your walls; they brought your beauty to perfection. “ ‘Tarshish did business with you because of your great wealth of goods; they exchanged silver, iron, tin and lead for your merchandise. “ ‘Greece, Tubal and Meshech traded with you; they exchanged slaves and articles of bronze for your wares. “ ‘Men of Beth Togarmah exchanged work horses, war horses and mules for your merchandise. “ ‘The men of Rhodes traded with you, and many coastlands were your customers; they paid you with ivory tusks and ebony. “ ‘Aram did business with you because of your many products; they exchanged turquoise, purple fabric, embroidered work, fine linen, coral and rubies for your merchandise. “ ‘Judah and Israel traded with you; they exchanged wheat from Minnith and confections, honey, oil and balm for your wares. “ ‘Damascus, because of your many products and great wealth of goods, did business with you in wine from Helbon and wool from Zahar. “ ‘Danites and Greeks from Uzal bought your merchandise; they exchanged wrought iron, cassia and calamus for your wares. “ ‘Dedan traded in saddle blankets with you. “ ‘Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your customers; they did business with you in lambs, rams and goats. “ ‘The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you; for your merchandise they exchanged the finest of all kinds of spices and precious stones, and gold. “ ‘Haran, Canneh and Eden and merchants of Sheba, Asshur and Kilmad traded with you. In your market-place they traded with you beautiful garments, blue fabric, embroidered work and multicoloured rugs with cords twisted and tightly knotted. “ ‘The ships of Tarshish serve as carriers for your wares. You are filled with heavy cargo in the heart of the sea. Your oarsmen take you out to the high seas. But the east wind will break you to pieces in the heart of the sea. Your wealth, merchandise and wares, your mariners, seamen and shipwrights, your merchants and all your soldiers, and everyone else on board will sink into the heart of the sea on the day of your shipwreck. The shorelands will quake when your seamen cry out. All who handle the oars will abandon their ships; the mariners and all the seamen will stand on the shore. They will raise their voice and cry bitterly over you; they will sprinkle dust on their heads and roll in ashes. They will shave their heads because of you and will put on sackcloth. They will weep over you with anguish of soul and with bitter mourning. As they wail and mourn over you, they will take up a lament concerning you: “Who was ever silenced like Tyre, surrounded by the sea?” When your merchandise went out on the seas, you satisfied many nations; with your great wealth and your wares you enriched the kings of the earth. Now you are shattered by the sea in the depths of the waters; your wares and all your company have gone down with you. All who live in the coastlands are appalled at you; their kings shudder with horror and their faces are distorted with fear. The merchants among the nations hiss at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’ ” The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.” But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god. Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you? By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wealth for yourself and amassed gold and silver in your treasuries. By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud. “ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations; they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom and pierce your shining splendour. They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas. Will you then say, “I am a god,” in the presence of those who kill you? You will be but a man, not a god, in the hands of those who slay you. You will die the death of the uncircumcised at the hands of foreigners. I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.’ ” The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendour. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’ ” The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Sidon; prophesy against her and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘I am against you, O Sidon, and I will gain glory within you. They will know that I am the Lord, when I inflict punishment on her and show myself holy within her. I will send a plague upon her and make blood flow in her streets. The slain will fall within her, with the sword against her on every side. Then they will know that I am the Lord. “ ‘No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbours who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. “ ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will show myself holy among them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbours who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’ ” 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 is mine; 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 air. Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord. “ ‘You have been a staff of reed for the house 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 your men and their animals. 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.No foot of man or animal 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 for 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 house of Israel, and I will open your mouth among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord. The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘Wail and say, “Alas for that day!” For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near— a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations. A sword will come against Egypt, and anguish will come upon Cush. When the slain fall in Egypt, her wealth will be carried away and her foundations torn down. Cush and Put, Lydia and all Arabia, Libya and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with Egypt. “ ‘This is what the Lord says: “ ‘The allies of Egypt will fall and her proud strength will fail. From Migdol to Aswan they will fall by the sword within her, declares the Sovereign Lord. “ ‘They will be desolate among desolate lands, and their cities will lie among ruined cities. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I set fire to Egypt and all her helpers are crushed. “ ‘On that day messengers will go out from me in ships to frighten Cush out of her complacency. Anguish will take hold of them on the day of Egypt’s doom, for it is sure to come. “ ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘I will put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his army—the most ruthless of nations— will be brought in to destroy the land. They will draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain. I will dry up the streams of the Nile and sell the land to evil men; by the hand of foreigners I will lay waste the land and everything in it. I the Lord have spoken. “ ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘I will destroy the idols and put an end to the images in Memphis. No longer will there be a prince in Egypt, and I will spread fear throughout the land. I will lay waste Upper Egypt, set fire to Zoan and inflict punishment on Thebes. I will pour out my wrath on Pelusium, the stronghold of Egypt, and cut off the hordes of Thebes. I will set fire to Egypt; Pelusium will writhe in agony. Thebes will be taken by storm; Memphis will be in constant distress. The young men of Heliopolis and Bubastis will fall by the sword, and the cities themselves will go into captivity. Dark will be the day at Tahpanhes when I break the yoke of Egypt; there her proud strength will come to an end. She will be covered with clouds, and her villages will go into captivity. So I will inflict punishment on Egypt, and they will know that I am the Lord.’ ” In the eleventh year, in the first month on the seventh day, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt. It has not been bound up for healing or put in a splint so as to become strong enough to hold a sword. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt. I will break both his arms, the good arm as well as the broken one, and make the sword fall from his hand. I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries. 