Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by John Nelson Darby, [1857-62], at sacred-texts.com
The following commentary covers Chapters 29, 30, 31, and 32.
Chapters 29-32 contain the judgment of Egypt. Egypt sought, in the self-will of man, to take the place which God had in fact given to Nebuchadnezzar. All must submit. The mighty empire of Asshur had already fallen. Pharaoh, whatever his pretensions and his ambition might be, was no better. We see this judgment of the Assyrian, the chief of all the nations as to his power, in Eze 31:10-11; where the "mighty one of the heathen" is distinctly brought out-falling before this decree of God. Pharaoh would be consoled by seeing all the great ones of the earth overthrown like himself. Already fallen like the uncircumcised (that is, like people who were not owned of God, nor consequently upheld by Him), all must give place to this new power in the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. That which characterised Egypt was the pride of nature, which would follow its own will, and owned no God (Eze 29:9). Such a principle shall no longer be the confidence of God's people (Eze 29:16). Egypt should have her place, but should no longer rule. The judgment of Egypt should be the occasion of Israel's blessing. This reaches to the end. In the destruction of the Assyrian, God had shewn that He would not allow a nation to exalt itself in this manner. The will of man in Pharaoh did not alter His judgment. In Nebuchadnezzar, as we have seen, a new principle was introduced by God Himself into the world. Observe that in Eze 32:27 Meshech and Tubal are distinguished from the rest of the nations.
This prophecy concerning Egypt has particular importance. It is composed of three distinct prophecies. The first (chaps. 29, 30) is subdivided; the second, chapter 31; the third, chapter 32. But this last extends to the end of chapter 39, and embraces several subjects in connection with the fate of Israel in the last days. Observe that Eze 29:17-21 is a prophecy of a very different date, introduced here on account of its relation to that which precedes it in the same chapter. Eze 30:20-26 is also a distinct prophecy as to its date.
Until chapter 25 we principally found moral arguments with respect to the state of Israel; from thence to the end of chapter 32 it is rather the execution of the judgment. But the prophecy that announces this execution is remarkable in more than one respect. Nebuchadnezzar is looked at as executing the judgment of God, whose servant he is for the purpose of doing so on Jerusalem, now become pre-eminently the seat of iniquity although the sanctuary of God. At the same time God sets His land free, by these very judgments from all the nations that wrongfully possessed it. He brings to nought the haughty power of man in which Israel had trusted, that is, Egypt, which shall never rise again as a ruling nation. But it was the day of all nations. The result of these judgments, whether on rebellious Jerusalem or on the nations, should be at the same time the re-establishment of Israel according to promise and by the power of God in grace. The snares which had led them into evil were taken away (see Eze 26:16-21; Eze 27:34-36). Thus, although these events have had their historical accomplishment by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the ways of God in view of the re-establishment of Israel have been manifested, as far as regards the judgments to be executed -judgment, through which all the nations, as well as Israel, who was their centre, disappear from the scene as nations. The Spirit, while recounting the execution of the judgments that were to fall on Asshur, Elam, and Meshech, gives details of those that had invaded the land or been snares to Israel. So that the prophetic recital of these very judgments contains in itself the assured hope granted to Israel by the efficacious grace of the Lord. I cannot doubt that all this prophecy of judgment relates-in a perspective brought nigh by the energy of the Spirit-to the events of the last days, which will be the complete fulfilment of these purposes and intentions of God. In Eze 30:3, we see that it is universal [See Note #1]. I have already quoted the passages which shew that for Israel it is the deliverance from their former snares. The pretensions of man are overthrown (Eze 29:3-9), the spirit of dominion (Eze 31:10-14). The nothingness of the glory of man is shewn at the end of chapter 31, and of each judgment of chapter 32. We have already seen that the fate of Meshech is mentioned separately, perhaps in view of that which will happen to it in the last days, and which is announced farther on (Eze 39:5).
It is important to remark one point in this series of prophecies, which commences with the judgment of Jerusalem, the centre of the former system of nations. They are executed with the object of making them all know Jehovah: only in Israel's case there is, besides this, the understanding and the special verification of prophecy. See Eze 24:24-27, Israel; Eze 25:5; Eze 25:7; Eze 25:11, Ammon and Moab; Eze 25:15-17, especial vengeance on the Philistines; chapter 26, Tyre; Eze 28:22, Sidon; Eze 29:19, Egypt; as also Eze 30:26; Eze 32:15. With respect to Edom (Eze 25:14), it is only said that Edom shall know the vengeance of Jehovah by means of Israel-a further proof that in certain respects this prophecy extends to the last days. These prophecies, then, furnish us in general with the manifestation of Jehovah's power, so as to make Him known to all by the judgments which He executed; already partially realised in the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar, but to be fully accomplished by-and-by in favour of Israel. It will be remarked that, in Verse 12 of chapter 35 (Eze 35:12) when Edom is again judged, it is only said, "Thou shalt know that I Jehovah have heard all thy blasphemies." But in Verses 4, 9 (Eze 35:4; Eze 35:9), it is said of Edom, "Thou shalt know" or "Ye shall know that I am Jehovah." So that this knowledge of Jehovah is by the judgment itself, not by any resulting spiritual knowledge of Him; for, when all the earth shall rejoice, Edom shall be made desolate. It will be through judgment that all the nations shall know that Jehovah is God. But when the judgment has been executed and all the earth shall rejoice in blessing, Edom will have only judgment. Compare Obadiah. Edom undergoes judgment by means of the mighty among the nations, but Israel himself shall strike the final blow. We may see the two means of making Jehovah known in the case of Israel (Eze 24:24-27; Eze 28:26; Eze 34:27; Eze 36:11). In the other cases it is by judgment.
We have yet to observe that in the case of Tyre, commercial glory, and in the case of Egypt, governmental pride founded on power, are absolutely judged, cast down and destroyed without remedy (Eze 26:21; Eze 27:36; Eze 31:18). Compare Eze 32:32. This has been literally fulfilled with respect to the continental Tyre, and the Egypt of the Pharaohs. We have seen a total destruction of Edom announced by Jehovah. That which characterised Edom was its implacable hatred to the people of God.
It will be remembered that with Nebuchadnezzar God set aside the order He had previously established in the world, revealed in Deuteronomy 32 (namely, of nations and peoples arranged around Israel as a centre). He owns Israel no longer as His people. Thus order then falls of itself, and Babel of old, the place of dispersion, becomes the centre of one absorbing empire. In connection with the fact that Israel is no longer owned as a people, being judged as such, God addresses Himself to individual conscience in the midst of the nation. But this was the judgment of the nations, and the call of a remnant. And this is why the prophecy reaches in its full bearing to the final judgment of the earth, when that judgment and call are to be fully accomplished. God consequently Himself delivers and saves His people, judging between sheep and sheep, and executing wrath against all those who have trodden them under foot. The judgment of the one absorbing empire does not form part of the prophecies of Ezekiel (this is found in Daniel), save so far as every oppressor and evil shepherd is judged (chap. 34). The connection of this empire with Israel in the last days will not be immediate. It will politically favour the Jews who do not own the Lord. What I here notice forms the key of the prophecy. Ezekiel speaks from the midst of Israel captive, and does not occupy himself with Judah, owned by itself in the land under the power of the Gentiles.