KNOWING GOD IN ALL HIS GLORY
God Judges Sin In His Own Time
Jerry A Collins
P What eventually happens to the enemies of Godís people?
P Why are these nations judged by God?
P Can we expect God to act against His enemies today?
When I think of names like Jim Braden, Gary Moore or Larry Kryzinski, I can still cringe a little bit. These guys were some of my childhood bullies who badgered me, pushed me, hit me and even chased me down sometimes just to scare me to death. Guys I lived in the same neighborhood with, rode the same schoolbus with and went to school with. Guys I could not hide from, run from or frighten off. Guys who would get off of my busstop several stops from their own just to badger me. Bullies who were bigger than me and louder than me. Guys who would steal my bike and hide it from me or stop their car so I could not get around hop out lift my hood and pull wires so my car could not run and then drive off leaving me there stranded.† Bullies who I always had to be on the lookout for.
Israel had her bullies too. Ezekiel prophecies against four of them in this chapter. The bullies are named Ammon, Moab, Edom three countries who surrounded and bordered Israel to the east and Philistia who bordered Israel to the west. We can observe a number of things about these bullies.
(1) They had been bullies for a very long time. The first two bullies were the nations of Ammon and Moab. Both of these are descendents of the incest† between Lot with his younger and older daughters (Gen19:36-38). Ammon and Israel had been in conflict since the time of Jehthah during the period of the judges (Jud 10-11). Saul fought them as well as David. Ammon had tried to expand its territory at Israelís expense as recently as Jer 49:1 and had initially sided with Babylon. Hostility between Israel and Moab began when the king of Moab tried to oppose Israel as Moses was leading them to the promised land (Num 22-24). The judges, Saul and David also fought Moab. Moab also supported Babylonís attack on Jerusalem hoping to gain additional territory as well (2 Kings 24:2). Edomís strife against Israel involved a long series of conflicts beginning when Edom refused to let Israel cross her territory during the time of the wilderness wanderings (Num 20:14-21). Saul and David also fought them and Edom also sided with Babylon against Judah. Philistia to the west along the Mediterranean sea had been Israels enemy since the conquest of Canaan during Joshuaís leadership. The Philistines were a constant thorn in the flesh throughout the period of the Judges, during the kings until this feud was finally halted by Babylonís intervention. Both countries were dominated by Babylon but Philistia waited for another opportunity in the future. Why did God allow these hostile nations to always exist on the borders of His chosen nation? One reason was to use them to bring distress to his people whenever his nation turned away from the Lord causing them to turn back to God by crying out for deliverance. Their presence forced the nation to repent and pray and ask God for help. Their presence helped inflict Gods judgment but also foster dependence on God. God wants us living on the edge of dependence. Israelís history in the Bible consists of perpetual war. Some battles were waged to obtain what God promised, others to discipline Israel for her sin. Israel was never more dependent upon or closer to God than when either at war, occupied by the enemy around them or in the midst of a natural disaster such as famine. Your heavenly father wants you perpetually vulnerable and dependent. Pain and opposition can detract you from your natural propensity to pursue life apart from god. God has created you in such a way that you will seek to avoid pain but will bring into your life that degree of it He deems necessary to conform you to the image of His Son. That is why you are experiencing those trying circumstances and relationships and situations. God is using them to foster and develop a spirit of dependence upon Him to serve whatever is in your best interests. We will fight that tendency because we want what we think is in our best interests. It only creates more chaos in our lives. (2) The Bullies motive was to ruin the nation. Thats what bullies are usually up to. Ammonís malice toward Judah was revealed in their mocking (v 3) and gloating (v 6) over Judahs misfortune at the hands of Babylon. Moabís contempt toward Judah included her scornful pronouncement that Judah was just like all the other nations (v 8). They were denying Godís promises to the nation profaning Godís name who had promised Judah the central position among the nations. Edomís hatred for Judah is revealed by taking vengeance against the nation. Edom saw in Judahís conflict with Babylon an opportunity to oppose her rival and see her destroyed so they could become the dominate power in the region (v 12). Philistiaís hostility toward Judah was also exposed by here revenge against Judah. Philistiaís history included a string of attacks on Godís chosen people as they tried to dispossess them from the Promised Land for generations. Words like malice, mocking, gloating, hatred, scorn, profaning, hostility and revenge usually define the activities of bullies! They hate us when we are up and kick us when we are down. Sometimes God lets bullies hang around us for a very long time. And often a bullies intention is to ruin us in some fashion. God wants to use them to motivate us to be righteous. Donít look at any bully in your life as your enemy. Their bullying may frighten you but God is using them to conform you to Christ. Your biggest problem with a bully may be with God. It depends on how you choose to respond to a bullies advances. Christ was crystal clear when he commanded us to love our enemies.
(3) Bullies will eventually get what is coming to them. In each case Ezekeil pronounces a judgment against them. Ammon will be overrun and today is extinct (v7). Moab will be swallowed up by and replaced by surrounding peoples (v9). Edom will be absorbed by surrounding nations and become extinct (v13). Philistia will be destroyed and disappear from history (v16). God in His own time judges sin. Their hatred of Iasrel brings on them the curse of Genesis 12:3 ...and the one who curses you I will curse. It took awhile for Godís judgment to take hold against these nations but ironically it did not happen until he had first judged His own people! You can easily misunderstand Godís strategy in holding back His executing judgment thinking either He does not care or that there will be no accountability. We know for instance that on the one hand God is not willing that any should perish and on the other hand the wages of sin is death. God intentionally violates His own principle of speedily executing sentence against evil in order to allow people to repent. But if a stubborn and unrepentant heart remains judgment will come.†††