By Benjamin H. Liles
I'm going through Ezekiel 31 quickly and a sense of pride seems to be mentioned quite a bit as it concerns Egypt. I count eight times overall that God mentions Egypt being "at its height," that it is like a tree "exalted," and it goes on and on.
You get this sense as God is talking to Egypt, mainly in this chapter, that He is greatly displeased by their pride, their arrogance. He says thus, "Whom are you like in your greatness? Underground waters gave it height. Its height was exalted...beautiful in greatness and in the length of its branches...I made it beautiful with...[multitudes] of branches...[As] you have increased in height, and it set its top among the thick boughs, and its heart was lifted up in its height, therefore I will deliver it into the hand of the mighty one of the nations" (Ezekiel 31:2b-11b, New King James).
At this time in Egyptian history there is another nation that is primarily at its height and prowess of power, the nation of Babylon. In other words, God was going to send Nebuchadnezzar and his army against Egypt in such a way, to take down its loftiness; to "root out" as God says due to Egypt's rebellious pride. God's doing this for a couple of reasons: one, He's angry over the fact of what Pharaoh did to the male children of the Exodus, under the age of 2 and under of the Israelites: "So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying 'Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive" (Exodus 1:22).
It doesn't take much to see why God wouldn't want to deal harshly with those who mistreat His people Israel. If we put it into today's context, how would you feel if someone other than yourself dealt with your wife or even your own children? You'd be angry enough to want some kind of vengeance. And yet this is God we're talking about. We're like Him, but He's nothing like us. He cannot sin. He refuses to allow His anger make Him something He isn't, unholy. I mean Christ, teaching His disciples to pray, said of Him, "Our Father, who is in Heaven, Your name is holy." It means God is hallowed. From everlasting to everlasting God is fully sanctified. He is set apart from us. He's not sinful like us.
Two, God is doing what He is within Egypt as it's grown far too prosperous, it's richness and beauty have far exceeded Egypt's proverbial "Pampers." When I say that, it's not to offend any Egyptian here. What I'm saying of the Egypt of old, from those times, is how a child acts when it doesn't get its way. In other words, a parent would chastise their child in loving discipline, "Act your age, not like a baby!" That's what I mean in what I'm saying there. Egypt needs to grow up! It needs to take its focus off of itself and do something for others.
And that's the third thing. Here in America a lot of people complain that the rich do nothing for the poor and needy. How many can say it feels like America is too big for its britches? (I raise my hand on that one). When God calls us, as followers of Christ Jesus to "visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (two other terms stand out--inhabitants of the world, or even from worldly affairs)" (James 1:27).
As a follower of Christ, it stands that God in His wisdom in dealing with us, the people, as well as with nations, wants His name to be lifted up and glorified. Jesus has done this when He went to the cross. While in the garden of Gethsemane, before the Father, Christ cried out, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39, Holman Christian Standard). When we take the time to humble ourselves to God and in Him, His eyes, He will exalt us in due time. It was about to be Christ's time. For if we recall what Jesus said to Nicodemus, "And as Moses lifted up the [bronze staff] serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:14-15, New King James).
And then we have that famous verse from John: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Why would God do such a thing as this? In our sins we can do nothing to warrant God's affections. We can strive to work harder, smarter, with great fervor hoping, praying, and mucking about in pig sties of filth -- all to gain the favor of God, but that is a work-based method to gain the favor of God.
Rather, God wants us not to work to be exalted, but to allow Him in our humility, our change of heart towards our condition before Him so that He can accomplish this "new thing." He says this, "Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field will glorify Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people. The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise" (Isaiah 43:19-21, New American Standard).
In other words, God's desire is for us to allow him to work in and through our lives. And He did this through the Son, Jesus the Messiah! Listen to that verse again in Isaiah: "I will do something new, it will spring forth; I will...make a road in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." Peter addressed this by saying, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9, Berean Study).
That's the thing right there, as well. I'm a gentile, according to the Laws of Moses. By my faith in the person of Jesus the Messiah, who is very much a Jew, I am part of His church that is now populated not only with Jewish-Christian believers (for Jews were offered a chance to believe on Him first), but also towards those of us who are outside of the Jewish faith. We are to be one body in the Messiah Jesus. We are to be humble and so in love with Him because of His love and forgiveness toward us that we have no other reason than to give our life as He gave His life for ours. I pray this shows you God's gift of grace can also be yours, regardless the culture you are in.
Father, God, You are so holy and I am so unworthy of You and Your great love that I see myself as dust. For out of the dust, as You made Adam, you also created me. From Adam's womb, through Eve, I am a child of theirs, but I no longer want to be of that world. Take the sin from my heart and my hands. Take those things which don't belong in me: pride, rebelliousness, witchcraft, pornography, all of it, remove it from me so I can stand in Your presence. I thank You in the Messiah Jesus for dying in my place, where I can do nothing on my own to please You. It is by His shed blood on the cross, the lamb was slain so I am able to stand with You and pray these words.
I ask that You heal the hearts of those who desire You, to bring them to You; draw them close, where ever they are at in life. From those about to undergo surgery, who need help with alcohol abuse, from sexual immorality, from whatever sin locks them in--that You smash those chains from them and declare them free in You and in Your strong and mighty name. For You are a fortress, a Strong Tower, an ever present Help in time of need. Be the Guide these people so desperately need, Father. And I thank You for keeping them from a very present and very real enemy who seeks to devour them. That is why I pray a hedge of protection about them; Your Son is our hedge, He is our armor in this war You declared on the enemy! I pray this in the name of the Son, in Jesus the Messiah's name! Amen.
#lifeintheshedbloodofchristjesus, #jesuschristisforreal, #nolongerslavestosin
#lifeintheshedbloodofchristjesus, #jesuschristisforreal, #nolongerslavestosin