Ezekiel 29:1–21 (NKJV)
29:1 In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt. 3 Speak, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God:
“Behold, I am against you,
O Pharaoh king of Egypt,
O great monster who lies in the midst of his rivers,
Who has said, ‘My River is my own;
I have made it for myself.’
4 But I will put hooks in your jaws,
And cause the fish of your rivers to stick to your scales;
I will bring you up out of the midst of your rivers,
And all the fish in your rivers will stick to your scales.
5 I will leave you in the wilderness,
You and all the fish of your rivers;
You shall fall on the open field;
You shall not be picked up or gathered.
I have given you as food
To the beasts of the field
And to the birds of the heavens.
6 “Then all the inhabitants of Egypt
Shall know that I am the Lord,
Because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.
7 When they took hold of you with the hand,
You broke and tore all their shoulders;
When they leaned on you,
You broke and made all their backs quiver.”
8 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will bring a sword upon you and cut off from you man and beast. 9 And the land of Egypt shall become desolate and waste; then they will know that I am the Lord, because he said, ‘The River is mine, and I have made it.’ 10 Indeed, therefore, I am against you and against your rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Ethiopia. 11 Neither foot of man shall pass through it nor foot of beast pass through it, and it shall be uninhabited forty years. 12 I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate; and among the cities that are laid waste, her cities shall be desolate forty years; and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries.”
13 ‘Yet, thus says the Lord God: “At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered. 14 I will bring back the captives of Egypt and cause them to return to the land of Pathros, to the land of their origin, and there they shall be a lowly kingdom. 15 It shall be the lowliest of kingdoms; it shall never again exalt itself above the nations, for I will diminish them so that they will not rule over the nations anymore. 16 No longer shall it be the confidence of the house of Israel, but will remind them of their iniquity when they turned to follow them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord God.” ’ ”
The Lord turns His attention to Egypt in this chapter, declaring a judgment against Pharaoh. This particular Pharaoh, likely Hophra, is based partly on his pride and self-declaration as the master and maker of the Nile. The Lord characterizes him as a sea monster. Is the king portrayed as a crocodile or in terms of the sea monster, the mythological chaos god defeated at the creation of the world, called Leviathan or Rahab in the Old Testament?* Either way, the Lord determines to catch him and draw him out of the river, and all his “fish,” or his royal subjects, will be drawn out with him. The Lord promises to drop them in the wilderness for the beasts to eat. They will be fearful of Israel again.
17 And it came to pass in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 18 “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre; every head was made bald, and every shoulder rubbed raw; yet neither he nor his army received wages from Tyre, for the labor which they expended on it. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Surely I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he shall take away her wealth, carry off her spoil, and remove her pillage; and that will be the wages for his army. 20 I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor, because they worked for Me,’ says the Lord God.
21 ‘In that day I will cause the horn of the house of Israel to spring forth, and I will open your mouth to speak in their midst. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.’ ”
For the “work” Babylon had done as a tool of vengeance for the Lord, He plans to offer the plunder from Egypt to them as their wages. They will attack and make desolate the land, and restoration will be forty years in the making for Egypt. The message that today’s reader can receive is that punishment, restoration, and reward may be delayed, but they will come. God’s timing may not be in sync with human desire or expectation, but it is perfect and right. Surely God will not forget our sins, and the recompense of them shall be upon us, even if they are forgiven. However, He will not forget our plight and will restore. He will reward those who obey and will give them the payment for their faithfulness. Grace is afforded to all, but punish, restoration, and reward are real factors in the life of man. They will not fail, even if they are delayed.
*Allen, Leslie C. Ezekiel 20–48. Vol. 29. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998. Print. Word Biblical Commentary.