Friday, November 14, 2014

Ezekiel 25-32

Ezekiel 25 to 32

Overview and Analysis:

These are seven nations who had been enemies and sometimes allies with Israel, but they were all rejoicing at some level that Israel/Judah had been captured and destroyed, finally, by Babylon (up to this point they had been secure).

25: 1-7
Ammon:  They rejoiced that Judah was destroyed. 
Do not rejoice at the destruction of your enemies.
God’s protection over Israel despite his judgment of them.
Ammon is city in Jordan.
Example:  25:3 The Ammonites say, AHA! when the temple was profaned

Moab.  Given to enemies and not remembered. People of the East
Example:  25:8:  Moabites said “The house of Judah is like the others.”

25:12 a reference to II chron 28:17 during the reign of Ahaz.

Philistines (where the word Palestine comes from).  David fought the Philistines but also worked with them.

Ez. 26
26:2:  Tyre (loosely Lebanon) said of Israel that “she is turned over to me”

Against Tyre.  Who were they?  Coastland empire, very wealthy and successful in trade..  They would be forgotten and not found (end of chapter). 

The following is from Wikipedia (easy source!)

The commerce of the ancient world was gathered into the warehouses of Tyre. "Tyrian merchants were the first who ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters; and they founded their colonies on the coasts and neighbouring islands of the Aegean Sea, in Greece, on the northern coast of Africa, at Carthage and other places, in Sicily and Corsica, in Spain at Tartessus, and even beyond the pillars of Hercules at Gadeira (Cádiz)".[16]
The city of Tyre was particularly known for the production of a rare and extraordinarily expensive sort of purple dye, produced from the murex shellfish, known as Tyrian purple. This color was, in many cultures of ancient times, reserved for the use of royalty, or at least nobility.[17]
Tyre was often attacked by Egypt, besieged by Shalmaneser V, who was assisted by the Phoenicians of the mainland, for five years. From 586 until 573 BC, the city was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar II[18] until Tyre agreed to pay a tribute.[19]
In 539 BC the Achaemenids conquered the city, and kept it under their rule until 332 BC, when Alexander the Great laid siege to the city, conquered and razed it.[20]
In 315 BC, Alexander's former general Antigonus began his own siege of Tyre,[19] taking the city a year later.[21]
In 126 BC, Tyre regained its independence (from the Seleucids)[22] and was allowed to keep much of its independence, as a "civitas foederata",[23] when the area became a Roman province in 64 BC.[24] Tyre continued to maintain much of its commercial importance until the Christian era.

End of Wikipedia material

28:24 Sidon judged for despising Israel

Ez 29:  prophecy against Egypt for not being a dependable ally of Israel/Judah—a faulty reed. 
The Lord tells Ez. In verse 17 that the Tyrian kingdom didn’t fall but Nebuchadnezzar would go against Egypt. its former glory would be gone, verse 15-16.  This is related to the fact in Jeremiah that some of those left over in Jerusalem wanted to go there, and Jeremiah did get taken there in Jeremiah 43; in verse 8 and following there is a prophecy about Egypt that goes along with this

EZ 30:  Rest of prophecy against Egypt, in specifics about cities

Ez 31:  More prophecy against Egypt, with metaphor of a tree.  I think it is saying that just as Assyria was a large protective tree and fell, so will Egypt.

Ez. 32:  Sort of summary that all of these nations around them will be conquered by Babylon

29:6 Egypt, because they were not a dependable ally; Jeremiah 25:15 ff - he was preaching the same message; in the mouth of two witnesses it shall be established; actually Amos preached same


Thought 1:  protection of Israel.  When God makes a promise, it sticks eternally.  Abraham in Genesis 12 and 15, other places in Exodus and Deuteronomy

Not replacement theology - Although Baptist generally have less trouble with this, we need to be careful because it leads, unknowingly, to anti-semitism and a misrepresentations of other Scriptures.  Replacement theology says that the church replaced Israel.

Equally, I think it is important to remember that most or much of the OT is promises to Israel and we should not misinterpret verses in the OT as pertaining to us.  This is probably where as a Bible teacher I differ from a lot of others, because I don’t think we can just take a verse from the Old Testament (which is more likely to be called the Hebrew Bible now, so anyone reading this, you can make that replacement and just know that the persons for whom this is written are used to the former designation and know that I recognize that the term Old Testament is not entirely correct—it is the older one, not the replaced or obsolete one).  This is also not to say I am a proponent of premillenialism, only that it is entirely clear to me that the Jewish people didn’t get thrown away in Acts 2 or anywhere else.  See below for borrowed material on this matter.

Question: "What is replacement theology / supersessionism?"

Answer: Replacement theology (also known as supersessionism) essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in Gods plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer Gods chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel. All the different views of the relationship between the church and Israel can be divided into two camps: either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the church is completely different and distinct from Israel (dispensationalism/premillennialism).

Replacement theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God's blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years?

The view that Israel and the church are different is clearly taught in the New Testament. Biblically speaking, the church is completely different and distinct from Israel, and the two are never to be confused or used interchangeably. We are taught from Scripture that the church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the day of Pentecost and will continue until it is taken to heaven at the rapture (Ephesians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The church has no relationship to the curses and blessings for Israel. The covenants, promises, and warnings are valid only for Israel. Israel has been temporarily set aside in God's program during these past 2000 years of dispersion.

