Ezekiel: “They shall know that I am God”

God’s Plans for *Israel and the Nations

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Ezekiel chapters 25 to 39

www.easyenglish.info

Ian Mackervoy

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

Part Two – Ezekiel 25:1-33:20

Punishment of the Nations

Punishment of the countries near Judah – Ezekiel 25:1-17

·  In the ancient world, all the nations had different gods. People often thought that their gods were only powerful in their own nations. Really, their gods had no power. The *LORD is the only real God. He created heaven and earth. So, he is the judge of every nation. And he told Ezekiel to declare his judgement against the nations that were near Judah.

Chapter 25

Punishment of Ammon – Ezekiel 25:1-7

v1 The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, look toward the *Ammonites and *prophesy against them. v3 Say to them, “Hear the words of the *LORD your King. This is what the *LORD your King says to you. You were glad when people destroyed my *temple. You were glad when the armies ruined the nation called *Israel. You were glad when the people from Judah went into *exile. v4 Therefore, I will give you to the people in the East to be theirs. They will build their camps and they will have their tents among you. They will eat your fruit and they will drink your milk. v5 I will make the city called Rabbah into a field for camels to feed in. The country called Ammon will be a place for sheep to rest. Then you will know that I am the *LORD. v6 This is what the *LORD your King says. You clapped your hands and you jumped because of joy. You laughed with all your spite against the nation called *Israel. v7 Because of this, I will use my power against you. I will give you to the nations who will rob you. Then you will not exist among the countries. You will never again be a nation. I will destroy you. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.” ’

Verses 1-7 Ammon was a country to the north-east of Judah. It was on the edge of the desert that is east of the Jordan River. Ammon was to the north of the country called Moab. It was between the rivers called Arnon and Jabbok. The chief city was Rabbah. Rabbah was in the place that is now called Amman, in Jordan.

In about 600 *BC, Ammon joined Babylon to fight against Judah (2 Kings 24:2). In 594 *BC, Ammon joined a plot to fight against Babylon. This was with Edom, Moab, Tyre and Sidon. They tried to involve Judah in that plot (Jeremiah chapter 27). The plot failed.

When the *Babylonians destroyed the *temple, the *Ammonites were glad. They took delight in the defeat of Judah. They were glad when the *Jews went into *exile. They laughed and they clapped their hands with joy. Because of this, God was angry with them.

The *Lord would send the *Babylonians to destroy Ammon. It would not exist as a country again. This happened in the year 582 *BC. This was about 5 years after the *Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem.

The *Babylonians would either kill the *Ammonites or they would take them away as *exiles. People from the east would come and they would live in the country.

What the *Lord says will happen. This shows that *Israel’s God is the only real God.

Punishment of Moab – Ezekiel 25:8-11

v8 ‘This is what the *LORD your King says. “Moab and Edom spoke about the people from Judah. ‘Look, Judah is like all the other nations.’ v9 Because of this, I will cause armies to attack the cities on the border of Moab. They will attack Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon and Kiriathaim, the best cities in the country. v10 Then I will give Moab, with the *Ammonites, to the people from the east. They will possess the country. Moab, like Ammon, will never again be a nation. v11 So, I will punish the *Moabites. And they will know that I am the *LORD.” ’

Verses 8-11 The territory of Moab was south of the Arnon River. It was along the lower region to the east of the Dead Sea.

This was the *sin of Moab. They said that *Israel was like all the other nations. In effect, they said that *Israel’s God was like any other god. And the *Moabites laughed when the *Babylonians defeated Judah (Jeremiah 48:27). Because of these insults, the *Lord would allow Moab’s enemies to destroy it.

Armies would attack from the north. They would come into the best cities first. These cities were the border towns of Moab. They were called Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon and Kiriathaim. These three cities were north of the Arnon River. This had been part of the territory of *Israel.

The *Babylonians attacked Moab in the year 583 *BC. They killed the *Moabites or they took them away into *exile. People came from the east and they lived in the country. From that time, the nation called Moab did not exist.

By this punishment, people will know that the *Lord is the only real God.

Punishment of Edom – Ezekiel 25:12-14

v12 ‘This is what the *LORD the King says about Edom. “The people in Edom were cruel in what they did against Judah. They are guilty because of what they did. v13 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. I will use my power against Edom. I will kill its men and animals and I will destroy Edom. From Teman to Dedan, the inhabitants of Edom will die by the sword. v14 I will use my people *Israel to destroy Edom. The *Israelites will do to them all that my anger demands. And they shall know that I, the *LORD your King, have punished them.” ’

Verses 12-14 Edom was the territory south of Moab. It was from the Dead Sea to the Gulf (bay) called Aqaba.

Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau was the *ancestor of Edom. Jacob was the *ancestor of *Israel. There had always been trouble between Edom and *Israel. Edom (also called Seir) wanted to possess *Israel and Judah (Ezekiel 35:10). Edom had attacked *Israel often.

God promised to destroy Edom. He would kill the people and the animals. To do this, he would use the *Israelites. The *Babylonians attacked Edom and they destroyed much of Edom. But it remained as a nation. Then in the year 126 *BC, John Hyrcanus led *Israel in the defeat of Edom. Since that attack, Edom has not existed.

Ezekiel said that this would happen in time. Then the people would know that this punishment came from the *Lord God of *Israel.

Punishment of Philistia – Ezekiel 25:15-17

v15 ‘This is what the *LORD your King says about the *Philistines. “The *Philistines have been cruel and they have always fought against my people, Judah. They have tried to *destroy my people because they hate them. v16 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says: I will use my power against the *Philistines. I will kill the *Cherethites. I will *destroy the people that live on the coast. v17 Because of my fierce anger, I will punish them. They will know that I am the *LORD because of this punishment.” ’

Verses 15-17 Philistia was to the west of Judah and it reached to the Mediterranean Sea.

All through the history of the country called *Israel, the *Philistines had been enemies. They hated *Israel and they were a cruel nation. King David managed to beat them but afterwards they became a strong nation. King Jehoshaphat defeated them and King Uzziah made them serve him. They were strong against King Jehoram and King Ahaz.

So, the *Lord said that he would destroy Philistia. The *Cherethites and the people that live on the coast were the *Philistines. The *Babylonians may have destroyed Philistia. Philistia has not existed as a nation since that time.

Punishment of Tyre and Sidon – Ezekiel 26:1-28:24

·  God told Ezekiel to declare his (God’s) judgement against the great commercial cities called Tyre and Sidon. These cities had become very wealthy and very proud. In fact, they were so proud that God compared their king to Satan (the devil). This passage is also similar to Revelation chapter 18. That chapter is about the end of the great commercial powers that rule the world.

Chapter 26

The punishment of Tyre – Ezekiel 26:1-14

v1 The *LORD spoke to me on the first day of the month in the 11th year during our *exile. v2 ‘*Son of man, the inhabitants of Tyre have spoken against Jerusalem. “When a gate is broken, its doors swing open. Jerusalem used to be a great city, which traders from the nations would enter. But now, Jerusalem is a broken city. So, we have new opportunities to trade. We can make money because the nations have ruined Jerusalem.” v3 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says to Tyre. I am against you, Tyre. I will cause many nations to go up against you. They will be like the waves of the sea that flood your shores. v4 They will destroy the walls of Tyre. They will break down its strong buildings. I will remove all its soil and I will make it a bare rock. v5 Tyre will be a place by the sea where people dry their fishing nets. I have spoken, says the *LORD your King. The nations will destroy Tyre. v6 And they will kill the people who live in its towns along the coast. Then they will know that I am the *LORD.

v7 This is what the *LORD your King says. I will bring a king from the north against Tyre. He is Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He is the most powerful king. He will come with his horses, carts, horsemen and a large army. v8 He will kill the people who live in the country. Then he will prepare to attack you, Tyre. He will build a road of earth to the top of the walls. His army will raise their *shields against you. v9 He will beat holes in the city walls with poles. And with axes, he will destroy your strong buildings. v10 He will have so many horses that the dust from their feet will cover you. The walls will shake at the noise of the horses, the wagons and the carts. The king of Babylon will enter your gates as men enter a city through holes in the walls. v11 The feet of his horses will run over all your streets. He will kill your people with the sword. And your strong buildings will fall to the ground. v12 The soldiers will take away your wealth. They will steal your goods. They will break down your walls and they will destroy your nice houses. They will throw the stones, the wood, and all that remains of the houses into the sea. v13 So, I will stop your noisy songs. Nobody will hear the sound of music from you. v14 I will make Tyre a bare rock. It will be a place to dry fishing nets. Nobody will build Tyre again because I, the *LORD, have said so. That is what the *LORD declares.’

Verses 1-14 The 11th year of the *exile was April 587 to March 586 *BC. This was after the *Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem. That happened in the summer of 587 *BC. Therefore, the date of this *prophecy was after that event, but still during the 11th year.

Tyre was a city in Phoenicia, which was to the north of Samaria. It was on the Mediterranean Sea. Tyre was both on the coast and on an island. Tyre was a great commercial city and port. From its trade, it had become wealthy.

The inhabitants of Tyre thought that the defeat of Jerusalem was good news. Jerusalem had been a city of trade. It had controlled the trade routes from Egypt and Arabia to the north. Tyre saw an opportunity to take that trade. By this, the people in Tyre would earn more wealth. They desired the wealth that would come from Jerusalem. That was an awful attitude to have after the terrible events in Jerusalem. The inhabitants of Tyre did not care that such a *disaster had come to Jerusalem. Because of this attitude, God was angry with Tyre.

God would punish Tyre. He would bring the nations against it and they would destroy it. They would come like the waves of the sea upon the shore. The nations would break the walls of Tyre and they would destroy all the buildings. The land of the city would become just bare rock where men would dry their nets.

From 586 to 573 *BC, the *Babylonians fought against the city. They defeated Tyre. And they forced the city to serve them. Afterwards, for a brief time, Tyre became free again. Then in 525 *BC, the Persians (people from Persia) took control of it. Then in 332 *BC the Greeks (people from Greece) under Alexander the Great came. They knocked down all the buildings on the shore. They pushed all that remained of the buildings into the sea. This made a road of about half a mile to the island that they destroyed. The road became a place to dry fishing nets. Later, near to that place, there was another small city called Tyre. After that, the Romans came and they ruled that city. In the 14th century *AD, the Saracens (Arabs) destroyed the city. There is now a town called Tyre but it is not at the original place.

The *Lord told Ezekiel that he would bring the king of Babylon from the north. This king, Nebuchadnezzar, would attack Tyre with a vast army. The *Lord told how Nebuchadnezzar would break into Tyre. He would kill the people in Tyre and in the country. He would destroy the city.

All the action in verses 7 to 11 is the attack by Nebuchadnezzar. In verse 12, the passage uses the word ‘they’. It is describing the actions of many soldiers. These will include the armies from Persia and the Greece. Together, these armies brought about the results in verses 13 and 14.

The fear of the people who live near Tyre – Ezekiel 26:15-18

v15 ‘This is what the *LORD the King says to Tyre. The people who live along the coast will hear about your defeat. They will hear the screams of people in Tyre. People there will suffer and die. The people who live along the coast will tremble because of their fear. v16 And all the rulers of the coast will get down from their *thrones. They will strip off all their fine clothes. They will tremble because of fear and they will sit on the ground. They will be so afraid. When they see you, Tyre, it will be a terrible shock for them. v17 They will sing a funeral song about you. “Tyre, you were a famous city. The armies have destroyed you. You used to control the trade on the sea but you have lost that power. Those who lived by the sea were afraid of you. v18 You have *fallen. Now the people who live by the coast tremble because of fear. And the people who live on islands in the sea are afraid because of your defeat.” ’

Verses 15-18 Many small states along the coast and on the islands depended on Tyre. Tyre was protecting those states for its own benefit. The news of the defeat of Tyre would make them afraid. They would not know what would happen to them. Their rulers would give up their power. It seems that they would not even try to oppose the *Babylonians. They would give in without a fight.

They will be sad at the loss of Tyre. They will sing this funeral song about Tyre.

The final end of Tyre – Ezekiel 26:19-21

v19 ‘This is what the *LORD your King says. I will make Tyre an empty city. Nobody shall live there. I will bring the deep water over it. The sea will cover it. v20 I will send you (Tyre) down to the place of dead people. You will join those people who died long ago. You will stay below the earth with the dead people. It will be as in places that someone has ruined. You will not come back from there. You will never live again. v21 I will bring great terror upon you and I will destroy you. People will look for you, but they will never find you again. That is what the *LORD your King says.’

Verses 19-21 God will make sure that Tyre will never be strong again. It will never be such an important place for trade as it once was. Tyre will be a dead city. And nobody will live there again. Its situation will be as hopeless as the situation of a person in hell. People would not live in Tyre again. Even its land will not still exist. The sea will cover all that remains of the city.

Chapter 27

A funeral song for Tyre – Ezekiel 27:1-11

v1 The *LORD spoke his word to me again. v2 ‘*Son of man, sing a funeral song for the city called Tyre. v3 Tyre has ports on the coast of the sea. It is a place of trade for the people from many countries. Speak to Tyre: “The *LORD your King says to you. You have said that your beauty is perfect. v4 Your borders are in the heart of the seas. Your builders made you like a ship, and its beauty was perfect. v5 They made all your wooden boards of trees from Senir. They took a tall tree from Lebanon to make a pole for your sails. v6 They made your oars from the strong wood of Bashan. They made your decks from trees. The trees came from the coast of Cyprus. They laid *ivory in your decks. v7 Your sail was of fine cloth from Egypt with beautiful patterns on it. Your sail was your special flag. The covers on your decks were blue and purple cloth from the coasts of Elishah. v8 Men from Sidon and Arvad moved you while they pulled on the oars. Your own skilled men from Tyre were your sailors. v9 Men of experience from Gebal were on your ship. They maintained the ship and they did all the repairs. All the ships of the sea and their sailors came to trade with you. v10 Men from the countries called Persia, Lydia and Put served as soldiers in your army. With their clothes and *weapons ready for battle, they made you famous. v11 Men from Arvad and Helech were on your city walls. Men from Gammad were in your strong buildings. They hung their *shields on your walls. They made your beauty perfect.” ’

In this chapter, ‘you’ means the city called Tyre. The chapter is in the form of a song. It records what the traders in Tyre achieved. But the chapter describes those things in a sad manner, as if Tyre’s enemies had already destroyed the city.

Verses 1-3 The neighbours had sung a funeral song for Tyre (Ezekiel 26:17-18). This new funeral song is one that Ezekiel would sing. They sang funeral songs because Tyre’s enemies would destroy the city completely. It was as if the city itself had died. So, that was like the death of an important person. And the reason why God issued this judgement against Tyre was the proud attitudes of its inhabitants. Tyre was a most important city because of trade. And the inhabitants of Tyre were very proud about the city’s importance.

Tyre had two ports. The one in the north was a natural harbour. This was the port called Sidon. They built a harbour in the south. This was called the ‘Egyptian port’. Tyre was in a good position on the Mediterranean Sea. So, the trade to and from Asia passed through these ports. And the people in Tyre became wealthy.

