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The Egyptian Thing
It must not for one moment be imagined that Iraq, part of Assyria of old, the site likewise of Babylon, the enshrining of two world empires that crashed, is singled out above all.
To be sure
the nations of this geographical region, after some momentum, but not much of a
good name, have their place; and it is an illustrious one, among the
fallen. Few were more exposed, denuded
and rendered contemptible, indeed
despicable than they (cf. Isaiah 13-14, 36:21ff., Nahum, Jeremiah
50-51). The shattering of the flesh of the empires is as nothing compared with
the denuding of their spirit in explicit chastisement! It is as it was with
other nations are certainly exposed, judged in their way; and Israel is itself
exposed to extreme denudation of condition in various judgments, duly predicted
according to the divine undertaking (Amos 3:5ff.), and then indeed executed as
repentance became as eroded as morals, and these in joint decline with faithfulness to the Lord (Isaiah 1, 30:8-18).
It is noticeable - and this with a thrill of joy, that even in the midst of
such spiritual devastation and worldly humiliation,
Ø “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
Ø And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
Ø For the LORD is a God of judgment;
Ø Blessed are all those who wait for Him.”
Indeed, this with Isaiah 32:15-20, 27:5 and 61 gives the Gospel in various phases, in the very midst of judgment. The Lord, He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he should turn from his evil way and live; and in the Old as in the New Testament, He makes it very clear that special contempt is the lot of pious hypocrisy which has its own ‘version’ of what is acceptable, whether in rank dishonesty (Jeremiah 7) with pious pretence (Isaiah 1, Matthew 23), or in super-piety without real faith in the word of God. As to that, epitomised in the eternal word, written in flesh, not on parchment, not as a substitute but a definitive manifestation (Matthew 5:17-20, Hebrews 1:1-3), as Jesus Christ, He Himself was actually mocked by empty pedants and scorned by the ecclesiastical establishment in Jerusalem – though some believed.
There are varied ways of demonstrating sinfulness. These are some, and they have met the divine judgment in word and history, both alike. As to being your own morals, whether personally or vicariously in some ‘tradition’ of others instead (cf. Mark 7:7, Proverbs 30:6), piquing or placing yourself on yourself as arbiter or determinant of what is right, “Assuredly I tell you, tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31-32).To be more righteous than God, to know His mind better than His word! It is a fallacy that is like trying to have a baby without ovaries or a fallopian tube. You might; but it would not be yours. Accordingly, you might make a system of autonomous or semi-autonomous morals for your quiet of heart, but it is not of the Lord. It is not as it was ordained. As a god, you have Psalm 82 to contend with, along with Ezekiel 28:9!
A nation is
no better placed, when it sits on itself as foundation, or its own lore, gods
and culture. Take
The Non-Odyssey of
deals in considerable detail with the case. It is to be found in Ezekiel 29-32,
following the delineation of the folly of Tyre, and the determination of its
judgment – one most striking, since on the remarkable site of Tyre, no new city
was built, despite its abundant water, and indeed fishermen could be seen on
the top of the rock, where once was grandeur, fishing as if it were a nothing.
That is just as the prophet Ezekiel said it would be. Such has been the ruin of
It is he, we read, who has said,
“My river is my own;
I have made it for myself.”
the Lord gives to him this advice:
“I will put hooks in your jaws,
And cause the fish of your rivers to stick to your scales.
I will bring you up out of the midst of your rivers,
And all the fish in your rivers will stick to your scales.”
Why is such
a treatment to befall
“Because they have been a staff of reed of the house of
When they took hold of you with the hand,
You broke and tore all their shoulders:
When they leaned on you,
You broke and made all their backs quiver.”
Their fake help and self-interested procedures, their glorious self-absorption to the people of the Promised Land in particular, did not go unnoticed. God knows what goes on, under the skies of this earth, and in the Old Testament you have the incisive delight of seeing question and answer, evil and reproof at the national level, both for the short term and the long term. It comes like the mist from the sea in its season, creeping inland. It does not rush; it does not fail.
reason for the moral bankruptcy statement on
One sees here how much the Lord utterly detests, and with what passion of light He abominates the impious fiction, so common today: that nature made itself, that man is part of nature, so that in some flighty sense, man made himself. HOW nature made itself before it was there to do it; in what WAY it made itself when it is to all observation powerless to imitate it now; on what PRINCIPLES it would do it even if it could, when logic requires reason not romance; what resources the nothings of the world can command, before the very concept of command is in existence, with which to command, or code with which to implement it; and what code the servitors can use, who merely implement code: all these things they do not wish to know or even think about. They sidestep energetically, like some nervous thoroughbred, ready to be unsettled, but not to run.
