“Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Howl ye, Woe worth 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 heathen.” — Ezekiel 30:2-3
God had given Ezekiel a message of judgment against Egypt and her allies. Our focus verses declared that a day of terrible punishment was near. “Woe worth the day!” could be translated, “Alas for the day!” Those hearing Ezekiel’s message should have heeded his warnings.
In contrast to the many who ignored or rejected Ezekiel’s prophesy, Dan, a man in our congregation, eventually responded to the warnings he had heard as a child. He testifies: “My parents were saved in the early 1950s, and there was a lot of talk around our house about the Lord coming back and the Rapture. One evening after supper when I was eight or nine years old, I rode down the street on my bicycle and visited some neighbors. When I came back home, my parents weren’t there. I thought about how concerned my mom and dad were about being ready for Jesus to come, and I started getting really scared. What if He had come? I thought, Lord, what am I going to do?
“Then I saw one of the neighbors who suggested my parents might be at the new house they were having built up the street. When I went up there, I found my mom and dad, and was so relieved that the Lord hadn’t come. Yet even though I had been scared, it wasn’t enough to cause me to pray to be saved.
“A few years later when I was a teenager, the young people of our church in Portland, Oregon, were experiencing spiritual revival and people were turning to God. My buddies and I would sit on the back row of the audience and then walk out after the services. It seems I was just stubborn.
“During the Vietnam War, I joined the Air Force and went to a technical school in Illinois. Although I would not normally attend services at a camp meeting, that year I was homesick and heard some people from Portland would be at the church camp meeting in the Midwest. I got some time off and went. There God spoke to my heart and drew me to an altar of prayer. He saved my soul and made a change in my life.”
In our day, God has also warned of pending judgment against the ungodly. His Word gives indicators that signal the return of Jesus to rapture His people from this world. That event will be followed by a time of trouble on earth such as the world has never seen, so heeding those Biblical warnings is vital. We want to be prepared for the day the Rapture of the Church takes place!
This chapter continues the forceful description of judgment pronounced upon Egypt that began in the previous chapter. The “day of the Lord,” or “time of the heathen” (verse 3), was described in lamentable terms, with extreme sadness because of the destruction the people had brought upon themselves by elevating their gods and kings above the Lord.
Verse 5 indicates that neighboring states would be part of the coming judgment. These allies would be unable to prevail against the Babylonian forces. In verse 6, the phrase “from the tower of Syene” revealed the breadth of the destruction in Egypt. This phrase was similar to the Hebrew idiom “from Dan to Beersheba” that is used several times in Scripture. It was an indication that no place from one end of the country to the other would escape judgment.
Among the locations named in this chapter were the following:
Lydia – thought to be Lud (Genesis 10:13), which was adjacent to Egypt on the northeast
Chub – in the area of modern-day Libya
Noph – Memphis, located in part of modern-day greater Cairo
No – Alexandria
In verse 12, the phrase “I will make the rivers dry” was a further indication of the severity of the coming judgment, which would spare no one. Most of this region had very low rainfall. The Nile River, which the Egyptians deified, was the life-sustaining center of their culture. Without access to its water supply, they likely could not continue as a dominant culture. In fact, if the Nile and its tributaries were to disappear, the survival of life of any kind in the region would be nearly impossible.
Verses 13-19 are a pronouncement of judgment on the regions and cities of Egypt. Beginning with Noph, a specific list is given of many Egyptian cities that would experience His judgment.
The Pharaoh mentioned in verse 21 is thought by many commentators to be Pharaoh Hophra, who ruled over Egypt from 589 to 570 B.C. The flexed arm was a common Egyptian symbol for a Pharaoh’s strength, so the metaphorical “broken arm” of Pharaoh in verses 21-22 represented Egypt’s rapid decline as a world power. After their defeat by the Babylonians at the decisive Battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C., Egypt tried in vain to recapture its former regional dominance. However, the assault of the powerful Babylonian forces along with Egypt’s own internal struggles led to her downfall as prophesied by Ezekiel. Pharaoh Hophra was unable to save Jerusalem and King Zedekiah from the final siege by the Babylonians. In 570 B.C., Pharaoh Hophra was deposed by one of his generals, and he was killed in a failed attempt to recapture his throne in 567 B.C.
III. The condemnation of the nations
G. The condemnation of Egypt
3. The description of judgment (30:1-26)
a. The description of the Day of the Lord (30:1-5)
b. The destruction of Egypt (30:6-19)
c. The dispersion of the Egyptians (30:20-26)
Each of us chooses how we will respond to the warnings in God’s Word. Heeding them is vital for our eternal destiny!