by Pastor David Groendyk
Ezekiel 25–32 is a large section containing oracles of judgment against different nations around Israel and Judah. The previous chapter listed four nations in quick succession, but chapters 26–28 are almost solely about Tyre. Why is that? Why are there almost three chapters dedicated to Tyre? Only Egypt has a longer judgment oracle than them. It’s been pointed out that, of all the nations listed in chapters 25–32, only Tyre and Egypt had the means and strength to withstand the military force which was Babylon; therefore, God spends all the more time detailing for Judah how sovereign he is over “mighty” Tyre.
Tyre is condemned for the same things as the other nations—exploiting Judah as they were being exiled and profiting off their misfortune. Moreover, Tyre seemed to think they could become the new “gate of the peoples” (v. 2), in other words, the new center of the world. They had high hopes to become a world superpower with Judah out of the way. They had been seduced by both the reality and dreams of wealth and prosperity. Verses 7–14 especially focus on the point-by-point destruction that Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar will rain down on Tyre. They will be utterly destroyed so that not a single person will be left alive. Tyre was an island city-nation with natural protection against invaders, seeing as they were surrounded by water. However, the island fortress would become nothing but a bare rock in the sea after God was done with them. So sure is their destruction that verses 15–21 describe the coastland trembling. It’s almost as if these last few verses come from the perspective of someone standing on the coast gazing on the island of Tyre lying in heaps of ruins and lamenting its leveling. The judgment is a sure thing.
However, if you continue to read ahead in the book and you get to Ezekiel 29:17–18, it appears as though this prophecy sort of fizzles out. Why isn’t Nebuchadnezzar able to take down Tyre? How do they survive when God specifically said they would be wiped out? The best answer is to remember that biblical prophecies are not always fulfilled in one big historical event. The prophets are looking forward as if seeing a mountain range from a long distance away: the mountains appear to be close together, but, in reality, they’re miles apart. Tyre’s initial half-defeat at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar was just the firstfruits of a later and fuller judgment. Notice that even verses 19–21 have something of a finality and permanency to them that go beyond simple military defeat. Ezekiel is talking about a permanent kind of death that completely separates them from God. While Tyre has been rebuilt and conquered numerous times throughout history, there will be a day when their wickedness will come to a permanent end. As with all of the prophecies against Judah’s enemies, we must remember that we can’t always expect our enemies to be thwarted in this life. We await the full and final display of God’s justice after the great resurrection. Until then, we hold tight to the promises that that day is coming, and that all of God’s people will be vindicated.