Jeremiah’s day when they said to a tree,
‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, “You gave
birth to me!” (Jeremiah 2:27), right up to the present, when
they say to nothing, YOU did it; or to nature which sets about being what
it is in fact declining to offer, ‘YOU begot me!’
(cf. TMR Chs. 1, 8, A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 1-9), they have provoked the Lord as did
It is so easy for naturalistic, secular man to fall into such logical pits that surely an ant could do as well. It is mere mental hurrying and scurrying without any form or notion of realism to it. As to the romantically mythical means for the creation of the universe either from itself before it was there, or from nothing when it was there, though there would be no ‘there’ for it to be, it is an exercise in the nugatory, in the sublimity of the ridiculous, in the gravity of the nubilous, in mockery of means, in casuistry with cause, in indolence of basis, in the illumination of the ludicrous (cf. Wake Up World! … Chs. 4-6, Stepping out for Christ … Chs. 2, 7-10, Earth Spasm, Conscience Chasm …Chs. 1, 7).
Words fall out of mouths; events to match never fall out of trees or laboratories or any other concoction of thought or of creation.
Creation does not create creation; it is the result, and it does what it is created to do, which is to be what it is.
you are is not the same thing as begetting what you are when you are not yet
there to do it! So does man, as did the Pharaoh of Egypt, possess himself and his ‘nature’ and his stars, and the galut
gods that do nothing but receive accolades for ever undeserved, unable to act,
to speak, to present in practice what is promoting in word, like chance, or
chaos, or the goddess of fertility or any other concoction of gossamer, mere
names for what is incompetent, called to become competent, or for what is
already made, to get on with the making, as if poetry were poets, and machinery
engineers. So did ancient
So he acts, this modern secular man, or seduced pseudo-spiritual man with gossamer gods; but not very well. He tampers, but does not create. He surveys but not very aptly, since he does not really understand the status of things made, and is not a mere part of it, but a designed department for it; while the One who does understand it, it is He whom man does not understand. And why does man not understand Him ?
It is not least because he prefers to pre-empt all claim to creation for nature, then capitalise it, then as part of it, the part with a pseudo-rational (if often no more) mouth to do so, possess and deploy it at will. ‘Nature’ however, like a stubborn mule, is not very impressed with the impress of this puny creature playing the creator. It sees, if you want to personify it, no reason why it should act as what it is not, or produce since it is merely product itself. It does not give us supermen, but super-misfits; not progressive information-creation rolled out in the formula of design with the command of competence inscribed on the paper of the bio-chemistry.
It does not produce. That is not something it is good at; it has no equipment to perform. Donkeys do not actually BEGET Boeing 737s, simply because they also move, and being ‘nature’, naturally must know how to make it, if you fool about with their guidelines enough; nor is anything else able to do it. Guided missiles do not create their own direction, programs or designs. They implement design. It is as simple as that. That is simply what their equipment is. The more you look at it, the more it declares itself. With these, it is easy, since they are made before our eyes. With other designs, it is however not different. They are manifest before our eyes. They create only what their design has enabled. They are not gods on the loose.
It is ONLY because God is most merciful that the whole design of man is not already consigned to the pit for his presumptuous putations and evil imaginations. It is not only the Nebuchadnezzars; it is a large contingent of look-alikes, who do not have the dubious advantage of being kings, and fail likewise to have the vital advantage of being servants of the Lord, in heart and in spirit. Surely as at the universal flood, so is it now (Genesis 6:5): the thoughts that thunder do so in such evil symphonies of slick noise! attesting humanity as its own source, man as made with nature without any trouble at all by what is not there, or if it is there, is not known, and which, even if it were known would not make any difference anyway, since man HAS nature and is emphatically going to USE it JUST as he will.
So does he have his test-tube concoctions, his genetic engineering facilities to create with the paints of God, the things he desires. It is not only to combat disease, that man is gripped and gazing; it is to gain his own will. Like some adolescent farmer with a retinue of genetically modified seeds, he sows and hopes and wonders and finds out, and then does it again. It is like a drunkard, ever seeking, never satisfied, always dreaming when he should be awake.
