If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Kings 4–5, Ephesians 2, Ezekiel 35, Psalm 85. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Ezekiel 35.
Much of Ezekiel’s prophecy concerns the sins of Judah, but in the section we’ve been reading lately his focus is on other nations. In today’s chapter Ezekiel prophesied against Edom. This nation was located to the East and South of Israel; it is part of the modern nation known as Jordan. This land was populated with the people who came from Jacob’s (aka “Israel”) twin brother Esau. At times the Edomites and the Israelites had a good relationship; other times, however, they fought like brothers… I mean, like enemies.
This prophecy promises desolation to Edom (v. 3b, 4). The reason is found in verse 5 where God said, “you harbored an ancient hostility and delivered the Israelites over to the sword at the time of their calamity….” The “ancient hostility” is probably a reference to the tension that existed between Esau and Jacob but the phrase you “delivered the Israelites over to the sword at the time of their calamity” refers to a more timely issue. When Nebuchadnezzar was attacking Jerusalem, the Edomites were cheering and even assisting the Babylonians (see Psalm 137:7, Obadiah 1:10-14). So God promised here in Ezekiel 35 (and other passages) that he would repay the Edomites with justice.
And what was the motivation for Edom’s alliance against Judah? Jealousy: “Because you have said, ‘These two nations and countries will be ours and we will take possession of them,” even though I the Lord was there, therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them’” (vv. 10-11) Though Esau and Isaac personally lived out their old age at peace with one another, the resentment of the Lord’s favor for the Israelites simmered in the hearts of Esau’s descendants. When God’s judgment came on the people of Judah, Edom did not intercede with him for mercy or mourn the loss of so many lives. Instead they cheered the demise of their brother-nation.
What an ugly sin jealousy is! It causes us to hope for the worst for others, wishing maximum pain on those we dislike. There is a time, of course, to ask God for justice when someone has sinned against us. But if we take perverse pleasure in his justice, can God be pleased with the state of our hearts? And, if we hope for, long for, and even strive for the demise of someone else—not because they mistreated us but because they did better than we did in some way—do we not deserve the Lord’s discipline too?
As we prepare to come together for worship today, search your own heart. Any jealousy there? Any resentment, any hostility, hatred, anger? Do you long for pain in someone’s life so that you can feel better about yourself or take the thing they have that you think you deserve? These are common human attitudes but they are wicked in the sight of God. Repent of them and ask God to give you a true love for your enemies, just as he loved us when we were at war with him.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.