Verses 4-11 Trade had made Tyre so important that it seemed to rule the seas. It traded with all the countries round the Mediterranean Sea.

In this song, Ezekiel sings of Tyre as of a ship. In other words, he describes the city as a poet would describe a splendid ship. The builders used the best materials when they made it. The wood for the ship itself came from the pine trees of *Mount Hermon (Senir). The pole for the sails was a tall cedar tree from Lebanon. The oars were from the strong oak trees of Bashan. Bashan is a district at the east of the sea called Galilee. The deck was of cypress wood and *ivory from Cyprus. The sail and the flags were of *Egyptian cloth. And the covers for the deck were purple and blue materials from Elishah. We do not know where Elishah was. It seems that Elishah was, perhaps, not an actual place. It could be the name of a *tribe of people. Their *ancestor was the son of Javan (Genesis 10:4).

All the materials in this description were the best materials that anyone could buy. They were beautiful materials and their quality was excellent. They came from countries all round the Mediterranean Sea. The ship that Ezekiel describes would be a very beautiful ship. So, Tyre was a wonderful and wealthy city.

Tyre was in Phoenicia. This was the country to the north of *Israel. It is the modern Lebanon, but it extended south to include Acco (Acre). All the crew were from the cities of Phoenicia. They were from Sidon, Arvad and Gebal.

Soldiers came from places far away to defend Tyre. They came from Persia, Lydia and Put. They joined with soldiers from other towns in Phoenicia.

Tyre was such a great city that it seemed to control the Mediterranean Sea. And Tyre had used its power well. The city gathered everything that it needed to make itself splendid. It hired skilled workmen. And its army was strong. But Tyre’s wealth and power could not protect the city. And its army would be unable to defend it. Enemies would destroy the city.

The trade of Tyre – Ezekiel 27:12-24

v12 ‘ “The people from Tarshish traded with you because of your great wealth. You sold to them and they paid you with silver, iron, tin, and *lead.

v13 People from Javan, Tubal and Meshech traded with you. They exchanged slaves and *bronze objects for the things that you sold.

v14 People from Beth Togarmah traded your goods for horses. They brought horses for work and they brought horses for war. And they brought *mules.

v15 The people from Rhodes traded with you. You traded with many places along the coast. They paid you with *ivory and *ebony.

v16 People from Aram traded with you, because you had so many good things to sell. They traded your goods for *turquoise cloth, purple cloth, and cloth with designs on it. Also, they paid you with fine cloth, shells and precious stones.

v17 People from Judah and *Israel traded with you. They paid you with wheat from Minnith, cakes, honey, oil and medicine.

v18 People from Damascus traded with you because you had many products and many good things to sell. They gave you wine from Helbon and white wool from Zahar.

v19 People from Dan and Javan traded with you objects of iron, and wood that had a sweet smell.

v20 The people from Dedan traded saddle blankets with you.

v21 People from Arabia and all the rulers of Kedar traded with you. They supplied you with young sheep, male sheep and goats.

v22 The merchants from Sheba and Raamah traded with you. They bought your goods. They paid you with all the best *spices, precious stones, and gold.

v23 People from Haran, Canneh and Eden traded with you. And merchants from Sheba, Asshur and Kilmad traded with you. v24 They were in your market. There, they paid you with the best clothes, blue cloth, and cloth with beautiful designs. And they traded with well-made carpets that had many colours.” ’

Verses 12-24 These verses contain a list of the peoples that traded with Tyre. They also show the wide range of goods that passed through Tyre. We do not know all the places in this passage.

·  Tarshish could have been a place in the south of Spain.

·  Javan was Greece. Tubal and Meshech were *tribes north of the Black Sea.

·  Beth Togarmah was probably in Turkey or Armenia.

·  Aram was Syria.

·  Judah and *Israel traded with wheat from Minnith. Minnith was an area in Ammon.

·  Dedan was probably in the south of Arabia. That would be in the area of the Persian Gulf (bay).

·  Sheba and Raamah were probably in Arabia.

We are not sure where the places in verse 23 were. But they seem to be cities in the region called Mesopotamia.

People travelled hundreds of miles to trade in Tyre. They brought all their best goods to sell there. But all this trade would end when Tyre’s enemies destroyed the city.

Tyre’s end is like a ship that sinks – Ezekiel 27:25-36

v25 ‘ “The ships of Tarshish carried the things that you sold. You were like a ship full of heavy goods in the middle of the sea. v26 The men who pulled your oars brought you out into the sea. But the east wind will break you into pieces in the heart of the sea. v27 You will lose your wealth. All that you had for sale and your goods will sink down into the sea. Those people who maintained your ship with the seamen and sailors will sink with you. On the day that your ship sinks in the sea, your salesmen, soldiers and all on the ship will die. v28 The people on the shore will tremble with fear when your sailors cry out. v29 All the men who pull the oars will leave their ships. The seamen and the sailors of other ships will stand on the shore. v30 They will cry aloud about you. They will cry like people who are in much pain. They will throw dust on their heads. They will roll in ashes. This shows how sad they will be. v31 They will shave their heads because of you. They will put on rough clothes to show how much this event has upset them. They will be very sad and they will weep because of you. They will cry aloud. v32 As they cry aloud, they will sing a funeral song for you. ‘There is no city like Tyre. It is now silent in the middle of the sea. v33 When your goods went out on the seas, you satisfied many nations. With your great wealth and goods, you made kings of the world rich. v34 Now the sea has broken you and you have sunk in the deep waters. Your goods and all the people on your ship have gone down with you. v35 All those people who live along the shore heard the news about you. And it frightened them. Their kings also tremble with fear. Their terror shows on their faces. v36 The merchants among the nations laugh at you. You have suffered a terrible end, and you will not exist again.’ ” ’

Verses 25-27 The song continues to show how Tyre will end. Tyre was like a ship at sea. It was heavy and it was full of goods. The ship was away from the shelter of the shore. The east wind blew upon the ship. The ship broke up and it began to sink. All its goods and all its crew went down with the ship.

In the song, the east wind means Babylon. The *Babylonians will come from the east and they will destroy Tyre.

Verses 28-32a (Verse 32a means the first part of verse 32.) Those people who had traded with Tyre will hear what happened. They will tremble and they will be afraid. Those people who worked with Tyre will be sad. Ezekiel shows them as like people at a funeral. People behaved in such a manner after the death of someone whom they loved.

Verses 32b-36 (Verse 32b means the last part of verse 32.) The people had never seen the end of such a great city. It was so sudden and they had not expected it. By its trade, it had been great. Tyre had supplied the nations with its goods. Now nothing remained of its wealth. Tyre had gone. It had disappeared like a ship that sinks to the bottom of the sea. The nations were afraid that the same thing could happen to them.

Chapter 28

Against the ruler of Tyre – Ezekiel 28:1-10

v1 The *LORD spoke to me again. v2 ‘*Son of man, speak to the ruler of Tyre. “This is what the *LORD the King says to you. You are proud. You say, ‘I am a god. I sit in the seat of gods in the middle of the seas.’ But you are a man and not a god. You think that you are as wise as a god. v3 You think that you are wiser than Daniel. You think you can find out all secrets. v4 By wisdom and by what you understand you have made yourself rich. You have gained gold and silver. And you have stored it for yourself. v5 You have traded with great skill. You have increased your wealth. Because of your valuable possessions, you have become proud.

v6 Therefore, the *LORD the King says this to you. You think that you are wise like a god. v7 So, I will bring foreign people against you. They will be cruel enemies to you. They will pull out their swords against you. They will destroy all that your wisdom has achieved. They will ruin all your beautiful things. v8 They will kill you. You will die a terrible death. You will die like those who drown in the sea. v9 You will not say then, ‘I am a god.’ You will be only a man, not a god, when they murder you. v10 You will die the death of a person who is not holy to me. Foreigners will kill you. I have declared it, says the *LORD the King.” ’

Verses 1-5 The ruler of Tyre was a man called Ethbaal II or Ithobal II. People thought of him as a wise man. With great skill, he gained enormous wealth. But with his success, he became proud. The kings of Tyre believed that their *ancestors were the gods. But this man was especially proud. He thought that he was a god. Tyre was called the seat or *throne of the gods. Ithobal sat on that seat as the god king. He thought that his wisdom was the wisdom of a god. The *Lord reminds King Ithobal that he (the king) is just a man and not a god.

Daniel was an *exile from Jerusalem. He had become a leader in Babylon as he served King Nebuchadnezzar. He was the author of the Book of Daniel. He was a wise man. Ezekiel could mean this man when he writes about Daniel. There was another man called Daniel or Danel who lived before 1400 *BC. He was a ruler who became famous because of his wisdom. We know almost nothing about him. Ezekiel may have meant this Daniel rather than the other one.

Verses 6-10 The *Lord would punish this ruler and the people in Tyre because they were proud. Ithobal thought that he was a god but he would die as a mere man. The *Lord would bring King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to destroy the city. He would ruin all that Ithobal had achieved. The *Babylonians would be cruel and Ithobal would die a terrible death.

The *Babylonians surrounded Tyre for 12 years. They arrived there in the year 585 *BC. Then, in 573 *BC, they destroyed the city.

A funeral song for the king of Tyre – Ezekiel 28:11-19

v11 The *LORD spoke to me again. v12 ‘*Son of man, sing a funeral song for the king of Tyre. Say this to him. “The *LORD the King says. You were the perfect model. You were full of wisdom and you were perfect in beauty. v13 You were in Eden, the garden of God. You wore every type of precious stone. These were the stones called ruby, topaz, emerald, chrysolite, onyx, jasper, *sapphire, *turquoise and *beryl. Gold was the base of all your precious things. I prepared them on the day that I created you. v14 I especially chose you and I appointed you to be a *cherub. I put you on God’s holy mountain. You walked among the stones of fire. v15 At first, when I had created you, you were perfect. For a time your life was without blame. But then you did what was evil. v16 You were too busy. You bought and sold things. This caused you to become cruel and you *sinned. So, I threw you down from God’s mountain. Because of your *sin, you, the special *cherub, were not fit to be there. I forced you to leave the stones of fire. v17 You were too proud because of your beauty. You ruined your wisdom because of your greatness. I threw you down to the earth. I will put you in front of kings, so that they may see you. v18 You have done many evil things. You cheated when you traded with the merchants. You have ruined your holy places. Therefore, I made a fire come out from you. That fire burned and it destroyed you. I made you into ashes on the ground. All who watched saw you. v19 All the nations who knew you saw this event. And what they saw caused them shock. Your end was awful. And you will not exist again.” ’

Verses 11-14 This is a hard passage to understand. It seems to be a funeral song for Ithobal. But several of the phrases are too grand to describe any man, even a great king. It seems that the king of Tyre is a model of someone else. That other person had been perfect in wisdom and beauty. No man could be perfect in this way. The meaning of this passage must be at two levels. In other words, there are actually two meanings. The main person in verses 12 to 17 is Satan (the devil). In verses 18 and 19, the main person is Ithobal, the king of Tyre.

Satan (the devil) had been in Eden, the Garden of God. The first chapters of Genesis describe the Garden called Eden. It was not possible that a king of Tyre could have been there. In the garden, there were Adam, Eve, and the snake, which was Satan.

Ezekiel thought about the king of Tyre. In that man, there was an evil power. That power caused the king to be an enemy of God. Ezekiel saw the work of Satan (the devil) in the king. Because Satan was proud, God punished him. And God would punish the king of Tyre because he was proud, too.

Satan (the devil) had been perfect in wisdom and beauty. The precious stones show how important he was. God created him and God chose him to be special. God gave a position of honour to him. He walked among the stones of fire. God’s *glory was like the fire. Satan was close to God.

Verses 15-19 At first Satan (the devil) was perfect and without blame. But he wanted to be equal with God. He was so proud that he tried to take the authority of God.

Verse 16 seems to show the effect on the king of Tyre. He became cruel and he *sinned.

God punished Satan (the devil) and God forced him to leave heaven. Satan had to leave the high (superior) place that he had. He could not walk in the *glory of God. God threw him down to the earth. And God has an even worse punishment for Satan in the future. Satan will burn in a place where the fires are continuous (Revelation 20:10). His punishment will last always.

The king of Tyre also did evil things. So, God would punish him and his people. The city called Tyre would burn with fire. And, after its final punishment, nobody would ever rebuild it.

*Prophecy against Sidon – Ezekiel 28:20-24

v20 The *LORD spoke to me again. v21 ‘*Son of man, look toward the city called Sidon and *prophesy against it. v22 “The *LORD the King says this: I am against you, Sidon. I will show my *glory in you. I will punish Sidon. And then people will know that I am the *LORD. By this punishment, I will show, in Sidon, that I am holy. v23 I will send diseases to Sidon and blood will flow in its streets. Many people will fall down dead in that city. People with swords will attack it from every side. Then they will know that I am the *LORD.

v24 The *Israelites have cruel neighbours. They are like sharp points. Such points cut into the skin and they make it sore and painful. I will *destroy all of the neighbours who hate *Israel. And they will know that I am the *LORD their King.” ’

Verses 20-24 Sidon was a city on the coast about 25 miles north of Tyre. It was not as important as Tyre. God would punish Sidon as well as Tyre. The people would die of disease and by the sword (that is, by war).

The ‘neighbours’ mean the nations that were near *Israel. Those nations constantly caused trouble for the *Israelites. So, God said that they were like sharp points. Such points cut into the skin and they are difficult to remove. But God would deal with those nations.

All of these nations had been against *Israel. God will punish all nations that hate *Israel. Then *Israel and the nations will know that the *Lord is God.

The *Israelites will come back – Ezekiel 28:25-26

v25 ‘The *LORD your King says, I will gather the *Israelites. I will bring them back from the nations where I scattered them. I will show that I am holy among them. The nations will see this. The *Israelites will live in their own country. I gave that country to my servant Jacob. v26 The people will live there in safety. They will build houses and they will plant *vines. I will punish the nations who hate them. Then the *Israelites will live in safety. And they will know that I am the *LORD their God.’

Verses 25-26 Ezekiel reminds the *exiles about the *Lord’s promise. The *Lord had scattered the *Israelites among the nations. But the *Lord will bring them back to their own country. The nations will see this happen. They will know that the *Lord has done it. They will know that the *Lord is the holy God. God gave the country to Jacob and it will belong to the *Jews again. The *Lord will cause his people to live there in safety. Then they will know that the *Lord is their God.

Punishment of Egypt – Ezekiel 29:1-32:32

·  Ezekiel’s next *prophecy was against Egypt. Judah trusted Egypt to provide protection against the *Babylonian army. But Egypt had disappointed Judah. God would punish Egypt. But the punishment would not be permanent. However, it would last for 40 years.

