God used Ezekiel to expose the pride of rulers who had become dangerously impressed with their own achievements. One of these great kings was Pharaoh, the supreme leader of the Egyptian empire. While Ezekiel 31 is directly addressed to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, most of the chapter described the Assyrians who had already been defeated by the Babylonians. Perhaps Pharaoh might learn something from another arrogant tyrant whose imperial reign had abruptly come to an end.
The Lord made the comparison between the head of Egypt and the once supreme Assyrian powers. “Whom are you like in your greatness?” God described Assyria as a grand “cedar in Lebanon.” Because of its “towering shade,” much life had come to other “trees” and “birds,” meaning other weaker people groups, that could never have survived without the favor of the Assyrians who had until recently been the highest of “all the trees of the field.”
God said that the grandeur of the Assyrian “cedar” had even been above the trees in Eden, the ancient “garden of God.” Yet the king of the Assyrians had forgotten that the Almighty was the source of all the gifts that he enjoyed. God said, “I made” the tree of the Assyrian empire “beautiful in the mass of its branches.” But what had been the result of the nation’s rapid ascent? “Its heart was proud of its height.” Therefore the Lord determined to humble the Assyrian kingdom. “I will give it into the hand of a mighty one of the nations.” Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would be God’s instrument to bring low those who were glorying in their own prosperity.
What was the point of the Lord’s extended parable about the final days of Assyria? God intended now to humble Egypt in the same way. Though He had described the recent history of the Assyrians, He concluded His message with these words: “This is Pharaoh and all his multitude.”
What benefit can come to the church today from considering the destruction of two ancient rulers who placed their confidence in their own superiority? Whether we are easily ignored by others or very influential in this passing world, it is our privilege to daily repent of our sins and to believe in Jesus. He alone is the God’s fruitful tree planted by the heavenly waterside. His kingdom, though it had such a humble beginning, will provide an eternal place of secure deliverance for all who trust in Him. His resurrection world began like “the smallest of all seeds,” but when it is fully grown it will be “larger than all the garden plants.” It will be an everlasting tree where the “birds of the air” will come and “make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:32)
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Our Father, there is an adversary who is spiritual and powerful. As we consider the impressive kings of evil empires from days gone by, we know that even the most powerful man returns to dust. Like a towering tree of the field, though he seems to rule forever, the day of his death will come. More frightening still is the angelic enemy, seeking whom he may devour. Yet we are told that if we resist him, he will flee. How could we have that kind of power except by Your decree? One day the worst of our foes will be cast into a place of punishment forever. We flee to You again for safety. We remember Your Son, His cross, and His resurrection.