As it is with many today, so it was with Pharaoh yesterday: for this autonomy disease is very ancient as well as very common. Some of these deluded dynamics that are not divine, though they might have had access to the Creator who is, they stand out in sheer devastating effrontery in word and deed: and Pharaoh in his own day, was one, Egypt as a nation being most sure of itself, with futile, under-performing gods aplenty and naturalistic platoons of them, fitted to this and that feature of the earth and its dynamics, or to man and his own ways. It was a classical art exhibition of combined pride and piracy. The piracy ? it was of the seizure of the creation of God, taken to himself or to his gods, for his will.
The sheer negative audacity, the crescendo of folly, with the magicians and imagined sources when only the Satan could help such a prodigy of pretence, it all led to the pit. It was all made a vast exhibit, like a stage drama at the Exodus (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 15). If tragic, it had a comic element: for the prodigious pride that imagines vanity, when let down to the earth, if of the nature of the cartoon. Yet the landing in hell is less so. Comedy can arrest the follies of flesh, and so can, in its place serve the truth. It is not unfeeling in its place, but it is purging in its performance. Nor is God slow to show mercy, but provocation without limit, has its own reward.
So have we
read the result and the reason for it in Ezekiel 29, to be sure, with modern application of
the underlying principles. So was it likewise, with plagues themselves being
like making an adolescent smoke a cigar to sicken his taste: they were plagued
by what in this way or that, they reverenced, and their nature gods were their
land’s now literal affliction, frogs or flies, as the case might be. Will man
then not learn from this double episode for
was to be the future for the
land recover after Nebuchadnezzar thrashed it in payment for his work on
v “It shall be the lowliest of kingdoms: it shall never again exalt itself above the nations, for I will diminish them so that they will not rule over the nations any more.
v “No long shall it be the confidence of the house of Israel, but will remind them of their iniquity when they turned to follow them. Then they shall know that I am the LORD!” (Ezekiel 29:15-16).
Such was to be, as it now has been, the non-odyssey of Egypt, in its determinate devastation, its decisive reduction and its humiliation, she who had been the great, the indomitable, the regnant was foretold to become the mediocre, lowly, not lord, reduced, not rambustious. Here gods were impotent, her follies rampant, her destiny was to be a lesson, her future a word on the past.
But who would listen ? This is always the position of man. Will he listen, though the world thunders with messages of fire, with precepts of clarity, with forecasts of precision, with guidelines of goodness ? Some listen, some do not, for to individuals as to nations, God has given scope and salvation for their status or their inspiration; and the world shows its heart in its hand (Psalm 33:10-15 cf. Acts 17:26-27).
Ø Meanwhile, for the immediate present, following the deliverance of the prophecy of Ezekiel, the caase was clear, the judgment out. “They shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain” (Ezekiel 30:30:11). Remember just ONE of the grounds for this: it was the Egyptian treatment of Israel. So would the Nebuchadnezzar of the day, designated to impart discipline on others, act on Egypt.
Ø SO will the LORD, ascribed His part by His own word, act on those who will trouble Israel in our day (Ezekiel 38-39 cf. Genesis 12:3, 15:13-14, 17:7, Psalm 105:8 cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4), when returned from its long absence (Ezekiel 38:7-10, 37:11-14,23), following the Messiah (Ezekiel 34:11-23), never more at His coming, to stray, they are yet again assaulted and assailed from the North. It is as in 38-39, Joel 3, Habakkuk 3, Isaiah 59, 66, Deuteronomy 32, Zechariah 14.
In Ezekiel’s own period, the arm of Pharaoh is broken, and it is not to be healed until the judgment sits on the vast sprawling empire and its grandiose ways, its oppressive designs among men (Ezekiel 30:22ff.). As Jeremiah had indicated, it would be for long that their acute suffering would endure – and then their reduction to a smaller size would remain in force till the end!
Some imagery to add to the record ? Some diagrams to list with the direness ?
THE TWO TREES
(Ezekiel 31 et al.)
In Ezekiel 31 we read of the great tree that was Egypt. First however think of Assyria (31:1-9), which had been exalted in its own, then quite recent day. It was a vast cedar (31:3), and with ‘underground waters’, it rose to be exalted “above all the trees of the field ” … “Its boughs were multiplied.”
Numerous were its works, its administrations and its occupations of this and that land. For ferocity it was proverbial, for cruelty its record might appal Nuremberg (Nahum). Yet for sheer power ? “The birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs.” Thus it gave of its riches for art, for building, for prosperity and purchase, and many were contingent in their enterprises, on its favours.
