The Latter Major Prophets – Ezekiel 27-28

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take up a lament concerning Tyre.  Say to Tyre, situated at the gateway to the sea, merchant of peoples on many coasts, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘You say, Tyre,
    “I am perfect in beauty.”
Your domain was on the high seas;
    your builders brought your beauty to perfection.
They made all your timbers
    of juniper from Senir;
they took a cedar from Lebanon
    to make a mast for you.
Of oaks from Bashan
    they made your oars;
of cypress wood from the coasts of Cyprus
    they made your deck, adorned with ivory.
Fine embroidered linen from Egypt was your sail
    and served as your banner;
your awnings were of blue and purple
    from the coasts of Elishah.
Men of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen;
    your skilled men, Tyre, were aboard as your sailors.
Veteran craftsmen of Byblos were on board
    as shipwrights to caulk your seams.
All the ships of the sea and their sailors
    came alongside to trade for your wares.
“‘Men of Persia, Lydia and Put
    served as soldiers in your army.
They hung their shields and helmets on your walls,
    bringing you splendor.
Men of Arvad and Helek
    guarded your walls on every side;
men of Gammad
    were in your towers.
They hung their shields around your walls;
    they brought your beauty to perfection.
“‘Tarshish did business with you because of your great wealth of goods; they exchanged silver, iron, tin and lead for your merchandise.
“‘Greece, Tubal and Meshek did business with you; they traded human beings and articles of bronze for your wares.
“‘Men of Beth Togarmah exchanged chariot horses, cavalry horses and mules for your merchandise.
“‘The men of Rhodes traded with you, and many coastlands were your customers; they paid you with ivory tusks and ebony.
“‘Aram did business with you because of your many products; they exchanged turquoise, purple fabric, embroidered work, fine linen, coral and rubies for your merchandise.
“‘Judah and Israel traded with you; they exchanged wheat from Minnith and confections, honey, olive oil and balm for your wares.
“‘Damascus did business with you because of your many products and great wealth of goods.  They offered wine from Helbon, wool from Zahar and casks of wine from Izal in exchange for your wares: wrought iron, cassia and calamus.
“‘Dedan traded in saddle blankets with you.
“‘Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your customers; they did business with you in lambs, rams and goats.
“‘The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you; for your merchandise they exchanged the finest of all kinds of spices and precious stones, and gold.
“‘Harran, Kanneh and Eden and merchants of Sheba, Ashur and Kilmad traded with you.  In your marketplace they traded with you beautiful garments, blue fabric, embroidered work and multicolored rugs with cords twisted and tightly knotted.
“‘The ships of Tarshish serve
    as carriers for your wares.
You are filled with heavy cargo
    as you sail the sea.
Your oarsmen take you
    out to the high seas.
But the east wind will break you to pieces
    far out at sea.
Your wealth, merchandise and wares,
    your mariners, sailors and shipwrights,
your merchants and all your soldiers,
    and everyone else on board
will sink into the heart of the sea
    on the day of your shipwreck.
The shorelands will quake
    when your sailors cry out.
All who handle the oars
    will abandon their ships;
the mariners and all the sailors
    will stand on the shore.
They will raise their voice
    and cry bitterly over you;
they will sprinkle dust on their heads
    and roll in ashes.
They will shave their heads because of you
    and will put on sackcloth.
They will weep over you with anguish of soul
    and with bitter mourning.
As they wail and mourn over you,
    they will take up a lament concerning you:
“Who was ever silenced like Tyre,
    surrounded by the sea?”
When your merchandise went out on the seas,
    you satisfied many nations;
with your great wealth and your wares
    you enriched the kings of the earth.
Now you are shattered by the sea
    in the depths of the waters;
your wares and all your company
    have gone down with you.
All who live in the coastlands
    are appalled at you;
their kings shudder with horror
    and their faces are distorted with fear.
The merchants among the nations scoff at you;
    you have come to a horrible end
    and will be no more.’”

