What does it say?
Chapters 31 and 32 of Ezekiel continue the series of seven prophecies against Egypt. In chapter 31 Egypt is asked to consider the example of Assyria, another great nation that fell. Assyria is compared to a majestic cedar tree. This is another passage that many see as a connection between the literal political power and the satanic force behind it. The first 16 verses of chapter 32 are a poetic funeral dirge for Egypt. The last part of the chapter, and the seventh prophetic oracle, is a summary of God’s judgment against Egypt, picturing the nation taking its place alongside its other fallen neighboring nations.
Chapter 33 is directed to the Jewish exiles living in Babylon exhorting them to listen to the watchman he has placed among them. That watchman is, of course, Ezekiel. God reiterates the watchman’s commission (33:7-9) and it is very similar to what we saw in Ezekiel 3:17-21. The watchman’s message is to urge the people to turn from evil to God (33:10-20).
Earlier in Ezekiel 24:25-26 Ezekiel had predicted that a survivor of Jerusalem’s destruction would escape and bring word of the city’s fall. At that time Ezekiel’s mouth would be opened again. That time now arrives in Ezekiel 33:21-22. What follows is a series of six messages that will highlight the hope of return to the land and restoration. This first message (33:23-33) deals with an attitudinal problem of the exiles. They were listening to Ezekiel, but not taking seriously what he said.
What does it mean?
The prophecies about Egypt remind us that God uses who and what he wants to do his will, how and when he wants, even those that are evil. Being used of God is not necessarily a mark of spiritual strength, but rather of God’s sovereign choice. Though God has used Egypt in many ways that does not mean that Egypt will escape the consequences of sin.
Ezekiel’s frustration at preaching his heart out only to be viewed on the same level as an entertainer or musician is a reality for God’s servants to this day. When we settle in and become comfortable, it is easy to listen to preaching and teaching and focus on critiquing the messenger without giving serious consideration to the message itself.
How will I respond?
How is my attitude when I sit under biblical preaching and teaching? Is it nothing more than a show, entertainment? Should not my attitude be, how would God have me respond in view of what I have just heard and experienced?