Ezekiel 25 & Psalm 73

Ezekiel 25

    The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward the Ammonites and prophesy against them. Say to the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord GOD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Because you said, ‘Aha!’ over my sanctuary when it was profaned, and over the land of Israel when it was made desolate, and over the house of Judah when they went into exile, therefore behold, I am handing you over to the people of the East for a possession, and they shall set their encampments among you and make their dwellings in your midst. They shall eat your fruit, and they shall drink your milk. I will make Rabbah a pasture for camels and Ammon a fold for flocks. Then you will know that I am the LORD. For thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet and rejoiced with all the malice within your soul against the land of Israel, therefore, behold, I have stretched out my hand against you, and will hand you over as plunder to the nations. And I will cut you off from the peoples and will make you perish out of the countries; I will destroy you. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

    “Thus says the Lord GOD: Because Moab and Seir said, ‘Behold, the house of Judah is like all the other nations,’ therefore I will lay open the flank of Moab from the cities, from its cities on its frontier, the glory of the country, Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim. I will give it along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, that the Ammonites may be remembered no more among the nations, and I will execute judgments upon Moab. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

    “Thus says the Lord GOD: Because Edom acted revengefully against the house of Judah and has grievously offended in taking vengeance on them, therefore thus says the Lord GOD, I will stretch out my hand against Edom and cut off from it man and beast. And I will make it desolate; from Teman even to Dedan they shall fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they shall do in Edom according to my anger and according to my wrath, and they shall know my vengeance, declares the Lord GOD.

    “Thus says the Lord GOD: Because the Philistines acted revengefully and took vengeance with malice of soul to destroy in never-ending enmity, therefore thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I will stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the rest of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I lay my vengeance upon them."

(Ezekiel 25 ESV)

Psalm 73

A Psalm of Asaph.

    Truly God is good to Israel,
        to those who are pure in heart.
    But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
        my steps had nearly slipped.
    For I was envious of the arrogant
        when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
    For they have no pangs until death;
        their bodies are fat and sleek.
    They are not in trouble as others are;
        they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
    Therefore pride is their necklace;
        violence covers them as a garment.
    Their eyes swell out through fatness;
        their hearts overflow with follies.
    They scoff and speak with malice;
        loftily they threaten oppression.
    They set their mouths against the heavens,
        and their tongue struts through the earth.
    Therefore his people turn back to them,
        and find no fault in them.
    And they say, “How can God know?
        Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
    Behold, these are the wicked;
        always at ease, they increase in riches.
    All in vain have I kept my heart clean
        and washed my hands in innocence.
    For all the day long I have been stricken
        and rebuked every morning.
    If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
        I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
    But when I thought how to understand this,
        it seemed to me a wearisome task,
    until I went into the sanctuary of God;
        then I discerned their end.
    Truly you set them in slippery places;
        you make them fall to ruin.
    How they are destroyed in a moment,
        swept away utterly by terrors!
    Like a dream when one awakes,
        O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
    When my soul was embittered,
        when I was pricked in heart,
    I was brutish and ignorant;
        I was like a beast toward you.
    Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
        you hold my right hand.
    You guide me with your counsel,
        and afterward you will receive me to glory.
    Whom have I in heaven but you?
        And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
    My flesh and my heart may fail,
        but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
    For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
        you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
    But for me it is good to be near God;
        I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
        that I may tell of all your works.

(Psalm 73 ESV)

Discern Their End

Psalm 73 provides wisdom in helping God's people rest with contentment even though life may seem more carefree for the non-believer. Often times, the prosperity of non-believers can tempt us to compromise our commitments to God. The psalmist even says that the successes of the wicked make him wonder whether or not his faithfulness to God has truly been worth it. 

Have you ever felt as if your faith may be holding you back from a more enjoyable way of life that the non-believing world seems to be experiencing?

It can be tiresome and extremely troubling to have such conflicting thoughts and desires concerning the prosperous lives of non-believers up against the pious lives of those who are faithful. The psalmist experiences this inner turmoil and then offers the faithful the proper perspective to resist all envy and jealousy. He writes:

“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”

The key to overcoming any envy of the non-believing world is to "discern their end." 

Contemplate the outcome of the lives of the arrogant and the lives of the faithful, and consider the different paths on which they're heading. One path leads to separation from God and the other leads us near to God. Therefore, we can find satisfaction and contentment in the hope that we will eternal be near to God and even more so heirs to His Kingdom. Until that day, we can rest in our nearness to God. For He is our strength and portion both now and forever.