AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
July 27, 2014, 2014
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
EMPHASIS ON THE UNRETIRING PREDICTIONS OF
EZEKIEL ON TYRE,
AND THEIR POWERFUL PERFORMANCE
IN DOCILE HISTORY,
For a more academic style of coverage, see Department of Bible ... Volume 7, Ch. 12.
THE OUTSET : THE CONQUERING COLLECTIVE
There is a remarkable prophecy concerning the famous, one might advisedly even say fabulous, dynamic and rich city of ancient Tyre, found in Ezekiel 26:1 - 28:20.
Its components are at times deep, penetrating, with spiritual premises from biblical foundations, while at other times as simple as the sun rising. It is a profound rebuke and a decisive judgment, both intertwined, with practical consequences of various kinds for the city of Tyre and its surrounds.
Let us see it as if we were there at that ancient time, graphically, using the biblical premises. Tyre is a proud, self-glorifying city, a law and a lord to itself. Filled with itself, efficient, proficient in gathering wealth and making select use of many for such purposes, it is like a descendant from heaven with the profile of earth, monstrous, selling wares and slaves (Ezekiel 27:13). It is as if indifferent in its hauteur and haughtiness; its pseudo-transcendence from the things of earth is both illusory and contemptible. Yet, this being known to God, it is a basis for action. We will look at it from various perspectives.
At once, it reminds one of the present profile of Russian leadership, appearing at once domineering and cunning. Thus, the prophet Ezekiel is sanctioned in the Lord's name to announce Tyre's fate. Would it even gloat over Israel's fall (Ezekiel 26:2), asking for the trouble it received! The prophet predicted its subjection to the rising king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, who would pounce, prey on surrounding towns, use battering rams on the city (Ezekiel 28:9), take it and wreak no small havoc in it.
However, he is only one of the nations cited to move against Tyre (Ezekiel 26:3,12). Thus "many nations" are to be involved in the total and progressive disaster to befall the so very well-established Tyre, tyrant of merchants, pseudo-substitute as if itself some kind of god. One categorical reason (Ezekiel 26:2-3) for that city's multiply-indicted condemnation is her vying, gloating, engulfing lust to exalt herself in the overthrow of Israel (at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, here ironically also to overthrow mainland Tyre and humble the whole collection of its majesty). We have the counterpart concerning Israel today, except that having been disciplined and brought back as promised, Israel has both an imminent wonder of salvation to come to it, and a hope.
It had a first phase of this in Tyre's day. Thus, what Tyre had gloated over, conceiving herself a beneficiary of Israel's fall, she is in fact herself to experience, being no beneficiary of another's temporary fall, but at last, the unveiled victim herself. Such was the situational graphic.
What then ? This did not alter ancient Israel's fall for reasons rehearsed in Ezekiel, Jeremiah 1-17 especially, and Isaiah as in Ch. 5. The fall of Tyre was to have and did have a quite different ultimate flavour, like a taste of some food that lingers most unpleasantly in the mouth for some time. Think back to that day and experience the prophecy. Not for some time to come is Tyre's fall, at the hand of many nations (26:2). Its demise is, through Ezekiel's forecast, shown to be both permanent and irretrievable.
THE ONSET - THINGS TO BE DONE
It is these many nations which will
break down its towers, ii) destroy its walls
(said to be some 150 feet tall on the island sector of this great city),
ˇ iii) scrape her dust from her,
ˇ iv) plunder her and throw her timber, stone and soil into the sea,
ˇ v) make her like the top of a rock (26:4).
What a monumental enterprise! what diligence would be required, what properly imperial resources, what an aroused spirit to accomplish so much! Could God accomplish all that in man, in method, in sequence, in precision, with power ? Of course, and this was the point, so that they might KNOW He was there, active and available, precise and reliable, lest they merely fiddled with idols and idolatrous, became inane. He accomplished far more in building man in the first place. He both COULD do it and DID!
Now all THAT to come to Tyre was statedly a multi-national work, so that no one nation is predicted to accomplish it; for if it were, then it would be a national work, such a program excluded from the first in Ezekiel 26. Similarly, the results for Tyre were not in one depth, detail or dimension only, but multiple, cumulative, transcendental in meaning, signified in overpowering proportions, properties lost, spiritual condescension smashed, its dominant metropolitan singularity lost forever, much of it tipping into the sea physically, with ardent results commercially, socially and psychological.
So great would be Tyre's humiliation, that it would become a place for spreading nets, in the midst of the sea, and the Lord assures us this is so, declaring this: "for I have spoken, says the Lord GOD," as in Ezekiel 26:5.
The possible nearness of the sunken city to a lowly substitute is indeed a point of interest. Would the inconsequential midge view the fallen giant! Indeed from the performance of these things they will KNOW that He IS the Lord of life (26:7); for the testimony from all is to all.