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 mortally wounded man. I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh will fall limp. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he brandishes it against Egypt. I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries. Then they will know that I am the Lord. In the eleventh year, in the third month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes: “ ‘Who can be compared with you in majesty? Consider Assyria, once a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches overshadowing the forest; it towered on high, its top above the thick foliage. The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. So it towered higher than all the trees of the field; its boughs increased and its branches grew long, spreading because of abundant waters. All the birds of the air nested in its boughs, all the beasts of the field gave birth under its branches; all the great nations lived in its shade. It was majestic in beauty, with its spreading boughs, for its roots went down to abundant waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the pine trees equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches— no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty. I made it beautiful with abundant branches, the envy of all the trees of Eden in the garden of God. “ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because it towered on high, lifting its top above the thick foliage, and because it was proud of its height, I handed it over to the ruler of the nations, for him to deal with according to its wickedness. I cast it aside, and the most ruthless of foreign nations cut it down and left it. Its boughs fell on the mountains and in all the valleys; its branches lay broken in all the ravines of the land. All the nations of the earth came out from under its shade and left it. All the birds of the air settled on the fallen tree, and all the beasts of the field were among its branches. Therefore no other trees by the waters are ever to tower proudly on high, lifting their tops above the thick foliage. No other trees so well-watered are ever to reach such a height; they are all destined for death, for the earth below, among mortal men, with those who go down to the pit. “ ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day it was brought down to the grave I covered the deep springs with mourning for it; I held back its streams, and its abundant waters were restrained. Because of it I clothed Lebanon with gloom, and all the trees of the field withered away. I made the nations tremble at the sound of its fall when I brought it down to the grave with those who go down to the pit. Then all the trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, all the trees that were well-watered, were consoled in the earth below. Those who lived in its shade, its allies among the nations, had also gone down to the grave with it, joining those killed by the sword. “ ‘Which of the trees of Eden can be compared with you in splendour and majesty? Yet you, too, will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth below; you will lie among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword. “ ‘This is Pharaoh and all his hordes, declares the Sovereign Lord.’ ” In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take up a lament concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him: “ ‘You are like a lion among the nations; you are like a monster in the seas thrashing about in your streams, churning the water with your feet and muddying the streams. “ ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘With a great throng of people I will cast my net over you, and they will haul you up in my net. I will throw you on the land and hurl you on the open field. I will let all the birds of the air settle on you and all the beasts of the earth gorge themselves on you. I will spread your flesh on the mountains and fill the valleys with your remains. I will drench the land with your flowing blood all the way to the mountains, and the ravines will be filled with your flesh. When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring about your destruction among the nations, among lands you have not known. I will cause many peoples to be appalled at you, and their kings will shudder with horror because of you when I brandish my sword before them. On the day of your downfall each of them will tremble every moment for his life. “ ‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘The sword of the king of Babylon will come against you. I will cause your hordes to fall by the swords of mighty men— the most ruthless of all nations. They will shatter the pride of Egypt, and all her hordes will be overthrown. I will destroy all her cattle from beside abundant waters no longer to be stirred by the foot of man or muddied by the hoofs of cattle. Then I will let her waters settle and make her streams flow like oil, declares the Sovereign Lord. When I make Egypt desolate and strip the land of everything in it, when I strike down all who live there, then they will know that I am the Lord.’ “This is the lament they will chant for her. The daughters of the nations will chant it; for Egypt and all her hordes they will chant it, declares the Sovereign Lord.” In the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, wail for the hordes of Egypt and consign to the earth below both her and the daughters of mighty nations, with those who go down to the pit. Say to them, ‘Are you more favoured than others? Go down and be laid among the uncircumcised.’ They will fall among those killed by the sword. The sword is drawn; let her be dragged off with all her hordes. From within the grave the mighty leaders will say of Egypt and her allies, ‘They have come down and they lie with the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword.’ “Assyria is there with her whole army; she is surrounded by the graves of all her slain, all who have fallen by the sword. Their graves are in the depths of the pit and her army lies around her grave. All who had spread terror in the land of the living are slain, fallen by the sword. “Elam is there, with all her hordes around her grave. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword. All who had spread terror in the land of the living went down uncircumcised to the earth below. They bear their shame with those who go down to the pit. A bed is made for her among the slain, with all her hordes around her grave. All of them are uncircumcised, killed by the sword. Because their terror had spread in the land of the living, they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit; they are laid among the slain. “Meshech and Tubal are there, with all their hordes around their graves. All of them are uncircumcised, killed by the sword because they spread their terror in the land of the living. Do they not lie with the other uncircumcised warriors who have fallen, who went down to the grave with their weapons of war, whose swords were placed under their heads? The punishment for their sins rested on their bones, though the terror of these warriors had stalked through the land of the living. “You too, O Pharaoh, will be broken and will lie among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword. “Edom is there, her kings and all her princes; despite their power, they are laid with those killed by the sword. They lie with the uncircumcised, with those who go down to the pit. “All the princes of the north and all the Sidonians are there; they went down with the slain in disgrace despite the terror caused by their power. They lie uncircumcised with those killed by the sword and bear their shame with those who go down to the pit. “Pharaoh—he and all his army—will see them and he will be consoled for all his hordes that were killed by the sword, declares the Sovereign Lord. Although I had him spread terror in the land of the living, Pharaoh and all his hordes will be laid among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Initial Thoughts

