Tuesdays with Ezekiel (Chapter 28)

Chapter 28 concludes the prophecy against Tyre begun in chapter 26 and includes a short message for Sidon (Tyre’s neighbor to the north) and Israel (Tyre’s neighbor to the southeast).   Once again, the Lord’s denunciation against Tyre centers on its coming downfall because of its pride.  In this chapter, the Lord sends two messages to the leader of Tyre:  called both the “prince of Tyre” (2) and the “king of Tyre” (12).   The second message speaks of the king in terms in exalted terminology that seem to link the king’s attitudes and actions with the demonic father of sinful pride.

The leader of Tyre (called the “prince” or “king”) is singled out as the embodiment of the proud heart that led to the nation’s demise.  The prince, surveying the beauty, wisdom and wealth of the nation, became filled with pride (“your heart is proud”—2), concluding he was “a god” (2), not a mere mortal.  The Lord acknowledges the impressive wisdom of the king (“You are indeed wiser than Daniel”—3) which helped lead to immense wealth (“you have made wealth for yourself”—4) through its seafaring trade with other nations.  Sadly, instead of acknowledging the Lord’s favour and goodness, the king took personal credit for the nation’s success.  He became proud in his wealth (5) and fancied himself to possess godlike attributes and powers (“You make your heart like the heart of a god”—6).  As a consequence for giving way to pride, the Lord declares He will “bring foreigners upon you” (7) who will destroy the nation with the sword (8-10).

The second message regarding Tyre (11-19) is labeled a “lamentation over the king of Tyre” (12).  Biblical scholars have noticed the exalted language used to describe the king:  “in Eden, the garden of God” (13), “guardian cherub”(14), “on the holy mountain of God” (14).  These descriptors seem to point beyond any human to the father of pride—the fallen angel Satan.  The king of Tyre is linked with Satan as a way of showing both the demonic nature and disastrous consequences of pride.  

In this second message to the leader of Tyre, we learn more of the insidious nature of pride.  It leads us to falsely assume we deserve credit for the God-given blessings we receive.  The king of Tyre was “created” (13), not self-made.  He was “anointed” (14), not self-appointed.  Pride led to violence against others (16), corruption (17) and a multitude of iniquities (18).  God, who resists the proud and gives graces to the humble (James 4:6), brings down those who exalt themselves.  Tyre, and its proud king, comes to a “dreadful end and shall be no more” (19).

The chapter ends with two brief prophetic words—one to Sidon and the other to Israel.  Again we see a great reversal brought by God’s power.  Sidon, who treated Israel with “contempt” (24), is judged by the Lord and brought to destruction (23).  Israel, who was “scattered” (25) and scorned, is re-gathered and made to “dwell securely” (26).  In both cases, the LORD manifests his holiness—in one instance to “execute judgment” (22) and in the other, to “gather” the “scattered” (25).  The end result, is that both Sidon and Israel will know that “I am the Lord God” (24, 26).

Visions of God

The LORD resists the proud and gives grace to the humble and humiliated.  Because of its proud self-exaltation, the Lord promises to bring Tyre down.  On the other end of the spectrum, Israel—a nation that has already been brought low—will be re-gathered and restored.  While God’s intervention on behalf of Israel stems from His covenant faithfulness, it is also a response to human pride and humiliation.  When we have been humbled (even humiliated), we are in a better place than when we think we are high and mighty.

The LORD wants us to treat people with compassion not contempt—even when they don’t deserve it.  Sidon is judged because of her attitude and actions towards Israel; Sidon “treated them with contempt” (24).  What’s remarkable here is that, at this stage in Israel’s history, they deserved to be treated with contempt. Israel—both those who remained in the land and those exiled to Babylon—were spiritually rebellious and morally corrupt.  The Lord expressed anger towards His people and brought judgment upon them.  However, He did not want other nations to treat them with contempt.  Contempt is an expression of pride.  Pride, as is clear from the example of Tyre, is highly offensive to the Lord.  Compassion evidences a more humble heart, one that recognizes our universal need for mercy and grace.

The LORD manifests His holiness in judgment and blessing.  When addressing Sidon and Israel, the Lord speaks of manifesting his holiness in their midst.  In Sidon’s case, His holiness is manifest in judgment (22); in Israel, in restoration (25).  God’s holiness refers to His greatness and purity; He alone is the exalted one and is the standard of moral beauty and purity.  Revealing His holiness to humans can be done through judgment or grace.  In each case, He demonstrates His one-of-a-kind greatness and goodness.

Words to Watchmen

Pride brings down the most exalted.  Watchmen must warn people against the dangers of sin of all kinds—especially pride.  Pride, as C. S. Lewis observes, is a complete anti-God state of heart and mind.  Pride deceives us into classifying ourselves as a “god” rather than as a “man” (2).  Like Satan, we aspire to go higher, to replace God with ourselves.  Nothing could be more mutinous; nothing will bring God’s judgment more than pride.  Although Tyre had an exalted and enviable position among the nations, God brought it down to the depths.  Here is a cautionary tale for all nations and individuals (and angels!).  Watchmen must warn people to stay clear of pride.

The higher you think you are, the further you will fall.  Tyre went from the heights to the depths.  She had it all—beauty, power, wealth, security.  But God took it all away.  The reason for her demise was her pride.  No one is too big to be made small by the Lord.

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