  • Ezekiel 27:1-36

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘In the pride of your heart
    you say, “I am a god;
I sit on the throne of a god
    in the heart of the seas.”
But you are a mere mortal and not a god,
    though you think you are as wise as a god.
Are you wiser than Daniel?
    Is no secret hidden from you?
By your wisdom and understanding
    you have gained wealth for yourself
and amassed gold and silver
    in your treasuries.
By your great skill in trading
    you have increased your wealth,
and because of your wealth
    your heart has grown proud.
“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘Because you think you are wise,
    as wise as a god,
I am going to bring foreigners against you,
    the most ruthless of nations;
they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom
    and pierce your shining splendor.
They will bring you down to the pit,
    and you will die a violent death
    in the heart of the seas.
Will you then say, “I am a god,”
    in the presence of those who kill you?
You will be but a mortal, not a god,
    in the hands of those who slay you.
You will die the death of the uncircumcised
    at the hands of foreigners.
I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘You were the seal of perfection,
    full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden,
    the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
    carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
    topaz, onyx and jasper,
    lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
    on the day you were created they were prepared.
You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
    for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
    you walked among the fiery stones.
You were blameless in your ways
    from the day you were created
    till wickedness was found in you.
Through your widespread trade
    you were filled with violence,
    and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
    and I expelled you, guardian cherub,
    from among the fiery stones.
Your heart became proud
    on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
    because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
    I made a spectacle of you before kings.
By your many sins and dishonest trade
    you have desecrated your sanctuaries.
So I made a fire come out from you,
    and it consumed you,
and I reduced you to ashes on the ground
    in the sight of all who were watching.
All the nations who knew you
    are appalled at you;
you have come to a horrible end
    and will be no more.’”
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Sidon; prophesy against her and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘I am against you, Sidon,
    and among you I will display my glory.
You will know that I am the Lord,
    when I inflict punishment on you
    and within you am proved to be holy.
I will send a plague upon you
    and make blood flow in your streets.
The slain will fall within you,
    with the sword against you on every side.
Then you will know that I am the Lord.
“‘No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns.  Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of the nations.  Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob.  They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them.  Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’”

