Continuing His messages condemning the nations for their sins, God prophesies against Tyrus.
Ezekiel Chapter 26
Lessons from the text
The Source of Power God shows Ezekiel how that when Tyrus is removed, those who looked to Tyrus as the seat of power in the region will be troubled. Even the oppressor brings comfort in that an oppressor brings the consistency that humans crave; we are comfortable in our circumstance when it is predictable, even if it is a negative environment. This is particularly seen in those who choose to cling to their depression, bitterness, hatred, envy, drinking, dugs, etc.; while help is available to lead them into a joy-filled, vibrant life, they choose to retain their afflictions because it is what is known to them.
We fall into this truly enslaving manner of thinking when we shift power and authority from God into the creation. That is, we think that the drugs, hatred, or bitterness have power over us. Modern society will definitely tell you this. However, the power of such things is illusionary. It is like the placebo effect; if told that taking a particular pill will solve their problem, people will take the pill and feel better regardless of whether or not the pill is real medicine. Effects like this reveal that emotions and circumstances only have power over us when we believe they have power over us.
Taking this truth from your individual life to the broader picture, the government has no authority of its own over its land or people; it must be given its authority by someone. This someone is God (Jn. 19:11). If we forget this fact, we begin to believe that the government, our leaders, or even others around us have authority and power in themselves.
Why is science so well-believed? Because people believe that science has the authority to describe creation. Why are people shocked when a nation falls? Because people believe that the nation had power to sustains itself. However, no human, government, or object of creation has any power of itself; it is all granted power from God. With this perspective in mind, we can have a proper attitude towards objects and others in that we can bless God with our obedience to those who have authority over us as recognition that we are being obedient to God and praise God when He removes worldly authorities for His sovereign ability to grant and remove power. In this light, God is the constant, predictable authority that we crave. No matter what happens in our lives, to our nations, or to the world, we rest assured that a righteous King is still on the throne.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 Ezekiel was called to be a prophet in the fifth year of the captivity, so this message comes six years into his ministry and in the same year that Jerusalem is destroyed (Eze. 1:2, II Ki. 2-3).
2a Tyrus (Tyre) is a costal city in southern Lebanon. A trading port, it was and still is a center for commerce.
2b-6 Like Moab, Edom, and Ammon, Tyrus will be judged because it rejoices to see God’s chosen nation Israel defeated and suffering (Eze. 15:1-10). Those who hate God’s people hate God; the enemies of God’s people are God’s enemies. God promises to bring many nations against Tyrus to spoil it and rob it of its resources and kill the inhabitants.
7-11 God explicitly states that Nebuchadnezzar is His chosen vessel for wrath on ungodly nations. God has strengthened Nebuchadnezzar for this purpose; Babylon’s horses and armies are superior to the other nations so that through Babylon, the other nations may be overthrown. See also Jeremiah 25:9, 27:6, and 43:10.
12-13 Nebuchadnezzar will have victory over Tyrus, breaking down the stone walls and wooden structures. When the inhabitants see the work of their hands being cast into the sea, they will finally humble themselves; they will now be experiencing the very thing they delighted to see happen to Jerusalem. Now that it is happening to them, they have lost all their joy. One endangers oneself of judgment when one takes delight in another’s suffering. Historically, this prophecy has only been partially fulfilled; while Tyrus was invaded by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and later destroyed by Alexander the Great in 332BC, it has not yet been destroyed to the point of being cast into the sea. This is because Tyrus in Scripture refers both to a physical city and Satan’s kingdom (Eze. 28:12-14).
14 A top of a rock is a place on which to work, but it cannot do any work itself. The thought is that Tyrus will be unable to accomplish anything as a nation. Similarly, as the rock serves to enable others to work, so will Tyrus serve other nations.
15 Tyre is a thriving costal city. All of the island in the Mediterranean know of it and would be alarmed at its defeat.
16 The reaction of the island kings suggest that in addition to trading with Tyrus, they had lifted it up as an idol; they trusted in Tyrus’ riches and trade instead of putting confidence in God who provided Tyrus its riches. Because of this, when Tyrus is taken away, they will feel bereft of all their royalty and sit astonished.
17-18 The islands look to Tyrus as the source of power in the region. In their eyes, the seat of power will have been removed, leaving them troubled and uncertain about the future. This mindset could be avoided by recognizing that it is not Tyrus but God who holds power and authority. Such a recognition allows one to be untroubled by the rising and falling of nations because God’s power remains constant in one’s life.
19-21 Ezekiel describes a scene in which the sea covers the land so that it will never be found again. While this may have been looking back on the time of the flood, this has special prophetic imagery as the prince of Tyrus (the one directing the thoughts and actions of that city) is clearly identified as Satan (Eze. 28:1-19). It is unclear to what extent this reference is literal or symbolic; God may be declaring the total destruction of Satan’s kingdom, or He may be simply stating that Tyrus will be judged for its sin as are all nations that turn away from God. Either way, it is clear that those who sin will be so far removed that they cannot be found anymore, which is rightly understood to be eternal damnation in hell.
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