1 - The success or failure of good or evil leaders is in God’s control - and he may even allow or empower to bring about his own means./God controls the world for His church and controls His church for the World

The Message of Ezekiel: A New Heart and a New Spirit i. The Universality of God’s Sovereignty

This is a perspective of biblical faith that we need to reaffirm in our modern world. It is easily open to misrepresentation. To say that God is sovereign over world history does not mean that he directly wills everything in the sense that ‘that is exactly what God wanted to happen’. Human beings make their own plans and act out of the evil of their own hearts, and we know from Scripture that God is as grieved and angry as we are—more so, rather—at the depths and extent of human evil on the international stage. Nor does it amount to sheer fatalism, as though all events were manipulated by the strings of a divine puppeteer. The Bible gives full scope to the reality of human freedom and responsibility. People and nations plan what they plan and do what they do, and will one day give account to God for the exercise of that freedom. Yet behind and above all that, the Bible unquestionably affirms that there is a mysterious freedom and sovereignty of the creator of the universe at work. His purposes will not ultimately be defeated, and even the evil that people do can be turned to good ends by his sovereign power.

The Message of Ezekiel: A New Heart and a New Spirit ii. The Focus of God’s Sovereignty

May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face shine upon us …

God will bless us,

and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

In the same way, assuming that the God of Isaiah and Ezekiel is still our God and is still on the throne of the universe, we need to look at the world of international affairs and seek to discern what God is doing that impinges upon the life and witness of his people, the church. At the same time, we need to be asking whether the church, in its life and witness, is truly engaging in its biblical mission of bringing the blessing of God to the nations. God runs the world for the sake of the church; God calls the church for the sake of the world. We need to fix our theology and our mission to both poles of this biblical dynamic.

