Generally in society today, it seems as if we have the tendency to try to make ourselves into God. We want to be in charge of the universe, and we want to hold the ultimate control. The same thing was happening to the Prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28.
Eze 28:6 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God;
Eze 28:7 Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness.
Eze 28:8 They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas.
Eze 28:9 Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.
Eze 28:10 Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
Clearly, God did not appreciate this attitude. Of course, the question then is why. Why does it bother God so much that people want to pretend to be Him?
I like to think of it this way. Plagiarism is a crime. If I write a book, you cannot directly copy my book. You can look at my book, and you can even my book, but you cannot take credit for the work that I have done.
God is similar. It is not right to take credit for what He has done. We can talk about what God has done, and we certainly can look at what God has done, but it would be inappropriate to say that it was our own.
I think it is pretty clear that human beings are not God. There are a host of other issues that people have to face if they try to put themselves in that position, but I don’t really need to get into that today. The main point is that God is a God of justice, and that includes justice for Himself.
In Ezekiel 27 we get to consider the city of Tyre a little bit more. It had been a blessed city. The majority of the beginning of this chapter is a list of all of the merchants who came from many other countries around the region to do business. It was a marketplace, and it was a valuable city in terms of economics.
However, even that value for the world was not going to be enough to protect it from judgment.
Eze 27:32 And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea?
Eze 27:33 When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many people; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise.
Eze 27:34 In the time when thou shalt be broken by the seas in the depths of the waters thy merchandise and all thy company in the midst of thee shall fall.
Eze 27:35 All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance.
Eze 27:36 The merchants among the people shall hiss at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt be any more.
We have two different perspectives here. On one hand, we have the perspective of all the people of the world. They are getting rich off of the city of the city of Tyre, so when the imminent judgment was going to come, they were obviously going to be very upset.
On the other hand, God is the one who has orchestrated the destruction and is perfectly just by definition. Therefore, it is not really consistent with the business interests of the world. God has something in mind that is higher than whether or not the people are going to be able to continue doing business.
This can apply to our lives as well. There are some things that can be so important for us. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but we all have something that we value, and those items might not be the things that God values.
Therefore, we need to be mindful. As best we can, we want to try to set our priorities in the way that God would view them. We are not trying to play God, but it will be easier to live our lives in the way God wants us to if we try to be sensitive to what He values. The Christian journey is about following God, so we need to keep our eyes on Him and see what He does.
Ezekiel 26 is an interesting prophecy. The city of Tyre was going to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. This is a controversial one though because Nebuchadnezzar did not entirely destroy the city of Tyre. Half of the city was on the mainland while the other half was on an island out in the harbor. The part on the mainland was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, but the part on the island was not destroyed until later.
Now, is this a Biblical problem? It is important to look at the chapter as a whole in order to understand how this works out. First, we need to begin with the prophecy of Ezekiel.
Eze 26:3 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up.
Eze 26:4 And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.
Eze 26:5 It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations.
Eze 26:6 And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Notice that the subject of this part of the chapter is many nations. There were going to be multiple attacks like waves in the ocean, and as an end result, the city was going to be sacked. Given what we know about history, that is true. Between the Babylonians, the Greeks and eventually Arabic conquerors, the city was entirely demolished. Many nations did indeed destroy the entire city.
However, what do we then do with verses seven through 14? It seems to imply that Nebuchadnezzar is going to destroy the city. We know that he did not destroy the entire city, so is the Bible wrong?
Again, I don’t think so. All of the verses say that Nebuchadnezzar is going to invade and do an awful lot of damage. He did that. Anything about the entire city being destroyed refers back to the demolition at the hands of the many nations. We know that that happened, and we know that Nebuchadnezzar did damage. It seems that everything does indeed fit together in this chapter that has generated quite a bit of controversy over the years.
Although it is not the most well-known prophecy regarding Tyre, Isaiah 23 makes a claim about the fate of the city.
Isa 23:15 And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot.
Isa 23:16 Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.
Isa 23:17 And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.
Isa 23:18 And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.
It is interesting. Tyre was prophesied to be commercially wiped off the map for all intents and purposes for 70 years. It doesn’t say the city would be destroyed, but it would pretty much be forgotten. That is a pretty measurable prophecy. We can tell if it happened or not because there is a number attached to it.
That being said, it is not necessarily a deal breaker if it hasn’t happened yet. There are prophecies in the Bible that have not been fulfilled yet. In theory, this could be one of those, but I don’t think it is.
Most secular historians will tell you that Jerusalem was taken over in 587 BC. Tyre would have been silenced shortly after that. There are now a few other things that we know.
From verse 18, we can gather that when commercial activity begins again in 70 years, they will do something that is called a God. Specifically, they will provide wood for the rebuilding of the Temple.
Ezr 3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
They hired people from Tyre to deliver wood at some point during the construction process. They probably did not deliver it right away. After all, you would not use the wood in the foundation, and you wouldn’t want it just sitting around for years while you wait for the foundation to be in place.
We know that King Cyrus allowed the Jewish people to return to their homeland, and we know that he died around 530 BC. We also know that after he died, there was a little bit of a gap before King Darius ordered that the Temple to continue being constructed from Ezra 6. King Darius reigned from 522 BC to 486 BC. That fits perfectly into the 70 year prediction. He would have been in the right position at the right time to order the people to continue finishing the Temple.
Tyre would then be resuming the commercial activity of providing wood just as was predicted.
It is remarkable how well the prophecies work out with what we know from history.