Elon, North Carolina
When was the last time you heard a sermon on Ezekiel 25? Probably never. It is a short chapter in an obscure book. It is only seventeen verses but it does not seem all that exciting. It describes judgment on nations which no longer exist. When was the last time you ran into an Ammonite on the street? When was the last time you saw a Philistine or a Moabite? They are all gone. What relevance does it have to us today? Why does it matter?
Why do we need to read a chapter like this? As we will see, this chapter is very relevant to the day in which we live. While these nations may no longer exist, there are many nations in the world today which act just like them and they are in the same geographic location as these nations. They are all in the Middle East. History is repeating itself.
We have been studying the Book of Ezekiel and the first part of the book predicts the Fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel predicted judgment on Judah for over twenty chapters. It is very repetitive. Ezekiel says the same thing over and over again but he needed to because his audience was a little dull. If you have been with us from the beginning, you should be rewarded for sticking with us.
Today, we come to a new section of Ezekiel. It is not just a new prophecy but a shift in Ezekiel’s ministry. Ezekiel’s message changes in this chapter. His ministry changes. He is no longer predicting judgment on the Jews or judgment on Jerusalem. They can breathe a sigh of relief. They are not going to be judged. They already have been judged.They were judged in 586 BC. Now it is time for some other nations to be judged.
The second part of the book deals with judgment on Gentile nations. This section is eight chapters long and describes judgment on seven nations. It goes from Ezekiel 25 to Ezekiel 32. God is not just the God of the Jews. He is the God of all nations. He is sovereign over everybody.
Many people think that God plays favorites. The Jews are His favorites. They are the chosen people. That is true. They have privileges that other countries do not have. God made a covenant with them. He made promises to them that he did not make with any other nation. They are the only nation that God spoke out loud to but with great privilege comes great responsibility. Because they are the chosen people, God judged them first.
I Peter 4:17-18 says, “For it is time for judgment to BEGIN at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (ESV). Being the chosen people did not mean that God would let them off and not judge them. It meant that he would judge them FIRST. Being judged first, only means everyone else gets judged NEXT.
This was encouragement to the Jews. They were thinking, “I know God judged us but what about them? What about our wicked neighbors? They will be judged as well. The Jews needed to hear the message that God would judge the wicked. He is just.
What does that tell us? God is an equal opportunity God. He judges EVERYONE. He judges every country. No one gets off. God used the nations to judge the Jews for their sins but then He judged those same nations for their own sins. Every time evil takes place in the world and seems to be succeeding, we have to remind ourselves of this fact.
Notice how Ezekiel 25 begins. The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face toward the Ammonites and prophesy AGAINST THEM (25:1-2 ESV). Ezekiel had been prophesying against Jerusalem (5:8). Now he is prophesying against Ammon and other Gentile nations. He had been preaching against the sins of God’s people. Now he preaches against the sins of pagan nations. It does not sound very tolerant or inclusive to preach against people. Modern man does not like that idea but that is what God called Ezekiel to do.
He did not call him to go anywhere, like He called Jonah to go to Ninevah. Ezekiel is not a missionary. He is never sent to Moab, Edom, or Philistia. Ezekiel is still a captive in Babylon. There is no evidence that the Gentiles ever heard this message of judgment. He does not go to these countries but God does call him to preach against them.
The second part of Ezekiel deals with the judgment of seven nations. These are all Gentile nations. Seven nations are covered in eight chapters (Ezekiel 25-32). This list of nations is not exhaustive. It does not mention every Gentile nation being judged. Babylon invaded Israel and destroyed the temple. They were a wicked nation. They worshipped idols.
Ezekiel doesn’t even talk about Babylon being judged, although other OT prophets did predict the fall of Babylon (Isaiah, Jeremiah). Seven is a symbolic number in the Bible (seven nations seven churches, seven spirits, seven stars, seven seals, seven bowls). It is the number of completeness. A week has seven days.
We are going to begin to look at the judgment of these seven nations. We will not look at all seven today. We will only look at the first four of these countries. We want to look at the judgment on Ammon (25:1-7), on Moab (25:8-11), on Edom (25:12-14) and on Philistia (25:15-17). What do we know about these four countries?
Overview of Four Nations
There are five facts that you need to understand about these four nations.