The Message of Ezekiel: A New Heart and a New Spirit iii. The Consistency of God’s Sovereignty

It seems that the church sometimes needs to be reminded that we worship a God whose interests do not stop, as ours are prone to, at the church door, and whose actions in the world are not determined solely by an ecclesiastical agenda. We need, perhaps to ponder more the implications of the astonishing claim that ‘The earth is the LORD’s’, and to remind ourselves that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son …’

The Message of Ezekiel: A New Heart and a New Spirit b. The Transience of Empires as the Pattern of Human History

We should not forget that both Tyre and Egypt were enormously powerful, wealthy and influential in the world of Ezekiel’s contemporaries. Who could ever have imagined with any claim to be taken seriously that one day Tyre, the greatest maritime trading empire of the Mediterranean world, would be a reduced to a fish market? Who would have believed Ezekiel’s prediction that the ancient might of Pharaonic Egypt would one day become ‘a lowly kingdom’ that would ‘never again rule over the nations’? Probably no more than we would have believed at the height of the Cold War that the whole Soviet Union would disintegrate and Russia become a relatively minor player in world affairs; no more than we could envisage the United States of America becoming a Third World country in the twenty-first century. Yet history has vindicated Ezekiel, and the other prophets. The great empires that so dominated the world of their day all came and went, rose and fell, like great waves of the ocean that roll on for miles, but ultimately crash into pathetic little ripples on the shore.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxBabylon, Egypt,
The Message of Ezekiel: A New Heart and a New Spirit b. The Transience of Empires as the Pattern of Human History

Within the living memory of those whose lives have spanned much of the twentieth century but survived into the twenty-first, we have seen the amazing demise of the British Empire, on which the sun never set (as they said) as it ruled over a quarter of the world’s population; the rise and fall of a Euro-Asian Communist empire; the rise and fall of Germany’s Third Reich and of Japan’s imperial attempt to dominate Asia and the Pacific; and the ending of several minor dictatorships in Spain, Portugal, Albania and elsewhere; and the dismantling of the monster of apartheid in South Africa. Some of these were predictable; others as surprising as anything in the biblical record.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Tyre - economic domination,
The Message of Ezekiel: A New Heart and a New Spirit b. The Transience of Empires as the Pattern of Human History

Today, of course, the whole map of world trade is dominated by a very few mammoth players: the USA, the European Union, and some East Asian economies. But increasingly, economic dominance is moving beyond countries and being achieved by companies, some of them controlled by incredibly wealthy individuals who, like the king of Tyre, sit atop pyramids of enormous economic power.

If Ezekiel were bringing his prophetic challenge into the world of the early twenty-first century, what would be the equivalent of his Tyre? It is more likely that it would be a transnational corporation, or brand name, than that it would be any single nation state. For the fact is that in the globalized economic world of hypermodernity, real power has shifted from national political communities to transnational economic giants, frighteningly free from serious political, democratic or moral constraints. ‘It is important to remember that of the one hundred largest economies in the world today, fifty-one are corporations. General Motors is bigger than Denmark, Ford than South Africa and Toyota than Norway. Wal-Mart by itself is larger than 161 countries.’ The merger of two massive media and Internet companies (Time-Warner and AOL) right at the turn of the twenty-first century produced a gigantic corporation with more economic muscle than several European countries.

The Message of Ezekiel: A New Heart and a New Spirit b. The Transience of Empires as the Pattern of Human History

The power wielded by such giants is staggering, and certainly qualifies for inclusion among those more-than-human ‘principalities and powers’ which the Bible identifies as being at work in the world of human history. The social and ‘spiritual’ power and influence of ‘brands’ is incalculable, as corporations vie to achieve total global saturation for their designer products. Names like McDonald’s, Coke, Nike and Microsoft straddle the globe, not only providing a product but defining a lifestyle, a culture, a clutch of assumed values. Designer labels seduce the young and impoverish their parents. Increasing swathes of the world’s economies seem to be controlled by fewer and fewer powerful players, including the dominance in global food supply of large agribusinesses such as Conagra and Monsanto, and the relentless domination of news, information and entertainment media by giants such as Rupert Murdoch’s News International, Time-Warner, Disney and Bertelsmann. In addition to the frightening levels of domination and control of so much of the global economy by these giants, there is the sheer obscenity of the wealth of some of the individuals seated on their shoulders. That six of the world’s richest men should be individually wealthier than ten of the world’s poorest countries put together is a gruesome, distorted reality that would surely have stirred the anger and rhetoric of Ezekiel.

