Series: Thru the Bible
Message: Egypt, I will bring My sword against you
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Egypt, I will bring My sword against you
For the past few weeks we have been looking at the prophesies God spoke through Ezekiel to the nations who rejoiced in the first two deportations of the Israelites from Jerusalem to Babylon as well as those who would rejoice in the destruction of the temple of God in Jerusalem during the third and final deportation.
Among these was Tyre and Sidon who we read about last week and considered the very real possibility that the prophecy against the prince of Tyre was addressing Tyre’s earthly king and that the prophecy against the king of Tyre may have been referencing satan himself.
Tonight we are finishing up the prophesies God spoke through Ezekiel to other nations in what He foretells of Egypt.
Israel had always had a sordid relationship with Egypt. At the beginning God showed favor to His people through Egypt by means of exalting Joseph. A large parcel of land called Goshen had even been dedicated to the Israelites for their provision and enjoyment. Later of course, we know a different pharaoh arose who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them before they grew too many in number to control. God delivered them from that bondage through His servants Moses and Aaron. But ever since their deliverance from Egypt, which was viewed as a good thing at the time, threads and tendrils of their hearts still looked back with different eyes to Egypt. They loved the security of their borders and the strength of their position and they also loved their idols.
The scriptures say very little about Israel’s love of the Egyptian gods they left behind, but it is mentioned. Truth be told, Israel loved just about any God but their own, the One true God. However, when the Israelites left Egypt they left laden down with MUCH gold – some of which was in the form of household versions of the gods of ancient Egypt.
I am reminded of a quote from an odd, yet delightful little book by Fredrick Buechner called, Son of Laughter. It is a “fill in the gasps” poetic life account of Jacob as he begins his journey in life following the death of his father. At the beginning of his journey, Jacob did not call upon the God of his fathers, nor did he see Him as his god. In fact, the only name Jacob has for God is ‘The Fear’. This does not change until his encounter with the God of Abraham and his father Isaac at Bethel when he has the dream of the angels ascending and descending a great ladder leading towards the sky.
In this book Buechner describes the effect the foreign, Mesopotamian gods had on their hearts. I think it clarifies one of the primary reasons behind Israel’s constant backsliding to their idols. This quote is from chapter 17 – The Red Heifer,
“The unclean blood no longer clung to our hands, but the small gods clung still to our hearts. They clung with silver fingers, with fingerless hands of wood and baked clay. Like rats, the gods gibbered in our hearts about the rich gifts they have for giving to us.
The gods give rain. The swelling udder they give and the sweet fig, the plump ear of grain, the ooze of oil.
They give sons.
To Laban they gave cunning.
They give their names as the Fear, at the Jabbok, refused me His when I asked it, and a god named is a god summoned.
The Fear comes when He comes. It is the Fear Who summons.
The gods give in return for your gifts to them: the strangled dove, the burnt ox, the first fruit. There are those who give them their firstborn even, the child bound to the altar for knifing as Abraham bound Isaac till the Fear of His mercy bade the urine-soaked old man unbind him.
The Fear gives to the empty-handed, the empty-hearted, as to me from the stone stair He gave promise and blessing, and gave them also to Isaac before me, to Abraham before Isaac, all of us wanderers only, herdsmen and planters moving with the seasons as gales of dry sand move with the wind.
In return it is only the heart’s trust that the Fear asks.
Trust Him though you cannot see Him and He has no silver hand to hold.
Trust Him though you have no name to call Him by, though out of the black night He leaps like a stranger to cripple and bless.”
I think this beautifully captures a major truth behind Israel’s constant spiritual adultery and it is the thing which runs behind all adultery. A lack of trust and a grasping for control. Israel did not want a God Who was in control, who himself did the bidding and who himself had no name, no form and could not be predicted or controlled. God was and is wild. There is no taming Him and there is no ability to completely even understand Him. This is a truth the ancient world understood which modern Christianity thinks they have figured out. We think we have tacked God down to a handful of useful promises by which we can summon Him to do our bidding so long as we offer Him what we believe and pass off as our faith. But God cannot be so controlled nor summoned and that is something I believe Israel always felt uneasy with – ironically not so much in the bad times as in the good. In the bad times they would cry out to Him, believing in all He had done in the past. In the good times however, there wasn’t enough of substance to Him to hold their attention or devotion and that may be our problem today. Too much dependence upon the flesh – what we can see with out eyes and touch with our hands. In all, far too many convenient substitutes for God, where we convince ourselves that He is not really our only option.
