KINGDOMS will RISE & FALL, but GOD remains EXALTED forever: “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. 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. 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. 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.’” (Ezek. 29:12-15)
The above passage is part of the prophecy by Ezekiel concerning the ancient land of Egypt, which was a formidable superpower of the ancient world. We should remember that the ancient Egypt was famous for its pyramids, which still stand well over 4,000 years after they were constructed as great monuments to the power the nation of Egypt once had. Egypt was a source of the world-renowned linen that King Solomon wore (Matt. 6:29), and had world-class horses that King Solomon imported during his reign (1 Kings 10:28; 2 Chron. 1:16-17; 9:28-30).
The Bible mentions Egypt several times, and Bible scholars affirm that Egypt is mentioned in 29 out of the total 66 books of the Bible! The kingdom of Egypt plays an important part in the Bible, particularly with three important life incidents taking place in Egypt: (1) Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers, but later on becomes the ruler of Egypt and saves this country during a severe famine (Genesis chapters 39-50); (2) Moses is adopted and raised by Pharaoh's daughter, and later on with God’s help delivers the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt (Exodus chapters 1-14); and (3) The young Jesus and his family flee into Egypt from Herod the Great, who ordered the massacre of Jewish children in Bethlehem (Hosea 11:1; Matt. 2:13-15).
However, Ezekiel prophesied that this mighty kingdom of Egypt would be the lowliest of all kingdoms, and this kingdom will not rule over any nations anymore. This final prophecy against a foreign power consists of seven oracles directed against Egypt and Pharaoh, where each oracle begins with the expression “the word of the Lord came unto me”. This prophecy was given in 587 B.C. while the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar was in progress. Egypt had failed to provide any military assistance to Judah (Jer. 37:1–5), and the Pharaoh had made himself a god, even claiming to have created the Nile River! (v. 3)
In verses 1–5, God compares Pharaoh to a monster in the Nile River that is proud, but short-sighted. God compares the people of Egypt to the fishes, and everyone is punished by God. In looking to Egypt for help, Israel had leaned on a broken reed (vv. 6–9a). Egypt receives the most severe judgment because it was unreliable and untrustworthy. Also, the kingdom of Egypt under Pharaoh was proud and arrogant. It is true that Egypt had existed beside the River Nile for over 3,500 years, and Pharaoh was being considered as the incarnation of the sun-god. Due to their pride, the land of Egypt would be desolate for forty years of Chaldean supremacy (vv. 9b–13). Then God would gather the people, but Egypt would never be a great kingdom again (Jer. 46:26), and Israel would no longer look to her for help (vv. 13–16; Isa. 36:6). Egypt would never regain the place of power she once held. God had brought the kingdom of Egypt down from its height of glory mainly due to its arrogant pride!
It is true that the king of Egypt thought that he was a great monster guarding his royal river, but God said he was only a weak reed in the river (vv. 6–7). God would capture the monster and show Pharaoh that He owned the Nile River and could do with it what He pleased. The Babylonians would come and plunder Egypt, and Pharaoh would not be able to stop them. As a fulfillment to Ezekiel’s prophecy, history reveals that after many years the Greeks under Alexander the Great took control of Egypt, and then it has been ruled by many other nations. Only recently has it attained independence, and even now it is nowhere near as influential as it once was. It is truly a lowly kingdom compared to where it used to be – a world superpower! Let’s always remember that kingdoms will rise and fall but God remains exalted forever!