Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too
I’m on the highway to hell
— AC/DC (“Highway to Hell” from Highway to Hell)
Do you remember the yōrĕdê bôr? Those who go down to the Pit? In this passage we get to see what life is like down there, because Egypt’s on her way down.
This is the last of seven prophecies directed toward Egypt, and it is offers a sense of finality that you would expect from the last prophecy. Unlike other nation’s views of the afterlife, Ezekiel describes the Pit or Sheol as a place that Yahweh controls. When Yahweh consigns someone to the Pit, it’s final.
This passage is also closes the second major division of Ezekiel as a whole. Just to remind you, Ezekiel can be divided into three sections:
- Judgment against Judah (1-24)
- Judgment against surrounding nations (25-32)
- Hope for Judah (33-48)
After this passage, we walk into the more positive messages of hope. After almost 1 ½ years of blogging on judgment, I’m ready for the shift!
. . .
Here’s God’s message in brief:
“Hey mortal, go and “mourn” loudly as you send Egypt to the Pit for me. They’ll have lots of company down there. They can hang out with Assyria, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, and a bunch of other princes. Pharaoh should feel right at home.”
Did you catch the sarcasm? Yahweh’s judgment is as horrible as an Egyptian could imagine. Egyptians practiced circumcision. Circumcision was a sign God’s covenant with Israel, but it to Egypt it was a sign of cultural superiority. To lie with the uncircumcised was to be sent off in disgrace.
. . .
This is a good time to remember what these messages of judgment to foreign nations meant to Israel:
- God is still working on her behalf.
- God’s judgment on wicked nations, although delayed, will come.
- God will deal finally with evil.
These messages still resonate today. Regardless of how we feel, or how things appear: God is still active on our behalf. Regardless of how wickedness seems to go rewarded, God will set this world to rights (thanks to N. T. Wright for the phrase). When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of darkness and wickedness around us, we can trust that God will finally deal with evil.
. . .
Our Saviour, today we echo the refrain of John: “Amen, Come Lord Jesus!” Come quickly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.