Even “the cedars in the garden of Eden could not hide it.” Its beauty had a certain air of the superb, the spectacular. “The fir trees were not like its boughs.” One of its administrative areas to cope, was like the entire scope of some nation! It reminds one of the comparisons sometimes made of the income of California, as equal to that of some considerable nations!
in much was closely similar to the Assyrian story. For
p. 713), which for centuries of utter irony, lay even hidden in the sand! Egypt, as noted above, had a different rebuke: for each received is own.
Thus in Ezekiel 31:10, suddenly we are with this land of Pharaohs, brought to heel as Assyria was, but in its own special style. What then ? We learn of this famous land of Egypt, that “its heart was lifted up in its height” (cf. Ezekiel 31:18). Was it not a parallel to Assyria as seen in the verses above, so that from the provision and order of the world which God had Himself made, it had reached to such outward fashions and appearances of beauty (Ezekiel 31:9-10). Divine gifts became humanly groundless grounds for arrogance, scintillas for substance, misused grace for arrogant glory.
self-infatuation, and inglorious misattribution of glory, this direct or
indirect nature worship and this dehumanising of man through dismissal of God,
this misuse of
intertwining of record and rebuke for the two Empires, you gain the impression
of the divine portraiture which respects neither persons not nations. Worship
your own arm, or that of the creation, and you gain your day, perhaps, but
become merely part of the way, the teaching means of the great Author. Are you
Yet how patient He was in the episodes which cumulatively and at length led to these falls! How much is many a man given in grace and patience, while with trumpeting disregard of deity, he finds to his eternal loss, the reality he once despised, is now unattainable. Judgment comes without mercy, according to truth. To this author, surely the worst feature of hell would be simply this, that you SHOULD have done differently, but blindly preferring your own insights and insufficiencies, made merry with the truth and drunken with libido, licence, lust or intoxicated with imagination, land where you have virtually appointed, in the sediment of destiny. God has different entreaties (Ezekiel 33:11, Matthew , Colossians 1:19ff., II Corinthians 5:17ff.), but He is no tyrant. The Truth is there, be it despised or not (Isaiah 53, John 14:6, 8:44). He drew on immense resources to come; and to continue; and to complete His work. The expenditure has been made; it must be received.
then was Ezekiel led to compare
Then later in this same chapter, in a peep at hell, we see
not really so very much to be relished in that!
THE SECOND TREE
something wholly different!
is the first tree: and it was
What however of the second tree ? This is the one found in Ezekiel 17.
In this, the beginning on this earth, is a simple twig, albeit one from the top
of the tree. The end is like the beginning of
What is the account given of this other tree, then ?
In Ezekiel we see in Ch. 17,an eagle crop off a
topmost twig (a reigning King of Israel, caught in wickedness, both he and the
nation) to take it to a land of trade, of merchants, in fact, to Babylon. Drawn to
Egyptian episode, this call for help from the retreating power, a judged
empire, was in vain (cf. Isaiah 30:1ff.). NOTHING would
Jeremiah had warned him of the so simple step required, to surrender to Babylon to whose king he had broken the oath, and to accept his newly limited post with good grace (Jeremiah 38).
Ezekiel 17 trace allegorically, the process of history, the progress of decay,
the retrogressive leap of
With this disastrous exhibition of confusion and rebellion from the kings of Judah, with this topmost ‘twig’ of the tree, taken in vain to Babylon, for a nation which would not learn to accept discipline or to devote itself to the Lord in truth and in spirit, we come to a new action. Its portent is infinite.
17:22-24, we find the Lord cropping off “one of the
highest branches of the high cedar,” a twig of import, and planting this
on top of a high mountain, found in
Man proposes, God disposes; God proposes, man will often decline; but his decline does not decline, in the end.
THE SPIRITUAL SQUALOR OF BEING A SNARE
It is here that we see that
“the Egyptians are men, and not God:
And their horses are flesh, and not spirit.”
This is the message throughout the generations. Man is man. Nation is mere aggregation with organisation. Nature is but creation trussed in its corsets, its wheels aligned, its roads prepared. Trusting in these things is to trust in wind, to build on its vapours: it is folly.
v As to the nations, they turn, they fall, they deceive, their diplomacy is frequently corrupt, their resources are limited, their nuances are to be seen times without number, as trifling with truth.
v It is as bad as trusting in ‘Nature’. There is nothing there in which to trust. It is the personal being who made man, it is in Him ALONE that it is reasonable to trust, indeed mandatory (Acts 4:11-12), in Him with his power to aggregate into nations, and Nature, with its powers to do what it has been told. It is this One to whom man must look, for otherwise it is mere logical dissonance, a decrepitude of the spirit, a romance of the mind (Psalm 2 esp. v. 12, Jeremiah 9:5-7,23).