DO NOT PUT YOUR FAITH IN THEM! THEY WILL FALL!
God may be using them for His church, and the church for the world. - Spread of the gospel with imperialism etc.
The Message of Ezekiel: A New Heart and a New Spirit c. The Knowledge of God as the Goal of God’s Mission

The goal of all God’s action, and therefore the central passion of his prophet’s life and witness, is that God should be known and acknowledged among the nations for who he truly is. And that, surely, must also be the primary and ultimate goal of all mission engaged in by God’s people—that the world might know its creator, its Lord and its saviour. This was the prayer of Elijah for Israel: ‘O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel …’ The same longing is echoed in the prayer of Jesus for the world, through his disciples.118 Israel must know, the world must know, the glory of the living God. In a sense, the whole earth is already filled with the glory of God. But what is lacking is the universal revelation, recognition and acknowledgment of it. The great prophetic hope is that ‘the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it’.

Pride comes before a fall!
There is no escape for the uncircumcised - earthly defeat is terrible - but an uncircumcised death is far worse?

These were the words that filled the silence as the exiles waited in agony during the months of the siege of Jerusalem, doubtless hearing a mixture of news and rumours on the Babylonian grapevine. And so, appropriately, they fill the editorial gap between the announcement of the beginning of the siege (24:2) and the news of its terrible end (33:21).

They make clear that the purpose of the surrounding oracles against the nations is indeed to provide ‘a backhanded message of hope’ for Israel. Yahweh’s action against their enemies will ultimately mean that their own future will be secure, in spite of the catastrophe happening at the very time the oracles were delivered. Block further points out that these verses function as a fulcrum for the entire collection, since the rest of the material is balanced very precisely on either side: (a) 25:1–28:23, judgment on six nations (for 97 verses); (b) 29:1–32:32, judgment on Egypt (for 97 verses). This precisely central position of the words of hope for Israel is again unlikely to be accidental and stresses the positive intention of the whole collection—viewed from Israel’s perspective.

Shockingly, Yahweh says to Jerusalem exactly what he said to Tyre, Sidon, Egypt, and all their other inveterate enemies: ‘I … am against you’ (5:8; cf. 26:3; 28:22; 29:3; etc.). So the burden and balance of the matter is not that Yahweh will judge the nations just as he is judging Israel, but rather that he will judge Israel in the same way that he judges the nations. The rhetorical strategy of the prophets was deliberately as simple as it was shocking: Israel, the covenant people of Yahweh, was now to be counted among the enemies of Yahweh and must be addressed as such.

Setting the scene

This took place early in his reign (perhaps about 595 BC), and involved an international diplomatic conference in Jerusalem, attended by ambassadors from Ammon and Moab, as well as Edom, Tyre and Sidon (i.e. all the countries listed in Ezekiel’s oracles, apart from the Philistines and Egypt). We read about this conference in Jeremiah 27, since Jeremiah was commanded to gatecrash it with a dramatic acted prophecy urging the assembled nations to do exactly the opposite of what they were gathered for. He told them that they should submit to Nebuchadnezzar rather than rebel against him, because Nebuchadnezzar in his position of world domination was simply acting as the servant of Yahweh, God of Israel. Needless to say, this prophetic reading of the international situation did not commend itself to any of the nations—including Judah. They continued their policy of resistance.

CONCLUSION
The Message of Ezekiel: A New Heart and a New Spirit c. The Knowledge of God as the Goal of God’s Mission

All that really mattered for Ezekiel was that both in Israel and in the world of nations, the glory of God would be revealed, the honour of God’s name would be restored, and the truth of God’s identity would be known. The universal acknowledgment of Yahweh as God—that alone was Ezekiel’s burning ambition. It is a challenge to ask ourselves if our own motivation in mission is as radically God-centred as Ezekiel’s clearly was. In the Introduction we observed how Ezekiel’s passion for the glory of God is an essential corrective to the plethora of other motivations for mission which focus mainly on human needs and problems—valid and biblical though such concerns are. Here we find the same message underlined again. For us who know the richer truth of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, and who look forward to the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, Ezekiel’s passion blends with Solomon’s prayer in its global mission relevance, ‘so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other’.

It would have sounded as unlikely to them as it would to us to hear that America would fall from it’s postion in the world in the coming year. Or China’s economic expansion across the world would collapse overnight, or Microsoft would go bankrupt next month.
25v15 to 26v14
Massive world powers and economic foundations wiped out.
If they were our enemies, then that would bring us hope wouldn’t it, however unlikely it sounded.
28v20-29v6a
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