  • Ezekiel 28:1-26

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Ezekiel 27-28 ‘introduction’: “The city of Tyre was judged because of its pride, and its rulers were judged for their pride as well.  If you are not familiar with these chapters, I think you will find some interesting surprises.  …
“Ezekiel 27 has portions that would have been recognized in the Hebrew language as poetry, a song, or a funeral dirge.  As the Lord has done so often through Ezekiel, He once again uses a metaphor to describe Tyre, likening it to a ship, because of the location of the city on an island as well as because of their extensive trading with other countries.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 27:1-26 ‘Tyre – an “unsinkable” ship’: “In 27:1-36 he shifts the metaphor and compares Tyre to a ship.  The appropriateness of these two back-to-back metaphors should be obvious.  What an island and a ship have in common is that both are surrounded by water.
“Tyre likes what she sees when she looks at herself: “I am perfect in beauty” (v. 3).  She will shortly learn that one consumed with self-congratulation and self-adulation will eventually come to naught.
“This ship is a thing of beauty.  Verses 4a-7 elaborate on the precious materials brought from afar for the construction of the ship.  It is not just the luxuriousness of these materials.  Rather, they are products that Tyre receives in trade, as the places of origin indicate.  Ships are for trade, for transporting cargo from place to place.  Since Tyre’s wealth and status derived from trade, how right it is to refer to Tyre as a ship.
“The cities surrounding Tyre provide not only materials for the ship’s construction, but also personnel for her maintenance, locomotion, and defense.
“In the process Tyre becomes a trading center, with representatives and merchants of all nations bringing their wares to Tyre for sale and exchange.  The city rivals any modern commercial city for frenzied activity and busyness.  ‘We will pull down our ships and build bigger ships,’ decide the Tyrians.
“In verse 26, however, the ship Tyre leaves port and heads out into the open seas on her maiden voyage.  The ship Tyre is about to become the first Titanic.  The “unsinkable” ship is about to prove the experts wrong.
“The chapter begins by noting that Tyre’s domain is on the high seas (v. 4a).  Now, Tyre will break into pieces and sink into the heart of the sea.
“The source of Tyre’s strength, the sea, becomes the source of her ruin.  What once brought her fame now brings her infamy.  The sea, once her source of power and pride, is now an instrument of the judgment of God.  It is the blatant flaunting of prosperity, the ‘look-what-I-have-done’ attitude that materialism often encourages.  A gift of God, if misused and abused, can become an albatross around one’s neck.  That is what happened to Tyre, and to many like her.  And what is left after the ship sinks?”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 27:26 ‘Tyre’s pride’: “This was spoken by the prophet concerning Tyre, that great mercantile city where all the commerce of the East found its outlet toward the West.  Tyre, when the Chaldeans invaded Palestine, had greatly rejoiced at the fall of Jerusalem.  She said, ‘Aha! The gateway to the peoples is shattered.  She has been turned over to me.  I will be filled now that she lies in ruins’ (Ezk 26:2).  It was a cruel and selfish exultation.  After a while the city in the sea came to feel the weight of the great oppressor’s arm, for thus said the Lord, ‘See, I am about to bring King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, king of kings, against Tyre from the north with horses, chariots, cavalry, and a huge assembly of troops.  He will slaughter your villages on the mainland with the sword.  He will set up siege works, build a ramp, and raise a wall of shields against you’ (Ezk 26:7-8).  For thirteen years the city endured a siege under Nebuchadnezzar.  Concerning this calamity the prophet said, ‘Your rowers have brought you onto the high seas.  The merchant princes of Tyre had so managed the affairs of the state that they brought the Tyrians into desperate straits.  They had incited them to stand out against the great king and, they discovered in due time that they were striving against a power too strong for them.  Their policy had been a mistake.  Comparing Tyre to one of its own galleys propelled with oars, the prophet declares, ‘The east wind has wrecked you in the heart of the sea.’”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Ezekiel 27 ‘summary’: “’Then a storm out of the east shatters your ship in the ocean deep.’  This is a paraphrase of Ezekiel 27:26 and a prophecy of what was to happen to Tyre.  Not only did the Lord allow Nebuchadnezzar to carry out His judgment on Israel, but He also allowed Him to be a part of His judgment on Tyre.
“The lamentation ends and another proclamation begins.  The Lord will state through Ezekiel the judgment to come upon the ruler of Tyre.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 28:8 ‘tying Ezekiel 28 with Ezekiel 26-27’: “Did you notice that in Ezekiel 28:8, the Lord summarizes the destruction of Tyre that He described in Chapters 26 and 27?  Look at verse 8 and compare it to the following verses.  This is just for you to see the intricacy of the Word of God.
“Ezekiel 26:19,20: ‘…When I bring the deep upon you, and great waters cover you, “then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit…”’
“Ezekiel 27:27: “…All your men of war who are in you, and the entire company which is in your midst, will fall into the midst of the seas on the day of your ruin.’
“The Word of the Lord is completely clear regarding the future of Tyre and its prince.  And the Word of the Lord is completely clear regarding the reason for the judgment against this man who didn’t think of himself as a man.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 28:9-10 ‘arrogant rulers’: “Arrogant rulers are held accountable before the Lord.  The Pharaohs of Egypt saw themselves as gods, and we are now fascinated with their tombs.  One in particular experienced the power and wonder of the One True God when he was plagued repeatedly! (Exodus 5:2).  Nebuchadnezzar himself the agent of the Lord for judgment on Israel and Tyre, was brought to his knees for his pride.  (Daniel 4)  He had to spend seven years grazing fields as if he were a wild animal.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 28:17-18 ‘the fall of Satan’: “In this prophecy, Ezekiel pronounces judgment on both visible and invisible forces.  He sees through the outer appearances of people and nations to the spiritual forces that motivate and drive them.  In chapter 28 we find a remarkable passage in which the prophet declares judgment upon the kingdoms of Tyre and Sidon.  He speaks of the prince of Tyre and of a personage behind this prince – the king of Tyre.
“Many Bible scholars have concluded that Ezekiel is talking about both the prince of the city – a ruling human being – and a sinister spiritual being that he calls the king of Tyre.  This king symbolizes the principalities and powers mentioned in the New Testament – the world rulers of this present darkness who manipulate people and events on earth, producing the daily horrors we witness in our newspapers and on TV.  The king of Tyre is a satanic power.
“Chapter 28 also contains a passage that many Bible scholars believe represents the fall of Satan himself.  This is one of only two passages in the Bible that describes the fall of Satan … (Ezekiel 28:17-18).
“The reason for Satan’s fall is given in Isaiah 14, where the Prince of Darkness says ‘I will’ five times.  The will – whether a human will or a demonic will – is the source of sin and destruction whenever it is set against the good and perfect will of God.  The defiant statement ‘I will’ is a statement of pride, and in Ezekiel 28, we see how God judges pride, the rebellious exaltation of the self above God and against God.”

