Today’s reading is primarily aimed at Egypt and its pharaoh. Egypt for a very long time had been a top-tier nation — sometimes at the very top of the tier (or pyramid, if you’re into puns). But Egypt’s stature as a top-tier nation was about to end with the impending invasion and conquest by the Babylonians.
Why does God want to have Ezekiel make this extended prophecy to a nation that at this stage in history was more of an ally (or patron) of Israel than an enemy? It is likely that Ezekiel’s message was directed at least as much at the Jews 1) who were engaged in the last Babylonian siege (hoping for rescue from Egypt) and 2) who later wanted to run to Egypt to escape Babylon’s revenge for assassinating the governor, as it was at the arrogant king of Egypt.
A little history
As it turns out historically, Nebuchadnezzar did conquer Egypt. He erected a tent pavilion and his throne right on the spot that Jeremiah had predicted earlier (Jer. 43:10). He took exiles from Egypt to scatter across the Fertile Crescent, just like he had done with every other conquered people. And Egypt was never a top-tiered nation again. It was continuously a client state from Babylon’s empire to Persia’s empire, to Alexander’s empire (Greek), to the Roman empire — a span of 1000 years. It never recovered as a major player in the world’s politics of power. It’s main claim to fame remains its storied glory days before the Babylonian conquest. God really did know what He was talking about!
A little lesson
Ezekiel was really clear about what Pharaoh thought of himself — that he was the creator god. Pharaoh’s really did think that way, that they were sons of Ra the sun god. What kind of an ego could you develop with that sort of story in your family history? And Pharaoh of the time of Ezekiel apparently had a pretty inflated one. But God, through Ezekiel, was going to provide a little reality check. He would be defeated, his nation would be great no more, and his people would be scattered across the face of Mesopotamia.
Arrogance is a common affliction of mankind. Folks often over-guess their importance, their skills, their opinions and views, their authority, their popularity, their beauty, their intelligence, their cleverness, and what they are due from others. And the penalty of over-guessing in these matters is a painful, mortifying fall. When our arrogance exceeds even the common affliction, it leads to even more dire, sometimes eternal, falls. Pharaoh knows — now.
It is always important for a person to (Romans 12:3) “… not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” If we think too little of ourselves, we’ll never try to accomplish anything. If we think too much, we’ll overreach. Have sound judgment about what God has given you, and use it to His glory.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.