But I digress…
If you remember, Ezekiel addressed Israel’s past attachment to Egyptian gods back in chapter 20, let me read verses 4-10 to refresh your memory.
“(2) Then the word of the LORD came to me: (3) “Son of man, speak with the elders of Israel and tell them: This is what the Lord GOD says:
Are you coming to consult Me?
As I live, I will not be consulted by you.”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(4) “Will you pass judgment against them, will you pass judgment, son of man? Explain to them the abominations of their fathers.
(5) Say to them: This is what the Lord GOD says: On the day I chose Israel, I swore an oath to the descendants of Jacob’s house and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt. I swore to them, saying: I am the LORD your God. (6) On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands.
(7) I also said to them: Each of you must throw away the detestable things that are before your eyes and not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
(8) “But they rebelled against Me and were unwilling to listen to Me. None of them threw away the detestable things that were before their eyes, and they did not forsake the idols of Egypt. So I considered pouring out My wrath on them, exhausting My anger against them within the land of Egypt. (9) But I acted for the sake of My name, so that it would not be profaned in the eyes of the nations they were living among, in whose sight I had made Myself known to Israel by bringing them out of Egypt. (10) “So I brought them out of the land of Egypt and led them into the wilderness.”
Well now, in chapters 29-33 we see that Egypt has not lost its grip on Israel. Israel has time and again looked to Egypt to strike a deal, so that they might secure their protection at a price. So Egypt has continued to be a source of temptation for God’s people and He is about to put an end to it.
“(1) In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me:”
Now just so you know, this marking of time is seemingly attached to the captivity of Israel’s former king Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim king of Judah which also corresponds with the inauguration of his brother Zedekiah being made a type of vasal king over Jerusalem on behalf of King Nebuchadnezzar.
(2) “Son of man, turn your face toward Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all of Egypt. (3) Speak to him and say:
This is what the Lord GOD says: Look, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great monster lying in the middle of his Nile, who says: My Nile is my own; I made it for myself. (4) I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams cling to your scales. I will haul you up from the middle of your Nile, and all the fish of your streams will cling to your scales. (5) I will leave you in the desert, you and all the fish of your streams. You will fall on the open ground and will not be taken away or gathered for burial. I have given you to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky as food.
(6) Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the LORD, for they have been a staff made of reed to the house of Israel. (7) When Israel grasped you by the hand, you splintered, tearing all their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you shattered and made all their hips unsteady.”
This reference to a reed was first employed by Isaiah and for the same reason. Israel looked to Egypt for protection against their enemies for which they would pay tribute to Egypt’s king. Isaiah said, in chapter 36:5-6,
“(5) I say that your plans and military preparedness are mere words. Now who are you trusting in that you have rebelled against me? (6) Look, you are trusting in Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which will enter and pierce the hand of anyone who leans on it. This is how Pharaoh king of Egypt is to all who trust in him.” ~ Isa. 36:5-6
So God continues with the same analogy here, calling Egypt a staff used to support Israel’s weight, but Egypt is a staff made of flimsy reeds which splinter and break and cause Israel to stumble as soon as the put the weight of their trust on them.
You may remember that after Zedekiah was placed in power over Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah warned him to honor Nebuchadnezzar and pay tribute to him because God had delivered Israel into his power for judgment. All of this is past.
Zedekiah however, was not going to listen to Jeremiah.
Envoys were to come from Egypt and promise Zedekiah that if he would rebel against Babylon, then Jerusalem would have the support of Egypt. Zedekiah would decide to place his trust in Egypt instead of the word of the Lord through Jeremiah and refuse to pay tribute to Nebuchadnezzar. When this eventually happened, Nebuchadnezzar was to come down to attack Jerusalem.
The Egyptian king would initially make good on his word and come to assist Jerusalem, but this would result in the Babylonians turning their attention to Egypt and defeating them.
THAT is what this prophecy is foretelling. This was in Zedekiah’s 10th year.
So God had Jeremiah in Jerusalem warning Zedekiah and Ezekiel’s prophecy was given to the king of Egypt and no one listened to God!
(8) “Therefore this is what the Lord GOD says:
I am going to bring a sword against you and wipe out man and animal from you. (9) The land of Egypt will be a desolate ruin. Then they will know that I am the LORD. Because you said: The Nile is my own; I made it, (10) therefore, I am against you and your Nile. I will turn the land of Egypt into ruins, a desolate waste from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Cush.
(11) No human foot will pass through it, and no animal foot will pass through it. It will be uninhabited for 40 years.
