Because you nursed an ancient grudge, you handed the Israelites over to the sword in the time of their distress, during their final punishment.
Ezekiel 35 is a word of judgment against “Mt. Seir,” a geographic representation of Edom. In this chapter, the Lord judges the Edomites because they took advantage of the Israelites when they were being invaded by the Babylonians. The people of Edom even “exalted” themselves against the Lord and spoke against him (35:13).
Edom’s reaction to Israel’s plight reflected longstanding enmity between the two nations. In fact, the Lord identifies the source of Edom’s action in this way: “Because you nursed an ancient grudge, you handed the Israelites over to the sword in the time of their distress, during their final punishment” (35:5). The Hebrew of the beginning of this verse reads literally, “Because you had everlasting hatred [’evat ‘olam] . . . .” This is the same phrase that appears in Ezekiel 25:15, where it refers to the “old hatreds” of the Philistines. The “ancient grudge” of the Edomites was similar to the “old hatreds” of the Philistines. Both peoples let old rivalries and animosity govern their behavior, leading them to oppose not just Israel, but also the Lord.
The Daily Reflection on Ezekiel 25 asked the question: What will set us free from old hatreds? Today, I want to ask a similar question: How can we stop nursing an ancient grudge? Once again, I want to emphasize that the power to do this rests in God, the source of peace and reconciliation. God alone will help us forgive those who have wronged us.
This happens as we take to heart the merciful forgiveness God has given us. In Ephesians 4:31-32 we read: “Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.” We are able to put aside all bitterness and forgive others when we take seriously the way God has forgiven us in Christ. We will stop nursing grudges when we allow our hearts and minds to be transformed by the forgiving grace of God.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you have any ancient grudges? Are there people in your life whom you struggle to forgive? Have you spoken to God about this?
PRAYER: Gracious God, even as you have forgiven me, so may I forgive others. May your grace so permeate my being that I cannot help but be gracious to everyone in my life, even those who have wronged me. Set me free, Lord, from old hatreds and ancient grudges. May I live in the freedom of your grace each day, in each relationship, in every situation. Amen.