EZEKIEL 25:1 – 27:36 and REVELATION 3:1–6
Ezekiel will now begin to prophesy against the surrounding nations to Israel. Several of these nations have been instruments of judgement towards Israel but there does come a time when God brings judgment to them. Through all of this, we have to see God as being sovereign in all things. He raises up nations and people to prominence to fulfil His will and pleasure. Jeremiah had a very similar ministry as well. He spoke many warnings to Israel but he also spoke the judgements of God upon the nations around Israel. It will help us in being able to understand the ways and dealings of God. There are times when God allows for wicked nations and rulers to have the ascendancy. He raised up Pharaoh for a purpose as His arm in preparing Israel for their flight from Egypt. It was God who put it into the heart of Pharaoh to move against Moses and Israel at the Red Sea. He allowed it to demonstrate His power on behalf of Israel as they crossed the Red Sea while at the same time to destroy Egypt and their armies. If we can come to know more of the Sovereignty of God at work in the affairs of men it will help with our overall perspective concerning our calling and walk with Him.
The Word of the Lord is now going to come against Moab, Edom, Ammon and Philistia in chapter 25. These adversaries had a perpetual hatred for Israel throughout their history. They took personal satisfaction as the Babylonians began their assault upon Israel. They did not feel threatened by the Babylonians as they went about their purge throughout Israel. There are clear warnings about rejoicing when we see our enemies being judged and under siege (Pro 24:17-18). These situations reveal what’s in our heart. We certainly want to see God move against our adversaries but we want to maintain a sobriety about our own condition. If we take advantage of another man’s downfall we put ourselves in danger of being judged in the same way.
The judgement upon Ammon is pronounced in verses 1-7. This is a nation that had a constant hatred for Israel. They lightly regarded the things of God and took strong issue with those who did. Their gloating over Israel did not last long seeing that the Babylonians and their allies would attack from the east via the Elamites (Jer 25:25). The land became desolate and stayed this way for a considerable time. It is the modern day city of Amman in Jordan and will be among those nations that will suffer great desolation at the time of the 2nd Coming (Isa 34).
The judgement upon Moab is declared in verses 8-11. It is important to remember the origins of Moab. He is a brother to Ammon who was born from the relationship of Lot with his daughters. Their kingdom together with Edom makes up the modern day nation of Jordan. Their hatred for Israel would be very similar to that of Ammon seeing that they are brothers. There is quite a bit mentioned about Moab and its judgements throughout scripture. Jeremiah spoke of them as being those who retain their scent. In other words, they are not given to change. As believers, we need to allow the Lord to pour us out from vessel to vessel, from experience to experience, from glory to glory. Moab retained their old ways and it is a spiritual condition we need to be aware of (Jer 48:11-12). Isaiah speaks of judgement upon Moab, as does Amos (Isa 15, Amos 2:1-3). It is interesting to see the Lord lament over Moab seeing that they have origins in Israel through Lot. We also see that the land of Moab was inhabited by some of the tribes who did not cross over Jordan at the time of Joshua. Moab is more than just a physical enemy that confronted Israel they represent areas of concern that we as believers must overcome. The Lord is calling his church to become new wineskins who can flow in alignment with his purposes.
The judgements upon Edom are expressed in verses 12-14. Edom, whose origins can be traced to Esau, was a nation that also hated Israel. They rejoiced in the suffering and attacks that came upon Israel. They are also a people who lightly regarded the things of God as seen in their father Esau who sold his birthright for beans. He had an appetite for the things that are contrary to God. Jesus speaks concerning those who hunger and thirst after God and it is clear that Esau would not be numbered among them. With Edom we are reminded about our own appetites. What is it that we truly seek after? What is in our heart and what are the things we make provision for? God reserves for Himself the privilege of judging Edom, along with Ammon and Moab (Isa 63:1-6, Isa 34:6).
The judgment upon Philistia is referenced in verses 15-17. This nation has been a long standing enemy of Israel dating back as far as the days of Abraham and Isaac. They show up again during the time of the Judges. Samson had dealings with them. King Saul and David had many battles against the Philistines. Finally, it was David who was able to defeat them as the Ark came into Jerusalem. The Philistines are the modern day Palestinians who continue to provoke and plague Israel. It appears that these enemies will be used of God to purge Israel in the last days so as to prepare them for the Lord’s return when he shall again restore them. It will be at the time of the 2nd coming when Ammon, Edom, Moab and Philistia will be judged by God Himself.
There is a judgment that will now be given to Tyre. It too had an inbred animosity towards Israel. Tyre was a notable trading city and one which wielded great influence. From the initial verses, we see that Tyre was seeking to take advantage of the judgements coming down against Israel. The Babylonians did come against Tyre but it was not totally taken. Nebuchadnezzar only took the coastal cities and pretty much left Tyre intact. The annihilation upon Tyre would later come under the attack of the Alexander the Great which would be several centuries later. There is a further description of this city given in verses 7-14. The destruction that came upon Tyre was thorough however, the main city was able to hold out. The duration of the attacks lasted for about 13 years.
It was a fearful sight in seeing what was happening to this region. Tyre was a trading power that had relationships with many nations and they well understood the fallout of such a productive trading partner being diminished before their eyes. It was not just the realization of losing business there was also the fear that they would soon come to know the same fate. This picture provides a glimpse of what it will be like at the fall of Babylon the great (Rev 18:9).The Phoenicians in which Tyre was a part were known to have formidable naval forces. This helped for them to employ strength and stability to their trade. It provided a sense of security among the trading partners. How can this be explained in a modern day context?
Let’s see if this scenario will make sense. Since the 1970’s the USA has been able to exercise worldwide commerce through the use of a strong dollar. The US dollar is known as the benchmark currency which means that all other major currencies tie their value to it. How is it that the USA has had this privilege and other currencies have not? In the 1970’s the USA had a very strong military presence in the Middle East where most of the world’s oil has been produced. Because of this strong military presence the USA was able to insist that all oil contracts be settled in dollars between the trading partners of the earth. This can be likened to the Phoenicians who had a strong naval fleet in their region of the world. They had the power to enforce along the lines of trading issues. How is it that the USA can print money on demand while other nations do not have this luxury or should I say curse? It is because the world has been trading in dollars. This is now changing and you find oil contracts among nations being traded in local currencies other than dollars. This is a significant shift and will have great ramifications. This scenario is changing because the USA no longer has the ability to project its might like in times past. The military from other nations (specifically Russia and China) has moved into strategic places around the world and as a result you see the attempt to project their currencies in a stronger light. The dynamics are changing right before our eyes. There are wars on the horizon just as we see happening now in the Middle East. The war is more than just military as we may well see a shift in the currency structure of the nations. The events we see today parallel very strongly in what we see with Tyre. Here is a point to ponder over. Who will win this upcoming war? Will it be the nation and series of nations (USA and NATO) that have waged war in the past on the back of debt induced economies or will it be the nations who have built strong militaries in recent years (Russia and China) while hording a huge percentage of gold and silver that have to date been undisclosed? You see it is much more than just a military matter but rather a banking and control issue. Do they know something we don’t know?
Everyone was astounded when they saw Tyre being judged as the Babylonians moved in. Their world changed dramatically for those who were long time trading partners of the Phoenicians. Something tells me the world is about to change dramatically on a scale far greater than is seen here. There is significant end time insight that can be gleaned from these chapters on Tyre. These events took place as the Babylonians were about to move against Israel. In the last days we will once again see Babylon and the spirit behind Babylon figuring prominently. We are in need for a serious wake-up call and to begin to praying and preparing for the days before us.
The Word of the Lord continues to be spoken toward Tyre. In the initial verses, we see the lament of the Lord that He has for those who end up lost. Tyre was a beautiful city that excelled in the area of commerce. It was a rich and flourishing place that literally was a market to the world. This is why there are considerable parallels between Tyre and the last days. We will see in Tyrus a vivid portrayal of the man of sin who will come on the scene in the last days. We will also be able to capture a glimpse of what Lucifer was like before his fall from heaven. There are historical applications that can be made to Tyre and they did come to pass but it’s more the portrayal given concerning the last days that draws the majority of our attention. As mentioned earlier Tyre was wealthy and it was a place filled with pride. It lavished upon itself riches and opulence making it like no other place. They could do this because of their ability in commerce and markets. They also had the naval forces to help enforce the free flow of market activity.
Several other cities are mentioned as being connected with Tyre. There is Zidon (vs 8) which was like a twin city to Tyre. The inhabitants of Gebal were known for their ship building abilities. The prosperity of Tyre was so great that they could afford to hire mercenaries from other places, like Persia to reinforce their strength. They traded in metals and with slaves among the Greeks and Turks. The commerce and marketing integrated throughout the fabric of the known world at that time. Where did this capacity come from; having the ability to incorporate the trades and talents from other places for the collective good of Tyre? We must assume that there was spiritual influence at work. It is looking at Babel in a different way. Instead of building a tower to the heavens, the collective will of men integrated horizontally amongst the nations primarily through the arm of commerce. Here you have many nations functioning in a certain cohesion with great effect (vs 8-23).
We get a glimpse of their shipping ministry in verses 24-25. Tyre had a strategic location to the rest of the known world in their day. These ships were the primary means of being able to do commerce. Today we see much contention in sea and water port locations worldwide. The ports on either side of the Panama Canal are of great significance. This 53-mile canal gives immediate access to either hemisphere. Don’t you think the owner(s) of these ports would have great strategic advantage? How about the South China Sea? Do the Spratly Islands sound familiar? How about Syria and the Middle East? A close investigation as to who has strategic advantage in these areas will help to give a window in how things are setting up for the last days. At this time, it was Tyre who ruled the seas but this will soon change. The Babylonians are on the move.
The sheer horror of what will happen to Tyre is depicted in verses 26-34. Nations and people who have had close business dealings with Tyre will flee in haste. The reputation of this opulent city and its years of dominance as an economic powerhouse will dissolve in a moment. This destruction will take many in its wake. How could such a nation in all its beauty fall so quickly? The contemplation of what takes place here should put the fear of God in us today as we look at similar events. This is setting up for an even more astounding picture and that is of Satan himself as will be seen in chapter 28.
Rev 3:1-6 (Sardis)
The 5th of the 7 churches is Sardis. The name Sardis means to escape or come out of. The Lord introduces Himself to this church as the One who has the 7 stars which speaks of the 7 Spirit of God anointing. Christ was offering life to the church. The 7 Spirit of God anointing can bring life and vibrancy to a church. They had the reputation of being alive but in actuality they were dead spiritually. The Apostle Paul writes as to how the letter can kill but its the Spirit that gives life (2 Cor 3:6).The city of Sardis did have a past splendour but it appears that they were seeking to live on those past experiences. Sadly, this was the situation with the church. The Apostle Paul spoke of things that are first in the natural then things in the Spirit (1 Cor 15). This was a mentality that was seen with the disciples of John the Baptist as they confronted the disciples of Jesus. They had an old wineskin mind-set of living off the ministry of John. It was a powerful time of ministry and it was in season with what God was doing but they were now living in a new season. John understood the transition as seen in his famous words below:
“He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30)
Jesus represented new wine which was a new season and a new thing that God was doing. The church at Sardis was caught up in the past and missing that new thing that God was doing. It is good to reflect on the past and recall the former blessings of God. This helps to stir up faith for the current challenges that come our way. Yes, we can reflect upon the past but we are not to live in the past. There is a difference! The church at Sardis was in need of new wine, new oil and fresh truth.
There is a most important exhortation to the church at Sardis to be watchful. This city at one time was very rich having a reputation of renown amongst the nations. This once impregnable city neglected to employ watchmen in key strategic areas which resulted in their being taken over by Cyrus, King of Persia. It is clear that pride entered in and they saw themselves as being immune from falling. This exhortation has an important meaning for individuals as well. We can easily be overcome with pride resulting in a failing to set guards and vigilance in certain areas of our lives. God puts a very high premium on being vigilant and watchful. The Apostle Peter instructs us to be sober and watchful because of the tactics of our adversary (1 Pet 5:8). The 300 mighty men of Gideon were qualified by way of their vigilance. The initial number was 32,000 down to 300. Another good example were the shepherds who kept watch of their flocks by night. While everyone else was asleep, these faithful shepherds were witness to the heavenly choir trumpeting forth the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were even led to the place of the Nativity. There is something about the quality of vigilance and being watchful that draws the interest and favor of God. It is so needed in this hour when the church as a whole is fast asleep.
The church was also exhorted to strengthen the things that remain. The Lord gives the church the opportunity to be presented perfect by His grace. It is not achievable by our own strength; we fall short in our efforts. His grace however is more than enough. It is available but we have to learn to avail of it.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”(Heb 4:16)
The Lord warns the church to be watchful because the enemy is seeking for any opportunity to thwart the purposes and plans of God. This is especially true when a church and people are pursuing God with a whole heart. The Lord was calling them to perfection so it’s clear that they were going to be tested. If we can take a proactive approach in being vigilant, it will go a long way in helping to neutralize the enemy.
In this church there were some believers whom were singled out by the Lord as those who did not defile their garments (vs 4). These garments speak of purity and it is something that should be pursued by all believers. These garments can also serve as a covering when God moves in judgement. It helps to prepare for the linen garments of righteousness that will adorn the bride of Christ at the time of the 2nd coming (Rev 19:8).
The promise of being clothed in white raiment is given to those who overcome. Once again this speaks of purity and righteousness. As we go on in our walk with God, we come to know of our need for a change of garments. This is what Joshua the priest came to know as he was being contended over by both God and Satan (Zech 3:1-8). The Lord rebuked the devourer and gave the command for him to be clothed with a change of raiment. Why was Joshua cited for this privilege? The Lord saw him as one who had been plucked out of the fire (Zech 3:2). He paid a price and now he is about to reap the blessings of seeking after the Lord with a whole heart.
The garment of meekness and righteousness should ever be our pursuit especially as we approach the last days (Zeph 2:3). It can be obtained by seeking to be an overcomer. This church is also given the promise of not having their names blotted out of the Book of Life. This is an interesting statement suggesting that one’s salvation can be lost if a deaf ear is continually given to the Lord’s overtures. The final blessing is that the Lord will confess their names before the Father and His angels. This is qualified in Math 10:32 where it speaks of the Lord confessing us before the Father provided that we confess God before men. A true overcomer is not ashamed of the Lord and is able to stand strong and faithful in the midst of adversity. May God grant that we all be such overcomers.