(12) I will make the land of Egypt a desolation among desolate lands, and its cities will be a desolation among ruined cities for 40 years. I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them across the countries.
(13) “For this is what the Lord GOD says:
At the end of 40 years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were dispersed. (14) I will restore the fortunes of Egypt and bring them back to the land of Pathros, the land of their origin. There they will be a lowly kingdom.
(15) Egypt will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself over the nations. I will make them so small they cannot rule over the nations.
(16) It will never again be an object of trust for the house of Israel, drawing attention to their sin of turning to the Egyptians. Then they will know that I am the Lord GOD.”
“(17) In the twenty-seventh year in the first month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me:
(18) “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made his army labor strenuously against Tyre. Every head was made bald and every shoulder chafed, but he and his army received no compensation from Tyre for the labor he expended against it. (19) Therefore this is what the Lord GOD says:”
So God had warned the King of Egypt ten years earlier, and now He is declaring by His power the destruction of Egypt at Nebuchadnezzar’s hand.
No one can claim God does not forewarn, and that He does not give time for changing our minds.
“I am going to give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who will carry off its wealth, seizing its spoil and taking its plunder. This will be his army’s compensation. (20) I have given him the land of Egypt as the pay he labored for, since they worked for Me.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(21) “In that day I will cause a horn to sprout for the house of Israel, and I will enable you to speak out among them. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
Now as you know, a horn represents power and so this is a reference to God raising up someone with authority who will act for the benefit of Israel.
So this “could” be talking about Daniel, who shortly after these events was placed in a favorable position in Babylon.
It could be referring to Jehoiachin being taken out of prison and being placed in some authority which worked for the good of Israel.
Or it could refer to Egypt’s restoration when Cyrus the Great was given authority by God to be the central power in that area at which time he established freedom for the Jews to return to their own land.
Any of these future events could meet the conditions of this prophecy.
“(1) The word of the LORD came to me:
(2) “Son of man, prophesy and say: This is what the Lord GOD says:
Wail: Alas for the day! (3) For a day is near; a day belonging to the LORD is near. It will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.
(4) A sword will come againstEgypt, and there will be anguish in Cush when the slain fall in Egypt, and its wealth is taken away, and its foundations are torn down. (5) Cush, Put, and Lud, and all the various foreign troops, plus Libya and the men of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with them.”
Cush, Put and Lud were grandchildren of Noah. Cush and Put were the children of Ham, the son cursed by Noah for his sexual sin against him as his father. Lud was one of Shem’s sons.
Cush corresponds to Ethiopia who being a neighboring nation to Egypt, Put and Lud likely correspond to Libya and Lydia all of which were in alliance with Egypt, so naturally they would all be in great concern when Egypt fell.
“(6) This is what the LORD says:
Those who support Egypt will fall, and its proud strength will collapse. From Migdol to Syene they will fall within it by the sword. This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.”
By saying from Migdol or Syene it was essentially saying, “from one end of Egypt to the other”.
“(7) They will be desolate among desolate lands, and their cities will lie among ruined cities. (8) They will know that I am the LORD when I set fire to Egypt and all its allies are shattered.
(9) On that day, messengers will go out from Me in ships to terrify confident Cush. Anguish will come over them on the day of Egypt’s doom. For indeed it is coming.”
(10) This is what the Lord GOD says: I will put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. (11) He along with his people, ruthless men from the nations, will be brought in to destroy the land. They will draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain. (12) I will make the streams dry and sell the land into the hands of evil men. I will bring desolation on the land and everything in it by the hands of foreigners. I, the LORD, have spoken.
(13) This is what the Lord GOD says: I will destroy the idols and put an end to the false gods in Memphis. There will no longer be a prince from the land of Egypt. So I will instill fear in that land.”
Memphis was the metropolis of upper Egypt, and the seat of their kings and princes; it was built by their first king Menes (t), or Mizraim, and had in it the famous temple of Vulcan; it continues to this day, and goes by the name of Alkair, or Grand Cairo. Mizraim was also one of Ham’s sons.
In March of 2017 we had a ‘Thru the Bible’ teaching called, “My three sons”. It was about Noah’s three sons, the nations that spawned from them and where they began to spread over the earth following the tower of Babel.
Pathros, Zoan & Thebes are simply parts of Egypt.
Pelusium was a strongly fortified haven which was referred to as “the strength of Egypt”.
On was the famous city of the sun of which Potipherah, Joseph’s father-in-law was priest.
