Ezekiel 35:1-15: Tables Turned

While a satisfied justice is an unavoidable eternal event,
a satisfied revenge is an eternal impossibility.
— George MacDonald (Unspoken Sermons)

Did Israel tremble when she first heard these words? These words of judgment are very familiar—even formulaic. In the past, these phrases were directed at Jerusalem when God judged her for her sin. Now, these same words are directed at Edom—a long time neighbour/thorn in the flesh.

Did they tremble because they now knew from experience that God kept his promises—for good or for ill? Did they tremble because they knew how devastating such a judgment was?

. . .

Mt. Seir is a geographical designation for Edom—a nation who had always tormented Israel. We learn from Genesis that Edom descended from the incestuous relationship between a drunken Lot and his daughter.  That close family tie to the children of Abraham, along with their geographic proximity led to many confrontations over the years.

When God acted to judge Jerusalem, Edom was thrilled. They were finally able to take the next step and conquer the land they always wanted. After all, when Babylon deported Israel, they only left a few farmers and labourers to maintain things.  Edom’s campaign would be like invading a ghost-town.

. . .

There were three phrases that stood out to me as I reflected on this chapter:

  1. “Cherished an ancient enmity” (v. 5, NRSV): Edom had built up centuries of hatred toward Israel. She had spent years nursing bitterness and harassing Israel’s borders. God recognized this fact in his judgment. I wonder what ancient enmities we hold against friends, family, and even enemies? “If you forgive the sins of any . . .” (John 20:23, NRSV)
  2. “Although the LORD was there” (v. 10, NRSV): This is a remarkable statement because earlier in Ezekiel God’s glory clearly leaves Jerusalem. After Jerusalem was taken into exile, Edom decided they could take God’s land—but he was still there. I wonder where God still is today?
  3. “I heard it” (v. 13, NRSV): This is one of my favourite disclaimers.  Edom was bolstering their courage by bragging about their own glory and how Jerusalem was theirs for the taking.  God heard their idle talk.

. . .

Lord God, help us to learn from the errors people have made in Scripture. Give us the understanding to see their tendencies in our lives so we can quickly repent. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 34:23-31 | King David

Ezekiel 36:1-15 | Role Reversal >

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One Response to Ezekiel 35:1-15: Tables Turned

  1. Robin October 12, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    “Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you.” (Ezekiel 35:6b)

    “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)

    “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do'” (Acts 13:22).

    “David said to Solomon: “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God. But this word of the Lord came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever'” (1 Chron. 22:7-10).

    God clearly hates bloodshed and wants us to take this position, too. God would not allow David to build his temple because he had “shed much blood on the earth” in his sight; and, yet, David was a “man after God’s own heart.”

    God hates bloodshed and, yet, “the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). God hates bloodshed and, yet, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:18-21).

    Bloodshed is awful, and we should abhor it. But sometimes it is necessary, VERY necessary. So necessary that it means the difference between eternal life and death.

    It is not the bloodshed itself that is in question, though. It is the attitude that accompanies it. God hates bloodshed, but, in one redeeming act, he was both Abraham the Father and Isaac the Son, shedding the blood of the only innocent Lamb. I cannot think of a more selfless, giving attitude or a greater sacrifice!

    Lord, please help us all to appreciate the lengths to which you have gone to save us from eternal separation from all that is good, all that is you. Thank you, thank you for your sacrifice for me.

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