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Ezekiel 29-30. First Egypt’s desolation is announced (Ezekiel 29:1-12 ). The king of Egypt addressed in this prophecy was Pharaoh-Hophra, called in Greek, Apries. He was the grandson of Pharaoh-Necho, who defeated King Josiah at Meggido 2 Chronicles 35:20-27 . King Zedekiah of Judah expected help and relief from Pharaoh-Hophra, when Jerusalem was besieged. The Egyptian army under Hophra advanced through Phoenicia and forced the Chaldeans to raise the siege of Jerusalem Jeremiah 37:5-21 . But the relief was only temporary, for the Egyptian army had to retire. The prophet Jeremiah announced also the doom of Hophra, associating it with Zedekiah’s doom: “Thus saith the LORD, Behold I will give Pharaoh-Hophra, King of Egypt, into the hands of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah, King of Judah, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life” Jeremiah 44:30 .
But have these predictions been fulfilled? Did Egypt pass through a period of forty years’ desolation and did a restoration take place after the forty years? Critics claim that these predictions were never literally fulfilled and that Nebuchadnezzar did not invade Egypt during the reign of Hophra. They point to the historical evidence that Amasis followed Hophra as King of Egypt, and under his reign Egypt was in a very flourishing condition. The historian, Herodotus, gives this information, and it is fully confirmed by Egyptian records on monuments. But did the prophet Ezekiel predict that Egypt should be invaded by Nebuchadnezzar during the reign of Pharaoh-Hophra? His predictions of disaster for Israel by trusting in Egypt had been used by the Assyrian officer in addressing Hezekiah: “Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, upon Egypt, on which, if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it; so is Pharaoh, King of Egypt, unto all that trust on him” 2 Kings 18:21 . And so it was. Egypt gave no help to Israel and only wounded them grievously, as a staff which breaks under the weight of him who leaneth upon it breaks and pierces the hand. Whenever God’s people turn to Egypt (the type of the world) for help, and form ungodly alliances, they do so to their own hurt and shame.
Ezekiel 29:13-16 predict a future restoration of Egypt. Isaiah also shows its future history, both in judgment and in blessing (chapter 19). Yet the prediction of Ezekiel that Egypt after the forty years should be restored and be the basest of all kingdoms and shall have no more rule, but be in a diminished condition, excludes the application of this prophecy to the coming millennium. Egypt had such a period of forty years’ devastation, though the exact history of it may not be known to us. Prophecy is not learned by historical events, but history is revealed in prophecy. We believe prophecies, not because history has measured up to them, but we believe them because they are the inerrant Word of God. After Egypt’s sorrowful forty years’ experience and dispersion, this proud country went into a steady decline, and the Word of God was literally fulfilled when it became the basest of kingdoms, so that Israel put confidence no longer in Egypt. After Nebuchadnezzar’s raid, Egypt declined and sank lower still under the Persians and the Ptolemies, until she became the granary of Rome. And this degradation has continued throughout the centuries of this age, so that Egypt is literally the basest of the kingdoms. That she will play her part in the future at the close of our age we learn from Daniel’s prophecy Daniel 11:36-45 . Egypt will rise into prominence ere long in connection with the present-day world conflict.
Then follows another prediction, the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon (Ezekiel 29:12-21 ). This also was literally fulfilled. In chapter 30 we find first a prophecy as to the desolation of Egypt and her allies (Ezekiel 30:1-13 ).