Pi-beseth was just another area in Egypt. It was situated on the eastern branch of the Nile.
Tehaphnehes was also mentioned by Jeremiah in chapter 2 verse 16.
“(14) I will make Pathros desolate, set fire to Zoan, and execute judgments on Thebes.
(15) I will pour out My wrath on Pelusium, the stronghold of Egypt, and will wipe out the crowds of Thebes.
(16) I will set fire to Egypt; Pelusium will writhe in anguish, Thebes will be breached, and Memphis will face foes in broad daylight.
(17) The young men of On and Pi–beseth will fall by the sword, and those cities will go into captivity.
(18) The day will be dark in Tehaphnehes, when I break the yoke of Egypt there and its proud strength comes to an end in the city. A cloud will cover Tehaphnehes, and its villages will go into captivity. (19) So I will execute judgments against Egypt, and they will know that I am the LORD.
(20) In the eleventh year, in the first month, on the seventh day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me:
(21) “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Look, it has not been bandaged–no medicine has been applied and no splint put on to bandage it so that it can grow strong enough to handle a sword. (22) Therefore this is what the Lord GOD says:
Look! I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt. I will break his arms, both the strong one and the one already broken, and will make the sword fall from his hand. (23) I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them among the countries. (24) I will strengthen the arms of Babylon’s king and place My sword in his hand. But I will break the arms of Pharaoh, and he will groan before him as a mortally wounded man.
(25) I will strengthen the arms of Babylon’s king, but Pharaoh’s arms will fall. They will know that I am the LORD when I place My sword in the hand of Babylon’s king and he wields it against the land of Egypt. (26) When I disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them among the countries, they will know that I am the LORD.”
In this prophecy God uses many comparative illustrations, but most are clearly identified.
Assyria is set forth as a great and mighty cedar, which is brought down by Babylon. The Assyrian empire was great but worn down by constant wars. They joined forces with Egypt but that could not prevent their fall. Nebuchadnezzar defeated the former Assyrian Empire, along with Egypt and Jerusalem.
However, the Babylonian Empire was soon to fall as well, when God would raise Cyrus the Great in 539BC.
“(1) In the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me:
(2) “Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes:
Who are you like in your greatness? (3) Think of Assyria, a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches and shady foliage, and of lofty height. Its top was among the clouds.
(4) The waters caused it to grow; the underground springs made it tall, directing their rivers all around the place where the tree was planted and sending their channels to all the trees of the field.
(5) Therefore the cedar became greater in height than all the trees of the field. Its branches multiplied, and its boughs grew long as it spread them out because of the plentiful water.”
So, if the cedar is Assyria then this passaage is acknowlediong that at this point it is a great nation, but it is going to come to destruction LARGELY do to its alliance with Egypt.
(6) All the birds of the sky nested in its branches, and all the animals of the field gave birth beneath its boughs; all the great nations lived in its shade.
(7) It was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its limbs, for its roots extended to abundant water. (8) The cedars in God’s garden could not rival it; the pine trees couldn’t compare with its branches, nor could the plane trees match its boughs. No tree in the garden of God could compare with it in beauty.
(9) I made it beautiful with its many limbs, and all the trees of Eden, which were in God’s garden, envied it.
(10) “Therefore this is what the Lord GOD says:
Since it became great in height and set its top among the clouds, and it grew proud on account of its height, (11) I determined to hand it over to a ruler of nations; he would surely deal with it. I banished it because of its wickedness.
(12) Foreigners, ruthless men from the nations, cut it down and left it lying. Its limbs fell on the mountains and in every valley; its boughs lay broken in all the earth’s ravines. All the peoples of the earth left its shade and abandoned it.
(13) All the birds of the sky nested on its fallen trunk, and all the animals of the field were among its boughs.
(14) This happened so that no trees planted beside water would become great in height and set their tops among the clouds, and so that no other well-watered trees would reach them in height. For they have all been consigned to death, to the underworld, among the people who descend to the Pit.”
(15) “This is what the Lord GOD says:
I caused grieving on the day the cedar went down to Sheol. I closed off the underground deep because of it: I held back the rivers of the deep, and its abundant waters were restrained. I made Lebanon mourn on account of it, and all the trees of the field fainted because of it. (16) I made the nations quake at the sound of its downfall, when I threw it down to Sheol to be with those who descend to the Pit.
Then all the trees of Eden, all the well-watered trees, the choice and best of Lebanon, were comforted in the underworld. (17) They too descended with it to Sheol, to those slain by the sword. As its allies they had lived in its shade among the nations.
