By Benjamin H. Liles
As I start off in figuring out how to approach Ezekiel 35 I came across this today and it shows me I'm on the right track: "Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples" (Psalm 96:1-3, bold for emphasis). I often take breaks from teaching from Ezekiel as there is a great deal we are told, both by God to him, as well as from Ezekiel himself.
So, as we start this article we see a few things off the bat. Toward the end of Ezekiel 35 we read, "As you rejoiced because the inheritance of the house of Israel was desolate, so I will do to you; you shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, as well as all of Edom—all of it! Then they shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 35:15, New King James). And the reason I start here rather than at the beginning of the chapter as I have done countless times before is to show a correlation between Israel and Edom.
If we trace back the history of the two nations of Israel and Edom we find that both are from the brothers Esau and Jacob. Esau was the older brother and Jacob was the younger, being born to Isaac and Rebekah (see Genesis 25:20-23). If we look carefully at the text here, knowing Esau is the older brother, and that Jacob is the younger we see God saying this: "Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23).
Because of Jacob's actions as a young man, both in taking Esau's birthright as well as receiving Esau's blessing, we find out that not only did "Esau despised his brithright" (Genesis 25:34b), but he also tricked his father, Isaac, as Rebekah--their mother preferred Jacob over Esau. Where Esau was his father's joy, Jacob was his mother's joy. And a mother will do anything to protect her joy over another child, supposedly. But the thing of this is that Isaac told Esau, "Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him" (Genesis 27:37a).
The prophecy God gave to Rebekeah about Jacob being master over his brother Esau (see once more Genesis 25:23). How that must have angered Esau; first having his birthright stolen and then having his blessing taken as well. It would have infuriated me as well. In fact, I believe part of the reason God has such a beef with those of Mount Seir is what Esau purposed in his heart: "Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, 'The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob'" (Genesis 27:41).
Is it any wonder then why Jacob fled from his father Isaac's sight, to end up in his uncle's home seeking refuge as well as a wife? (see Genesis 28:5). This whole idea of blood feud isn't a new idea. We first see it between Cain and Abel, where Abel was slain by Cain as Abel's offering was accepted by God (Genesis 4:1-15). The most recent blood feud I can think of happened in the late nineteenth century between the families of Hatfield and McCoy. I particularly don't understand feuds like these.
Backing up to Ezekiel 35 then we see God's proclamation against the descendants of Esau, saying, "Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end, therefore, as I live,” says the Lord God, “I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you" (Ezekiel 35:5-6). The short end of this is that God wants His name known to these people!
We need to realize, however, that with God's prophecy given to Rebekah about the "older serving the younger" is another indication of the fact that those from other nations will eventually come to Christ. It's why He tells those in Edom, "Then they shall know I am the LORD!" (Ezekiel 35:15). It is a fulfillment of what Jesus accomplished in His earthly ministry. If not for His death in place of our own death we have no right or place for faith in Him. What I mean by that is He died in our place, where God's wrath was meant for us, all the while He cried out, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
Therefore we need to be seen as His agents in this world as it is now. It is one of the biggest reasons Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9, Berean Study). Even Paul sums this up as well: "All those led by God's Spirit are God's sons. The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children...For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God's sons to be revealed" (Romans 8:14, 16, 19, Holman Christian Standard). Really and truly that is the goal God has in mind for those of us He calls, and I pray this comforts and encourages you. Amen.