After the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), God will restore Israel as the primary focus of His plan. The first event at this time is the tribulation (Revelation chapters 6-19). The world will be judged for rejecting Christ, while Israel is prepared through the trials of the great tribulation for the second coming of the Messiah. Then, when Christ does return to the earth, at the end of the tribulation, Israel will be ready to receive Him. The remnant of Israel which survives the tribulation will be saved, and the Lord will establish His kingdom on this earth with Jerusalem as its capital. With Christ reigning as King, Israel will be the leading nation, and representatives from all nations will come to Jerusalem to honor and worship the King—Jesus Christ. The church will return with Christ and will reign with Him for a literal thousand years (Revelation 20:1-5).

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament support a premillennial/dispensational understanding of God's plan for Israel. Even so, the strongest support for premillennialism is found in the clear teaching of Revelation 20:1-7, where it says six times that Christ's kingdom will last 1000 years. After the tribulation the Lord will return and establish His kingdom with the nation of Israel, Christ will reign over the whole earth, and Israel will be the leader of the nations. The church will reign with Him for a literal thousand years. The church has not replaced Israel in God's plan. While God may be focusing His attention primarily on the church in this dispensation of grace, God has not forgotten Israel and will one day restore Israel to His intended role as the nation He has chosen (Romans 11).

Read more:

Thought 2:  We can know God’s glory through judgment or through good blessings.  Israel had known the blessings and rejected it, now would know it through judgment.

Corollary:  God’s glory in judgment was shown on the cross.  We like to think and preach that the cross was about us (even us individually, as people say, if I was the only person on the planet, Jesus would have died for me, which may be true but also smacks of fantasy and narcissism—how could an individual be the only person on the planet?)

The cross was about the plan and glory of God and we are part of that.  Judgment was carried out there and we get the blessings side of the glory of God. 

Thought 3:  In this passage today the two kingdoms/nations/ethnicities that get the most prophecy are Tyre and Egypt.  It is understandable about Egypt, since they had enslaved Israel and not been the most helpful allies over the years (as today, interestingly).  But why Tyre, and why so much? 

Apparently Tyre was an incredibly wealthy and therefore proud nation of people.  This is seen in the descriptions Ezekiel gives it, and as a person living in very poor conditions, the wealth of Tyre must have been well known and well displayed all over the region.  While Judah and other nations are suffering at the hands of Babylon, Tyre is showing off its wealth—but not for long.

The lesson in the quarterly focuses on this, so I want to talk about pride.

Thought 4:  Let’s first discuss what pride is.  Being proud is not exactly the same as pride.  When I say I am proud of my son or proud of my students who do well, I essentially mean that I am pleased, happy, full of joy at their success.  It’s an expression of approval to them.  It doesn’t necessarily mean I take credit for it, it’s all about me.

However, when it crosses the line into “I am the one responsible for this, they wouldn’t have done it without me, it’s all about me, and let’ leave God’s blessings out of it” it goes too far and becomes Biblical pride. 

The old saying is “the center of ‘sin’ and ‘pride’ is ‘I.’”  I would say self-sufficiency is the core of pride.  I am sufficient, I can do it without help, I did it without help, and therefore I am better than others are thoughts related to pride.  Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz about our “self addiction” and that’s the word I come back to.  It’s our constant going back to Me, Me, Me and the center of everything. 

The Bible speaks a lot about real pride and its evil consequences, because pride dismisses God in one’s heart even when the mouth might make religious references. 

The opposite of pride is dependence and thankfulness. 

So, what does this say about Ezekiel? In a passage that has baffled interpreters, in 28:11he moves into a description of the king of Tyre that is taken to be about the origins of Satan. 

A lesson about Satan is outside the realm of today.  In this context, the way the king of Tyre acts is an object lesson or type of how Satan operates and how he went from who he was to who he is now, and the key sin was pride that lead to rebellion.  He took what he was as a creation but rejected the source of it and believed he was the source of it.

I am not sure if we are supposed to take this entirely literally in this context, or figuratively because of its connection to a real king, but the emphasis is that
1.    Satan is created being (not a coexistent one), probably an angelic one.  He is not equal with God, and has no relation to Christ (Mormons teach he and Jesus were brothers, which is just plain weird)
2.    His core is pride and rebellion
3.    He will be judged

Thought 5:  It is interesting to me that the Middle East today is still very much like this picture in Ezekiel.  Some of these people groups still hate Israel or have tension-filled relations with them. The only exception might be Edom/Ammon, which would constitute the modern day nation of Jordan, and they seem to get along all right with Israel, despite its closeness (other side of the Jordan.)  A gentleman I teach with and who is a Presbyterian minister gave a lunch talk on his trip to Jordan and Petra and I was fascinated by it.  It is a Muslim democratic country.  That being said, there is plenty, plenty of tension and hatred toward the Jews, much of it misunderstood in US today and the level of anti-Semitism is rising worldwide, which is as the Bible indicates. 

So, the takeaways—What do you think they are?

In final burst of honest, these passages are upsetting.  Why so much destruction?  I find this so disheartening and not something that draws me to the Christian faith, which seems to have nothing to do with these prophecies of judgment over whole civilizations because of Israel, even though Israel/Judah was disobedient.   

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