  • Ray C. Stedman, Adventuring through the Bible

Ezekiel 28:21-23 ‘Sidon Judgment’: “Sidon (vv. 20-24) is a sister seaport to Tyre in Phoenicia, twenty-three miles north.  Even in the time of the judges (Judg. 10:6), the corrupting influence of this place had begun.  It was the headquarters for Baal worship.
“God is to bring bloodshed and pestilence on people there, probably at the time He brings an invasion against Tyre.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 28:24 ‘no longer … a pricking brier’: “This is a summary of the judgment scenarios so far revealed (chs. 25—28).  The enemies of Israel would be so devastated by God that (1) they would no longer be pestering Israel, and (2) they would see that the God who judges them is the true God of Israel.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 28:25, 26 ‘Excursus: The Restoration of Israel’: “In this brief excursus of hope, God promised to restore Israel to the land of Palestine (cf. chs. 34, 36—39; ls. 65:21; Jer. 30-33; Amos 9:14, 15).  This looks to Messiah’s earthly kingdom.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 28 ‘summary’: “Once again, pride in self and pride in the accomplishments of self are exposed and judged.  The ultimate sin in this king was his attitude that he had become like God.  This was the temptation that Satan laid before Eve in the Garden.  ‘Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that in the day that you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.  Genesis 3 :4-5.
“You have probably had enough teaching in church that you would never say that you could be like God.  But each of us is tempted regularly to behave as if we were God.  When we want to do things our way.  When we want to understand unexplainable mysteries and doubt the truths of Scripture if we can’t get our minds around them.  When we want to be in control of our own lives and the lives of those around us.  When we think that we deserve praise, reward and success.
“The Lord knows who He is.  And He knows who you are.  In Christ, you are His special treasure and are being conformed to the very image of Christ.  You already have an incredible identity as a child of God.  Let God be God!  You can’t handle His job.  He makes the sun rise each day and keeps the planets spinning in their orbits.  He never sleeps.  He knows the very number of the hairs on your head.  Do you?
“The result of all the judgments of the Lord is made absolutely clear.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

My Thoughts

In last week’s start of the prophecy against Tyre, I spoke of how they were like the New York City of their time.  They owned the sea trade and they desired to move into Israel and Judah in order to conquer the land trade that by-passed their island along the Fertile Crescent.  In Ezekiel 27, the metaphor is Tyre as a ship and the ship is decked out in the best fineries of the known world at the time.

