Oh Emperors and Kings

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Ezekiel 31: 1-12a (NIV) reads:

“In the eleventh year, in the third month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes: “‘Who can be compared with you in majesty?  Consider Assyria, once a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches overshadowing the forest; it towered on high its top above the thick foliage. The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. So it towered higher than all the trees of the field; its boughs increased and its branches grew long, spreading because of abundant waters. All the birds of the sky nested in its boughs, all the animals of the wild gave birth under its branches; all the great nations lived in its shade. It was majestic in beauty, with its spreading boughs, for its roots went down to abundant waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the junipers equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches— no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty.  I made it beautiful with abundant branches, the envy of all the trees of Eden in the garden of God.  “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because the great cedar towered over the thick foliage, and because it was proud of its height,  I gave it into the hands of the ruler of the nations, for him to deal with according to its wickedness. I cast it aside,  and the most ruthless of foreign nations cut it down and left it. Its boughs fell on the mountains and in all the valleys; its branches lay broken in all the ravines of the land.”

The prophet warns Pharaoh of his pride, and that of his people.  Egypt was one of the great empires of the ancient world, and they knew it.  So God offers an object lesson to them through Ezekiel.  “You may be great, but so was Assyria.” Assyria was like the greatest tree in the garden.  All the others were dwarfed by its glory.  But God brought down its pride.

Learn the lesson Egypt (or any other arrogant land).  And did Egypt listen? Perhaps the answer is found in a 19th Century poem:

“I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias [Pharaoh – my emphasis], King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”Percy Bysshe Shelley
Food for thought, O emperors and kings.
Padre

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