Truth Daily: 20 Nov 21

As the prophet Ezekiel brings to a conclusion his oracles of judgment on the nations, those that either surround Israel or those upon whom Israel has relied, he reaches an apex with the prosecution against Egypt and Pharaoh. Four chapters (chapter 29-32) are dedicated to the prophecy of coming judgment interwoven with lamentation for their fall. Chief among Egypt’s sin is the presence of pride, thinking too highly of themselves, considering that their empire was exalted above all the others. The existence and extent of their dynasty is unquestioned, as we see scripturally it was in power prior to even the creation of Israel with the calling of Abraham. Egypt was indeed a dynasty lasting perhaps longer than any other in history (see also Japan). Being in power was not what brought God’s eye of judgment towards them. Being proud of their power was.

In Ezekiel, not only do we read that God would judge Egypt for pride and bring their empire to ruins, never again to be rebuilt, but we also find that it was because they were, “a staff of reed to the House of Israel”. Israel had long departed from reliance on the Lord. Due to geopolitical issues and threats, they had often attempted to form alliances with surrounding nations, one of which was Egypt. In this case, they were a flimsy reed, i.e. no help, to Israel at all. On the one hand, Israel was to be judged for relying on other nations instead of God; on the other hand, the nations were to be judged for not providing adequate help and/or mocking Israel for their destruction.

The fall of Egypt was brought about by God’s divine hand of judgment through His human rod, Babylon. For forty years, as prophesied in Ezekiel 29:11, Egypt was dominated by the Babylonian Empire and never returned to its former glory, exactly how God had said.

How does this relate to the empires of today?

In the United States it’s clear that there is a perceived power struggle that has been reaching a head now for several years. On the surface, or we might say the view from the cheap seats among (we the) people, it appears as though this power struggle is right vs. left often framed through the lens of good vs. evil. To be sure, there is a battle of good vs. evil, light vs. dark, that’s taking place, but it doesn’t correspond precisely to the outline of right vs. left (perhaps more on this later). Nevertheless, there is a substantial amount of anxiety that if certain groups get and retain power then certain ideologies will spread, the American dream will be over, and the empire will be handed over to another power from the East. Is this anxiety warranted? How ought we to view the circumstances of today in light in light of God’s Word, particularly those judgments pronounced above?

Consider this: When reading the Old Testament prophecies of God’s judgment on the nations, we can be comforted with the assurance that it is God alone…alone, who sets up kingdoms and tears them down as it pleases Him. In Daniel 2, Daniel is praying to God for wisdom to be able to interpret the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon (interestingly about his own downfall).
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
    and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
    for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

Daniel 2:20b-23
In this passage, we read of Daniel clearly recognizing that it is the hand of God alone that sets up kingdoms and tears them down according to His own good pleasure, just as we read with Egypt, in this case with Babylon, and no less applicable down through history to our very own day. God orchestrates His plan among the nations without any counsel or input from human leaders or the people they govern. It is God’s good pleasure to set up kingdoms and empires and it is through His prerogative that He tears them down again.

In these unsettled and turbulent times, let us rest ourselves in the sovereign hands of Almighty God and know that He is perfectly and presently in charge of all things including the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires. His Kingdom, that ruled by His Son King Jesus has never, nor will ever fail.

Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:1-12

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Christian saved by grace through faith.

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