Author: Ron Graham
Ezekiel Chapters 29, 30, 31, and 32
—Outline and Notes
1 Context Overview
Chapters 29, 30, 31, and 32 of Ezekiel consist of a series of oracles and laments given to Ezekiel for Egypt and its Pharaoh.
The armies of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and the Chaldeans, wrought desolation in Judah and Jerusalem. Many captives were taken as slaves and much booty gained. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies also attacked Tyre and did great damage, but the effort cost more than it gained. So God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to attack Egypt and the Nile valley.
Egypt deserved to be conquered, because instead of acknowledging that God made the lands and rivers, the Egyptians gave themselves that credit, claiming themselves to be gods. Furthermore, between the days of Joseph and Moses Egypt had mistreated the Israelites and used them as slaves.
So Ezekiel is given a number of oracles and laments about Egypt and the lands and cities which it controlled.
2 Outline of Ezekiel 29
10th YEAR (Ezekiel 29:1).
A Prophecy against Pharaoh and All Egypt
- God calls Pharaoh (king of Egypt) a great monster who lies in the rivers, who says, "The Nile is mine; I made it myself." (Ezekiel 29:1-3).
- In vivid word pictures, God describes the ruin of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:4-5).
- Historically, Egypt failed to support the children of Israel and instead mistreated them (Ezekiel 29:6-7).
- Egyptians will be refugees and captives for forty years (Ezekiel 29:8-12).
- After the forty years, Egypt will rise again. The scattered will return, but it will be a diminished and lowly kingdom (Ezekiel 29:13-15).
- Israel will never trust Egypt again. Egypt’s lowly state will remind Israel of its past disobedience in turning to Egypt against God’s counsel (Ezekiel 29:16).
- God acknowledges that Nebuchadnezzar was not sufficiently rewarded for his efforts against Tyre, so God allows him to make a profitable conquest of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:17-20).
- Israel at this time, will begin its restoration. The remnant God preserved will start its growth into a nation again (Ezekiel 29:21).
3 Outline of Ezekiel 30
A Lament for Egypt
- Wail for Egypt when the slain fall on the Day of the LORD (Ezekiel 30:1-4).
- Her helpers, the many allied nations and cities around Egypt, will also fall (Ezekiel 30:5-9).
- A description of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Egypt (Ezekiel 30:10-12).
- Idolatry will be destroyed (Ezekiel 30:13).
- Major cities named that will be conquered (Ezekiel 30:14-19).
Pharaoh’s Arm is Broken
- God is against Egypt. He will break its power (Ezekiel 30:20-23).
- God will strengthen Nebuchadnezzar’s arm against Pharaoh’s (Ezekiel 30:24-26).
4 Outline of Ezekiel 31
11th YEAR (Ezekiel 30:20, 31:1).
Egypt will fall like Assyria
- God tells Pharaoh to compare his power with that of Assyria [when it was a world power]. There follows a poem likening Assyria to a cedar without equal, tallest in the garden of God (Ezekiel 31:1-9).
- The tree [Assyria] was cut down by "the ruler of the nations" [Nebuchadnezzar]. (Ezekiel 31:10-12).
- No other trees [nations who had been ruled by Assyria] will be allowed to grow to a great height. They are destined for death (Ezekiel 31:13-14).
- God describes the fall of the Assyrian empire (Ezekiel 31:13-17).
- Likewise, despite all Egypt’s glory and greatness, Pharaoh and all his multitude will be brought down (Ezekiel 31:15-18).
5 Outline of Ezekiel 32
12th YEAR (Ezekiel 32:1,17).
A Lament for Pharaoh
- 1 A poem in which Pharaoh is like a lion feeding on the nations. He is like a sea monster thrashing in the rivers. But he will be netted and his remains scattered far and wide for birds and animals to eat. His blood will be poured out all over the land and waters (Ezekiel 32:1-6).
- 2 When God extinguishes Egypt, the heavenly bodies will go dark and the nations will tremble (Ezekiel 32:7-10).
- 3 The sword of the king of Babylon will bring desolation (Ezekiel 32:11-15).
- This poem is a lament to be chanted by "the daughters of the nations" (Ezekiel 32:16).
Prophecies of Egypt’s Demise
- She is delivered to the sword (Ezekiel 32:17-21).
- She shall fall among the graves of Assyria (Ezekiel 32:22-23).
- And the graves of Elam (Ezekiel 32:24-25).
- And the graves of Meshech and Tubal (Ezekiel 32:26-28).
- And the graves of Edom (Ezekiel 32:29).
- And the princes of the North and the Sidonians (Ezekiel 32:30).
- God decrees that Pharaoh and all the multitude of his army will be slain by the sword and will lie with the ungodly nations who also fell by the sword (Ezekiel 32:31-32).
6 The Great Empires
For background, you should be aware of the succession of superpowers in the Old Testament history of Israel. We list them below along with two or three Biblical figures of the time.
- Egyptian Joseph, Moses
- Israelite David, Solomon
- Assyrian Jeremiah
- Babylonian Daniel, Ezekiel
- Medo-Persian Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
- Grecian (Between the Testaments)
- Roman Jesus, Peter, Paul
7 Divine Intervention in World Affairs
When we consider God’s dealings with various nations, it is clear that he intervenes at times and does not permit them to follow their own course.
Egypt is an example. In the time of Moses, Egypt did not want to set God’s people [the Israelites] free. But God forced Pharaoh’s hand (Early chapters of Exodus). Now, generations later, in the time of Ezekiel, God is granting Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon success in conquering Egypt.
We are aware also, that God was on the path of bringing Christ the Saviour into the world to bless all nations. To accomplish this he had to turn certain potentates from their contrary courses. Consider, for example, Nebuchadnezzar’s experiences with Daniel.
God helped some nations at times, but he also arranged the demise of some. When necessary, God used good kings to accomplish his will, and he also got rid of kings who defied him. Looking back, we see God’s hand in world affairs, always on the side of good.
This makes us wonder whether God still intervenes. Does he now let the nations go their ways without interference? Or is he still working in this world, when necessary, to punish or bless nations according to his will, to steer the world through each crisis?
The short answer to that is that Jesus, the Word of God, is called "King of kings and Lord of lords." (Revelation 19:11-16). In that vision he is said to "strike the nations and rule them with a rod of iron".
Surely this cannot mean that our Lord does nothing and lets the nations do whatever they will. For instance Paul told the Thessalonians that God had appointed a power to restrain, for a while, the activity of Antichrist (2Thessalonians 2:1-6).