Wednesday, February 25, 2015


For the week beginning Sunday February 22, 2015

(The end of Tyre’s glory)
Ezekiel 26-28

“Tyre”, which means “rock”, was a city on the central coast of Phoenicia that was noted for its commercial activity and success. It was located between Accho and Sidon, north of Palestine, and was the principal seaport of Phoenicia. Tyre actually consisted of two cities, one of which was a rocky coastal city on the mainland and the other, a smaller island city just off the shore. It was a city that was difficult to attack or invade, as it was strategically situated with its rear set against the mountains of Lebanon to the east, and the sea served as protection at its front on the west.
Tyre was a very ancient city that was founded circa 2750 B.C., however, it was not as old as her sister city, Sidon. In fact, for many years Sidon had ruled over Tyre after it successfully besieged the city in 1400 B.C. It was not until sea raiders left the city of Sidon in ruins, some 200 years later, that Tyre was able to regain her independence from Sidon.
Over the next 400 years, as Phoenicia gained more and more independence, so too, Tyre would become more powerful, particularly under the rule of King Hiram I (980-947 B.C.), who got along famously with both King David (1 Kings 5:1 & 1 Chronicles 14:1) and King Solomon (1 Kings 9:26-28). Hiram also fortified Tyre’s two harbors on the north and the south with walls. From that point on, Tyre began to dominate Mediterranean commerce. In fact, the prophet Isaiah says that “Tyre’s merchants were princes, the honorable of the earth” (Isaiah 23:8). 
Here in Ezekiel chapters 26-28 we find a rather extensive oracle against the city of Tyre that foretells and details her destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces. This already fabulously wealthy city had applauded the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., and were enthusiastically looking forward to gaining even more dominance in the Mediterranean area by taking over land trade routes to the east, that had been controlled by Judah (Ezekiel 26:2) since the time of King David.
In verses 7-14 the prophet Ezekiel predicts that Babylon will begin a process that will ultimately result in the total destruction of Tyre down the line. The city was located only 100 miles from Jerusalem, and just 35 miles from the Sea of Galilee, and sure enough, after he destroyed Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar put a 13-year siege on Tyre’s mainland city, literally ruining its influence as a world trade leader. However, because he had no navy, Nebuchadnezzar could not destroy the island city of Tyre.
History now records, however, that some 150 years after Ezekiel utters this prophecy (322 B.C.), Alexander the Great and his Greek forces totally demolished mainland Tyre and threw all the stones, timber, and rubble out into the sea (v.12), using the debris, and timber from Lebanon, to build a causeway between the mainland and island sections of the city, and then crossed over to conquer and destroy it also. And thus no more music ever came out of the once bustling city of Tyre, and Ezekiel’s entire prophecy was fulfilled, just as the LORD had spoken (Vs13-14).
The effects of Tyre’s destruction are summed up in the “funeral song” composed in verses 17-18, and Tyre was made into an uninhabited place, sunken beneath the waves of the wrath of GOD, and deposited in the pits of Sheol, where the dead will never be allowed to leave and return to the land of the living (Vs.19-21).
In Ezekiel 27 another message from the LORD came to Ezekiel concerning Tyre, “the mighty gateway to the sea”, the trade center of the world. It is a “funeral song”, a lament that sings of the death of this beautiful and glorious seaport to the kings. Verses 4-24 are dedicated to giving us a vivid description of Tyre’s massive trading and bartering with nations around the world, including Judah and Israel.
This poetic description of the fall of a city is one of the most powerful to be found anywhere in world history, and it sums up just how the world, was and is, preoccupied with material wealth and prosperity that cannot help but breed pride that is out of control. Clearly GOD is seeking to show us how vulnerable all material wealth is, to destruction.
Here in this chapter Tyre is compared to a soundly constructed, beautiful world-class luxury ship (Vs.1-9) that is about to sink into Hades. She has had many trading partners over the years (vs.10-25), but now was about to experience a catastrophic shipwreck at sea that she will never be able to recover from (Vs.26-36). Ironically, her destruction would come in an atmosphere where she was most comfortable, that of the open sea.
In Ezekiel 28 we see yet a third message from the LORD to Ezekiel, this time, a message to the “ruler”, or “head prince” (in the Hebrew “Nagid”- “man at the top”). Here GOD is singling out the city of Tyre and Sidon’s leader, who at that time was Ethbaal III, the father of Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31). He ruled from 591-572 B.C., and because of his pride, he viewed himself as a god, and not as a man (v.2). In fact, many people also believed that he was “the idol god Baal” himself, and he regarded himself as being wiser than Daniel the prophet, whom GOD allowed to know secret things (v.3).
Even though Ethbaal’s worldly wisdom had made him very rich, his riches had made him very proud, and here in verses 6-10 GOD delivers this personal message to him, through Ezekiel:

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
Because you think you are as wise as a god,
     I will now bring against you a foreign army,
    the terror of the nations.
They will draw their swords against your marvelous wisdom
    and defile your splendor!
 They will bring you down to the pit,
    and you will die in the heart of the sea,
    pierced with many wounds.
 Will you then boast, ‘I am a god!’
    to those who kill you?
To them you will be no god
    but merely a man!
You will die like an outcast
    at the hands of foreigners.
    I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

Beginning in verse 11 we see Ezekiel’s final prophecy against Tyre (Vs.11-19).

 Then this further message came to me from the Lord:  “Son of man, sing this funeral song for the king of Tyre. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord:
“You were the model of perfection,
    full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty.
 You were in Eden,
    the garden of God.
Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone—
    red carnelian, pale-green peridot, white moonstone,
    blue-green beryl, onyx, green jasper,
    blue lapis lazuli, turquoise, and emerald—
all beautifully crafted for you
    and set in the finest gold.
They were given to you
    on the day you were created.
I ordained and anointed you
    as the mighty angelic guardian.
You had access to the holy mountain of God
    and walked among the stones of fire.
 “You were blameless in all you did
    from the day you were created
    until the day evil was found in you.
 Your rich commerce led you to violence,
    and you sinned.
So I banished you in disgrace
    from the mountain of God.
I expelled you, O mighty guardian,
    from your place among the stones of fire.
 Your heart was filled with pride
    because of all your beauty.
Your wisdom was corrupted
    by your love of splendor.
So I threw you to the ground
    and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings.
You defiled your sanctuaries
    with your many sins and your dishonest trade.
So I brought fire out from within you,
    and it consumed you.
I reduced you to ashes on the ground
    in the sight of all who were watching.
All who knew you are appalled at your fate.
    You have come to a terrible end,
    and you will exist no more.”

The use in verse 12 of the Hebrew word “melek” for “king”, instead of “nagid” for “ruler” is significant in light of the content of these final two prophecies. Whereas Ezekiel rebuked the “ruler”, Ethbaal III for falsely claiming to be a god in the previous prophecy, here Ezekiel describes a king in terms that cannot apply to a mere man. Here he describes a king who appeared in the Garden of Eden (v.13), and had been a “guardian cherub” (v.14a), and also had had, at one time in the past, free access to GOD’s Holy Mountain (v.14b). Ezekiel also says that this king had been sinless from the time he was created (v.15).
Here in this passage (Vs.11-19) we see a depiction that clearly fits “Lucifer”, the once glorious archangel who had been expelled from Heaven because of his pride and sin against GOD. It does not at all seem to depict the earthly mortal ruler Ethbaal III of Tyre mentioned in the previous verses, 1-10, nor does the language used here depict Adam in the Garden of Eden as some scholars have suggested. Here in verses 11-19 Ezekiel is describing satan who is the true king of Tyre, the demon who is influencing and motivating the human ruler, Ethbaal III.
Although there is, admittedly, strong metaphoric, and poetic interpretational references, to the human ruler of Tyre, Ethbaal III, in this passage, the message is clearly aimed at the spiritual ruler and prince of the demons of this world, who is satan.
In verses 20-24 we see a message of doom for Tyre’s older sister city, and former ruler, Sidon. Sidon was located just 20 miles north of Tyre, along the Mediterranean coast, and except for brief periods in history, had always been closely allied with Tyre, especially at that time, since both cities were ruled by the same man, Ethbaal III. GOD’s judgment against Sidon would be both, “a plague”, and “war” (v.23). This judgment would have two results. First, it would compel Sidon to acknowledge GOD’s “righteous character” (v.22), and secondly, GOD’s judgment would remove Sidon’s influence as an obstacle to Israel’s walk with HIM (v.24). Many of the Israelites had begun worshiping “Baal” since the time of King Ahab (Israel’s king), who’s wife was the infamous Jezebel.
Finally this chapter ends on an encouraging note, a message of “restoration for Israel (Vs.25-26 - NLT).

 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The people of Israel will again live in their own land, the land I gave my servant Jacob. For I will gather them from the distant lands where I have scattered them. I will reveal to the nations of the world my holiness among my people.  They will live safely in Israel and build homes and plant vineyards. And when I punish the neighboring nations that treated them with contempt, they will know that I am the Lord their God.”  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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