by Pastor Mark Hudson
This chapter is about the city of Tyre. But more importantly about a life that does not honor God, is ostensibly on top of the world and yet this same person’s life changes quickly and dramatically. Tyre is being used to illustrate that larger point. Tyre is in the northern part of Israel. This is one of the foreign countries that Ezekiel rebukes in chapters 24 – 32. This island city (v. 4, “your borders are in the heart of the seas), was finally overthrown by Alexander the Great who built a causeway to the island. With great difficulty he finally succeeded in capturing the city in 332 B.C.
This chapter is not a literal description of Tyre but a poetic judgment oracle against first the city of Tyre but then any nation that amasses wealth and trades with the world . . . but neglects God. This could be New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, London, Cape Town, etc. What nation in the world has placed money second and God first? Is there one?
Starting in verse 4, notice the lavish description of the ship that represents Tyre. “Your builders made perfect your beauty. There is a magnificence and beauty to the ship due to the materials and craftsmanship. Timbers, mast, oars, deck, sails, caulk, oarsmen all come from different location or area. These descriptions serve to heighten the economic importance of the city.
Here is a website if you want to know where places in the Bible are: https://bibleatlas.org/a.htm Here is a list of some of the places that Ezekiel mentions in this chapter.
Arvad – east of the Dead Sea
Senir – mountainous district on the other side of the Jordan
Bashan – east of Jordan
Cyprus or Kittim –
Elishah – Sicily
Sidon – city north of Tyre. At that time subordinate to Tyre
Gebal – along coast north of Israel in Lebanon
Persia – Iran
Lud and Put – Lydia near Joppa
Put – area just west of Egypt
Helech – not known but probably
Gamad Later known as Cappadocia
Tarshish – southern Spain
Javan, Tubal, Meshech – Gen 10:2, Javan is near Ephesus and Tubal and Meshech are on the southeastern and southern border of the Black Sea.
Beth-togarman – Armenia
Dedan Arabian tribal group living on the Persian gulf
Arab – Syrian
Minnith – Ammonite area
Arabia – same now
Kedar – race in the Arabian desert
Sheba and Raamah – descendants of Cush. Sheba becomes the Sabian’s
Haran North of the Euphrates River
Canneh Babylonian area
Eden south of Haran by the Euphrates
Chilmad Near or is Nineveh
The effect of this list is to demonstrate the economic superiority of Tyre and the wealth not only that they possessed but that passed through their hands. It may compare to any major city in the world. This is an island city that bought and sold with almost everyone and everyone bought and sold with Tyre.
In verse 26, the entire mood of the chapter changes. For most of the chapter, a nation, city, or region would want to be Tyre. Tyre represents beauty, craftsmanship, the best of the world’s goods, jobs, travel to and from the known world. But this will all change. The sea that brough wealth now brings destruction. The east wind is a desert, cruel, damaging wind. All those people who helped Tyre become such a wealthy city will “sink into the heart of the seas” (v. 27). The downfall of Tyre will be a spectacle that those on the sea and those on land will “shout aloud . . . and cry out bitterly” (v. 30).
Well-known musicians compose a lament if an important person dies, or a tragic event occurs. This chapter mirrors that effort in the sudden downfall of Tyre (v. 26ff). There is a sense of surprise and bewilderment and even contempt (vs. 28-32, 35-6 How could Tyre be no more? The sea giveth and the sea taketh away. Ironically the same sea that now brings destruction is the sea that helped Tyre prosper.
The response of the coastlands in vs. 35-36 is like Revelation chapter 18. What we see is almost a great reversal. If so, much trade occurs within Tyre they set the standard, get a cut from every transaction, determine who buys and who sells, what the prices are and how long they stay the same (vs. 12-25, 33). But in such a short time Tyre is finished. Warehouse will stand empty. Store owners will be unemployed. Judgement comes.
Think about your life. Life is not dramatic. Rather life meanders along, in somewhat rhythmic boredom: sleeping, waking, eating, working, eating, sleeping. For most of humanity there is nothing dramatic about their lives. What we see before the dusk is what we see the next day after the dawn. But not always. Saul is converted to Paul. Nineveh repents. Haman is exposed. Isaac is rescued at the last moment. A parent dies in a car crash. A teen loses control of her car on a snowy morning driving to school. A president is assassinated. Life can change in a moment.
The ungodly have an allurement for us. They seem so carefree, and their lives can seem enviable to even the most devout. Admit it, you have envied the wicked (Ps. 73). But notice the sudden destruction. Is God just recording a historical prophecy? Or is this a warning to those amassing wealth thinking they are secure, stable, and at ease in Zion yet without God?
Every person you see is an eternal being who will exist forever. See, they will die but there is existence beyond the grave. You should be preparing every day to die and meet the glorious, magnificent thrice holy God. If not, you will meet His everlasting wrath. Imagine at one moment realizing your entire life was based on a lie. If you are given 60 or more years and you wasted your life, what anguish you will experience.
Dear Heavenly Father, we come to You as fallen humans mindful of our rebellion but focused on Your grace. Stir our imaginations so we see the reality and seriousness of life. Open, as only You can do, the eyes of our family and friends who mock You. At one time, we were just like they are now. In the name of the One who seeks the lost. Amen.