Is it then to be otherwise in the pride of a nation ? Is it to make a way of its own through the ocean, and think it is set and fixed for it ? Is one nation to think another nation is its destiny, another part of the organisational nature ? This too is as inadequate as the rest.
Hence in a
word from God to
“Woe to those who go down to
And rely on horses,
Who trust in chariots, because they are many.”
the folly of siding with
Thus the EGYPTIAN THING is an all-time and universal remonstration and demonstration of principle as well as one in particular.
As was predicted
ALLY yourself with those whose nations are specific in condemnation of the
biblical Christ ? Will you trust
yourself to their ministrations ? It is one thing to act in alliance on a GIVEN
BASIS with a group of nations, WITHOUT religious considerations, simply as a
grouping for war. Even that should be
salted with the clear statement of Christian intent, with Christian principles
in force in your actions (not the precise opposite as in the earlier cited case
NEVER however should there be alliance with those who are “good” examples of some commitment to some anti-Christian ‘faith’, which seeks to substitute some folly for fact, some romance for reason and some false prophet for the attestation and verification, the validation and demonstration provided by God in Christ.
the case assault the eye. It roves to the present yet further. Act in false
company, and speedily you may need deliverance. It is so in marriage, in
partnership and in military partnership. This is one reason why
So it is with idols of the heart, and false prophets, such as Christ predicted. There is something to come after Him, to be sure: but it is JUDGMENT BY HIM, not someone else (Acts 17:31, John 5:19ff.). We do NOT look for another, for ALL THINGS are to be summed up in Christ. It PLEASED the Father than in Him should all His own fullness dwell, and having made peace by the Cross, to reconcile all things, yes things on earth and in heaven, to Him BY Christ to Himself. That is Colossians 1:19 following, replete with this message. It is not by another. As Ephesians equally advises us, it is in ONE in HIM that it is all to be censured, censored, cited and determined. HE is the alpha and the omega. There is no other omega; and an end indeed is it to come for those who make their own end, just as those others seek equally in vain, and irrationally, to make their own beginning.
Jesus Christ, quite simply, is ALPHA and OMEGA (Revelation 1-2,5); and in the meantime, it is necessary to be honest with Him, and ACT as His, be you president or king, PM or potentate, washerwoman or garbage collector (Acts -12). There is no difference in this: THAT is your meaning or YOU are out of order.
This time it is not the gavel of the Chairman who calls you to order, which is shortly to be heard (though no man knows precisely when), merely the proximity (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). It is the gavel of grace. ARE YOU HIS ? and if so, then of course act on it. Are you then NOT His ? then to His grace one commends you. There is no other source for grace, and no place to be accorded to any without it. It is a GIFT BY GRACE (Romans ), moreover, so that not only the content but the means are all free (cf. Isaiah 55:1-6).
Highest trees fall, except they are planted by God (Matthew ). Other trees indeed will be uprooted. What COULD you expect ? That truth would bend, or righteousness amend; that God would displace heaven in order to let more enter, so making hell for all, without the truth ?
THE SPIRITUAL SPENDOUR OF BEING
BY THIS RIVER
Egyptian Pharaoh was seen declaring great things of himself and his river, the
That was an evidently obsessive naturalistic fixation.
What however of the truth ?
The Truth clad itself as a twig, and became a vast arboreal mansion, a shelter. Yes, He came likewise as the Rock, the only one God acknowledges (Psalm 62), whose shade is cool, whose protection is stability and strength (cf. Isaiah 32:2-4), whose provision is wisdom and governance (Isaiah 33:6, 35:8, James 1); and it is He to whom Jew or Gentile must look (I Corinthians 10:1ff.). He has come as a river through His Spirit, now sent in His name (Ezekiel 47, John 16:7ff., Psalm 1, John 7:37, 4:14), not to re-write His word, for it is not only inscribed, but immiscible (Isaiah 8:20, 34:16, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18ff., Matthew 5:17-20, II Timothy 3:16,Mark 7:7ff. cf. SMR Appendix D). The river refreshes, heals and cleanses, as we have seen in Ezekiel 47 (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 5).
No, it is
not the river of
For EPILOGUE, both for this Chapter, and for this Volume, see the following presentation.