I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it; and it shall be the wagers for his army. I have given him the land of Egypt as his payment because they worked for me, declares the Lord.Ezekiel 29:19-20

I’m reading through Ezekiel and I found this passage to be so provoking.

A bit of history: The Babylonian empire became a powerhouse in the early iron age which resulted in the domination of several nations. Israel and Egypt are included in that list. The latter half of Old Testament history records the downfall of Israel/Judah and their exile into Babylon.

Ezekiel is recording God’s perspective on all of this. And this is what is shocking to me.

God tells Ezekiel that Nebuchadnezzar is working for God. A wicked and powerful tyrant. In fact, in Jeremiah 25:9 he is called “God’s servant.” And it is this servant that God would use to bring punishment to Israel as well as punishment to the surrounding nations (Ezekiel 25-30).

I was shocked because it’s almost like God is working in the black market to accomplish his purposes. God is the God who is sovereign over his people as well as the wicked nations. Think about the “wicked” countries in our world today. Somalia, Iran, North Korea, Syria–God is Lord over the rulers of these nations.

That astounds me.

But then, as I was reflecting, the Lord gave me a verse Roman 8:28 which writes, “God works all things for the good of those who love him.”

Then I understood what this meant as I reflected on the totality of the movement in the Old Testament: In the economy of God, he will use both righteous people and nations as well as unrighteous people and nations so that the resources will eventually benefit the righteous.

The end of the story reveals that the resources and blessings in human history will end up in the hands of the righteous, in the hands of those who love God. This is what happened even in the microcosm of the Babylonian exile ordeal. Even though God raised up Babylon to judge Israel, in the end, Israel would come up on top, yielding the blessings of God and the Savior of God.

I think this is a message when we look at the wickedness around us in the nations. We can look at the activity happening, but in the economy of God, God will use that power to eventually reallocate the resources to his people.