1) These were Gentile nations
They were non-Jewish. This is relevant to us today because we live in a Gentile country.
2) These nations bordered Israel
They were close to Israel geographically. Three of these countries were on the east side of the country. Three were located east of the Jordan River. One was on the west side of the country. Ammon is in the northern mountain areas. Moab is in central Jordan, and Edom in the south.
3) These nations were historic enemies of Israel
These nations had one thing in common. They all hated the Jews. Times have not changed much. Israel today is surrounded by people who hate them and are pledged to their destruction. How would you like to live somewhere where all of your neighbors hated you and wanted to kill you?
4) These nations were related to the Jews
They were not only close geographically, they were close genetically. Three of these four countries were blood relatives. The countries of Ammon and Moab were related to Abraham through his nephew Lot. They were Lot’s children. The country of Edom was related to Abraham through Esau. Esau was one of Isaac’s kids. Esau was one of Abraham’s grandchildren.
The Jews have had more animosity from their own relatives than they had from complete strangers. The same is true today. The biggest fights in the Middle East today are between Jews and Muslims and many of them both go back to Abraham. The Jews are descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac.
The Arabs are descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael, although not all Arabs are Muslim and not all Muslims are Arab. There are millions in Africa and Indonesia that are not Arab but the first Muslims were Arab. They have been fighting for thousands of years. Isaac and Ishmael did not get along and neither do their descendants.
5) These nations were judged by God
All but one of these nations were completely wiped out. They ceased to exist as a state. Why? What did they do that was so bad? What could our country learn from their judgment? The answer is a little surprising.
Today, we will look at basic information about these countries, where they are located, what countries occupy their land today, what sin they committed and why God judged them. God judges them one after the other. Judgment is clockwise. It goes in a circle. Two of them have a similar sin, so we will look at them in groups.
Judgment on Ammon & Moab
Ammon was in the north in the mountains and Moab was south of Ammon. Ammon and Moab are located in the modern-day country of Jordan. The capital of Ammon was the city of Rabbah (25:5). The modern-day capital of Jordan is Amman. It is the same as the ancient city of Rabbah.
The founder of both of these countries had a shady past. They were not only born out of wedlock, they were both a product of incest. Lot’s two daughters got him drunk, had relations with him and had two kids. Ammon was the son of Lot’s youngest daughter. Moab was the son of his oldest daughter (Genesis 19:37-38).
It is interesting that God does NOT condemn them because of their past. He does not call them bastard nations. He does not talk to them about their ANCESTRY. He talks to them about their ACTIONS. We cannot criticize them. The whole human race is a product of intermarriage. Cain had to marry a family member to populate the world.
What did God say He would do to these two nations? What did judgment look like? He said He was going to destroy them. Ammon was not going to be remembered any more among the nations.
Therefore behold, I am handing you over to the people of the East for a possession, and they shall set their encampments among you and make their dwellings in your midst. They shall eat your fruit, and they shall drink your milk. 5 I will make Rabbah a pasture for camels and Ammon a fold for flocks. Then you will know that I am the Lord. (25:4-5 ESV)
7 therefore, behold, I have stretched out my hand against you, and will hand you over as plunder to the nations. And I will cut you off from the peoples and will make you PERISH out of the countries; I will DESTROY you. Then you will know that I am the Lord. (25:7 ESV).
I will lay open the flank of Moab from the cities, from its cities on its frontier, the glory of the country, Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim. 10 I will give it along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, that the Ammonites MAY BE REMEMBERED NO MORE among the nations, 11 and I will execute judgments upon Moab. Then they will know that I am the Lord. (25:9-11 ESV)
Ezekiel’s job is to prophesy against these two nations. What was the sin of the Ammonites and the Moabites? What did they do that was so bad that God had to destroy them? What sin did these nation commit? What did they do? Here is the shocking thing. They didn’t do anything. They said some things. Their sin was mostly verbal.
