Day 26

A Lament for Pharaoh

from the reading plan

Ezekiel 31:1-18, Ezekiel 32:1-32, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Let’s face it: we love ancient Egypt. We’re fascinated by the tales—both true and myth—and archaeological treasures from this age-old land. Names like Tutankhamun, Ramses, and Cleopatra capture our imaginations, and extant structures like the sphinx and the pyramids at Giza intrigue us.

Hollywood has long been smitten with Egypt, too, producing plenty of movies based there. Tinseltown, it seems, especially loves a good tale about those famous linen-wrapped folks that are, ahem, just dying to escape their crypts. Horror legend Boris Karloff kicked things off with The Mummy in 1932. Brendan Fraser gave us a Mummy trilogy between 1999 and 2008. And because there’s no fun like undead fun, Tom Cruise served up a Mummy reboot in 2017.

However, when the prophet Ezekiel pronounced a series of seven oracles against Egypt, there was nothing fun or charming about it. Egypt had incurred divine judgment. For millennia, Egypt had set itself against God, failing to acknowledge Him while worshipping many false deities. Hophra, the pharaoh during most of Ezekiel’s ministry, fancied himself as “a lion of the nations” (Ezekiel 32:2). But Egypt would soon be crippled by Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, then conquered by both the Persians and Alexander the Great. “Lament for Pharaoh king of Egypt,” God told Ezekiel (v.2).

“The sword of Babylon’s king will come against you!” Ezekiel prophesied. “I will make your hordes fall by the swords of warriors, all of them ruthless men from the nations. They will ravage Egypt’s pride, and all its hordes will be destroyed” (vv.11–12). What was the upshot of all this turmoil? As Ezekiel 32:15 says, “Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

God judged Egypt for its pride, as He did with many other ancient nations. Pride is thinking too highly of oneself and too little of God. Pride is disregarding God’s gracious rule in our lives. Pride either doesn’t acknowledge the Lord at all, or says, “God, I know you’re the holy, sovereign, omniscient ruler of the universe…but I’m not sure you can handle this particular problem in my life. So thanks, but I’ll take it from here.”

God does not share His glory with anyone. He is rightly jealous for the exclusive honor of His name. And let’s be honest: we have nothing to boast about anyway. The season of Lent reminds us we are sinners saved by grace. Our greatest accomplishments—indeed, our very breath—all come from God.

Praise the Lord that He poured out mercy, love, and forgiveness on us through His Son! In Jesus Christ, we can gladly boast about our salvation. As 1 Corinthians 1:30–31 says, “It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption—in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

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