Chapter 29:17-21 (ESV) - In the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made his army labor hard against Tyre. Every head was made bald, and every shoulder was rubbed bare, yet neither he nor his army got anything from Tyre to pay for the labor that he had performed against her. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army. I have given him the land of Egypt as his payment for which he labored, because they worked for me, declares the Lord God.
“On that day I will cause a horn to spring up for the house of Israel, and I will open your lips among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
Question to consider: What does a horn usually symbolize in prophecy?
Today’s passage is thought to be the final word given to Ezekiel which was given to him about fifteen years after the fall of Jerusalem. As wealthy as Tyre was, the siege against it took thirteen years, and as was pointed out in the lamentation God gave about Tyre, the merchants who mourned the fall of Tyre did so because all of the wealth was lost in the sinking of their massive trade ship.
Some commentaries talked about the bald heads and bare shoulders referring to acts of mourning, but I think it was a reference to the fact that their siege armor and helmets were wearing out, and there was no money to replace them. Paying for an army to continue a siege for thirteen years took a lot of money so the giving of Egypt over to Babylon was a tremendous boon for Nebuchadnezzar.
The final verse is kind of cryptic. Often a “horn” in prophetic visions referred to a ruler who would rise up because a horn was symbolic of battle. However, a horn was also used as an instrument to blast during times of victory or to rally an army. The opening of the lips would seem to be in the blowing of the horn so I would tend to think of it as God at that time raising up someone speaking God’s word to Nebuchadnezzar.
In Daniel, there was a point in which Nebuchadnezzar received a word of warning from Daniel after he had achieved his victories. Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream in which Daniel warned that he would be driven from among men and live with the beasts of the field for seven years. Daniel warned him to repent in order to avoid this calamity.
Rather than heed the words of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30), and yet it was clear by the word of God given to Ezekiel and the dreams God gave to Nebuchadnezzar interpreted by Daniel that any success achieved by Babylon was from the Lord as He allowed them to be His instrument of judgment on Israel and the surrounding nations. So Nebuchadnezzar would face seven years of madness until he ultimately recognized that the God of Daniel was the source of his strength and the only God worthy of worship. In the end he said, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37) Perhaps this proclamation was the horn that would allow everyone to know that the God of Israel was Lord of all and vindicate Ezekiel as a prophet among the people of Israel? I would love to say that the horn was a reference to Christ, but the context seems to be in regard to the time in which Egypt would fall to Babylon.
Dear heavenly father, thank You that You control the times and places in which we live and control the rise and fall of earthly kingdoms. Help us to trust in You during times of uncertainty, and please guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.