Chapter 29

*Prophecy against Egypt – Ezekiel 29:1-16

v1 It was the 12th day of the 10th month. This was in the 10th year during our *exile. The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, look toward the king of Egypt. *Prophesy against him and against all the nation called Egypt. v3 Tell him this message: “This is what the *LORD the King says to you. I am against you, king of Egypt. You are like a great *crocodile that lies in the river. You say, ‘The River Nile is mine. I made it for myself.’ v4 But I will catch you by your mouth as a man catches fish. I will make the fish from your rivers stick to you. I will pull you up out of your rivers and all your fish with you. v5 I will leave you in the desert, you and all the fish from your rivers. You will fall onto the ground. Nobody will pick you up or bury you. I have given you as food to the animals of the earth and to the birds of the air.

v6 Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the *LORD. The *Israelites came to you, Egypt, for help. As they leaned (depended) on you, you were like a weak stick. v7 They grasped you with their hands. But you broke, and you tore open their shoulders. When they leaned on you, you broke. As they did this, they damaged their backs.

v8 Therefore, the *LORD the King says to you. I will cause an enemy to attack you. He will kill your people and he will kill their animals. v9 The country called Egypt will become an empty desert. Then they will know that I am the *LORD. You said, ‘The River Nile is mine. I made it.’ Therefore, I will do this to you. v10 I am against you and I am against your rivers. I will destroy the country called Egypt. I will make it an empty desert. This desert will be from Migdol to Aswan and as far as Cush. v11 No person or animal will walk through it. Nobody will live there for 40 years. v12 I will ruin the country called Egypt so that it will be like a desert. It will be worse than all the nations. I will ruin its cities for 40 years. I will spread the *Egyptians among the nations. I will scatter them through the countries.

v13 But the *LORD the King says this: After 40 years I will bring back the *Egyptians. I will gather them from the nations where I scattered them. v14 I will bring them back from their *exile. I will cause them to return to southern Egypt. This is where they came from. They will become a weak *kingdom there. v15 It will be the weakest of all *kingdoms. It will never again be great among the nations. I will make it so weak that it will never rule again over the nations. v16 The *Israelites will never depend again on Egypt for help. The *Israelites will see Egypt’s situation. And then the *Israelites will remember their *sin when they turned to Egypt for help. Then they will know that I am the *LORD their King.” ’

Verses 1-5 The *Lord here spoke to Ezekiel in January 587 *BC. This was before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 *BC.

This *prophecy is against the king of Egypt and his nation. This message is against King Hophra. He ruled from 588 *BC to 569 *BC. He was the grandson of King Neco who had killed Josiah at Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:20-27). Zedekiah had asked Hophra for help against Babylon. At first, the *Egyptians did come and the *Babylonians left Jerusalem. Then the army of Egypt returned to their own country. When Nebuchadnezzar came again to Jerusalem, the *Egyptians did not support Zedekiah.

The *Lord describes King Hophra as a large *crocodile. To the *Egyptians, the *crocodile was the god Sebek. Hophra was a proud man. He felt that he was strong. He thought that no god could defeat him. He imagined that he owned the River Nile.

God would punish Hophra as men catch the *crocodile. Because he was proud, God would pull Hophra from his position. With him would be his ‘fishes’. This meant the *Egyptian people. God would leave them as food for the animals and the birds. This means that people would not even bury the dead bodies. God would use Babylon to achieve his purposes against Egypt.

Verses 6-7 As a nation, the *Egyptians had neglected to help the *Israelites. They had promised so much but they did not help. They were like a stick that would break. They seemed to be strong. But when *Israel needed them, they were too weak. God would punish them because of their failure to help his people.

Verses 8-16 The *Lord would punish the king and all Egypt. The *Babylonians would come. They would attack Egypt. They would kill people and animals. And they would send many of the people into *exile in other countries.

At a place called Cyrene, Hophra lost the battle. We do not know who the enemy was in this battle. His people took his crown from him. Then an *Egyptian named Amasis murdered him in 569 *BC. Ahmose II became king of Egypt in 568 *BC.

Because Hophra was so proud, the *Lord ruined all Egypt. Migdol and Aswan were the northern and southern borders of Egypt. Cush was the ancient Nubia, which is now in modern Ethiopia.

Egypt would be a desert where few people would live for 40 years. Then, after that time, the people would return. The *Babylonians destroyed Egypt in the year 586 *BC. At the end of the 40 years, the Persians (people from Persia) overcame the *Babylonians. It seems that the Persians sent the *Egyptians back to their country.

Never again would Egypt be a great nation. Egypt would become a weak *kingdom. It would not rule other nations.

*Israel would learn that it must never depend on Egypt again for help. They would remember their *sin. They had trusted Egypt instead of the *Lord. But *Israel will know that the *Lord is God.

God rewards the king of Babylon – Ezekiel 29:17-21

v17 On the first day of the first month of the 27th year during our *exile, the *LORD spoke to me. v18 ‘*Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made his army fight hard against Tyre. They struggled until they all had bald heads and sore shoulders. But he and his army gained nothing from the fight with Tyre. v19 Therefore, the *LORD your King says: I will give the country called Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He will ruin it and he will rob it. He will carry away all its wealth. With this, he will pay wages to his army. v20 I have given him Egypt as a reward. In what he has done, he worked hard for me. This is what the *LORD your King says.

v21 At that time, I will make *Israel to become strong again. You will speak to them. Then they will know that I am the *LORD.’

Verses 17-21 The *Lord gave this *prophecy to Ezekiel in April 571 *BC. So, it is not in date order. Usually, Ezekiel records his *prophecies in the order of their dates.

It took 13 years for the *Babylonians to defeat Tyre. Tyre gave in to the *Babylonians in about 573 *BC. By that time, not much wealth remained in Tyre. There were few valuable things that the *Babylonians could take as a reward for their efforts.

Egypt, under King Hophra, had become friends with Tyre. It could be that Tyre was stronger because of help from Egypt. *Egyptian ships could have taken away much of Tyre’s wealth.

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was God’s agent in the fight against Tyre. So, God promised to give Egypt to him as his reward. He would get more than enough wealth to pay his army.

The *Babylonians attacked Egypt in about 568 or 567 *BC. The king of Egypt was then Ahmose II.

The *fall of Egypt would encourage the *exiles from *Israel. They would see that these *prophecies were true. What God said, by Ezekiel, did happen. The *prophecies of their return to their country would happen too. Then they would know that the *Lord is God.

Chapter 30

The attack on Egypt – Ezekiel 30:1-19

v1 The *LORD spoke to me again. v2 ‘*Son of man, *prophesy. Say: “This is what the *LORD your King says. Cry aloud. The terrible day will come. v3 The day is near. The day of the *LORD is near. It will be a day of clouds and a time of terror for the nations. v4 An enemy will attack Egypt. He will kill many people in Egypt. And he will take away their wealth. He will tear down all their property. And the people in Cush will tremble because of their fear.

v5 People from Cush, Put, Lydia, Arabia and Libya will die in battle. And the sword will kill some of my people who had made an agreement with Egypt. v6 This is what the *LORD says. Those people who support Egypt will die. Egypt will lose the power of which it is proud. The *LORD your King says that the sword will kill the people from Migdol to Aswan. v7 The war will ruin Egypt with the countries that the battles destroyed. Its cities will be among the cities that the armies have ruined. v8 I will burn Egypt. I will defeat all who help it. Then they will know that I am the *LORD.

v9 On that day, I will send messages by ship to frighten the people in Cush. They feel safe now. But they will tremble because of their fear when I punish Egypt. That day will happen.

v10 This is what the *LORD your King says. There will not still be a large number of people in Egypt. I will use the power of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to defeat them. v11 He and his army will come in to destroy the nation. They are more cruel than any other nation. With their swords, they will attack Egypt. Dead bodies will be everywhere. v12 And I will make the rivers dry. And I will sell the country to evil men. I will use foreign people to destroy the country. They will ruin everything in it. I, the *LORD, have spoken.

v13 This is what the *LORD your King says. I will destroy the false gods. I will remove the images of gods from the city called Memphis. There will be nobody to rule in Egypt. And I will spread fear through the nation. v14 I will destroy Pathros. I will burn Zoan and I will punish Thebes. v15 I will act because of my anger against Pelusium, the strong place of Egypt. I will destroy many of the people in Thebes. v16 I will burn Egypt with fire. Pelusium will be in great pain. I will break down the walls of Thebes. Memphis will have constant troubles. v17 The young men from Aven and Pibeseth shall die by the sword. And the rest of the people will go into *exile. v18 The day will be dark in Tahpanhes when I end the power of Egypt. There the proud strength of Egypt will end. A cloud will cover Egypt, and the inhabitants of its villages will go into *exile. v19 So, I will punish Egypt. And they will know that I am the *LORD.” ’

Verses 1-5 The *Lord tells about a terrible day for the nations. That day was near. It would happen soon. The phrase ‘the day of the *Lord’ often refers to the end times (that is, the last few years before Christ’s return). Then there will be another time of terror for the nations. But here it means the attack by the *Babylonians against Egypt.

The *Babylonians will kill many people and they will rob Egypt of its wealth. They will destroy much of the property in Egypt.

The *Egyptians hired men from other countries to fight in their army. Many of these men would die in the battle. There were people who had come to Egypt from Judah. They had come to escape the trouble in their own country. But they would not be safe. Many of them would die in Egypt.

Verses 6-19 Until this event, Egypt was a proud and strong nation. Now the power of Egypt would end. The *Babylonians would kill many people in the country called Egypt. They would start in the north and continue to the south. They would destroy the cities in all of Egypt. News of the attack would reach Cush (Ethiopia) by ship up the River Nile. The people in Cush felt safe while Egypt was strong. But they would be afraid when the *Lord punished Egypt.

The *Babylonians would kill many people in the country called Egypt. They would start in the north and continue to the south.

The *Lord chose Nebuchadnezzar and his army to destroy Egypt. The *Babylonians were a cruel nation. They would not pity the people.

Ezekiel mentions the main cities that the army would destroy. In each city, the *Lord would remove the false gods. There would be nobody to lead the *Egyptians. Fear would spread through the nation. Many of the people would die. Of those people that did not die, many would go into *exile.

God will punish Egypt. They will know that God is the *Lord.

Nebuchadnezzar breaks the arms of the king of Egypt – Ezekiel 30:20-26

v20 The *LORD spoke to me on the 7th day of the first month. This was in the 11th year during our *exile. v21 ‘*Son of man, I have broken the powerful arm of the king of Egypt. Nobody will bind it up or cure it. He will have no bandage on it. The arm will not be strong enough to hold a sword. v22 Therefore, the *LORD your King says: I am against the king of Egypt. I will break his arms, both the strong arm and the broken arm. I will make his sword fall from his hand. v23 I will scatter the *Egyptians among the nations. I will scatter them among the countries. v24 I will make the arms of the king of Babylon strong. I will put my sword in his hand. But I will break the arms of the king of Egypt. When they meet in battle, the king of Egypt will cry out in pain. He will cry out as one who dies. v25 So, I will make the arms of the king of Babylon strong. But the arms of the king of Egypt will be weak. They will know that I am the *LORD. I will put my sword into the king of Babylon’s hand. And he will stretch it out against the nation called Egypt. v26 Then I will scatter the *Egyptians among the nations. I will scatter them among the countries. And then they will know that I am the *LORD.’

Verses 20-26 The *Lord spoke this to Ezekiel in April 587 *BC. This was about 3 months before the *Babylonians broke down the walls of Jerusalem.

In 588 *BC, King Hophra had tried to stop the *Babylonians so that they could not attack Jerusalem. He did not succeed. His army lost the battle and they went back to Egypt. This message from God came just a few months later. Then Nebuchadnezzar came again to fight against Jerusalem.

The arm and a hand that held a sword were picture language. They were a sign of the king of Egypt’s strength. Hophra had given himself a name that meant ‘the strong arm’. Therefore, God said that he had broken the arm of Hophra. The arm could not hold a sword. God had taken away his power. God made him weak. Nobody would try to cure that arm. Hophra would remain weak.

But God would make the ‘arm’ of Nebuchadnezzar stronger. In other words, he will become even more powerful. He will be the agent of God to destroy Egypt. He will break both the arms of the king of Egypt. He will defeat the army of Egypt. He will send the *Egyptians into *exile in other countries. This happened in about 568 *BC.

Then they will know that the *Lord is God.

Chapter 31

As Assyria *fell so Egypt will *fall – Ezekiel 31:1-18

v1 The *LORD spoke to me in the 11th year during our *exile. It was on the first day of the third month.

v2 ‘*Son of man, speak to the king of Egypt. And speak to all his people. “Nobody is like you in your greatness. v3 Assyria was once like a great cedar (tree) in Lebanon with beautiful branches. It gave shade to the forest. It was so tall that its top was among the highest branches. v4 The water fed it. Clear water from deep in the ground made it grow tall. Streams flowed at the bottom of the tree. The streams flowed to all the other trees in the fields. v5 So, this tree was taller than all the other trees in the country. It had many branches. They grew long and thick because of the plentiful water. v6 All the birds of the sky made their nests in the branches. And the animals of the field gave birth under its branches. All the great nations lived in the shade of the tree. v7 So, the tree was great and beautiful. It had long branches, because its roots reached down to much water. v8 The cedar trees in God’s garden were not as great as this tree. The fir trees and the plane trees did not have such large branches. No tree in God’s garden was as beautiful as this tree. v9 I made it beautiful with many branches. All the trees in Eden, in God’s garden, were jealous of it.

v10 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. The tree grew tall. Its top reached the clouds. Because it was so tall, it became proud. v11 So, I handed it over to the strong ruler of the nations. He punished it, as it deserved. Because it was evil, I threw it out. v12 Foreigners from the most terrible of the nations have cut it down. They left it where it fell. The branches fell on the mountains and in all the valleys. Its broken branches were by all the rivers in the country. And the people from all the nations in the earth went away from its shade. And they left it. v13 The birds of the sky live on the tree that has fallen. The wild animals live among the branches that fell from the tree. v14 So, the trees that grow by the water will not be proud of their height. They will not lift their tops among the clouds. None of the trees that have much water will grow that tall. All of them will die and they will end below the ground. They will be with people who have died. These trees have gone down to the place of dead people.

v15 This is what the *LORD your King says. The tree went down, as a dead man goes to his grave. On the day that the tree died, I covered the deep sources of water. Because of the tree, they became like people who are sad after a death. I held back the rivers, and the waters did not flow. I caused Lebanon to be in darkness to show that it was sad about the great tree. All the trees in the field dried up because of that great tree. v16 The tree fell with a loud noise when I brought it down to the place of dead people. The nations heard the sound of it. I made them tremble because of their fear. Like a dead man, the tree went to join those who are in the grave. Then all the trees that were in that place below the earth were content. These trees were the trees from Eden and the best trees from Lebanon. They were all the trees that used to have plenty of water. v17 The people from the nations that supported the tree died with it. They had lived in its shade. But they died and they went to the place of dead people. They joined those people who died by the sword.

v18 No tree in Eden is equal to you, Egypt, in greatness and honour. But you will die. I will bring you down with the trees from Eden to the earth below. You will lie among people who are not holy. You will lie with those people whom the sword killed. This is about the king of Egypt and all his people, says the *LORD your King.” ’

Verses 1-9 The *Lord spoke this to Ezekiel in June 587 *BC. It is a message to the king and to the *Egyptians. This part, from verses 2 to 9, is in the form of a poem.

Egypt was great and it was so proud of its importance. Assyria had been great once. It had been proud too. But it did not still exist. The *Babylonians defeated Assyria in 612 *BC. And Egypt’s power would end in the same manner. The *Babylonians would destroy the power of Egypt.

