God tells of the recent events in Assyria to try to make Egypt aware that it will suffer the same judgment for its sins.
Ezekiel Chapter 31
Lessons from the text
The Exalted Can Be Humble(d) This chapter makes the clear point that no matter how great and glorious a nation may be, if it is tainted by pride, God will bring it down to hell in judgment. God exalts whom He will, but the moment that a person or nations swells up in pride, God will humble that person or nation. And, unless the sinner repents, God will cast him down to hell.
This realization has two, vital lessons. First, it warns that no one is above judgment. Just because God has exalted you does not mean that He cannot humble you. Second, it implies that you can be exalted and not sin. God did not judge Assyria because it was exalted; He judged it because it exalted itself in its own eyes. To be exalted in righteousness would mean to accept the exaltation with a humble heart, acknowledging that at any time God could take away your greatness for He is the One who exalted you to begin with. God is hinting at the key to conquering pride; every time you receive an honor or accomplish something, humble yourself in your own eyes by acknowledging God as the source for your success.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 This message comes two months after the previous message against Egypt (Eze. 30:20). 2 God answers this rhetorical question in verse 18. 3-17 God tells the story of the Assyrian empire to set the context for His message to Egypt. The point is that even though Assyria was mighty and elegant like the cedars of Lebanon, it was destroyed and judged for its sins. 3 God looks at Assyria to see if it is comparable to Egypt. He says that Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon, which is the choicest of all the trees. This particular cedar was even greater than all the trees of the garden of Eden (v. 8). The top being among the thick boughs shows that even at its thinest parts the kingdom was strong and sturdy.
4 Assyria was great because it was well-watered; that is, the kingdom had a plenteous supply of everything it needed to flourish and expand. Its greatness grew until the empire spread throughout the entire region (trees of the field).
The cedar was great because it was sustained by a strong river.
5 As Assyria expanded, it only became stronger. The source of this strength was not Assyria but the water that fed Assyria. The water represents God; as the river is a source of life outside of Assyria’s control, God is the provider who strengthens nations as He sees fit but who works outside of any nation’s control.
6 Assyria became such a sturdy empire that all the other nations trusted in and looked to it for protection and nurturing.
7 Assyria was an empire beautiful to behold, but, again, its strength was due to the river that gave it life and not itself.
8 God states that even the first works of the garden of Eden where overshadowed by Assyria’s greatness. This means that since man was created, Assyria was the greatest of all the nations, surpassing all those kingdoms which had come before. Assyria was a unique and mighty nation.
9 God clarifies that He is the river, stating that He had made Assyria expand. The trees of Eden envying Assyria is a repetition of the thought that Assyria’s greatness surpassed all those that came before (v. 8). Note that even though the kingdoms of the past have been destroyed, they are yet alive and capable of being envious. This points to the immortality of the soul for God is the God of the living and not the dead (see Mt. 22:23-32).
10-11 God exalted Assyria, and all was well (v. 5). Assyria exalted itself, and God delivered it up to destruction. Riches, honor, and glory are not sinful things to possess. The sin enters a person life when that person exalts himself as being better than other persons. To rebuke pride, God humbles. For Assyria, this meant being conquered by Babylon around 612 BC.
12 When Assyria fell, the nations of the world abandoned it for the new superpower, Babylon. The Medes allied themselves with Babylon, and both armies collaborated in the defeat of Assyria. These are the strangers who have forced the Assyrians to flee.
13-14 All those who relied on Assyria for trade and economic and cultural stability were cast down with Assyria. The point is that all those who chose to participate in Assyria’s sins will never again have the ability to lift themselves up as Assyria did. Since God has judged Assyria, no surviving piece of the empire will be able to rise up to greatness. Once God decrees judgment, it is only a matter of time before that nation and its people are cast down into hell (the pit).
15 Even though God cast down Assyria in judgment for its sins, God still mourned at its destruction. He even went so far as to make the other nations troubled at Assyria’s destruction. This passage hints once more that God’s purpose in judgment is to make all the world aware of the consequences of sin and of His divine authority (Eze. 30:26).
17 God repeats the thought of verses 13 and 14; all those who joined Assyria in its sins will suffer the same judgment of being cast into hell. 18 While Assyria could be compared to the cedars of Lebanon, Egypt’s glory surpassed even the choicest of trees, leaving it above comparison. Even so, because in pride Pharaoh has taken credit for his circumstances, God will cast him and Egypt down as though it is among the least respected in all the earth, which are the uncircumcised victims of war. No person is above God’s judgment for He can bring down even the mightiest of people and nations.
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