Today’s reading: Ezekiel 25-27.
Some say it was ice that sank the Titanic. Some say it was pride. The “unsinkable” ship went down on its first trans-Atlantic voyage in 1912 after it ignored warnings of icebergs and failed to slow down in dangerous waters. Another ship went down thousands of years earlier, and like the Titanic it sailed the seas with its own share of pride. It was the great city-state of Tyre. Ezekiel described it as a magnificent sailing ship outfitted with the strongest wood, the finest sailors, and the richest cargo. Everyone thought it was indestructible, but nothing could save the city when God pronounced judgment on it.
You are filled with heavy cargo in the heart of the sea. Your oarsmen take you out to the high seas. But the east wind will break you to pieces in the heart of the sea. Your wealth, merchandise and wares, your mariners, seamen 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 seamen cry out. All who handle the oars will abandon their ships; the mariners and all the seamen 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?” Ezekiel 27:25-32
On the day that Jerusalem fell in 586 BC, Ezekiel made it clear that God’s anger extended far beyond the walls of Zion. If his own people could not escape punishment for their wickedness, how did the godless nations surrounding Israel expect to escape judgment? They added to their weight of guilt by gloating over Jerusalem’s destruction. Ezekiel wrote that Tyre rejoiced at Jerusalem’s defeat, saying, “Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper.” Instead, the armies of Babylon laid siege to Tyre within a year, and after putting a stranglehold around it for 13 years the city surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. That was not the end of Tyre’s judgment, however. Alexander the Great attacked it in 332 BC. There were two parts to the ancient city, one on land and another on a nearby island. Alexander tore down the inland city to build a causeway to the island, and when it was completed he defeated the island city and razed it. These events mirror Ezekiel’s prophecy:
They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. Ezekiel 26:12-14
We can learn from the history of Tyre that God is faithful to fulfill his word, and that he holds the nations of the world accountable for how they treat his people.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” Genesis 12:1-3
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” I Peter 4:16-18