Ever have to sit one of your kids down for a time-out and all you hear is, “hey, he did it too!!!”, or “…she started it, blah, blah, blah”? Yep. Ezekiel has to deal with exactly that in Ezekiel chapter 35. Of course, that’s not exactly how it reads, but the timing of the chapter implies this quite a bit. So lets chalk that up to my interpretation.
Up to this point, Ezekiel has given us detailed (very long and thoroughly detailed) explanation of why all these judgments have come down on the people of Jerusalem. There have been objections and extenuating circumstances, etc. There has been an indepth analysis of all the business deals involving local partner countries which led to corruption. And there have been the pointed lectures about taking responsibility and giving up on the “me first” attitude.
At this point in Ezekiel’s writings you can just imagine last ditch efforts to deflect some of the responsibility. And who do you deflect too? Why the neighbors of course! But what about those so-and-so’s over in Edom? They’ve always hated us and been mean to us, and, and, and….sniff. And to add insult to injury, Edom was useful in the final destruction of Jerusalem when Babylon invaded.
To be fair, the captive Israelites had somewhat of a point, a point which God does address. It was true that there was deep seated enmity between the people of Jerusalem and the people of Edom. However, the main objection that Ezekiel addresses is the avarice of the people of Edom. To be sure, this is the exact same criticism that Ezekiel leveled at his own people – the leadership of Jerusalem. This false doctrine goes like this: Other people suffering from misfortune and calamity is evidence of our blessed state, evidence of our holiness. Ezekiel is very clear about this being a framework of sin.
In Edom’s case, the thought was now that the residents of Jerusalem are taken away captive and out of our hair, we get the spoils, we get the land, we get the houses, WE GET TO PROFIT AT THEIR EXPENSE. Um, can you say “Self Justified Sense of Entitlement”???? not a good thing.
Ezekiel writes God’s disapproval of this ideology as such:
“Because you harbored an ancient hostility and delivered the Israelites over to the sword at the time of their calamity, the time their punishment reached its climax…….Because you have said, These two nations and countries will be ours and we will take possession of them,” even though I the Lord was there, 11 therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them and I will make myself known among them when I judge you.”
We are talking about a city/people who harbored ancient hostility. But that can apply to you or me just as well. Harboring hostility. Perhaps carrying around ancient grudges isn’t all that healthy at that. Perhaps that leads to desolation in the mountains of the heart.
Perhaps we can do better.