(18) “Who then are you like in glory and greatness among Eden’s trees? You also will be brought down to the underworld to be with the trees of Eden. You will lie among the uncircumcised with those slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his hordes”–the declaration of the Lord GOD.”
“(1) In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me:
(2) “Son of man, lament for Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him:
You compare yourself to a lion of the nations, but you are like a monster in the seas. You thrash about in your rivers, churn up the waters with your feet, and muddy the rivers.”
(3) This is what the Lord GOD says:
I will spread My net over you with an assembly of many peoples, and they will haul you up in My net. (4) I will abandon you on the land and hurl you on the open field. I will cause all the birds of the sky to settle on you and let the beasts of the entire earth eat their fill of you. (5) I will put your flesh on the mountains and fill the valleys with your carcass. (6) I will drench the land with the flow of your blood, even to the mountains; the ravines will be filled with your gore. (7) 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. (8) I will darken all the shining lights in the heavens over you, and will bring darkness on your land. This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.”
Passages like this are many in the scriptures. They make use of metaphor which silly intellectuals in todays world who are themselves Biblically illiterate take literally and use such to discredit the bible. One who continues to do this today is Neil Tyson. I’ve heard him reference Revelation where it talks about the stars falling from heaven and explaining how primitive these writers were for thinking a star which is many times the size of our planet could actually fall onto the earth.
Gill in addressing this verse says,
“all which figures are sometimes made use of to denote the dissolution of kingdoms and states: the “heaven” being an emblem of a kingdom itself; the “sun” of an emperor or king, or kingly power; the “moon” of the queen, or of the priesthood; the “stars” of nobles, princes, counsellors, and such like eminent persons, useful in government”
“(9) I will trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring about your destruction among the nations, in countries you do not know. (10) I will cause many nations to be appalled at you, and their kings will shudder with fear because of you when I brandish My sword in front of them.
On the day of your downfall each of them will tremble every moment for his life. (11) For this is what the Lord GOD says:
The sword of Babylon’s king will come against you! (12) I will make your hordes fall by the swords of warriors, all of them ruthless men from the nations. They will ravage Egypt’s pride, and all its hordes will be destroyed.
(13) I will slaughter all its cattle that are beside many waters. No human foot will churn them again, and no cattle hooves will disturb them. (14) Then I will let their waters settle and will make their rivers flow like oil. This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(15) When I make the land of Egypt a desolation, so that it is emptied of everything in it, when I strike down all who live there, then they will know that I am the LORD.
(16) “This is a lament that will be chanted; the women of the nations will chant it. They will chant it over Egypt and all its hordes.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(17) In the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me:
(18) “Son of man, wail over the hordes of Egypt and bring Egypt and the daughters of mighty nations down to the underworld, to be with those who descend to the Pit:
(19) Whom do you surpass in loveliness? Go down and be laid to rest with the uncircumcised! (20) They will fall among those slain by the sword. A sword is appointed! They drag her and all her hordes away.
(21) Warrior leaders will speak from the middle of Sheol about him and his allies: They have come down; the uncircumcised lie slain by the sword.
(22) Assyria is there with all her company; her graves are all around her. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword. (23) Her graves are set in the deepest regions of the Pit, and her company is all around her burial place. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword–they who once spread terror in the land of the living.
(24) Elam is there with all her hordes around her grave. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword–they who went down to the underworld uncircumcised, who once spread their terror in the land of the living. They bear their disgrace with those who descend to the Pit.
(25) Among the slain they prepare a resting place for Elam with all her hordes. Her graves are all around her. All of them are uncircumcised, slain by the sword, although their terror was once spread in the land of the living. They bear their disgrace with those who descend to the Pit. They are placed among the slain.
(26) Meshech and Tubal are there, with all their hordes. Their graves are all around them. All of them are uncircumcised, slain by the sword, although their terror was once spread in the land of the living. (27) They do not lie down with the fallen warriors of the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, whose swords were placed under their heads. The punishment for their sins rested on their bones, although the terror of these warriors was once in the land of the living. (28) But you will be shattered and will lie down among the uncircumcised, with those slain by the sword.
(29) Edom is there, her kings and all her princes, who, despite their strength, have been placed among those slain by the sword. They lie down with the uncircumcised, with those who descend to the Pit. (30) All the leaders of the north and all the Sidonians are there. They went down in shame with the slain, despite the terror their strength inspired. They lie down uncircumcised with those slain by the sword. They bear their disgrace with those who descend to the Pit.
