The Oracle Concerning Tyre (Part III)
I. The Prince of Tyre (vss. 1-10)
IN OUR STUDY concerning the oracle regarding Tyre we have come to chapter 28, the last portion of this revelation. This chapter naturally falls into five divisions:
I. The Prince Of Tyre (vss. 1-10);
II. The Anointed Cherub (vss. 11-17);
III. The King Of Tyre (vss. 18,19);
IV. The Oracle Concerning Sidon (vss. 20-24);
V. The Restoration Of Israel (vss. 25, 26).
Ezekiel, chapter 28. is one of the very important passages in the Old Testament that should be familiar to everyone who is interested in the proper understanding of the Word of God. In verses 1-10 we have an oracle that was addressed by the prophet to "the prince of Tyre." This prince was none other than the king of Tyre, whom the prophet saw in a vision. He was the monarch who would be reigning at the time of the overthrow of Tyre as foretold in this oracle.II. The Anointed Cherub (vss. 11-17)
There is a reason for everything which God does--a good and sufficient cause for His actions. God always resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. If a person will study the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, he will see that God has always brought calamity and disaster upon those who are puffed up with pride. Satan was led, as we shall see, by pride to the brink of his downfall and his being dethroned. The Pharaoh of the Oppression and also his successor, the sovereign of the Exodus, were puffed up by pride and resistance against God, the Creator, in whom they lived, moved and had their being. As a result, God had to bring His summary and drastic judgment against them. The king of Tyre of whom the prophet here speaks was also puffed up with pride and conceit and even said: "I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas." This type of language reminds one of the ancient Pharaohs who claimed that they were gods. It also recalls the fact that, up to the time of the surrender of that nation, the present emperor of Japan was recognized by the people of Japan as being the son of heaven. He claimed for himself, and others claimed for him, that he was of divine origin. This is just like the old Roman emperors who in the thinking of the people were deified and were thus addressed in petitions and in state papers as a deified person. We learn that, in the end time, the Antichrist will lay claims to the same honor. God has to punish those who assume such roles, and who accept such adoration from others. In this connection we would do well to remember the speech which Herod made and the response of the people who declared that they were listening, not to the voice of a man, but to the voice of God. The Lord therefore smote him. (See Acts 12:20-23.) The judgment which the Lord pronounced against the king of Tyre was that, "... yet thou art man, and not God, though thou didst set thy heart as the heart of God" (28:2). Men may heap to themselves honors and demand adoration and even worship from others. They can even deceive men, leading them to believe that they are of divine origin. But Omniscience can never be deceived. The Lord states facts as they are and describes people and creatures in accordance with their true status.
In Ezekiel 28:3-5 the Lord acknowledged that this prince of Tyre was indeed wiser than Daniel, and that, by his wisdom and understanding he had been able to build up a commercial empire that was holding in its grip the entire commerce of the three continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa, which surrounded the Mediterranean world. Some men are naturally prudent and wise and have keener insight and analytical powers than others. The prophet Daniel was a man of that type. He was a real statesman; he had keen insight into the great world problems. In addition to his natural endowments he enjoyed the benefit of his studies in the University of Babylon, as we see in Daniel, chapter 1. Such educational and cultured advantages widened his horizon and gave him a grip upon international problems such as he could never have got otherwise. His natural endowment and acquired ability were heightened by the inspiration which came to him by the Spirit of God. Daniel, enjoying these advantages, therefore outlined the grand march of world-empire through the centuries until the Son of man comes and takes the power of all government in His hands and reigns from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
In the Lord's saying that the king of Tyre was wiser than Daniel, we are not to understand the Almighty's meaning that this king was wiser than Daniel when the latter was inspired. On the contrary, He was simply looking at Daniel with his natural endowments and stated that this man, this prince of Tyre, had been endowed with keener analytical powers and had acquired greater capabilities than Daniel ever possessed. By his shrewdness he had been able to build up a commercial and financial empire that sat as mistress over all the kingdoms of the then known world.
Since this king had been able to build up this superinternational commercial institution, and since he had come to the conclusion that he was a god, the Lord pronounced the terrific judgment against him that He would overrule and bring up the nations against Tyre, which would overthrow his kingdom, and which would dim the luster of Tyre's prince. Moreover, the prediction, according to verse 8, was to the effect that the Lord would cause the death of this king, and that he would go down into the pit of the abyss, like the others that would be slain. Ezekiel, therefore, spoke to this future king and asked him if he, when he would be in a dying condition before those who would slay him, would still say, "I am God"? This king, according to the prediction of verses 9 and 10, would go down in utter defeat, pass out of this life, and descend into Sheol. According to this prophecy there would be a collapse of the empire which he by his wisdom, energy, foresight, and dogged perseverance would build up.
Verses 11-17 are the very heart and the core of this prediction. They are so very, very important that I ask the reader to get his Bible and meditate upon these verses carefully and at the same time prayerfully. These verses are, according to verse 12, addressed to the king of Tyre. They are called a lamentation or funeral dirge that is to be pronounced over, or sung regarding, this king of Tyre.III. The King Of Tyre (vss. 18,19)
By a careful reading, of verses 11-17 and by a person's taking this revelation at its face value, he will see that the description here far transcends anything and everything that could be spoken to a normal, natural human being. This language moves in a far wider and greater circle than any and all men put together have ever traversed. This king was certainly not born by natural generation as all other men are. He was created and was given the high honor of being the "anointed cherub that covereth." The cherubim are the highest order of spiritual beings whom the omnipotent Creator brought into existence. But this one who is thus designated as the anointed cherub evidently occupied, under the Almighty, the highest position in the universe, being at the head of the cherubim, the seraphim, and all the ranks and orders of angels. We present the biblical truth when we say that he was the generalissimo of all of God's hosts.