The poem describes Assyria as a tree. The cedar of Lebanon is a tall and beautiful tree. This tree was the best one in the forest. Assyria was perhaps the most powerful nation that the world had known until that time.

Verses 10-14 Assyria became too proud of its power. Because of this, God gave it to the ‘ruler of the nations’. He was the king of the nation that was most cruel. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Assyria. He defeated Assyria completely. He acted like a man who cuts down a tall tree. And that tree meant Assyria.

What happened to Assyria was to warn the nations. God hates proud persons and proud nations. In the end, all the great nations in the world become proud. God will destroy them all (Daniel 2:44).

Verses 15-17 The *Lord had brought down the great tree, which meant Assyria. It fell with a loud noise and all the nations heard it. All of them felt the effect when Assyria fell. They all trembled because of fear. Many were sad because of the end of such a great nation. The army of Babylon then destroyed many of the nations that had been friendly with Assyria.

Verse 18 Egypt was also a proud country. And, like Assyria, God compares Egypt to a great tree. It was at that time like the best trees in the Garden called Eden. (See Genesis 2:8-9.) But because Egypt was proud, God would destroy it. God will cut down that tree as he had cut down all the previous great trees. In other words, God would destroy Egypt as he had destroyed great nations like Assyria in the past.

This was a clear message that the *Lord would kill the king of Egypt. And he would punish the *Egyptians. God destroyed Assyria, which was greater than Egypt. So, Egypt could not avoid its punishment, because God would destroy Egypt as well.

Chapter 32

A funeral song for Egypt – Ezekiel 32:1-16

v1 God spoke to me in the 12th year during our *exile. It was the first day of the 12th month. v2 ‘*Son of man, sing a funeral song about the king of Egypt. Say this to him. “You are like a young lion among the nations. You are like a giant animal that lives in the seas. You splash about in your streams. You stir up the water with your feet and you make the rivers muddy.

v3 This is what the *LORD your King says to you. I will spread my net over you. With a large group of people, I will pull you up in my net. v4 Then I will throw you on the land. I will drop you on the ground. I will bring all the birds in the air to come onto you. And all the animals on the earth will eat you until they are full. v5 I will scatter your body on the mountains. And I will fill the valleys with whatever remains of you. v6 I will water the ground with your blood, which will flow as far as the mountains. And the streams will be full of you. v7 When I *destroy you, I will cover the sky. The stars will be dark. A cloud will cover the sun. And the moon shall not give its light. v8 All the lights that shine in the sky will become dark over you. I will bring darkness over your country, says the *LORD your King. v9 I will take you *Egyptians as *exiles into other nations. You will go into countries that you have not known. By this, I will cause many people to be afraid. v10 I will cause many people to know about you. It will be a great shock to them. Their kings will tremble with fear because of you. They will be afraid when I swing my sword in front of them. They will tremble all the time on the day that you *fall. They will be afraid for their own lives.

v11 This is what the *LORD your King says. The sword of the king of Babylon will attack you. v12 By the swords of powerful men, I will make your people *fall. These men are from the most terrible nation in the world. They will *destroy Egypt and all its people. The *Egyptians will die because they are proud. v13 I will kill all the animals in Egypt that live by the rivers. Then the foot of a man will not stir the water, and the feet of animals will not make it muddy. v14 So, I will make the waters clear. And I will make the rivers to flow like oil. I, the *LORD your King have spoken. v15 I will make the country called Egypt empty. And I will remove everything from the country. I will *destroy all who live there. Then they will know that I am the *LORD.”

v16 People will sing this funeral song for Egypt. The women from the nations will sing it. Because of Egypt and all its people, they will sing it, declares the *LORD your King.’

Verses 1-2 The *Lord gave this song to Ezekiel in March 585 *BC. A couple of months earlier, Ezekiel heard that the *Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem (Ezekiel 33:21).

The king of Egypt was like a young lion. He was proud of his strength but he was not strong enough. Or, he was like a *crocodile in streams of shallow water. His efforts stirred up the mud but they achieved nothing.

Verses 3-10 The *Lord will catch the king of Egypt like a *crocodile in a large net. The dead *crocodile will be food for the birds. Wild animals will come and they will eat its meat. So, the armies of Babylon would kill the king and his people through all Egypt. And they would not even bother to bury the dead bodies. Egypt’s punishment would be awful.

The *Lord will cover the sun. Its light will not shine. The moon and the stars will not give their light. These verses are about the religion of the *Egyptians. The sun god was the main god of the *Egyptians. They *worshipped the sun, the moon and the stars. Their gods did not have the power to save the nation. The gods that they served are no gods. The *Lord is the one real God.

Many of the people will go into *exile as God sends them to other countries. People in other nations will see what happened to Egypt. The *Lord will destroy that great nation. Fear will grip the nations. That is, the people in those nations will feel the greatest terror. Even Egypt could not avoid its punishment from the *Lord.

Verses 11-16 The king of Babylon will be God’s agent to destroy Egypt. Babylon was more cruel than any other nation. The armies of Babylon will kill the king of Egypt, his people and their animals. They will punish Egypt because it was proud.

In the end, the muddy waters will be clear. The River Nile and the rivers will return to their normal state. There will be a future for Egypt. Egypt’s punishment was not permanent. It would last for 40 years (Ezekiel 29:12).

It was the custom for the women to sing the funeral songs. So, the women from different nations will sing for the *Egyptians.

Egypt and the nations in the place of dead people – Ezekiel 32:17-32

v17 The *LORD spoke to me in the 12th year. It was the 15th day in the month. v18 ‘*Son of man, weep for the *Egyptians. Send them down with the women of great nations to the earth below. They will join those people who go down to the place of dead people. v19 Say to them, “You are no better than other people. In death, you will lie with those people who do not belong to God.” v20 The *Egyptians will *fall among those who died in war. The sword of the enemy will kill them. And he will drag Egypt and all its people away. v21 Strong leaders will speak from hell about Egypt and about those people who help it. “They have come down to us. The sword has killed them. They lie with those people who do not belong to God.”

v22 Assyria, and all its army, lie dead there. Its graves are round about it. All its soldiers are dead. They died in battle. v23 Their graves are in the deepest parts of the place of dead people. The armies of Assyria lie about its grave. They have all died by the sword. When they lived on the earth, they caused terror among the people.

v24 The nation called Elam is there; and all its army is about its grave. All of them died by the sword in battle. They had caused terror to the people on the earth. But the people from Elam do not belong to God. In their shame, they have gone down to the place of dead people. v25 Elam has a bed (grave) with all those people who died in war. The graves of all its soldiers surround it. All of them died by the sword and they do not belong to God. They frightened people when they lived on the earth. Now they must suffer their shame with those people who have gone down to the place of dead people. Their graves are with the rest of those people who died in battle.

v26 Meshech and Tubal are there; and the graves of all their soldiers are about them. They caused terror in the world when they were alive. They all died by the sword and they do not belong to God. v27 They do not lie with other foreign soldiers who died in battle. Those soldiers went down to the grave in honour. They had their swords under their heads. The boards that protected them in battle covered their bodies. They were a terror to people when they lived on the earth.

v28 So, you, king of Egypt, will die among foreigners. You will lie with those people who died by the sword.

v29 Also Edom is there, with its kings and all its leaders. They were strong, but now they are dead. They lie with those people who died in war. They go down to the grave with those people who do not belong to God.

v30 All the rulers of the north and all the people from Sidon are there. They have gone down in shame with those people who died in war. By their strength, they caused terror to the people. They lie with those people who do not belong to God. They lie with those people who died by the sword. With them, they go down to the grave in shame.

v31 When the king of Egypt sees them, he will comfort himself because of all his people. The sword will kill the king of Egypt and all his army, declares the *LORD your King. v32 I made people afraid of the king of Egypt while he lived on the earth. But he and all his people will lie among those people who died by the sword. They will lie with those people who do not belong to God. This is what the *LORD your King says.’

Verses 17-32 Two weeks later, in March 585 *BC, the *Lord spoke to Ezekiel. He told Ezekiel to weep for the *Egyptians. The *Lord must punish people because of their *sins. However, he is sad that he must do it. (See 2 Peter 3:9.) Those people who refuse to *turn to him will suffer because of their *sins.

When we die that is not the end. We will exist beyond the grave. There is the place of the dead; or there is life with God.

The *Egyptians who died would go to the place of the dead. All those people who do not belong to God will go there.

In that place of the dead, there will be many of the great nations. They had caused terror while they were on the earth.

The king of Egypt will see the nations in the place of the dead. He will have some comfort. He will not suffer alone in that awful place. People had been afraid of him when he was alive. But God will send the *Babylonians to kill him and his people. And they will go down to the place of the dead.

Chapter 33:1-20

Ezekiel warns the *exiles from Judah– Ezekiel 33:1-20

·  This passage is teaching basic principles. It is important not to misunderstand its message:

(1) In order to have a right relationship with God, a person must obey God. A wicked person must start to obey God. And a good person must continue to obey God.

(2) The *Lord is good. He always does what is right and fair. And he always wants people to do what is right and fair too.

(3) This passage does not teach that people can achieve a right relationship with God by their own efforts. Nobody can please God by means of good works or human effort. But the passage does teach that people must change their attitudes in order to please God. That is what it means to *repent. A person must be sincere and humble in order to *repent. And then that person’s behaviour will start to change. The person will start to do those things that please God.

(4) The passage does not teach that people can easily lose their relationship with God. Even in the *Old Testament, God did everything possible to bring people back to himself. See, for example, David’s experience in 2 Samuel chapter 12. As Ezekiel 32:11 says, God does not even want to punish a wicked person. And he cares very much about his own people who have a relationship with him. In the *New Testament, real Christians have the benefit of what Jesus achieved by his death. Our relationship with God is not something weak. God established it. So, we can be confident about what he has done.

(5) The passage teaches that God’s message is very important. People who receive God’s message have an important responsibility. They must not neglect it. Jesus taught that too (Luke 19:11-27). See also James 3:1.

v1 The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, say this to the people from your own country. Tell them: “Suppose that I (the *LORD) bring a war against a nation. The people in the country may choose a man to watch for danger. v3 If he sees the enemy, he will blow on the *trumpet. So, he will warn the people about the attack. v4 When the people hear the *trumpet, they must prepare for the fight. If they do not get ready, the enemy will kill them. They will be responsible for their own deaths. v5 They heard the sound of the *trumpet but they did not prepare for the fight. So, they will be to blame for their own deaths. If they had done something, they could have saved their own lives. v6 The man saw the enemy come to attack. If he did not blow on his *trumpet, he would not warn the people. Then if the enemy kills someone, that person will die because of his own *sins. But I will punish the man who did not warn them.”

v7 *Son of man, you are the man who must watch on behalf of the *Israelites. You must hear what I say. Then you must warn the *Israelites. v8 Suppose that I say this to wicked people: “Because you are wicked, you will die.” You must warn those people. You must warn them to stop doing evil things. If you do not warn them, they will die because of their *sins. But I will punish you because of their deaths. v9 But if you warned them, you would save your own life. If they do not change, they will die because of their *sins.

v10 *Son of man, speak to the *Israelites. This is what they are saying: “We have not obeyed the law. And our *sins hurt us. We die because of them. What can we do so that we will live?” v11 I, the *LORD your King who lives, declare this to them. I do not want any of the wicked people to die. I want them to stop doing evil things. Then they will live. Stop! *Turn from your wicked ways! *Israelites, if you change, you will not die.

v12 Therefore, *son of man, say this to the people from your own country. Say this to the good person: “You do what is right. But your goodness will not save you if you *sin.” Say this to the wicked person: “I will not punish you because of your evil deeds if you *turn from your wicked ways.” If good people *sin, I will not allow them to live because of their former goodness. v13 I could tell the good people, “You will live.” But they might think that they have done enough good deeds. If then they *sin, I will not remember their good deeds. They will die because of the bad things that they have done. v14 I might say to the wicked people, “You will die.” But they may *turn from their evil ways. And they may start to do good deeds. v15 They could give back what they had received as a promise to pay a loan. They could give back what they had taken. They could obey the laws that give life. They could *turn and they could do no evil deeds. If they do these things, they will live. They will not die. v16 I will not remember against them the *sins that they had done. They now do what is right and good. So, they will live.

v17 But your people say, “The way of the *Lord is not fair.” But their way is not fair. v18 Suppose that good people *turn from their good deeds. Then they do evil things. They will die because of the evil things that they do. v19 Suppose that wicked people stop doing bad deeds. Then they do what is right and fair. They will live because of the good deeds that they do. v20 You still say, “The way of the *Lord is not fair.” *Israelites, I will be your judge. You will get what your deeds deserve.’

Verses 1-6 The *Lord gave Ezekiel this story to tell to the *exiles.

During a war, a city had to be ready to defend itself. It was the custom to appoint a person to watch. This guard would stand on the wall of the city and he would carry a *trumpet. When he saw the enemy, he would blow his *trumpet. Then the people would prepare to fight.

If the people did not get ready, they would die. It would be their fault. And they would be to blame. The guard who had warned them would not be guilty.

If the guard had not warned them, they would not be ready. They would die because they were not ready. But the guard would be to blame. He would be guilty because he had not warned them.

In this story, the *Lord punishes the people because of their *sin. They could have *repented and God would have saved them. But the *Lord will punish the guard if he had not warned them.

Verses 7-9 God had called Ezekiel to warn his people. He was like the guard on the wall. His task was to tell the people that God would punish them because of their *sin. What he heard from God, he must tell to the people. Those people who did not *repent and change would die. But if Ezekiel obeyed God, he (Ezekiel) would live. If Ezekiel neglected to warn them, God would punish him (Ezekiel). Ezekiel would be responsible for their deaths.

Verses 10-11 The *Lord asked Ezekiel to warn his people again. They knew why they suffered. They had neglected to obey God’s law. And because of their *sin, they would die. Now they recognised that their *sin was the problem. *Sin always leads to death (Romans 6:23).

The *Lord does not want anyone to die (2 Peter 3:9). He does not want them to go to the place of dead people (see my note on Ezekiel 32:17-32). He tells them to *repent of their *sins. They must stop doing evil things. And they must *turn to the *Lord. If the people refuse to change, they will die. But if they change, they will live.

Verses 12-16 The good person must not depend on his goodness. If a good person changes to be a wicked person, he will die because of his *sins. His good deeds of the past will not save him. He must take care to do what is right. He must depend on the *Lord for his life.

A wicked person may *repent of his *sins. And then he may do what is right. If so, the *Lord will forgive his *sins. That person will not die because of past *sins. When possible, that person must undo the wrong things that he has done. And he must not continue to *sin. He must do what is right. Then, as he depends on the *Lord, he will live.

Verses 17-20 A good person who then *sins would die. This did not seem fair to the *exiles. They thought that the good deeds of the past would save that person. But what is important is the current state of that person. The *Lord is a just and fair judge. So, people will get what they deserve.

