THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Ezekiel: Effective Ministry To The Spiritually Rebellious
Part XXXVIII: God's Punishment Of Tyre For Her Greed At Judah's Loss
A. Colossians 3:5d identifies "covetousness" (KJV, ESV) or "greed" (NIV) as "idolatry" (KJV, NIV, ESV), and greed is especially offensive to God since it is expressed at the cost of the material welfare of other people.
B. The city/nation of Tyre was guilty of this sin against Judah, and the severe judgment that was predicted and is still being fulfilled against Tyre for that sin provides a moving lesson for us today (as follows):
II. God's Punishment Of Tyre For Her Greed At Judah's Loss, Ezekiel 26:1-21.
A. The date of this prophecy, being given on the first day of the month in Jehoiakim's 11th year of exile marked it as 587-586 B. C., the same year that Jerusalem fell to Babylon, Ezek. 26:1; Bible Know. Com., O. T., p. 1278. Quite possibly, this prophecy about Tyre's fall is then "prompted by Jerusalem's imminent collapse," Ibid.
B. The fall of Tyre is tied up with the fall of Jerusalem, too: God gave this prophetic oracle to Ezekiel specifically because Tyre had greedily rejoiced over Jerusalem's fall, saying "Aha!" because Tyre thought she would prosper because of Jerusalem's fall to Babylon, Ezekiel 26:2; Ibid.
C. The reason for this expression of greed by Tyre is found in observing its competition in trade with Judah:
1. "Both Tyre and Jerusalem had vied for the lucrative trade routes between Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. Tyre dominated the sea routes, but Jerusalem controlled the caravan routes," Ibid.
2. "Tyre responded to Jerusalem's fall like a greedy merchant gloating over a rival's catastrophe. Without Jerusalem being able to secure the overland caravan routes, more products would be shipped by sea," so Jerusalem's fall was viewed by Tyre "as an opportunity to 'corner the market' for trade," Ibid.
D. Since Tyre was a city on an island close to the Mediterranean seashore, its suburbs being on the mainland, God pictured Tyre's fall as that of a city being battered and destroyed by storm-tossed sea waves, Ez. 26:3-21:
1. God was against Tyre because of her greed at Jerusalem's fall, so He would bring up many nations to batter her like the crashing waves of a storm-tossed sea would batter and destroy a wall, Ezek. 26:3.
2. The Lord would so devastate the city with His "waves" of judgment that it would become a bare rock, v. 4.
3. Tyre would then be a place for the spreading of fishing nets to dry, having been plundered of her wealth by the nations and her suburbs on the mainline, figuratively called her "daughters," being slain by the sword, so that even Tyre would know that God was the Lord, Ezekiel 26:5-6.
4. The Lord explained that He would bring Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to destroy all the settlements on the mainland, Ezekiel 26:7-11. Historically, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the suburbs on the mainland and replaced the king on the island city of Tyre with Baal II, apparently a loyal vassal king, Ibid., p. 1279.
5. Switching from the singular pronoun "he" that referred to Nebuchadnezzar to "they" at Ezekiel 26:12a, God predicted the "nations" that would follow Babylon in completing Tyre's destruction, and He claimed she would never be rebuilt, but be a place for the spreading of nets, Ezekiel 26:12b-14; Ibid. Historically, Alexander the Great of Greece defeated the city in 332 B. C. by destroying the mainland city that had been rebuilt after Babylon's destruction and building a causeway with its rubble out to the island fort so that he could destroy it by land, Ibid. Though Tyre was rebuilt and is mentioned in Matthew 15:21-28 et al., the Muslims finished leveling it in A. D. 1291, Ibid.; Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978, ftn. to Ezekiel 26:3-14.
6. Remarkably, to this day, though freshwater springs near Tyre dump 10,000,000 gallons a day into the Mediterranean, still making it an excellent location for a city, the spot still remains a bare rock not rebuilt just as Ezekiel had predicted that it would remain! (Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense,1991, p. 62-63)
7. Tyre's destruction would cause her ancient trading partners to lament her loss (Ezekiel 26:15-18), and the people of Tyre would go down to the place of the departed dead so that Tyre would never exist as a city again, having come to a dreadful end, Ezekiel 26:19-21.
Lesson: Since Tyre rejoiced over what she thought would bring her great wealth in the fall of trade rival Jerusalem to Babylon, God would cause the nations so to beat against the seaside city of Tyre like the relentless waves of a storm-tossed sea that they would destroy her until she became a lasting bare rock for the spreading of fishing nets.
Application: (1) May we never function in greed which is idolatry, Colossians 3:5d. (2) May we never gloat or take financial advantage at the material loss of someone else, but be ready to help those in need, 1 Timothy 6:17-19.