Thus says the Lord God, Because you said, ‘Aha!’ OVER My sanctuary when it was profaned, and OVER the land of Israel when it was made desolate, and OVER the house of Judah when they went into exile. (25:3 ESV)
Give the Ammonites this message from the Sovereign LORD: Hear the word of the Sovereign LORD! Because you CHEERED when my Temple was defiled, MOCKED Israel in her desolation, and LAUGHED at Judah as she went away into exile (25:3 NLT)
When the Temple (holy place) was destroyed, they celebrated. When the city was destroyed, the city of Ammon gloated. When the people went into exile, they rejoiced. They clapped their hands and stomped their feet (25:6). When all of this happened, Moab said, “Behold, the house of Judah is like all the other nations” (25:8 ESV)
Judgment on Edom and Philistia
Here are two more countries that God judged. Edom is south of Moab. The Edomites were descendants of Esau. Edom is in Jordan. The Philistines were on the Mediterranean coast. The Philistines were always at war with the Jews. Samson fought the Philistines. David killed the giant Goliath and he was a Philistine.
Goliath was from Gath which was a city in Philistia. The name Palestine is derived from Philistia. That was the Greek name. Palestine is literally, “the land of the Philistines.” That is a good reason not to call the Promised Land “Palestine.” These two nations were not judged for words but for actions. They took vengeance on the Jews. God said that He was going to take vengeance on them. He did the same thing to them that they did to the Jews.
12 “Thus says the Lord God: Because Edom acted revengefully against the house of Judah and has grievously offended in taking vengeance on them, 13 therefore thus says the Lord God, I will stretch out my hand against Edom and cut off from it man and beast. And I will make it desolate; from Teman even to Dedan they shall fall by the sword. (25:12-13 ESV)
15 “Thus says the Lord God: Because the Philistines acted revengefully and took vengeance with malice of soul to destroy in never-ending enmity, 16 therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I will stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the rest of the seacoast. 17 I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I lay my vengeance upon them.” (25:15-17 ESV).
Four Judgment Principles
What can we learn here from God’s judgment on these four nations? There are three lessons or three principles that we can take from this judgment.
1) God judges nations based on how they treat Gods people
It is very dangerous to mistreat God’s people. How people treat God’s people is a sign of how they treat God. When Billy Graham, one fool on the Internet wrote, “Hope you have fun in hell.”
When people mocked the destruction of the Temple, they were mocking God. Jesus said, “when they did it to the least of these my brethren, they did it to me.” Jesus said to Saul as he was on his way to persecute Christians, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” When people mock believers, they are mocking God. When they persecute believers, they are persecuting Christ.
2) God judges nations based on how they treat the Jews.
God never forgets what people do to the Jews. God judges Gentile nations because of what they did to the Jews and what they said about them. That is significant because there are not only people who are anti-Semitic but entire nations that are anti-Semitic. Some entire foreign policies are motivated by anti-Semitism. The United Nations is anti-Semitic. Some Christians are even anti-Semitic.
There is no excuse for a Christian to be anti-Semitic. Jesus was Jewish. Some say but the Jews today are apostate. They are secular. They have rejected their own Messiah. They are in unbelief. That is all true but the same was true of the Jews who were judged in 586 BC They were judged by God because they were wicked. They worshipped idols but the Gentiles who mocked and ridiculed these Jews faced judgment by God.
3) God judges nations based on their words
Thus says the Lord God, Because you said, ‘Aha!’ OVER My sanctuary when it was profaned, and OVER the land of Israel when it was made desolate, and OVER the house of Judah when they went into exile. (25:3 ESV).
God hears the words that we speak and will hold us accountable for them. He will hold us accountable for every idle word we speak, to say nothing about the bad words. That is a scary thought because in this country we have nothing but the worst words for our political enemies.
He holds us accountable for the words we say about others behind their back. By our words we will be justified and by our words we will be condemned. We need to guard our tongue and be careful what we say.
4) God judges nations based on their attitudes
God does not just judge people because of their words. He judges people because of their attitudes. These Gentile nations were vindictive. Give the Ammonites this message from the Sovereign LORD: Hear the word of the Sovereign LORD! Because you CHEERED when my Temple was defiled, MOCKED Israel in her desolation, and LAUGHED at Judah as she went away into exile (25:3 NLT). We should never take pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.
When something bad happens to someone else, do we feel good, especially if it happens to your enemy or someone that we cannot stand? God does not want us to do that. The Temple was destroyed and they were happy. They were celebrating. Paul said that love does not rejoice in evil.