Part Three – Ezekiel 33:21-39:29

God will bring *Israel back to their Country

The country that God promised to them – Ezekiel 33:21-33

·  At last, Ezekiel received the terrible news that the *Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem. But even after that event, the *Israelites were still not ready to *turn to God. Whether they were in *Israel or in *exile, the people only really cared about themselves.

Chapter 33:21-33

News about the defeat of Jerusalem – Ezekiel 33:21-22

v21 In the 12th year during our *exile, a man escaped from Jerusalem. It was the 5th day of the 10th month when he came to me. And he said, ‘The enemy has destroyed the city.’ v22 On the evening before the man came, I felt the *LORD’s power upon me. I had been dumb but the *LORD opened my mouth. So, by the morning when the man came, I could speak again.

Verses 21-22 In January 585 *BC, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to Ezekiel. He brought the news that the *Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem. It had taken this man about 6 months to bring the news. It was a long way to travel on foot. And he had to come into the country of the enemy. It would have been a particularly difficult journey.

For some years, Ezekiel had not been able to speak except as the *Lord told him (Ezekiel 3:25-27). Now he was able to speak freely. The *Lord had made him dumb but now the *Lord had freed him. The *Lord told Ezekiel that this would happen in Ezekiel 24:26-27.

*Prophecy against those still in the country – Ezekiel 33:23-29

v23 Then the *LORD spoke to me. v24 ‘*Son of man, the enemy has destroyed the nation called *Israel. But there are people who still live there. This is what they say: “Abraham was just one man, and the *LORD gave this whole country to him. There are many of us, and so this country must be ours.” v25 Say to them, “The *LORD your King says this to you. You eat meat with the blood still in it. You ask your false gods to help you. And you kill people. Because of this, you should not possess the country. v26 You depend on your sword. You do terrible things, which I hate. You have sex with your neighbour’s wife. So, you should not have the country.”

v27 Tell them, “The *LORD your King says this to you. I am the God who lives. Those people who live in the *ruined cities shall die by the sword. The wild animals will eat those people who live in the country. And those people who live in the strong buildings or in caves shall die from diseases. v28 I will make the country into an empty desert. The people were proud of the nation’s power but that power will end. *Israel’s mountains will be so wild that nobody will travel through them. v29 The people have done such bad things. I hate what they have done. Therefore, I will make the country into an empty desert. And then they will know that I am the *LORD.” ’

Verse 23-29 God had promised to Abraham the country that became *Israel (Genesis 13:14-15). The people who were still in the country were from the family of Abraham. Therefore, they said that the country belonged to them. But they did not understand God’s promise to Abraham. To have the country they must obey the agreement with Moses. Ezekiel then shows some of the evil things that they did. The law of Moses forbids each of these things. Therefore, the people could not claim the country.

·  They ate meat with the blood still in it (see Leviticus 17:10-14).

·  They *worshipped foreign gods (see Exodus 20:1-6)

·  They killed people (see Exodus 20:13).

·  They had sex with other men’s wives (see Exodus 20:14).

The people who remained in the country would not live. They would die by the sword, by wild animals or by disease. Their proud attitudes would end. God would empty the country. It would become like a desert.

Then people will know that God is the *Lord.

The *exiles do not obey – Ezekiel 33:30-33

v30 ‘But as for you, *son of man, the people from your nation talk about you. They talk together by the walls and at the doors of their houses. They say to each other, “Come. Let us hear what the *LORD says.” v31 My people come to you, as usually they do. They sit in front of you and they listen to your words. But they do not do what you tell them. With their mouths, they tell me that they love me. But their hearts’ desire is for their own profits. v32 To them you are like a singer of love songs. You are like a man with a beautiful voice who plays an instrument well. The people hear your words, but they will not obey them.

v33 All that you have told them will happen. Then they will know that a *prophet has been among them.’

Verses 30-33 The *exiles talked about Ezekiel. They discussed the strange things that he did. They spoke about what Ezekiel had said. They seemed eager to hear the word of the *Lord. They came to Ezekiel to listen to him. They heard what Ezekiel said. But they did not obey what the *Lord said by Ezekiel. They said that they loved the *Lord. But they did not love him. They cared too much about their own wealth, possessions and money.

They liked to listen to Ezekiel. It seemed to amuse them. But they would not believe what he said. All this will change. Ezekiel was not just speaking his own ideas. His messages were from the *Lord. So, the things that Ezekiel spoke about will definitely happen. Then they will know that Ezekiel was a *prophet from the *Lord.

True and false leaders – Ezekiel 34:1-31

·  The *Lord gave Ezekiel this message about the situation of the people from *Israel. It is in the form of a story about *shepherds and sheep. The *shepherds mean the rulers of *Israel. The sheep mean the people from *Israel. Some of the sheep are fat and greedy. They mean the proud people who have been cruel to weaker people. But God will act on behalf of those weaker people. He is like a good *shepherd who looks after his sheep well.

Chapter 34

The false *shepherds of *Israel – Ezekiel 34:1-10

v1 The *LORD spoke to me again. v2 ‘*Son of man, *prophesy against the leaders of *Israel. They lead the *Israelites as *shepherds lead sheep. Say to those leaders, “The *LORD your King says this to you. It will be terrible for you. You have fed yourselves. But *shepherds should feed the sheep. v3 You drink the milk. You wear the clothes that you make from the wool. You kill and you eat the best sheep. But you do not feed the sheep. v4 You have not made the weak sheep strong. You have not made the sick sheep well. You have not put bandages on the sheep that had injuries. You have not brought back the sheep that wandered away. You did not try to find them. But you have ruled the sheep with cruel force. v5 The sheep scattered because they had no *shepherd. There was nobody to look after them. They became food for all the wild animals. v6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and high hills. They scattered all over the earth. And nobody searched for them or tried to find them.

v7 Therefore, you *shepherds, listen to the *LORD’s message. v8 I am the God who lives. I, the *LORD your King say this to you. Wild animals have caught and they have eaten my sheep. This happened because nobody was looking after the sheep. The *shepherds should have searched for them but they did not search. They fed themselves and they did not care about my sheep. v9 Therefore, you *shepherds, listen to the *LORD’s message. v10 This is what the *LORD your King says. I am against the *shepherds who should have led my sheep. I will blame them because of what has happened to my sheep. I will not let them lead my sheep. So, those *shepherds will not feed themselves again. I will save my sheep from them. My sheep will not be food for them.” ’

Verses 1-6 A *shepherd is a person who looks after sheep. It was common to say that a ruler is like a *shepherd. The ruler was called the ‘*shepherd’ of the people in his nation.

The *Lord talks to the leaders of *Israel. They should have looked after the people as a good *shepherd looks after the sheep. They were responsible to the *Lord for his people. They were responsible to the people to lead them in the right manner. But in fact, they were like bad *shepherds because they did not look after the people. All that they cared about was their own profit.

From sheep, we get milk to drink and we get cheese to eat. They grow wool, which we use to make clothes. And sheep provide us with meat to eat. But we have to feed them and we should look after them properly.

The rulers of *Israel were cruel. They took all that they wanted for themselves. They were no help to the people. They did not defend the weak people. They did not care about sick people. They killed the best sheep. The best sheep mean the people who could have been good leaders. But the rulers killed such people because the rulers did not want anyone to oppose them. They killed the strong ones and they did not take care of the weaker ones. So, they were to blame because of the deaths of many people.

Like sheep that have wandered away, the people had *turned away from God. The leaders ought to have encouraged them to stay loyal to God. But the leaders themselves were not loyal to God. They wanted the people to neglect God’s laws. So, these leaders persuaded the people to *turn away from God. The people were responsible for their own *sins, but the leaders were responsible for the wicked state of the nation. They must take the blame for the *exile from Judah.

The *Lord would remove those leaders. He would punish them because they were to blame for the *sin of the people.

Verses 7-10 The *Lord spoke again to the leaders with the same message. The *Babylonians had killed many of the people. They had sent many more to other countries. This happened because the leaders neglected their duty. They did not care about the people over whom they ruled. They were like *shepherds who did not try to find missing sheep. These leaders only wanted to increase their own wealth. Nothing else mattered to them.

The *Lord was against these leaders. They were to blame because of the state of God’s people. The *Lord would punish them because of their wicked attitudes. He would remove all these leaders. He would rescue his people from the rule of such leaders. By means of the *exile, the *Lord would preserve his people.

The *Lord will be the *shepherd – Ezekiel 34:11-16

v11 ‘ “This is what the *LORD your King says: I myself will search for my sheep. And I will look after them. v12 A *shepherd looks for his sheep. And when he has found them, he looks after them. So, I will take care of my sheep. I will save them from all the places where they have gone. They scattered on a cloudy and dark day. v13 I will bring them out from the nations. I will gather them from the countries. I will bring them to their own country. I will feed them on the mountains of *Israel and by the streams. I will feed them in all the places where people live in the country. v14 I will lead them to the best fields. They will feed on the high parts of *Israel’s mountains. There they will lie down in fields of grass. And they will eat good food on the mountains of *Israel. v15 I will feed my sheep. I will lead them to rest, says the *LORD your King. v16 I will search for the sheep that have wandered away. I will bring back those sheep that went away. I will put bandages on the sheep that have injuries. I will make the weak sheep strong. But I will *destroy the fat and the strong sheep. I will take care of my sheep fairly.” ’

Verses 11-16 The rulers of the people in Judah did not care about them. So, the *Lord will remove those leaders and he will take their place. The *Lord says that he will take care of his people in *exile. He declares that he will bring them back to the country called *Israel. *Israel is their own country because the *Lord gave it to them. The *Lord will make *Israel a strong nation again. The land will produce good crops for the people to eat. That which was desert will become good fields. The people will farm the land and they will keep their animals.

The *Lord will *destroy those bad rulers of the people. He will rule the people and he will be fair in all his decisions.

The *Lord is the judge of the sheep – Ezekiel 34:17-22

v17 ‘ “This is what I will do for you, my sheep,” says the *LORD your King, “I will decide what is right between one sheep and another sheep. I will decide what is right between male sheep and goats. v18 It should be enough for you to eat grass in the good land. You should not press down the rest of the grass with your feet. It should be enough for you to drink clear water. You should not make the rest of the water muddy with your feet. v19 My sheep should not have to eat the grass that you have pressed down. They should not have to drink water that you have made muddy with your feet.

v20 So, the *LORD your King says to them: I will decide what is right between the fat sheep and the thin sheep. v21 You push with your side and with your shoulder. You knock down all the weak sheep with the *horns on your head. You have forced them to go away. v22 Therefore, I will save my sheep. I will never let anybody hurt them again. I will decide what is right between one sheep and another sheep.” ’

Verses 17-22 Those people who were rich or strong used their situation to make themselves more wealthy. They did not care about other people. They were cruel to the weak people and to the poor people. Those rich people were behaving like strong sheep that make the grass flat. The other sheep have to eat the flat grass. Or, the rich people were like strong sheep that arrive at the water first. They drink all that they want. They make the water muddy so that other sheep cannot drink clean water.

The *Lord will be the judge of his people. He will do what is right. He will punish those people who were cruel. He will give to the poor people and to the weak people what they need.

The good *shepherd – Ezekiel 34:23-31

v23 ‘ “I will put one *shepherd in command of them all. David my servant will feed them. He will take care of them and he will be their *shepherd. v24 Then I, the *LORD, will be their God. My servant David will be a ruler among them. I, the *LORD, have spoken.

v25 I will make an agreement of peace with my sheep. I will remove the wild animals from the land. The sheep will live in the desert and they will sleep in the forests in safety. v26 I will be kind to them. And I will be kind to the places that surround my hill. I will send the rain in its proper season. The rain will be showers that will show my kindness to them. v27 The trees in the fields will yield their fruit. The ground will yield its harvest. My sheep will be safe in their country. I will break the chains that bound them. I will free them from those who made them slaves. Then they will know that I am the *LORD. v28 The nations will never rob them again and wild animals will not eat them. They will live in safety, and nobody will make them afraid. v29 I will give to them a place that is famous because of its good crops. They will never be hungry in the country. They will not suffer any insults from the nations. v30 They will know that I, the *LORD their God, am with them. The nation called *Israel will know that they are my people. The *LORD your King declares that this is so. v31 You people are my sheep. You are the sheep of my fields. I am your God, says the *LORD your King.” ’

Verses 23-24 The *Lord will send a good *shepherd (ruler) for his people. This good *shepherd will take care of them. Here he is called David. David was the second king of Israel. He had been a *shepherd and he looked after his sheep. He became a good king and he was called the ‘shepherd of Israel’. The *Messiah, whom God would send, would be from the family of David. The *Lord used the name David to refer to the *Messiah. The *Messiah will be the ruler of God’s people.

Verses 25-31 The *Lord will make an agreement with *Israel. It will be an agreement of peace for the country called *Israel. God will send the foreign nations out of that country. The wild animals in the text mean these nations. Then there will be peace for the nation called *Israel.

With the rains in their proper seasons, the land will be good for the farms. It had been dry because the rains had failed. But God will cause it to be the good land that it used to be. The people will produce plenty of crops. The harvests will never fail. The people will always have food to eat. They will never be hungry.

The *Lord will free his people from the nations. He will bring them back to their country. They will be safe in the country called *Israel. The nations will not attack them.

God’s people will *turn back to him. They will know the *Lord their God. The *Lord calls them his ‘sheep’ and he will be their ‘*shepherd’. In other words, the *Lord will look after his people as a *shepherd looks after sheep.

We have not yet seen this agreement of peace come into effect. It must happen when Jesus, the *Messiah, returns. Then the *Jews will believe him and they will know God. They will know the benefit of God’s new agreement with people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). And they will know the good things that God gives to them by means of this agreement.

Preparing the country – Ezekiel 35:1-36:15

·  This passage contains two messages from the *Lord. The first message is to the nation called Edom, which was one of the worst enemies of *Israel. The second message is to *Israel. The two messages have an unusual form. The *Lord tells Ezekiel to *prophesy as if Ezekiel is speaking to the mountains. Ezekiel must speak to the mountains on behalf of their nations. So, the first message is to *Mount Seir, on behalf of Edom. And the second message is to the many mountains in *Israel, on behalf of *Israel. In the messages, the *Lord explains his future plans for each nation. He will be kind to *Israel, but he will destroy Edom.

Chapter 35

The *Lord will destroy Edom – Ezekiel 35:1-15

v1 The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, look toward *Mount Seir and *prophesy against it. v3 Say to it, “This is what the *LORD your King says. I am against you, *Mount Seir. I will stretch out my hand against you. And I will make you into an empty desert. v4 I will destroy your cities, and you will become empty. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.

v5 You have always been an enemy of *Israel. You gave the *Israelites to those who attacked them. When their final punishment came, you handed them over to die by the sword. v6 I am the God who lives. So I, the *LORD your King, say this to you. I will give you to those who will kill you. They will chase you. Since you have not hated blood, death will pursue you. v7 I will make *Mount Seir into an empty desert. I will kill all who go into it. And I will kill all who come out of it. v8 I will fill its mountains with the bodies of those people who die in the battle. Those people who die in the war will *fall on your hills. They will *fall in your valleys. And they will *fall in all your streams. v9 I will make you into a desert. Nobody will ever live in your cities. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.

v10 You said, ‘These two nations and these two countries will be ours. We will take them to be our own countries.’ But the *LORD was there. v11 So, this is what the *LORD your King says. I am the God who lives. I will deal with you as you did with the *Israelites. You were angry. And you were jealous because you hated them. So, I will punish you. I will show them who I am. v12 Then you will know that I am the *LORD. And I have heard all your insults against the mountains of *Israel. You said, ‘They are empty. They are ready for us to take them as our own country.’ v13 Because you are proud, you have spoken much against me. I have heard you. v14 This is what the *LORD your King says. When I destroy your country, the whole earth will be happy. v15 You were happy because of what happened to the *Israelites. But I will do the same thing to you. *Mount Seir and all Edom, I will ruin you and you will be empty. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.” ’

Verses 1-4 Here *Mount Seir means the country that was called Edom. That country was to the east of the Dead Sea. It went down to the Gulf called Aqaba. The main cities were called Petra and Teman.