As for imperial Tyre, the sea hides it in engulfings unknown in extent; shame hides in eternal derelictions of its type, its hype, its debased hallowing and hideous evils; imperial aspirations: impregnabilities and fortifications are all gone. It was like a life slipping away under anaesthetic. Never again would such a city be in this place, nor any more such a base or basis for unbelief be found on the site evacuated by this mystery of slippage. Scooped from the earth went its riches; its powers, its pinnacles, its ravishing imperia, buried; its head-tossings and its savvy cunnings, its encompassing controls dispersed. THAT city, it is lost, the sea laughing at it, the very sea it once had so vastly controlled, now its mentor and tormentor, its very laps reminding of ruin.
On the other hand, the island part, glorious in magnificence, brilliantly defended with sea wall and ships, at first escaped, this being a work for MANY NATIONS; but not without an initial, post-siege surrender to Babylon, reportedly leading to royal princes being taken captive, and a servile state under Babylon, proceeding with limping residue, with perhaps some measure of hope awaiting something better, for many years, before blow on blow by various nations, at last led to the catastrophe PRECISELY as predicted.
As to that, even it was fulfilled to the letter in one of the most transformative attestations to divine truth one could well wish. Imagine! but you do not need this, for even the things to be tossed into the sea were noted, and indeed, such were to be LAID in the sea. The impregnable would not merely fall; it would have its old and broken foundations USED as causeway for its destruction, prelude to it, a laying of the lost.
The devastating finale was wrought by Alexander the Great. While Nebuchadnezzar reportedly took 13 years to subdue Tyre into treaty position, taking the mainland city and doing whatever came into his head as he sought and found surrender, there is no evidence that he took and broke the island part. That was left for another body, the great Macedonian, Alexander, who would in later exploits in an Asian land, apparently be wounded and die close to festive mode. ALL were humbled, from the greatest to the least, from the destroyer to the destroyed.
How remarkable, then, was the apportionment of tasks to the nations! To Babylon, just so much was to be done; to the generality of the unspecified other nations to be like attack sharks, assault troops, there was the residue, what was not assigned to Nebuchadnezzar. We know this because not only were there many nations specified in the prediction of destruction, for the entire overall action, and that twice (Ezekiel 26:2-5), but the sector on Nebuchadnezzar, leading ONE of the nations, is specified by the pronoun "he" following his name, as one from the North, in verses 7-11. Then this duly apportioned to the famous name invader, the multiple work of the others already noted is refocussed, in verse 12, with its resumption of the "they" feature, so cardinal in the compound work and complex works to be performed. First Babylon does this; they do the REST!
In this group of nations there was assigned both before and after the Nebuchadnezzar passage, a further work, beyond the Babylonian specifications. This was to proceed until the dénouement should come, and that ? When of course, the island sector, the escape resort, was taken, the timber would be put into the sea, along with the stones and soil. It was then that the place of rocks and fishermen was to come, as it did, with that profound opprobrium and shame apt for a city without spiritual foundations, replacing these necessities with nebulous fiascos.
Thus it had neither recourse nor ground for restoration, becoming a name for the lost empire, its lost centre, its lost soul if you want to see the harrowing sense of obliteration involved. THAT was gone; nothing could revive it; its very site became a mockery, a slippage despoiling it, the curling waves exhibiting their mirth and power that outlasted it, never to be rebuilt, majesty met by doom.
Thus King Nebuchadnezzar is shown by historical references to have done his part, inducing surrender, submission, evidently in due time making a treaty with the island residue, which became a servile State, if one of some temporary respite. Others, in turn, continued the battering and plunder, until Macedonia's prime export in dynamism and temporary exultation, Alexander delivered the thing to its finale, its Act 5 as in a Shakespearian play, to its ultimate, to its almost grimly humorous end. So ?
The island fortress escape set-up would defy any and all, and having such walls and such seas to surround it, would it mock its military tormentor, while escaping the prophetic word of God ? Would this be the result of the team work of the nations which God had so solemnly and in such detail announced, and let us be very clear, sovereignly pronounced! Would man take comfort in his immoralities, proclivities, arrogant aspirations and virtual divinity ?
GALA EVENTS OF ALEXANDER, and TYRE THE TYPE
Not so! The Controller of history (Ephesians 1:11, Isaiah 41-46) would not have it so, having said the contrary. He drafted Alexander. Thus the ruins present and extended in the afflicted mainland city, used to make a causeway, enabled direct assault on the (former) island extension of mainland Tyre, that is, with plunder of its hideaway property, Alexander was both ruthless and thorough, and the word of the Lord GOD was both fulfilled in tenor, temper and in truth. This extended to the very stones, dust and timber of that proud city, their destination in the sea, their destiny in the invasive purpose of their placement. God speaks; events fulfil.
