Reading through the Bible together
People from Australia used to hunt whales for their meat and oil. Those days are gone. Today tourists crowd the coastline boarding boats to watch the whales in their migration.
Occasionally a whale unexpectedly beaches itself on the shore. Multitudes of citizens will voluntarily gather to keep it watered and to guide it back to sea. If the effort fails the ensuing stench can be overwhelming.
It is the stench imagery that dominates in Ezekiel’s depiction of Egypt as a whale. If Egypt is like a huge tree, she is no less like a huge whale, whose meat will be on the mountains and fill the valleys, and whose blood will drench the land. Your light will go out and the heavens will be dark. As a tree a nation’s function is to provide nesting for birds and shelter for animals. Now that Egypt is a dead whale she feeds birds of prey and animals, serving those she always should have served, albeit in a very different way. For rulers everywhere this kind of message is one of terror.
The sword of Yahweh will drive Egypt and her armies to the abode of the dead. Armies from many places are there, and speak to Egypt as she draws consolation that she is not alone. Is this description teaching that the dead are conscious? Not at all. The language is a parable as Abimelech’s depiction of talking trees in Judges 9:7-21. However, the message is clear. Death is the great leveller. There are no distinctions made.
May we avoid the sin of self-exaltation and may we live every day, knowing our days are limited and that only what is done for God shall last.
Avondale College, Australia