The prophet’s first utterance is concerning the day, “Howl ye! Alas for the day! For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the Gentiles.” What day is this? Other prophets mention the day of Jehovah as a day of judgment and wrath when the Lord will deal in His righteousness with the nations of the earth (Isaiah 2:1-22 , Isaiah 13:6 ; Isaiah 13:9 ; Joel 1:15 ; Joel 2:11 ; Joel 2:11 ; Joel 3:14 ; Amos 5:18 ; Amos 5:20 ; Obadiah 1:1 :Obadiah 1:15 ; Zephaniah 1:7 ; Zephaniah 1:14 ; Zechariah 14:11 , etc). This day in its final meaning is the day on which the Lord Jesus Christ will be visibly revealed from heaven. It is mentioned in the New Testament in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:2 (where “day of Christ” should be rendered “day of the Lord”) and 2 Peter 3:10 . This day will bring “man’s day” to a close and usher in a new age, when righteousness shall reign as grace reigns now. This day of coming judgment of all nations is seen also here in a prophetic perspective. All previous judgments of nations as announced by God’s prophet’s, nations which sinned against Israel the chosen people, foreshadow the one great day, when the times of the Gentiles end in the revealed manner Daniel 2:34 Daniel 7:10-28 ). What came upon Egypt in the past through divine judgment will happen to the Gentile nations in the future at the close of our age, “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-12 ). Ever since the times of the Gentiles began with Nebuchadnezzar the divinely appointed head Jeremiah 27:4-22 ), this day of the Lord has been drawing near, till now, with the stupendous present-day events, we can see this day rapidly approaching.
Two weeks after the lamentations over Pharaoh, the prophet uttered this solemn and most impressive elegy over the multitude of Egypt and the heathen nations who have gone into sheol. It has been called a weird Dantesque funeral march over the whole heathen world; but it is more than that. We look here into sheol and see the nations gathered there, stripped of their glory, in deepest abasement and shame. Their bodies are in the pit, the grave, and their souls in sheol, the unseen regions. God’s patience was exhausted with them, the measure of their wickedness became full; then judgments swept them off the earth and they passed away and descended into sheol. And what irony there is connected with it! “Whom does thou surpass in beauty? Go down and be thou laid with the uncircumcised.” And as the king came there with his multitudes, whom did they find there? Asshur, that is Assyria, is mentioned first: “Asshur is there and all her company.” She was a cruel, pitiless, destructive power, and now she, who once caused “terror in the land of the living,” is helpless, with all her power gone in the unseen world. Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, the princes of the North, and the Zidonians are named as being in existence there. Once great powers, but now cut off, they lie with the uncircumcised in weakness and disgrace. While in Ezekiel 31:16 the dead and gone nations were comforted over Pharaoh who descended into sheol; in this passage Pharaoh, who sees these nations, now is himself comforted as he discovers his former enemies there.
A similar statement about sheol as a place of departed nations, who are nevertheless conscious, is found in the book of Isaiah. There the king of Babylon is seen in his descent into sheol. “Sheol from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, all the chieftains of the earth, it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us? Thy pomps are brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols, the worm is spread under thee, and the worms over thee?” Isaiah 14:9-32 . Solemn words these are behind which stands the undeniable truth of a conscious and eternal existence of the human race. But only the New Testament Scriptures give the full light upon the future state.
The destruction of the principal cities of Egypt is announced in Ezekiel 30:13-19 . All has been literally fulfilled. Noph is Memphis, the seat of the worship of Ptah and Apis. The city “No” is Thebes, the ancient capital of Egypt, called by the Greeks “Diospolis,” the city of Jupiter. Her ruins bear witness of the past, indescribable splendor. The great temple of Carnac stood there. The other places mentioned are Sin, which is Pelusium, now completely buried in sand. Aven is Heliopolis, the center once of sun-worship; Pi-beseth is Bubastis, where the sacred cats were mummified, likewise a desolation now. Tehaphnehes or Daphnis also passed through judgment. What a remarkable fulfillment of what the Lord had announced through His prophet! May we here be reminded in our solemn times that the same omniscient Lord, who knows the end from the beginning, has spoken concerning this age, now closing in its predicted apostasy. Nations today steeped in bloodshed; nations filled with covetousness and hatred; an apostate professing Christendom and the indifferent masses have written over against them the judgment-wrath of the coming king. And He who fulfilled the words spoken through Ezekiel will also fulfill every other prediction uttered by His holy prophets and apostles.
The chapter closes with a prophetic description of the work of King Nebuchadnezzar, whom God used to execute His righteous judgments.
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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Ezekiel 29". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12