I wonder about the soldiers and sailors.  Were they mercenaries?  Were they soldiers that were loyal to their own country and sworn to protect their country’s interests in Tyre?  Was it a treaty similar to NATO where these soldiers were there as an advance party to hold the line until reinforcements could arrive?  It could be any or all of these.  Since Tyre had never been defeated prior to this point, they would not have any occupation forces.  France did not trust Germany after World War II and when we went to the French Officer’s club for formal dining, a rare occurrence, we learned that the French, no longer part of NATO, considered themselves “occupation forces.”  And this was over 30 years after the war.

Then in Ezekiel 28, we start with the arrogance of Tyre in general, then of their prince, and then of their king.  But the king is clearly Satan.  He was in Eden.  He had once been a guardian cherub.

But while the first two thirds of Ezekiel 28 points to Satan being in charge of Tyre, above the prince, we need to look inwardly.  Whenever we remove God as our focal point in our government, we have done the same thing.  We are not rebelling to place ourselves on the throne, we only change camps and place Satan there.

Then we get to Sidon.  I was surprised.  It seemed in reading the Bible in a year for many, many years, that if Tyre was mentioned, Sidon was mentioned.  Yet, only about one third of the mentions of Tyre also states Sidon in the same verse.  In this case, Sidon is mentioned on its own lack of merit.  Sidon did not go unnoticed.  Tyre and Sidon seemed to be independent city states, like several countries have these days.

Then the last few verses change everything.  For almost 28 chapters, the prophecies have been generally negative.  But then God says that these thorns in the side will now be gone, no more leading Israel astray.  But wait!  The first 24 chapters were all about the utter destruction of Israel and Judah.  What difference does it make in not having pesky neighbors, if the family has moved out?

Then the last verse points to the millennium reign of Jesus.  It is not Israel of today.  They have a new batch of pesky neighbors.  And not even Israel is totally into glorifying God.  But during the millennium reign of Jesus, they will know that the One True God is indeed the Lord and Jesus is the King of kings.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. ls it wrong to feel pride in your achievements or attributes?  What’s wrong with a realistic appraisal?  Do you find a lot of ‘humility’ rings falsely?
“2. Who would be upset if you were ‘broke’?  Friends?  Family?  Church members?  Creditors?  Would anyone even know?
“3. What is the mood of this lament: (a) Joy over a fallen foe? (b) Regret over something lovely destroyed? (c) Sorrow over a people crushed?  What does this lament tell you about God‘s feelings?  About God’s regard for beauty?
‘4. If you were writing a lament for your city, what items might appear in the verses?
“5. Would people in other nations lament the destruction of this country?  Who might not?
“1. Why do you think God hates pride so much?  Why is he so jealous of his role as the only God in the universe?
“2. Do you ever ‘play god’ in your words, actions or attitudes?  Who in your life would be the ones to know?  Have you asked them about your ‘pride status’?
‘3. Who sits on the throne in your heart?  Has the issue been decided or is there sometimes a struggle for power?  Are there some areas in which your surrender is less than complete?  How can the small group help you change attitudes or actions?
“1. There seems to be two ways of knowing God: by wrath or mercy.  Why do you think some know the merciful God and some know the wrathful God?  Which God do you know?
“2. Do you know any of your neighbors?  How do you treat them’?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There are three sets of questions, one for Ezekiel 27 and two for Ezekiel 28.

These questions are excellent, especially the first set.  If you have your opinion, try looking at these questions from the opposite viewpoint.  With a diverse small group, these questions could produce interesting discussions.  You might need a referee, however.

The second half of the second question 1 seems negative.  God is the only God in the universe.  He wants us to recognize that fact.  But in our flawed state can we still not see why God wishes for us to worship Him only?

For the last question 1, why is it that some people are stuck on God’s mercy while others are stuck on God’s wrath?  Is it possible to reconcile both attributes of God and still have a loving God?

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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