The LORD God proclaims: When the Philistines set out to right the wrongs done to them, they enacted revenge with utter contempt and old hatreds. (CEB)

Ezekiel 25:15

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In Ezekiel 25, the Lord reveals to Israel's neighbors that he will judge them for their bad attitudes toward and mistreatment of his people. After speaking of the Ammonites, the Moabites, and the Edomites, the Lord says concerning the Philistines: "When the Philistines set out to right the wrongs done to them, they enacted revenge with utter contempt and old hatreds" (25:15).
 
I'm struck by the phrase "old hatreds." The Hebrew original could be translated literally as "everlasting enmity." In the time of Ezekiel, the Philistines not only sided with the Babylonians against Judah, but also acted with "utter contempt" because of their historic hatred. As you may recall, the Philistines had been enemies of Israel for centuries. Their "old hatreds" clicked in when they had a chance to join the side of Babylon and participate in the devastation of the people of God. 
 
In our world today, "old hatreds" continue to wreak havoc as neighbors attack neighbors, ethnic groups attack ethnic groups, and nations attack nations, often with a viciousness that comes from centuries of animosity. Political efforts to bring peace to the world stumble over historic divisions between peoples. It's easy to feel hopeless in the face of such ancient hostilities. 

Furthermore, many of us harbor "old hatreds" that infect our relationships and disturb our souls. These might be directed toward parents who abused us, former spouses who betrayed us, bosses who mistreated us, or neighbors who tormented us. Our hatreds may have their root in genuine wrongs committed against us. Yet, if we allow them to fester in our hearts, they can pollute our relationships and steal our joy. 
 
What will set us free from old hatreds? A better question would be: Who will set us free from old hatreds? This is God's work, as he forgives us and enables us to forgive others. The more we experience God's transforming love, the more we will find the ability to put old hatreds to rest. The more we center our live in Christ, who forgave even those who crucified him, the more we will be able to follow him in loving our enemies. 
 
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
Have you ever felt the power of "old hatreds" in your own life? What makes it hard to give up our "old hatreds"? What helps you to let go of them?
 
PRAYER:
Gracious God, today I'm impressed by a phrase from Ezekiel 25—"old hatreds." I think of how historic animosity troubles our world today. I ask you to heal those who are ill with hatred, to set free those who are captured in the bonds of enmity.

Lord, as I reflect upon my own life, I realize that I can let "old hatreds" infect my soul. How easy it is for me to hold grudges against those who have hurt me and how tempting to forget the evil that lurks within me. Show me, Lord, where I have "old hatreds." By your grace, help me to forgive, so that I might live in the freedom and joy of your grace. Amen.
 
READ THE PASSAGE IN CONTEXT:
The Lord God proclaims: Because Moab and Seir say, "Aha! The house of Judah has become like all the nations," I'll open up the flank of Moab from the cities at its border, the land's splendid cities, Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim. I'll hand it over, along with the Ammonites, to people in the east for them to take possession. And so Ammon will no longer be remembered among the nations. I'll execute judgments in Moab, and they will know that I am the Lord.
 
The Lord God proclaims: Edom acted with excessive force against the house of Judah. The Judeans were guilty, but Edom's vengeance was excessive. So the Lord God now proclaims: I'll overpower Edom, eliminate all living creatures, and make it a wasteland from Teman to Dedan. They will fall by the sword. I will execute my vengeance in Edom through my people Israel's power. They will act in Edom according to my anger and fury, and they will know my vengeance. This is what the Lord God says.
 
The Lord God proclaims: When the Philistines set out to right the wrongs done to them, they enacted revenge with utter contempt and old hatreds. So now the Lord God proclaims: I will overpower the Philistines, eliminate the Cherethites, and obliterate all who are left along the coastline. I will act against them with great vengeance and with wrathful punishments. When I execute my vengeance against them, they will know that I am the Lord.
 
Ezekiel 25:8-17
Mark Roberts is the Executive Director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary in California, where he writes the daily devotional, Life for Leaders.
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