When Greatness is not Great

“Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude:

“’Whom are you like in your greatness?
    Behold, Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon,
with beautiful branches and forest shade,
    and of towering height,
    its top among the clouds.
The waters nourished it;
    the deep made it grow tall,
making its rivers flow
    around the place of its planting,
sending forth its streams
    to all the trees of the field.
So it towered high
    above all the trees of the field;
its boughs grew large
    and its branches long
    from abundant water in its shoots.
All the birds of the heavens
    made their nests in its boughs;
under its branches all the beasts of the field
    gave birth to their young,
and under its shadow
    lived all great nations.
It was beautiful in its greatness,
    in the length of its branches;
for its roots went down
    to abundant waters.
The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it,
    nor the fir trees equal its boughs;
neither were the plane trees
    like its branches;
no tree in the garden of God
    was its equal in beauty.
I made it beautiful
    in the mass of its branches,
and all the trees of Eden envied it,
    that were in the garden of God.

“’Therefore thus says the Lord: Because it towered high and set its top among the clouds, and its heart was proud of its height, I will give it into the hand of a mighty one… He shall surely deal with it as its wickedness deserves. I have cast it out.  Foreigners, the most ruthless of nations, have cut it down and left it. On the mountains and in the valleys its branches have fallen, and its boughs have been broken in the ravines of the land, and all the peoples of the earth have gone away from its shadow and left it. On its fallen trunk dwell the birds of the heavens, and on its branches are all the beasts of the field. All this is in order that no trees by the waters may grow to towering height or set their tops among the clouds, and that no trees that drink water may reach up to them in height. For they are all given over to death, to the world below,.. with those who go down to the pit.'” Ezekiel 31:2-14

The description of Egypt in her prime lifts sights and senses: abounding beauty, lushness, strength, virility. Unparalleled greatness and glory swell the soul, awaken admiration- even envy, and appear permanent, impenetrable. But ascendance also lifts high the head and nose, pride protrudes from fruitfulness, taking on an ugly life of its own. And God the Giver will not be mocked. (Psalm 86:8-10; 89:11-18; Galatians 6:7)

O, the folly of boasting, of peacocking about our greatness and beauty! Of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, rather than accepting humbly the great gifts God gives by grace, and exercising them accordingly in love. (Psalm 8:3-6; Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

What do we value in life? Is our boast in self or Christ, our treasure in achievement or our eternal inheritance? Any measure of success in life comes from our Lord, who become poor that we might enjoy abundant life. (Psalm 18:35; Matthew 6:19-21; John 10:10b; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 10:17)

Gracious God, keep me ever grateful for Your greatness, and never touching Your glory. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: