- Eze. 25:1-17; 26:1-16; 30:1-26; 31:1-18
In today's reading, Ezekiel prophesies of the coming punishment upon the lands of Egypt, Ammon, Edom, Philistia, and Assyria. There are four primary reasons given for the punishment of these peoples:
- Their pride
- Their idolatry
- Their wickedness
- Their persecution of GOD's people Israel
In the past month or so we've focused heavily upon the truth that GOD will punish the wicked. Today I'd like to consider a different but related thought: GOD will avenge His people's suffering. In this life bad things are going to happen. That's part of the consequences for sin. There will be death, pain, suffering, family and health problems, and a world of sadness. Not every day will be great upon the earth and not every sunrise will bring happiness. Sometimes we suffer as a result of our bad choices. This is true of the Israelites during Ezekiel's day. They were suffering because GOD was punishing them for their sins.
GOD used the surrounding nations such as the Assyrians, Egyptians and Babylonians to execute His purpose of punishing His people for their wickedness. But at the same time these people also did evil that was not a part of GOD's will and they apparently mistreated Israel beyond GOD's intended punishment of exile. As a result there was a lot of suffering which was brought on because of the wickedness of others.
The New Testament also talks to us today about how to handle suffering. We are told that all who desire to live righteously will suffer persecution. We are told that no servant—that's us—is above his master (Jesus). Jesus said if the world hated Him then it will hate us also. The comforting thing in all of this is that our reward for this persecution is great—heaven and a crown or righteousness which won't fade away.
GOD expects us to let Him take care of the revenge aspect of life. We are not to seek our own vengeance, which is to say "get even" with those who we feel have wronged us. Instead, we are to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Hopefully by doing this we will have the opportunity to share Jesus with them and help them receive eternal life just as we have been given, thanks to GOD.
But we need to rest comfortably that GOD is fully aware of our suffering and He will not allow our mistreatment to go unpunished. We might never see it in this lifetime. Generations of the family of Abraham died in the land of Egypt during their 400 years of slavery there prior to Moses. They knew GOD's promise and they slaved away under their taskmasters, but eventually GOD did provide deliverance from their suffering. So He will do the same for us eventually. Wait upon the LORD.