In this post, I will focus on the trees in chapter 31 of Ezekiel. In studying the topic of trees in the Book of Ezekiel I saw four groupings of trees throughout its chapters:
- Chapters 6 – 20 – are a mixture of unfaithfulness and judgment.
- Chapter 31 – Pharaoh and his hordes being compared to Assyria.
- Chapters 34 and 36 – a promise of provision and “more than enough”.
- Chapters 40 and 41 – palm trees (art) in the new temple.
Fact – Bible Gateway (NIV) has Ezekiel with thirty verses that have the word trees in it. That is more verses with the word “tree” than any other book in the Bible.
Chapter 31 starts with a timestamp of the “eleventh year, the first day of the third month” and verse 29:20 has the “eleventh year, the seventh day of the first month” so some background is in order. I will digress and talk about world events outside of this chapter to help explain what we are reading. The two timestamps are Ezekiel’s time in exile with King Jehoiachin (see 1:2) and possibly referring to the Hebrew calendar. So first, it is after Passover and in the time of the “Counting of the Omer” that leads to what Christians call Pentecost (see Leviticus 23). This is from the month and day portion of the timestamps. The eleventh year is placing this just before the fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:2).
The Other Prophets – A part of this study that has been eye-opening is that Zephaniah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel where all alive at this time. Jeremiah was nearing his death and the fall of Jerusalem. Daniel was in the time period of his first four chapters – the fiery furnace, golden statues, and dreams interpreted. (Like Jeremiah, I do not believe that Ezekiel and Daniel are in chronological order within their chapters.) I wonder just how much of their doings and prophecies were known to the others? We know from Daniel’s fast that he was aware of the seventy-year exile that was spoken by Jeremiah. Zephaniah may be the oldest of the group but little of his background is known except that he was active during the reign of Josiah (1:1).
World Events – This will be a brief placement of Tyre, Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt in context with Ezekiel 28 through 31. You will need to do your own searches on these topics as I am not giving references. There are too many and they seem to overlap or not go far enough on any one topic.
- Tyre – In chapter 28 the king of Tyre is given the characteristics of Satan and his fall into pride is discussed (See the Bad Guy post). Tyre was destroyed by Babylon, even though it was on an island. It was part of the Assyrian Empire and is associated with Lebanon.
- Assyria – This is the nation that defeated and exported Northern Israel and brought the “Samaritans” to take their place. By Ezekiel’s time, Assyria had been defeated by Babylon, so they were a good object lesson.
- Babylon – They are a good/evil tree in the history of mankind. In their day they were a chosen instrument to do the bidding of God, unfortunately, they took things to unneeded levels and reaped that reward. But the empire did do much for humanity. The use of Babylon as an example goes all the way into the book of Revelations.
- Egypt – The focus of Ezekiel 29 through 32 is Egypt. By this time, they had been defeated by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish. Josiah had been killed in the fighting with Neco, as he was going to Carchemish. Neco also changed who was king in Israel setting the stage for Jerusalem’s fall. They are given to Babylon as plunder in 29:17. This verse’s timestamp seems out of place! The twenty-seventh year may refer to his age but that still is out of place (1:1), or this was his very first word from the Lord. Very little of Egypt’s and Israel’s interactions could be considered good. Starting with Abraham Egypt has been a snare for Israel and all of the words from the Lord are about to be fulfilled. Egypt would still be a “player” but never the world power that it had been.
Trees and the Garden – The analogy of Pharaoh and Assyria uses the metaphor of trees to explain the fallen angels and Satan with the men/nations who supported them. I am going on the premise that the “garden of God” and “garden of Eden” are being used to separate the ideas of angels and men. To me the trees in the “garden of God” in verse eight are angels and a transition occurs in verse nine to bring both realms together, and then in verses 16 – 18 it shifts to the men who are the allies. The end results of these comparisons were that Babylon did humble Assyria and that Egypt would fair no better.
In the Bible – The Book of Jonah was written about the city of Nineveh, which at that time was the capital of Assyria.
The words to Ezekiel are not done with the enemies of God before He sets up the New Jerusalem. The “unfaithful shepherds”, Edom, and Gog are still to be dealt with before the “valley of dry bones” becomes God’s army and the new Temple comes. Edom is the land of Esau, Jacob’s brother. Gog has been referenced as Russia or China, but I am starting to think that it is Europe and the coalition of the Beast.
So, starting with the trees of the garden in chapter 31 I wonder if the rest of the Book is a “timeline” of events before the return of Jesus?