Ezekiel 31 and Psalm 79

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Ezekiel

In Ezekiel 31, Ezekiel bring the fifth oracle against Egypt and it king, Pharoah Hophra. Egypt is compared to Assyria who is compared to the great cedar tree. In the Old Testament Survey Series: The Major Prophets, a description of this is given,

The oracle begins with a rhetorical question: .“Whom are you like in your greatness?” Only Assyria was comparable to Egypt in pomp and power. Ezekiel compared Assyria to a giant cedar tree with beautiful and shady foliage. This tree was exalted above all the trees of the forest, i.e., every other kingdom. The numerous boughs and long branches provided shelter for bird and beast alike, i.e., .“all great nations lived under its shade” (Ezek. 31:3-6).

No other tree in the .“garden of God,” i.e., the world, could compare to it. In fact all other trees (nations) were jealous of the giant cedar. As part of God’s garden, the kingdoms of this world needed to recognize that they had been planted and nurtured by the Lord. The cedar (Assyria) spread its branches and boasted of its beauty. The cedar forgot the source of its life. By extolling the beauty and majesty of the cedar, Ezekiel condemned the proud spirit of Assyria and of Pharaoh who was like Assyria (Ezek. 31:7-9).1

When God gives us His rich blessings and shares a talent or a resource with us to use for His glory, what is our response — better asked, “What is my response?” The things we are blessed with are not for our glory nor are they any indication of our status or our esteem. Rather they are only a tool with which we are expected to bless others and glorify Christ. John Doe has a great job and a beautiful house because God has provided them not because John Doe is someone special. This is easy to remember when we are on the bottom looking up, but do we remember this when we think we are on the top looking down?

Psalms

Asaph the psalmist, recognizes in Psalm 79 that Israel is deserving of the chastisement they have received. He intervenes in prayer for Israel and asks God to shorten the judgment and bring it to an end. As I continue to read about the judgment of Israel, both in the prophets and in Psalms, I am even more amazed that Jesus Christ took my judgment upon Himself. I may be chastened by my heavenly Father, but I can stand in full assurance that I will never face the ultimate judgment for my sin (Romans 8). That is an amazing and mind-blowing truth to comprehend.

D. A. Carson gives a brief introduction to Psalm 79:

Here Asaph does not question the justice of God’s burning “jealousy” (Ps. 79:5), but (as in Ps. 74; see meditation for September 23) its duration: “How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?” (Ps. 79:5).2

1 James E. Smith, The Major Prophets, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1992), Eze 31:1-18.

2 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

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