Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ezekiel 25-27: Nations Rejoicing over Israel's Demise

Ezek 25:1-5, 8-11 The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, set your face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them. Say to them, 'Hear the word of the Sovereign Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you said "Aha!" over my sanctuary when it was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile, therefore I am going to give you to the people of the East as a possession. They will set up their camps and pitch their tents among you; they will eat your fruit and drink your milk. I will turn Rabbah into a pasture for camels and Ammon into a resting place for sheep. Then you will know that I am the Lord... This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'Because Moab and Seir said, "Look, the house of Judah has become like all the other nations," therefore I will expose the flank of Moab, beginning at its frontier towns — Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon and Kiriathaim — the glory of that land. I will give Moab along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, so that the Ammonites will not be remembered among the nations; and I will inflict punishment on Moab. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'" 

Ezek 26:1-6 In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, because Tyre has said of Jerusalem, 'Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper,' therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. She will become plunder for the nations, and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

God keeps His covenantal promise made to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you" (Gen 12:3, NKJV). Instead of mourning for Israel's destruction, Ammon, Moab and Tyre were actually rejoicing and clapping their hands when they heard the news. For that sin of cursing Abraham's descendants instead of blessing them, the negative promise of the Abrahamic covenant came into effect: "I will curse him who curses you." Ammon, Moab and Tyre were destroyed by the Babylonians as a consequence of their sin.

On the flip side, people who pray for Israel and bless them will receive the positive promise of Abrahamic covenant: "I will bless those who bless you." That doesn't mean we approve everything the Jewish state is doing, but it means we are always praying for them and supporting their cause because they are God's people, "for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye" (Zech 2:8). Israel is God's people not because of any inherent righteousness of the nation--in fact, by the time of its destruction, it was worse than the surrounding nations. Moses reminded Israel that they were chosen not because they were more righteous than the surrounding nations but because of their forefathers' faith: "It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people."

Like Israel, the Church of Jesus Christ is also God's chosen people, not because Christians are more righteous than people of other faiths but because of God's faithfulness to His promise made to Abraham regarding his seed: "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:29). In fact, sadly, sometime Christians can behave in manner worse than non-Christians, but that does not disqualify them as God's chosen people because it is based on faith in God's faithfulness to His covenant made to Abraham now manifested in Christ.

That is why Scripture says, "Vengeance is mine and I will repay." When we read of atrocities committed against churches and Christians, we should never take revenge because God himself will see to it that the perpetrators will be punished. Let God be the judge while we remain witnesses of His love, grace and mercy.

Father, may You be the Judge of all evils committed against Your people. May Your mercy extend to all who acted in ignorance. Amen.

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