It was impossible for God to create a higher, a more perfect, or a more powerful being than he. On this point the Lord declared that this one sealed up the sum, the pattern, or the measure, and that he was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. The omniscient, omnipotent God could not therefore have brought into existence any other creature who would be comparable to him. Omniscience could neither devise nor plan, and Omnipotence could neither create nor bring into being a higher type of creature. To think that He could is simply folly.
This one was created, the work of God Almighty himself. When he was created, he was perfect. He was absolutely righteous. There was not the slightest tint or trace of rebellion, sin, or unrighteousness in his being. He was confirmed in holiness and delighted in the ways of God.
He was put in Eden, the garden of God, when he was created -- or rather when God created the material universe. This Eden, or garden of God, must not be confounded with the one of which we read in Genesis, chapters 2 and 3. It was in existence on the primitive earth prior to the calamity that came upon it, and that is described in Genesis 1:2. We know very little about that primeval earth, that continued for ages upon ages. There are only a few hints here and there in the Scriptures, which give us any definite idea of what then existed.
(For a discussion of this point see the study of "Eternity or the Plan of the Ages" in my volume, The World's Greatest Library Graphically Illustrated. Also see chapter VI of my treatise, What Men Must Believe.,)
This anointed cherub held high, carnival and directed everything in his great kingdom. He resided in what might properly, in material terms, be called a crystal palace, which is described in Ezekiel 28:13.
Finally, after age upon age had rolled by, going into the oblivion of eternity of the past, pride began to spring forth into existence in the heart of this anointed cherub. This continued to grow until it led him to believe that he was equal with God, and that he could even match swords with the Almighty. He therefore conceived the thought that he would ascend into the mountain of God, into the very presence of the Lord himself, and dethrone the Almighty. He started a "whispering campaign" among the great celestial hosts under him and he was able to persuade one-third of the angels to follow him in his rebellion (Rev. 12:4). When he did this, he was defeated, and cast down from his high and holy position of being generalissimo of the Lord's hosts. (For a further examination of this subject see the study, "Satan's Five Abodes and His Activities," in The World's Greatest Library Graphically Illustrated. Also see Chapter IX of What Men Must Believe. Also refer to my series, "The Unseen World," a group of nine articles appearing in the Biblical Research Monthly, January to September, 1943, inclusive.
In verses 18 and 19 we see the king of Tyre who is mentioned in the first ten verses. We might compare the vision which Ezekiel saw to a moving picture. As he sat at this spiritual moving picture, he saw thrown upon the screen the actual future king of Tyre who would be reigning at the time when the kingdom would be overthrown. This is seen, as has been stated above, in verses 1-10. By the time we reach verse 12 the scene has changed and there is thrown upon the screen a greater than the king of Tyre, who, is none other than the anointed cherub that rebelled against God, and was cast down and became known as the adversary, the devil. Finally the picture changes again, and we see in verses 18 and 19 another picture of the actual king of Tyre under whose regime the calamity of God's judgment fell historically. This passage shows that this king with his mighty financial and commercial empire would go down, never to rise again.IV. Oracle Concerning Sidon (vss. 20-24)
In verses 20-24 we have a prophecy concerning Sidon which was the mother city of Tyre. In other words, Tyre was colonized from Sidon. For some unexplainable reason the colony of Tyre outgrew and overshadowed Sidon and developed into a vast commercial empire, as we have already learned. Sidon continues until this day, on its ancient site north of Tyre, but it is of very little significance in the life of the Orient at the present time.V. The Restoration Of Israel (vss. 25, 26)
The special oracle concerning Sidon was that God was against this city, and that He would execute vengeance upon her. The Judgment would come in the form of a pestilence and warfare that would slay on all sides and reduce Sidon considerably. It then would no longer be the thorn in the flesh of Israel to vex and to trouble her as it had been in the past.
In verses 25 and 26 we find an oracle concerning the restoration of Israel to her homeland. This passage presupposes the world-wide dispersion of the Chosen People. Seeing that Israel would dwell among the nations, the prophet foretold the time when God will gather them from among all nations and would settle them in the land of the fathers. At that time they will dwell securely. They shall build houses, plant vineyards, and dwell in safety. This prophecy will be fulfilled when God will have executed judgment upon all those around about that do them despite. God is jealous for His people Israel. He will punish all anti-Semitism. When He thus punishes the nations who mistreat His people, He will re-establish the Jews in their own land.
This prophecy does not give a detailed outline of the events as they shall occur in connection with the regathering of Israel. The program must be learned from parallel passages which delineate to a certain extent the events of the closing scenes of Israel's history. But all the prophets are unanimous in their proclaiming the final and complete restoration of Israel to God and His favor. When she is thus reinstated, she will become the channel of world-blessing and will be used of God in the spread of His truth to all peoples.