Through Alexander, Tyre would be used to destroy Tyre, even to its extremities. A dismal desolation would he leave it, his pride over theirs, his punitive thrust over their meticulous defence, his invention over their protection; for as to God, He was not in any defence of it. On the contrary, its predicted end had to come in one of the most amazing military projectiles of all time. It was through this speedy Alexander, from his nation, his Grecian lair. Predicted for harassing speed, in Daniel 8:5-8, 21-22, he used it.
That was in the Third Empire of Daniel's list of the Empires to come, this being the one after that of Media-Persia, and before the Roman. Expressions of the sheer dynamic intensity and rush of this internationally directed power include such phrasings as these: he would work with "furious power," "moved with wrath," being directly confrontational, with none to break or even brake him in his initial thrusts. Such was the nature and the predicted character of this Alexander, who showed it to the uttermost in his particular dealings with the maritime wonder of Tyre, on his way to India, insatiable in destruction, cunning in approach, defeating the invincible in spirit and defence, ignoring the apparently impossible, consuming the strong.
This was the wrecker against the reckless. But let us look further. Of course, there were further elements in the exposure of the entire spiritual situation concerning Tyre. It not only was dynamically directive among men, but invited the divine interrogation of Ezekiel 28:9-10.
"Will you still say before him who slays you, I am a god ?
But you will be a man and not a god,
in the hand of him who slays you.
You will die the death of the uncircumcised
By the hand of aliens; for I have spoken," says the Lord God."
Without covenant, without concession, from God or man, Tyre in the splendour of its former magnificence, left alone to be plundered, taken apart and sundered, would become a perpetual wonder (Ezekiel 26:17-18, 27:36). Never would its oceanic slippage become available for rebuilding, for it was a maritime acquisition, the sea swallowing up a residue of the glory of its fabled and broken estates in wanton disregard of its grandeur. Most importantly, Phoenician Tyre, glory of its race and base for the depravity of its gods, obsessions and exaltation, was to be to the uttermost, humbled and replaced by aliens, any restorations on island and causeway to be mere testimonies to the loss, post-pounding relics without glory or domination, pride or power.
Thus abandoned, ruined, the impotent replaced the imperial, the normal the hub of hubris, the lowly the height of extravagant power, never to be rebuilt, the mercantile megapolis slidden from the record forever, the sea pulsing over its seized wonders, whatever remained for its maritime incognito (Ezekiel 26:21).
Tracing this spirit back to Eden (Ezekiel 28:11-19), we find this, that
"you were the seal of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty."
Wonders of beauty were there for the experience! This continued until the rottenness showed in the core of the apple:
"You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
till iniquity was found in you."
ALL that is not God
was created (John 1:1-3), the spirit of the devil was among those created,
this one with peculiar eminence and beauty, which as so often led to such a doleful chorus:
"You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness."
It is poignant; there is no doubt about that. There was genuine wonder in the initial phases of this creation, the seditious spirit of which was lent all too readily and powerfully so that the city of Tyre became recipient of follies like those exposed in the garden of Eden.
Tyre in its day was defunct, its site slipping into the sea, foreign remnants a sad flag to the ruin of an Empire, the desecration of a sovereignty, the humbling of a majesty. It would never, because it could never be rebuilt, its terminus as a disaster to the dynasty of dynamism complete, its very basic site unrecoverable to show. Here was a desolation unresurrectable by man, God's divine decree even on the corpus once called Tyre signing the document of its desolation, destitution past all restitution.
That the ultimate is spiritual in essence, mental in application and physical in forum of abilities does not remove, but vastly accentuates its significance. To treat as insignificant, the propounder of its information, the maker of its technicalities that transcend the works of man in brilliance, in design characteristics definably (cf. Deity and Design ...); to disregard or avoid God, the majesty which is never put down because it never came up but always was (as the logical alternative to the vacancy of nothing): all this is not merely an option.
To be averse, apathetic, and all the more intransigently contrary, rebelling against results and reason, beginnings and ends: It is folly and self-hypnosis, anesthetising to fact, a war on the empirical, unholy alliance against reality, an autocratic dissembling of dependency. It is however FAR worse than that. It is to trifle with that biblical domain of salvation, free grace which requires as in any other operation, acceptance of diagnosis and of the surgical action, yes even the regenerative gift (Titus 3, John 3, Romans 3:23-27).
The surgery on the soul ? If it cuts you to the quick (John 16:5-8), it is both decisive and a grand prelude to the restoration with a new generation of the heart of life, issuing like the flowers of Spring after a cold Winter. That seasonal matter is natural, perhaps a picture. THIS however is supernatural, involving the restoration of relationship of a constructive and communing kind with God Himself, in terms of the New Covenant in which Christ having died for the remission of sins. lives in peace with and by His Spirit even IN the restored heart and life of the believer (Colossians 1:27). It is Tyre or truth; and if the humble soul is too humble to believe God, this is mere a monstrous misapplication - for to doubt God is the noose, and to continue it, that is the pull.