(31) Pharaoh will see them and be comforted over all his hordes–Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword. This is the declaration of the Lord GOD. (32) For I will spread My terror in the land of the living, so Pharaoh and all his hordes will be laid to rest among the uncircumcised, with those slain by the sword.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.”
“(1) The word of the LORD came to me:
(2) “Son of man, speak to your people and tell them:
Suppose I bring the sword against a land, and the people of that land select a man from among them, appointing him as their watchman, (3) and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows his trumpet to warn the people.
(4) Then, if anyone hears the sound of the trumpet but ignores the warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. (5) Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but ignored the warning, his blood is on his own hands. If he had taken warning, he would have saved his life.
(6) However, if the watchman sees the sword coming but doesn’t blow the trumpet, so that the people aren’t warned, and the sword comes and takes away their lives, then they have been taken away because of their iniquity, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.
(7) “As for you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from My mouth, give them a warning from Me.
(8) If I say to the wicked:
Wicked one, you will surely die, but you do not speak out to warn him about his way, that wicked person will die for his iniquity, yet I will hold you responsible for his blood. (9) But if you warn a wicked person to turn from his way and he doesn’t turn from it, he will die for his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.
(10) “Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel:
You have said this: Our transgressions and our sins are heavy on us, and we are wasting away because of them! How then can we survive?
(11) Tell them: As I live”–the declaration of the Lord GOD–“I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live.
Repent, repent of your evil ways!
Why will you die, house of Israel?
(12) “Now, son of man, say to your people:
The righteousness of the righteous person will not save him on the day of his transgression; neither will the wickedness of the wicked person cause him to stumble on the day he turns from his wickedness.
The righteous person won’t be able to survive by his righteousness on the day he sins. (13) When I tell the righteous person that he will surely live, but he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, then none of his righteousness will be remembered, and he will die because of the iniquity he has committed.
(14) “So when I tell the wicked person: You will surely die, but he repents of his sin and does what is just and right– (15) he returns collateral, makes restitution for what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without practicing iniquity–he will certainly live; he will not die. (16) None of the sins he committed will be held against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live.
(17) “But your people say: The Lord’s way isn’t fair, even though it is their own way that isn’t fair.
(18) When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he will die on account of this. (19) But when a wicked person turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live because of this.
(20) Yet you say: The Lord’s way isn’t fair. I will judge each of you according to his ways, house of Israel.”
Now you remember that back in chapter 24 verses 25-26 , it said,
“(25) “‘Son of man, know that on the day I take their stronghold from them, their pride and joy, the delight of their eyes and the longing of their hearts, as well as their sons and daughters, (26) on that day a fugitive will come to you and report the news.
(27) On that day your mouth will be opened to talk with him; you will speak and no longer be mute. So you will be a sign for them, and they will know that I am the LORD.’”
That “fugitive” is about to visit Ezekiel with the news of the fall of Jerusalem and the temple.
“(21) In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and reported, “The city has been taken!”
(22) Now the hand of the LORD had been on me the evening before the fugitive arrived, and He opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened and I was no longer mute.
(23) Then the word of the LORD came to me:
(24) “Son of man, those who live in the ruins in the land of Israel are saying:
Abraham was only one person, yet he received possession of the land. But we are many; the land has been given to us as a possession.
(25) Therefore say to them:
This is what the Lord GOD says:
You eat meat with blood in it, raise your eyes to your idols, and shed blood. Should you then receive possession of the land?
(26) You have relied on your swords, you have committed abominations, and each of you has defiled his neighbor’s wife. Should you then receive possession of the land?
(27) “Tell them this: This is what the Lord GOD says:
As surely as I live, those who are in the ruins will fall by the sword, those in the open field I have given to wild animals to be devoured, and those in the strongholds and caves will die by plague. (28) I will make the land a desolate waste, and its proud strength will come to an end. The mountains of Israel will become desolate, with no one passing through. (29) They will know that I am the LORD when I make the land a desolate waste because of all the abominations they have committed.
(30) “Now, son of man, your people are talking about you near the city walls and in the doorways of their houses. One person speaks to another, each saying to his brother: Come and hear what the message is that comes from the LORD!
(31) So My people come to you in crowds, sit in front of you, and hear your words, but they don’t obey them. Although they express love with their mouths, their hearts pursue unjust gain.
(32) Yes, to them you are like a singer of love songs who has a beautiful voice and plays skillfully on an instrument. They hear your words, but they don’t obey them.
(33) Yet when it comes–and it will definitely come–then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”