Perhaps Edom hated *Israel more than all the other nations. Edom came from the family of Esau. And *Israel came from the family of Esau’s brother, Jacob. There had been problems between them from the start. They hated each other. Esau *turned away from God. Edom had done as much damage to *Israel as it could.

God will punish Edom. He will destroy its cities. Then they will know that the God of *Israel is the *Lord.

Verses 5-9 Through their history, Edom had helped those who attacked *Israel. The *Edomites joined with Babylon in the fight against Judah. They were glad because of the defeat of Jerusalem. They killed many of the *Jews. So, God would cause the *Edomites’ enemies to kill them.

These things will happen. Then people will know that the God of *Israel is the *Lord.

Verses 10-15 The *Edomites wanted to own the land that belonged to Judah and *Israel. They had spoken against the *Lord. They did not recognise that the God of *Israel is the *Lord of all. They did not realise that the *Lord was with his people. So, the *Edomites could never possess the country called *Israel.

As the *Edomites had done to the *Jews, so the *Lord would do to the *Edomites.

Chapter 36

The *Lord encourages *Israel – Ezekiel 36:1-15

v1 ‘*Son of man, *prophesy to the mountains of *Israel. Say, “Mountains of *Israel, hear the word of the *LORD. v2 This is what the *LORD your King says. The enemy said about you, ‘We now possess the old high places. They are ours.’ ” v3 So *prophesy, “The *LORD your King says this. Your enemies have ruined you and they have made you empty like a desert. They came from all directions. You became the possession of the rest of the nations. People talked and they whispered against you. v4 So, mountains of *Israel, hear what the *LORD your King says. The *LORD your King speaks to the mountains, hills, streams, and valleys. He speaks to the places that the enemy has ruined. He speaks to the empty cities. The nations robbed them and laughed at them. v5 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. I speak in my fierce anger against the other nations. I speak against the people in Edom, who took my country for themselves. They did it with joy and they did it with hate in their hearts for my people. They forced out the people and they took their country.” v6 So, *prophesy about the country called *Israel. Speak to the mountains, hills, streams and valleys. “The *LORD your King says this: You have suffered the insults of the nations. That is why I have spoken in my fierce anger. v7 So, this is what the *LORD your King says. I raise my hand and I make this promise to you. As you have suffered insults, so the nations about you will suffer.

v8 But you, mountains of *Israel, your trees will grow branches. They will yield fruit for my people, *Israel, who will soon come home. v9 I care about you and I will be with you. My people will dig your soil and they will plant crops. v10 I will increase the number of people who live in the country. All the *Israelites will come to you. They will build the cities that the enemy ruined. They will live in the places that are now empty. v11 I will cause many more people and animals to live in you. They will increase and they will have many young ones. People will live in you as they did before. And I will make things better for you than at the beginning. Then you will know that I am the *LORD. v12 I will cause my people *Israel to walk on you. They will own you, and you will belong to them. You will never again take their children from them.

v13 The *LORD your King says that people accuse you, the mountains. They say, ‘It is as if you eat people. You take children from your nation.’ v14 But you will not still eat people or take away the children. This is what the *LORD your King declares. v15 From now on, I will not let you hear the insults from the nations. In the future, you will not suffer the shame of the people. You will not cause your nation to *fall again, says the *LORD your King.” ’

Verses 1-7 The mountains of *Israel represent the country and the *Israelites. In other words, the mountains appear in this passage on behalf of the country and the *Israelites. The enemy was Edom. More than the other nations, they had hated *Israel. But they were not the only ones. The rest of the nations were also in the country. These nations were the *Ammonites, the *Moabites and the *Philistines.

These foreigners ruled the country. And they said that they now owned it. They had removed the *Israelites. And the land was like a desert. The nations round about spoke evil words about the nation called *Israel.

The *Lord loved this country. He had given it to the *Israelites. The country will be theirs for all time. So, God was very angry against the nations. He was angry with the *Edomites who took the country for themselves. He was angry because they had forced his people out of the country. The *Edomites were happy when the *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. God was angry because Edom hated *Israel. The *Lord promised to punish Edom and the rest of the nations. As they had dealt with *Israel, so the *Lord would deal with them.

Verses 8-12 The country called *Israel was empty like a desert. But God’s people will return to the country. When they come, the land will produce food for them. They will plant crops and they will have good harvests. The trees will grow and they will have good fruit. All of this will be better than it was before the *exile.

The *Lord loves his people and he loves the country called *Israel. He will bring the *Israelites back to their country. They will build the cities again. They will own the country and it will belong to them. The nation called *Israel will increase and they will be strong again.

Then they will know that God is their *Lord.

When the *exiles came back some of this did happen. But at a future time, God promises to bring his people back to *Israel. The *Jews are now returning to *Israel. Israel became a nation again in 1948 *AD. Many of these things are happening now.

Verses 13-15 Through all their history, people have hated the *Jews. All over the world, the *Jews have suffered insults. People have been cruel to them and some of those enemies even killed them. When the *Lord completes his plan to bring his people home to *Israel, all this will stop. At that future time, they will no longer suffer shame.

*Israel returns to the country – Ezekiel 36:16-37:28

·  When the *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, *Israel’s future seemed hopeless. The *Israelites who were still alive went to live in many different countries. It seemed as if *Israel would never be a nation again. But God told Ezekiel that he still had plans for *Israel. And God’s plans are wonderful. They are very much better than anything that has happened in the past. God has already started to carry out some of these things. But most of them are still in the future.

The *Lord will bring the *exiles back to the country called *Israel – Ezekiel 36:16-38

v16 The *LORD spoke to me again. v17 ‘*Son of man, when the *Israelites lived in their own country, they spoiled it. They did not live good lives and they did bad things. As the blood of a woman at her time of the month, so their ways were not *clean. v18 So, I *poured out my anger against them. They murdered in the country and they spoiled the country by their false gods. v19 So, I scattered them among the nations. I sent them to foreign countries. I punished them because of how they lived. I punished them because of their wicked deeds. v20 They insulted my holy name in the nations where they went. The people in those nations said about them, “They are the people of the *LORD. But they had to leave the country that he gave to them.” v21 My holy name is important to me and I care about it. The *Israelites have insulted my name in the nations where they went.

v22 So, speak to the *Israelites. “The *LORD your King says this: I will act. What I will do is not for your benefit, *Israelites. But I will act for the benefit of my holy name. You insulted my name in the nations where you went. v23 I will show them that my great name is holy. You insulted my name in the nations where you went. But I will use you to prove myself holy among them, says the *LORD your King. Then the nations will know that I am the *LORD.

v24 I will take you out of the nations. I will gather you out of all the countries. I will bring you back into your own country. v25 Then I will wash you with clean water. You will be *clean. I will remove all your *sins and I will remove your false gods. v26 I will give a new heart to you and I will put a new spirit in you. I will remove the hearts that seem as hard as stone. I will give to you new hearts that will obey me. v27 I will put my Spirit in you. Then you will want to do what I tell you. You will be eager to obey my rules. v28 You will live in the country that I gave to your *ancestors. You will be my people, and I will be your God. v29 I will save you from your *sins. I will order the grain to grow. I will make it plentiful. I will not let you suffer hunger. v30 I will increase the fruit on the trees and the crops in the fields. You will never feel shame again among the nations because of the lack of food. v31 Then you will remember your evil behaviour and your wicked deeds. And you will hate yourselves because of all these wicked and disgusting things. v32 What I am doing is not for you. I want you to know this, says the *LORD your King. *Israelites, you should be ashamed because of the disgusting things that you have done.

v33 This is what the *LORD your King says. This will happen on the day when I remove your *sins from you. I will cause people to live in the cities again. They will build again the places that the enemy ruined. v34 They will cultivate the land that was empty. Then it will not be empty for everyone who passes by to see. v35 They will say, ‘This country was empty. Now it has become like the garden called Eden. The cities were empty, as their enemies had ruined them. Now the people have rebuilt them with strong defences. They live in the cities that were empty.’ v36 Those nations that are still about you will see this. And they will know that I, the *LORD, have done this. I have built what the enemy destroyed. I have planted the land that was empty. I, the *LORD, have spoken, and I will do it.”

v37 The *LORD your King says this: I will hear the requests of the *Israelites. I will act for them again. As a *shepherd looks after his sheep, I will make my people increase in number. v38 They will be as many as the sheep that people brought to Jerusalem during its holy weeks. A large number of people will live in the empty cities. Then they will know that I am the *LORD.’

Verses 16-21 The *Israelites had spoiled their country. They had not done what the *Lord told them to do. They were guilty of many crimes. And they even killed people.

In the country that God gave to them, they *worshipped false gods. They *turned away from the *Lord their God. He was angry with his people and he punished them. He sent the *Babylonians to destroy the cities. The *Babylonians killed most of the people. And the *Lord sent those people who were still alive out of the country.

The purpose of the *exile was so that the people would learn to obey God. But to the nations, the *exile seemed to prove that God was weak. They supposed that the God of *Israel could not protect his people. This was wrong. In fact, God brought about this punishment because of the *sins of the *Israelites. So, their wicked behaviour caused the people from other nations to have wrong ideas about God’s character. This was a terrible insult to God. God’s holy name describes his perfect character (see Exodus 34:5-7). When the *Israelites insulted his holy name by their wicked behaviour, they offended God greatly. His name is very important to him.

Verses 22-23 In those days, the name meant the person. So, the insult was against the person of the *Lord God. By their wicked behaviour, the *Israelites caused the impression that God was weak. God could not allow such a terrible insult to his name, that is, his person, to continue. So, God would bring his people back to their country. But he would not do this just for their benefit. The main reason was to show that he is God. The nations will see that he has not failed. They will understand that he is holy. And they will know that he is the *Lord God. He is not just the local god of *Israel. He alone is God and he is the *Lord of all.

The *Lord does not show his kindness because people deserve it. We can never earn any reward from God. All that we deserve is death. God will be kind to his people because he loves them.

Verses 24-32 The *Lord will bring the *Israelites from the nations. He will bring them into the country that he gave to them. The country called *Israel belongs to the *Israelites. The *Lord did bring the families of the *exiles back to the country. But this promise was about the future. *Israel has become a nation again. The *Jews are returning to their country.

When the return of the *Jews is complete, God will make them *clean. He will forgive their *sins. He will remove all the false gods. The *Jews will serve the *Lord God. They will be God’s people and he will be their God.

The *Lord will change their *stubborn hearts and he will give to them new hearts. The gift of a new heart means a new birth (John 3:3). Those whom God forgives become as new persons. The *Lord will send his Holy Spirit to make them new. The Holy Spirit will live in the hearts of God’s people. Then they will serve their God. They will obey the *Lord.

The *Jews will live in the country called *Israel. God gave this country to their *ancestors. He will cause the crops in the fields to increase. The trees will have more fruit. The *Israelites will have plenty of food. God will make *Israel into a successful nation.

The *Israelites will remember their past. They will be ashamed of all the evil things that they did. They will appreciate the love of God.

Verses 33-38 God will bring the *Israelites back to their country. Then he will deal with their *sin. The people will build the cities again. They will farm the land. They will plant trees and crops. They will keep animals. The land will be like the garden called Eden because it produces so much food (Genesis 2:8-9).

When this happens, the nations will see it. Then they will know that this is the work of the *Lord God. He has saved his people. He has made their land into good land again. The *Lord has said that he will do this. And the *Lord will do all that he has said.

There was a time when the *Lord would not listen to the people (Ezekiel 20:3). But when they return to him, then he will hear them. He will answer their prayers. He will take care of them as a *shepherd takes care of his sheep. His people will increase in number. That is, they will have large families. And they will all gather to *worship God in Jerusalem, as the *Israelites did in the past.

Then all the people will know that God is the *Lord.

Chapter 37

The valley of dry bones – Ezekiel 37:1-14

v1 I felt the power of the *LORD. He brought me out by the Spirit of the *LORD. He put me down in the middle of a valley. The valley was full of bones. v2 He led me about the valley, among the bones. I saw that there were very many bones in the valley. And the bones were very dry. v3 The *LORD asked me, ‘*Son of man, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘*LORD my King, only you know.’

v4 The *LORD said to me, ‘*Prophesy to these bones. Say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the *LORD! v5 The *LORD your King says to you bones: I will cause breath to enter you. And you will live. v6 I will put muscles on you and I will give you new bodies. I will cover you with skin. Then I will put breath in you so that you will become alive. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.” ’

v7 So, I *prophesied as the *LORD had told me. As I *prophesied, there was a noise. The sound was of bones that shook. The bones came together, bone to bone. v8 I looked and I saw muscles come on the bones. Bodies grew and skin covered the bones. But there was no breath in them.

v9 Then the *LORD said to me, ‘*Prophesy to the wind. *Prophesy *son of man, and speak to the wind. “The *LORD your King says: Come from the 4 winds! Breath, come and breathe on these dead people. And they will live again.” ’ v10 So, I *prophesied as the *LORD had told me. And the breath came into them. They became alive and they stood on their feet. They became a very large army.

v11 Then the *LORD said to me, ‘*Son of man, these bones mean all the *Israelites. They say, “We have become like dry bones. We have no hope and we have no future.” v12 So, *prophesy and speak to them. “The *LORD your King says this to you, my people: I will open your graves. I will cause you to come up out of your graves. Then I will bring you, my people, into the country called *Israel. v13 Then, my people, you will know that I am the *LORD. You will know this when I open your graves. I will bring you up from your graves. v14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live. Then I will put you in your own country. You will know that I, the *LORD, have spoken. You will know that I have done it. This is what the *LORD your King says to you.” ’

Verses 1-3 Ezekiel records what he saw in a *vision. God gave him this *vision about the future of *Israel. In the *vision, the Spirit of the *Lord brought Ezekiel to a large valley. The Spirit took Ezekiel to see what was in the valley. He saw that the valley was full of bones. The bones were very dry. These people had been dead for a long time.

The situation of these bones was hopeless. They were dead and dry. These dead people could do nothing.

Only God’s power could make them alive again.

Verses 4-6 The *Lord told Ezekiel to speak to the bones. So, Ezekiel spoke the powerful words of God to them. These bones will live again. God will cause them to breathe. He will put the breath of life into the dead people. He will cover the bones with new and complete bodies. The people will become alive again. And they will know that God is the *Lord.

