Chapter 31 (ESV) - In the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude:
“Whom are you like in your greatness?
Behold, Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon,
with beautiful branches and forest shade,
and of towering height,
its top among the clouds.
The waters nourished it;
the deep made it grow tall,
making its rivers flow
around the place of its planting,
sending forth its streams
to all the trees of the field.
So it towered high
above all the trees of the field;
its boughs grew large
and its branches long
from abundant water in its shoots.
All the birds of the heavens
made their nests in its boughs;
under its branches all the beasts of the field
gave birth to their young,
and under its shadow
lived all great nations.
It was beautiful in its greatness,
in the length of its branches;
for its roots went down
to abundant waters.
The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it,
nor the fir trees equal its boughs;
neither were the plane trees
like its branches;
no tree in the garden of God
was its equal in beauty.
I made it beautiful
in the mass of its branches,
and all the trees of Eden envied it,
that were in the garden of God.
“Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because it towered high and set its top among the clouds, and its heart was proud of its height, I will give it into the hand of a mighty one of the nations. He shall surely deal with it as its wickedness deserves. I have cast it out. Foreigners, the most ruthless of nations, have cut it down and left it. On the mountains and in all the valleys its branches have fallen, and its boughs have been broken in all the ravines of the land, and all the peoples of the earth have gone away from its shadow and left it. On its fallen trunk dwell all the birds of the heavens, and on its branches are all the beasts of the field. All this is in order that no trees by the waters may grow to towering height or set their tops among the clouds, and that no trees that drink water may reach up to them in height. For they are all given over to death, to the world below, among the children of man, with those who go down to the pit.
“Thus says the Lord God: On the day the cedar went down to Sheol I caused mourning; I closed the deep over it, and restrained its rivers, and many waters were stopped. I clothed Lebanon in gloom for it, and all the trees of the field fainted because of it. I made the nations quake at the sound of its fall, when I cast it down to Sheol with those who go down to the pit. And all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the world below. They also went down to Sheol with it, to those who are slain by the sword; yes, those who were its arm, who lived under its shadow among the nations.
“Whom are you thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? You shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the world below. You shall lie among the uncircumcised, with those who are slain by the sword.
“This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, declares the Lord God.”
Question to consider: In light of the fall of such great nations and kings, what do you think Paul meant when he said, “Godliness and contentment is great gain?”
This lamentation regarding Pharaoh and Egypt came almost two months after Passover in the year that Babylon overtook Jerusalem. This would have put it right around Pentecost of that year. Rather than receiving a harvest of greatness and nourishment, Pharaoh would reap judgment and despair. The Lord compared the fall of Egypt with that of Assyria and every other great nation whose top reached into the clouds like the cedars of Lebanon. Much like the tower of Babel who was proud of the height of their tower, so Pharaoh would be toppled by another mighty one of the nations (Babylon). As I mentioned a couple of days ago, once Nebuchadnezzar recognized the greatness of Babylon and attributed it to himself, God cut him down as well, sending him into madness for seven years until he recognized the true God of heaven and earth.
At least Nebuchadnezzar got to the place of repentance. As God said of all the others that were like cedars so great that they were envied by the trees in Eden, they were cut down, and the birds and creatures of the earth would dwell among their ruins. Like the trees of Eden were brought down into the depths of the sea by the flood, so God has made the prideful rulers like Pharaoh brought down to the pit in Sheol.
Throughout the prophets, God made wordplay of the names of nations in His judgment. The name Lebanon means “white” so what is translated, “I clothed Lebanon in gloom,” was literally, “I turned Lebanon black.” The Pharaoh and his multitude would experience the same fate as will every nation in history who sets themselves against God.
In reading through these judgments against Tyre and Egypt, I can’t help but compare their path to that of the world today. As nations turn from God and attempt to build a new world order that rules over all the nations, the result can only be a great fall that makes the nations quake and experience great ruin. Every generation of Christians thinks theirs might be the end. I don’t know if that is true of our own, but I do know that Christ is still building His kingdom, and that kingdom will have no end. While we wait for the return of our King, we should be faithful to Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that He has commanded us.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your promise to be with us until the end of the age. Help us to be faithful and patient and to be the joyful heralds of Your marvelous grace. Amen.