Verses 7-8 Ezekiel spoke the word of God to the bones. As he spoke, there was a strange noise. The bones shook. They began to move. Then bones joined to bones. They joined in the correct order. The bones formed the proper structures for the bodies. Then the *Lord covered the bones with muscles. He made the bodies complete with skin. But they were still dead.

In this *vision, the dead bodies mean the *Jews (verse 11). They will return to the country called *Israel. This is starting to happen even before they believe in Jesus as their *Messiah.

Verses 9-10 The 4 winds mean the 4 directions, that is, north, south, east and west. In other words, the whole world. The *Jews will return to the country called *Israel from all countries.

Wind, breath and spirit are all one word in the *Hebrew language. So, the *Lord told the wind, breath or spirit to blow on these dead bodies. It came into them and they became alive. These people stood up. They were a very large army.

God’s power had turned the dry bones into a powerful army. These people were dead to God. In other words, they had no relationship whatever with God. But God has made them alive. And they have become a strong army for him.

Verses 11-14 The bones in this *vision mean the whole nation that is called *Israel. The *Israelites include the families from both parts of the divided nation, called *Israel and Judah. God tells Ezekiel about their sad state:

·  They said that they were like dry bones. It was as if they had been dead for a long time. They had lost the life (relationship) that they had with God. In other words, they were dead in their spirits.

·  They said that they had no hope. There is no hope for people who have *turned away from God. *Israel had refused to obey God. They could not expect anything from God. *Israel could not hope to become a nation again. Only God can give real hope to people who are in a hopeless situation.

·  They said that they had no future. In God alone is there life after death.

The *Israelites could do nothing to improve their terrible situation. And everyone who does not have a real relationship with God is in a similar situation. Such people have no life in their spirits. They are in a hopeless state, and they do not have a worthwhile future. They can do nothing to rescue themselves. They should trust completely in God. Only God can make people alive. Only God can give real hope and a worthwhile future to people. And that is what he promised to do for the *Israelites in this *vision.

The *vision then changed. In the first part of the *vision, the bones had scattered across a large valley. Here the bones are in graves. God will open the graves. The nation that seemed dead will become alive again. God will bring his people back to their country. *Israel will be a nation again. This is what has happened now. The *Jews are returning to the nation called *Israel.

The *Lord will cause *Israel to know him. The *Lord will send his Holy Spirit on *Israel. The *Israelites will become alive to God. In other words, they will have a real and active relationship with him. We have not seen this happen yet.

One king and one nation in *Israel – Ezekiel 37:15-28

v15 The *LORD spoke to me again. v16 ‘*Son of man, take a stick and write on it. Write, “For Judah and the *Israelites with him.” Then take another stick and write on it. Write, “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and the *Israelites with him.” v17 Join the two sticks to make one stick. So, they will be one in your hand.

v18 The people from your country will come to you with this request: “Explain to us what you mean by this.” v19 Then tell them, “The *LORD your King says this to you. I will take the stick for Joseph and the *Israelites with him. This stick is in the hand of Ephraim. And I will put this stick with the stick for Judah. I will make them into one stick. The two sticks will be one in my hand.” v20 Hold in your hand the two sticks on which you wrote. Let the people see them. v21 Say to the people, “The *LORD your King says this to you. I will take the *Israelites from the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all directions and I will bring them into their own country. v22 I will make them one nation in the country, on the mountains of *Israel. There will be one king over all of them. They will never be two nations again. They will not be two *kingdoms.

v23 They will not *sin and make themselves *unclean with their false gods. They will not have those images of gods that I hate. They will *turn from their *sins. I will save them from their *sin when they *turned against me. I will wash (free) them from *sin and I will make them *clean. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

v24 My servant David will be their king. They will all have one *shepherd (ruler). They will live by my rules and they will obey my laws. v25 They will live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob. Your *ancestors lived in that country. They will live there, their children and their grandchildren until the end of time. And David my servant will be their ruler always. v26 I will make an agreement of peace with them and it will never end. I will put them in their country and I will make them increase in number. Then I will put my *temple among them and it will be there for all time. v27 I will live with them in that place. I will be their God, and they will be my people. v28 I will place my permanent *temple there among them. Then the nations will know that I, the *LORD, have chosen *Israel to be my own people.” ’

Verses 15-17 When the *Lord brings his people back to the country, they shall be one nation. They had been two nations. The southern nation, called Judah, ruled two of the *tribes of *Israel. The other 10 *tribes lived in the northern nation, usually called *Israel. Joseph was the *ancestor of the *tribe of Ephraim. But sometimes in the Bible, Ephraim means the 10 *tribes. After they return, the 12 *tribes will all be in the one nation called *Israel.

Verses 18-23 The *exiles asked Ezekiel what the sticks meant. He told them what the *Lord would do. The *Lord will take the two sticks in his hand. There he will make them to be one stick. The two sticks meant the two nations. The one stick meant the new, united country that the *Lord would establish.

The *Lord promised to bring the *Israelites from all the nations. He will bring them to the country called *Israel. There he will make them into one nation called *Israel. In our day, there is now that nation called *Israel. The *Jews are returning to their country.

There will be one king. He will rule over the one nation called *Israel. The king has not come yet. The people will *turn from their *sins. They will not *worship false gods. They will *turn again to the *Lord their God. They will be his people and he will be their God.

Verses 24-28 The king who will come is the *Messiah. Here he is called David. David is his *ancestor. The *Messiah is sometimes called ‘King David’s greater son’. Originally, David was a *shepherd who took good care of his sheep. When David became king of *Israel, he had the same attitude toward his people. He took good care of them. The *Messiah will be like a good *shepherd. He will take good care of his people. We know the *Messiah as Jesus Christ (see John 10:11).

The *Israelites will obey God’s laws. They will live in their country. Nobody will hurt them. They will be safe from any attacks. They will have children and grandchildren until the end of time. The *Lord will build his *temple again. And it will stand until the end of time. God will live among his people.

The nations will know that the *Israelites are God’s special people. God chose *Israel to be his own people.

In the end, the *Lord will destroy this earth. And he will make a new earth. But the rule of Jesus the *Messiah will never end. (See 2 Peter 3:5-13; Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17; Hebrews 1:10-12.) And the special relationship that God has with his people will never end. This is true about all God’s people, whether they are *Israelites or not. (See Revelation 21:3-4; Revelation 22:2-5.)

Defeat of the armies that attack the country – Ezekiel 38:1-39:29

·  This passage describes the final defeat of *Israel’s enemies. Of course, this event has not happened yet. My opinion is that this battle is still a long time in the future. First, God will establish the *Israelites in their country, and they will *turn back to God (Ezekiel chapter 37). I believe that there will then be the 1000 year period in Revelation 20:6. During that period, Jesus the *Messiah will rule in Jerusalem. In Ezekiel chapters 40 to 48, God showed a new *temple to Ezekiel. My opinion is that this *temple will be in Jerusalem during those 1000 years. After those 1000 years, the devil will persuade a great army to attack Jerusalem. Revelation 20:7-9 describes that battle and, like Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, it mentions Gog and Magog. At that battle, God will complete the defeat of all his enemies. Then God will establish a new heaven and a new earth. These will be places of perfect peace, and God will always live with his people (Revelation chapter 21).

The *prophecy against Gog – Ezekiel 38:1-23

Chapter 38

v1 The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, look toward Gog, from the country called Magog. He is the chief ruler of the nations called Meshech and Tubal. *Prophesy against him. v3 “The *LORD your King says this: I am against you, Gog, chief ruler of Meshech and Tubal. v4 I will turn you about. I will catch you as a man catches a fish by the mouth. And I will bring you out with all your army. I will bring all your horses and riders who have dressed themselves ready for war. They will be a large army. They will have large and small *shields and all of them will wave their swords. v5 The armies of Persia, Cush, and Put will be with them. They will all have *shields and clothes for war. v6 There will also be armies from the nations called Gomer and Togarmah. These armies will come from the far north with all their soldiers. Many nations will support you.

v7 Get ready. Prepare for battle, you and all the armies that have come to you. You will be their leader. v8 After a long time I will call for you to come. In the last years, you will attack the country. It is a country that has recovered from war. I brought its people from many nations to live on the mountains of *Israel. Nobody had lived there for a long time. I brought these people out of the nations, and now all of them live in safety. v9 You will come like a storm. You will come with all your armies and the many nations that are with you. You will be like a cloud that covers the country.

v10 The *LORD your King says this: At that time, ideas will come into your mind. And you will think up an evil plan. v11 You will say, ‘I will march against a country that has towns without walls. I will attack a peaceful nation. I will attack people who live in safety. They live in towns without walls, gates or locks. v12 I will rob them and I will take away their wealth. I will turn my power against the places where people now live. Those places were empty until they left many nations to gather there. And now they are rich with farm animals and property. And they live in the most splendid place in the world.’ v13 People from Sheba, Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all its villages, will speak to you. They will say, ‘You have come in order to make yourselves wealthy. You have brought your great armies to rob and to steal. You have brought them to carry away silver and gold. You have come to take away farm animals and goods, and to take many valuable things.’ ”

v14 So *prophesy, *son of man, and say this to Gog. “The *LORD your King says this: On that day, my people called *Israel will live in safety. And you will know about it. v15 You will come from your place in the far north. Many nations will support you. You will have a large army with horses and riders. v16 You will attack my people called *Israel. You will be like a cloud that covers the country. You will do this at a future time when I bring you against my nation. Then the nations will know me. I will use you, Gog, to show them that I am holy.

v17 The *LORD your King says this: I spoke about you in past days. I spoke by my servants, the *prophets of *Israel. For many years, they *prophesied that I would bring you against them. v18 This is what will happen. Gog will attack the country called *Israel. On that day, I will become very angry, says the *LORD your King. v19 I declare what I will do in that day. Because of my fierce anger, I will send a great *earthquake on the country called *Israel. v20 The fish in the sea and the birds in the air will be afraid of me. The animals in the fields and all things that move along the ground will shake with fear of me. All the people on the earth will tremble with fear because of me. The *earthquake will throw the mountains down. The cliffs will fall, and every wall will fall to the ground. v21 Then I will declare war against Gog. The soldiers will fight on all my mountains, says the *LORD your King. Each man will fight against the man who is next to him. v22 I will punish Gog with disease and death. I will send heavy rain and ice, together with fire and *sulphur. This will pour down on him and on his army. Also, this will pour down on the many nations that are on his side. v23 So, I will show how great and holy I am. All the nations that watch will see this. Then they will know that I am the *LORD.” ’

Verses 1-3 Gog is the ruler of the nation called Magog. Also, he rules over the countries called Meshech and Tubal. Magog, Meshech and Tubal were sons of Japheth (Genesis 10:2). Their families became *tribes round and to the north of the seas called the Black and Caspian Seas.

Verses 4-6 The *Lord will gather Gog and Magog for a final battle. Probably, this will happen after Jesus has ruled on earth for 1000 years (Revelation 20:8). It seems that this *prophecy is for that time.

Gog and his army will be ready for war. They will have a plan. But the *Lord will change that plan. He will turn them from their plan to his plan. The *Lord will force them to go in a way that they do not want to go.

Gog’s army will be a large army. It will be the armies of Magog, Meshech and Tubal. Also, the armies of other nations will join with them. These armies will be from Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer and Togarmah.

We cannot be certain where all these countries are. Persia is to the east of *Israel and it includes Iran. Cush could be from the area of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. Put is in North Africa and is perhaps Libya. Gomer became the people who lived along the Danube and the Rhine rivers in Europe. Togarmah became the Armenians (people from Armenia) who lived in the region east of Turkey. Gomer and Togarmah will come from the far north of *Israel.

Verses 7-9 This great army will attack *Israel. The *Lord calls them to be ready. Gog is their leader.

The attack will not happen for a long time. It will be in the last years. The last years will be after the time of great trouble. That time could be before the 1000 years in Revelation chapter 20. But the attack seems to be after the 1000 years. (Revelation 20:8-9)

At that time, *Israel will be a nation again. The *Jews will be back in their country. There will be peace in the country called *Israel. The people will live in safety. At the end of this period of peace, the armies will attack *Israel. They will come suddenly, like a storm over the country.

Verses 10-13 At that time, Gog will make plans to attack *Israel. The *Israelites will be at peace. They will not expect an attack. In the past, all towns had walls for defence. They had gates and they had locks. But then none of the towns of *Israel will have good defences.

Gog intended to come and take away all the wealth of *Israel. At that time, *Israel will be one of the richest nations in the world.

Other nations such as Sheba and Dedan will be afraid. With the merchants of Tarshish, they will speak to Gog. Perhaps they want to know if he will attack them also. Perhaps they will support him. Or perhaps they hope to trade with him.

Verses 14-16 Gog will think that it is his own idea to attack *Israel. But the plan will come to him from the *Lord. The *Lord will bring him from the north. So, Gog will come. He will have a vast army. They will be like a great cloud that covers the country.

The *Lord’s purpose will be to protect his people. He will defeat Gog. The nations will see it. Then they will know that the *Lord God is holy. He is the *Lord and they will know him.

This attack will be at a future time. The future time in *prophecy means the events just before the end of the world. The attack will be after the *Jews have come back to *Israel. *Israel will be a wealthy and powerful nation.

Verses 17-23 Before Ezekiel, no *prophets had written about Gog by name. But there were many *prophecies about the events just before the end of the world.

Gog will attack *Israel. But the *Lord will be very angry. And he will oppose Gog. The *Lord will defend his people. He will kill Gog. And he will destroy the vast army that comes with Gog.

The *Lord will send a great *earthquake in the country called *Israel. The effect of this will be terrible. Mountains and cliffs will fall down. The force will destroy all the buildings. Animals, birds and even fish will tremble at this action by the *Lord.

There will be terror in the armies that support Gog. There will be confusion among them. Each man will fight against the next man. And they will kill each other.

The *Lord will send diseases on them and many will die of disease. He will send strange weather upon them. There will be storms. There will be ice. There will be fire with *sulphur, which will fall from the sky.

The *Lord will kill Gog. The *Lord will destroy all the armies that come with Gog.

All the nations will know that the *Lord God did this. They will know that the *Lord God saved his people. They will know that he is the *Lord. He is great and he is holy.

Chapter 39

How the *Lord will punish Gog – Ezekiel 39:1-10

v1 ‘*Son of man, *prophesy against Gog. “The *LORD the King says this: I am against you, Gog, chief ruler of Meshech and Tubal. v2 I will turn you about and I will lead you. I will bring you from the far north. I will send you to attack the mountains of *Israel. v3 There I will knock your bow out of your left hand. I will make your arrows drop from your right hand. v4 You will fall dead on the mountains of *Israel. So will all your army and the nations that are with you. I will give you as food for every bird that eats meat. The wild animals will eat your dead bodies. v5 You will all fall down dead in the open field. I, the *LORD the King, have spoken. v6 I will send a fire on Magog. Also, I will send fire on those people who live in safety along the coasts. And they will know that I am the *LORD.

v7 I will cause my people called *Israel to know me. I will not allow them to insult my holy name again. Then the nations will know that I am the *LORD, the holy God of *Israel. v8 That day is coming and it will happen. This is what the *LORD your King declares. I have spoken about that day and it will happen.

v9 Then those people who live in the cities of *Israel will come out. They will light fires. The *weapons of the enemy will be their fuel. They will burn both small and large *shields. They will burn bows and arrows. And they will burn military sticks and *spears. For 7 years, they will use them for fuel. v10 They will not need to gather wood from the fields. They will not chop wood from the forests for their fires. They will have enough *weapons to use as fuel. And the *Israelites will take wealth from those people who stole from them. The *Israelites will rob those people who robbed them. So says the *LORD your King.” ’

Verses 1-8 The *Lord tells again how he will kill Gog and his armies. The *Lord will cause Gog to come from the far north. Gog will try to attack *Israel. But the *Israelites will not need to defend themselves. Without the help of men, the *Lord will fight against Gog. Gog will be like a soldier with no bow and no arrows. Such a soldier cannot fight. He cannot shoot at his enemies. So, Gog and his armies will not be able to fight against the *Lord.

The *Lord will strike Gog and his armies in the country called *Israel. The phrase ‘mountains of *Israel’ means the country called *Israel. The *Lord will kill Gog and he will *destroy all who are with him. Their dead bodies will lie in the fields. There will be a vast number of dead bodies. So, there will be no time to bury them. They will lie all over the mountains and fields. There the birds and wild animals will eat them.

The *Lord will send a fire on Magog and on the coasts. This means that he will *destroy *Israel’s enemies. This includes those enemies who have not come to the battle in *Israel.

Those people who are against *Israel are enemies of the *Lord God. The *Lord will defeat them. Then all nations will know that he is the *Lord of all people.

The *Israelites will know that the *Lord is the only God. All the nations will know that he is the God of *Israel. They will know that the *Lord is holy. And all that he says is true. He will do what he says. These things will happen.

Verses 9-10 There will be a vast number of *weapons where the soldiers *fell. The people will come from the cities to collect them. They will burn all these *weapons. But there will be so many *weapons that it will take 7 years to burn them. The people will need no other fuel for their fires.

Gog and his armies intended to rob *Israel of its wealth. Instead, the *Israelites will take all that Gog’s armies had brought with them.

The task to clear the dead bodies from the country called *Israel – Ezekiel 39:11-20

v11 ‘ “At that time, I will give a place in *Israel to Gog, as his grave. It will be in the valley where people travel east toward the Sea. There the people will bury Gog. And there they will bury all who followed him. This will close that route. Nobody will be able to go that way. So, the name of that valley will be Hamon-Gog.

v12 It will take the *Israelites 7 months to bury all the bodies. Then the country will be *clean again. v13 All the people in the country will bury the bodies. This will be to their honour on the day that I show my *glory. The *LORD your King declares that this will be so.

v14 The *Israelites will employ men to work through the country. These men will make the country *clean again. They will bury the dead bodies that remain on the ground. At the end of the 7 months, they will continue to search. v15 As they go through the country, they will look for human bones. When they find one, they will mark the place. Those people who dig the graves will then bury the bones in the valley called Hamon-Gog. v16 The name of the city near there will be Hamonah. So, they will make the country *clean again.”

v17 *Son of man, the *LORD your King says this: Speak to all kinds of birds and all the wild animals. “Come together, all of you! Come from all the country round about. Come to the *sacrifice that I will prepare for you. It will be a great *sacrifice on the mountains of *Israel. There you will eat bodies and you will drink blood. v18 You will eat the bodies of powerful people. You will drink the blood of the rulers of the earth. They will be to you as if they were fat animals from Bashan. They will be like male sheep, young sheep, goats, and *bulls. v19 At the *sacrifice, which I will prepare, you will eat. You will eat fat until you are full. You will drink blood until you are like drunks. v20 You will eat as guests at my table. You will eat until you are full. You will eat horses and riders. You will eat great men and all kinds of soldiers,” says the *LORD your King.’

Verses 11-16 Gog’s armies will be very large. So, there will be a real problem. The *Israelites will have to bury all those dead bodies. The *Lord told them where to bury the bodies. The graves will be in the valley where people travel east toward the Sea. The ‘Sea’ probably means the Dead Sea. There will be so many graves in the valley that it will no longer be a route to the sea. They will give the valley a new name. They will call it Hamon-Gog, which means ‘Gog’s vast crowd.’

It will take more than 7 months to bury all the bodies. Even after that time, men will search the country. Where they find human bones, they will mark the place. Other men will collect the bones and they will bury them in the valley.

They will call the city near the valley Hamonah, which means ‘vast crowd.’

Verses 17-20 The men will search for bones after the great meal of the birds and animals. The *Lord will kill the great armies on the mountains of *Israel. He will invite the birds and the animals to come and to eat. They will eat the bodies and drink the blood. All that will remain of the armies will be the bones.

The description here is similar to the one in Revelation 19:17-21. That event seems to be at the end of the time of the great trouble. It seems to be before the rule of the *Messiah on the earth. But it could be after the 1000 years of the rule of the *Messiah (Revelation 20:8-9).

The main purpose of God – Ezekiel 39:21-29

v21 ‘I will show my *glory among the nations. All the nations will see my power when I punish them. v22 From that day the *Israelites will know that I am the *LORD their God. v23 And the nations will know that the *Israelites went into *exile because of their *sin. Because they were not loyal to me, I turned away from them. I gave them into the power of their enemies and they died in war. v24 Because they were not *clean and because of their *sins, I punished them. I turned away from them.

v25 The *LORD your King says this: Now I will bring Jacob’s people back from *exile. I will pity all the *Israelites. And I will protect my holy name. v26 The people will live in safety in their country. Nobody will make them afraid. Then they will forget their awful shame. They will forget the evil things that they did against me. v27 I will bring the people back from other countries. I will rescue them from the countries of their enemies. So, by my people, I will show many nations that I am holy. v28 Then my people will know that I am the *LORD their God. I sent them into *exile among the nations. But then I brought them all back to their own country. I did not leave any of them in *exile. v29 I will not hide myself from them. I will pour out my Spirit on the *Israelites. That is what the *LORD your King declares.’

Verses 21-24 The nations will see the *Lord’s power when he punishes them. The defeat of Gog will be a display of the power and purposes of the *Lord. Then the *Israelites will realise that the *Lord is their God. And people will see the reason why the *Lord sent his people into *exile.

The nations thought that God could not save his people. But the *exile of the *Jews did not show a weakness in God. Rather it showed that God is holy. He sent the *Jews away because they had *sinned against him. When God punishes the nations, then they will understand this. They will see his power and his *glory.

Verses 25-29 The *Lord will bring all his people back to the country called *Israel. There they will live in peace. They will serve the *Lord their God. They will no longer *turn to false gods. They will be loyal to their king *Messiah. And God will pour out his Spirit on the people.

This has not happened yet. The *Jews do not live in peace in their country. They have not accepted Jesus the *Messiah as their king. They wait still for his return. The nations do not realise that God is holy. But God has said that all these things will happen in the future.

Word List

AD ~ years after Christ was born.

allegory ~ the words are not about actual things but are word pictures of a truth.

altar ~ the special table where people burn animals or offer other gifts to God or to false gods.

Ammonites ~ a person from the nation called Ammon or anything that has a relationship with Ammon.

Amorite ~ a person from one of the ancient *tribes that lived in the country called Canaan.

ancestors ~ people in history from whom your family has come.

angel ~ God’s special servants in heaven. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages.

Assyrians ~ a person from the nation called Assyria or anything that has a relationship with Assyria.

Babylonian ~ a person from the nation called Babylon or anything that has a relationship with Babylon.

barley ~ a type of grain crop.

bath ~ equal to 6 gallons.

BC ~ years before Christ was born.

beryl ~ a precious stone.

break ~ not to perform a promise; not to obey a law.

bronze ~ A brown metal. It glows when in a fire. It polishes well and it reflects the light. It is very strong.

bulls ~ the male farm animals which mate with cows.

cedar ~ a kind of tree.

Chaldeans ~ another name for the *Babylonians.

Cherethites ~ another name for the *Philistines.

cherub ~ a special *angel who was in the most holy place in the *temple.

cherubim ~ the group of *cherubs.

circumcise ~ to cut off skin from the end of a male’s private parts.

circumcision ~ the act or result when someone *circumcises a man.

clean ~ acceptable to God.

creatures ~ Things that are alive. In this Book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel saw 4 special creatures. Those 4 creatures are called the *cherubim.

crocodile ~ a very large animal that lives in and by water.

cubit ~ a length of about half a metre.

destroy ~ to carry out the most severe punishment possible; to cause someone to suffer; to kill everyone in a nation.

disaster ~ when something very bad happens.

doves ~ a type of bird.

drunk ~ a description of a person who has drunk too much alcohol.

dung ~ toilet matter (dirt) that we and animals pass from our bodies.

eagle ~ a very large and quick bird.

earthquake ~ When the earth shakes, that is an earthquake.

ebony ~ a very hard wood.

Edomite ~ a person from the nation called Edom or anything that has a relationship with Edom.

Egyptian ~ a person from the nation called Egypt or anything that has a relationship with Egypt.

elbow ~ where the lower part of a person’s arm joins to the upper arm.

ephah ~ equal to 22 litres.

eternal life ~ the life with God that will never end.

eternal state ~ the new heaven and the new earth that will never end.

exile ~ When people have to live in a foreign country they are in exile. Such a person is called an exile.

fall ~ when enemies destroy a city or a country; when a person dies suddenly.

gerah ~ equal to one 20th of an ounce.

glory ~ great honour and beauty.

grapes ~ fruit of a *vine (a climbing plant). You can make grapes into wine.

Hebrew ~ the language of *Israel.

hin ~ equal to one gallon.

Hittite ~ a person from one of the ancient *tribes that lived in the country called Canaan.

holy ~ a holy object is special; it is only for religion. God himself and his name are also called ‘holy’. This means that God and his name are perfect, in fact, even more than perfect.

homer ~ equal to 220 litres.

horns ~ hard bones on an animal’s head; a thing like a stick, with a point, that grows on the heads of cows and some sheep. On the corners of the *altar are things like horns, which are called the ‘horns of the *altar’.

incense ~ something that gives a sweet smell when it burns. The priests burned it when they praised God in the *temple.

Israel ~ Israel is the nation whose *ancestors were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The country in which they live is called Israel. Israel became the name of the northern nation when it separated from Judah. However, Ezekiel sometimes uses the word ‘Israel’ to refer to Judah.

Israelites ~ the people whose *ancestors are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

ivory ~ the white bony material from the face of an elephant.

Jews ~ another name for the *Israelites.

keep ~ to perform a promise or to obey a law.

kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules.

lead ~ a kind of metal.

Levites ~ members of the *tribe whose *ancestor is Levi, son of Jacob.

look-out ~ a person whose duty is to warn of danger.

Lord ~ a title for God, to show that he is over all people and things.

LORD ~ ‘LORD’ is the special name that God gave to himself. It probably means ‘always God’. This name has a relationship with the special promises that God gave to his people.

Messiah ~ The *Jews expect a king to come who will save them. That king, called the Messiah, will rule both them and all people.

millennium ~ the rule of Christ on the earth for 1000 years (Revelation chapter 20).

Moabite ~ a person from the nation called Moab or anything that has a relationship with that nation.

mina ~ equal to one and a quarter pounds in weight.

mules ~ animals like horses.

oak ~ a kind of tree.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the *holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.

ox ~ a large and strong animal that farmers used.

Passover ~ the time of the year when the *Jews remember how God brought them out of Egypt.

Philistine ~ a person from the nation called Philistia or anything that has a relationship with that nation.

pour out (anger) ~ to act because of anger.

prophecy ~ a message from God; a gift of the Holy Spirit.

prophesy ~ to speak a *prophecy.

prophet ~ person who speaks for God. He can sometimes say what will happen in the future. However, false prophets are people who merely pretend to speak God’s words.

prostitute ~ a woman who receives payment when she offers her body for sex. There are also male prostitutes.

prostitution ~ what a *prostitute does.

repent ~ to change the mind; to *turn away from *sin and *turn to God.

ruined ~ the state of buildings and whole cities when armies destroy everything completely.

Sabbath ~ The Sabbath was the 7th day of the week. God told the *Israelites to keep it as a special day.

sacrifice ~ The priests killed a special animal and they burned it on an *altar. That animal was called a sacrifice. They offered a sacrifice when they asked God to forgive *sins. God made Jesus to be a sacrifice for our *sins. Animals or people whom God or other people kill for a purpose are also sacrifices (see Ezekiel 39:17). And people also made sacrifices to false gods.

sapphire ~ a precious stone.

satisfied ~ content; a description of a person who has had enough of something.

scorpion ~ a large insect that stings with its tail.

scroll ~ a book in the form of a long piece of material which one rolls up.

shepherd ~ someone who takes care of sheep.

shields ~ Soldiers carried these in their hands for protection in battle. They used them like covers, so that swords or other *weapons could not hit the body.

sin ~ Sin means the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God. People are called sinners because of their sins.

son of man ~ Ezekiel. ‘Son of man’ was the title that God used for Ezekiel. It emphasised that Ezekiel was a mere man. Ezekiel would have to depend on God’s Spirit to make him strong. Only then could Ezekiel do what God told him to do.

spears ~ long sticks with sharp ends that soldiers used as *weapons of war.

spices ~ a vegetable substance with a sweet flavour or a strong smell. People use spices in food or as *incense.

stubborn ~ to have an attitude that will not change.

sulphur ~ Sulphur is a chemical. A fire that burns with sulphur is extremely hot. And sulphur burns with an awful smell.

temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God or other gods. The *Jews had one in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God.

thorn bush ~ a thorn is a sharp bit on a bush.

throne ~ the special chair for the king.

tribe ~ The *Israelites were divided into the 12 families of the sons of Jacob. These families are the 12 tribes of *Israel.

trumpet ~ a musical instrument. A trumpet makes a loud sound when a person blows into it.

turn ~ to change your behaviour, your friends, or your God; or, to carry out actions in order to oppose someone.

turquoise ~ a precious stone.

umbilical cord ~ that which joins a baby to its mother; someone must cut it after the birth.

unclean ~ unfit for sacred purposes. Unclean food is food that the *Jews should not eat because of their religion. When the *temple was unclean, it was not right for the *worship of God.

vine ~ a plant on which *grapes grow.

vision ~ something that God shows to a person but not with the physical sight. Visions are often in the form of dreams.

weapon ~ a tool of war. People use weapons for attack or defence when they fight. For example, swords, *spears or (today) guns.

willow ~ a kind of tree.

wolves ~ wild animals that are similar to large dogs.

worship ~ an act to give honour to God (or to a false god). When people praise and thank God.

yeast ~ When one bakes bread, yeast causes it to rise.

Book List

Ralph H Alexander in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

Leslie C Allen in the Word Biblical Commentary

Charles Lee Feinberg – The Prophecy of Ezekiel

H L Ellison – Ezekiel the Man and his Message

Bibles: NIV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, NCV, ASV, CEV, GNB, GW, KJV, LITV, MKJV.

 

© 2008, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

April 2008

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