AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
July 27, 2014
Elements of Ezekiel 26-33
FROM TYRE TO TRIUMPH
Desolation, Information, Culmination
Tyre, which boasted against Israel, is herself to be made like the top of a rock (Ezekiel 26:4,14), a place for fishing, not eminence. Her towers will be broken, her dust scraped away. Alexander the Great obliged in using its stones for a causeway to an island where they had fled, and after their ruin, the site was abandoned, still a place of a good water supply. Battering rams would attack her walls, their riches plundered. She would never be inhabited. As it was said, so was the result.
Yet she had been built up with skill, merchandise a marvel, trading lands numerous; and she is compared herself to a giant ship, with mast made for her eminence (26:5-6, 27:4-6). How brilliant were her ways, how soaring her reputation, how notable her record.
THE DEADLY DEVELOPMENT
But the deep is to come over her (Ezekiel 26:19). In fact, under Alexander, her stones were carefully placed in the sea! While the Lord would establish glory in the land of the living, glorifying oneself is both barren and makes barren. Like a ship, Tyre would drown. This occurred after more than two centuries, in the finale of attacks on her; for the Lord is sure. He also warns.
So vast would be her fall, such the ruptured commercial relationships with many nations, that
will cry bitterly and cast dust on their heads. ..
in their waling for you, they will take up a lamentation ...
What city is like Tyre...All the inhabitants
of the isles will be astonished at you ... you will become a horror,
and be no more forever," ( Ezekiel 27:30-36).
In Ezekiel 28:6,9, we see some of the spiritual swank, the intoxicated self-belief, a shameless sham for a faith, self-glorying for a basis, for it had "set your heart as the heart of a god." Such rash recklessness gains its eventual execution, for God asks, "will you still say I am a god when I slay you!" Ezekiel 28:9. Indeed, the spirit back of all this was in Eden, in love with itself in a spiritual narcissism, exulting in its position. Indeed, Ezekiel 28:17,
heart was lifted up because of your beauty," but
"you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness!"
One is reminded of King Herod as described in Acts 12, whom the peole admired as if a god in his speech; but he died of worms. God hates pretension (cf, Matthew 23), the more so when it begins to accord itself a religious eminence based on its own findings, not His, and to plague His people, warped in wandering, ludicrous in lordliness, self-intoxicated without wine. Bypassing, or seeking to be surpassing or ignoring God in one's eminence or that of one's culture, is an art-form much practised today, but it ends in nothing remotely like art!
PRELUDE to the RETURN OF ISRAEL
Short but sure is the notification given in Ezekiel 28:25-26. God is indeed going to execute judgments on the people surrounding Israel, and when He is hallowed in their sight, then
will dwell in their own land which I have given to My servant Jacob ...
when I execute judgments
on all those around them who despise them,"
(bold added; cf. Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32).
"Then they will know that I am the Lord." This was to follow the destructions of that day, and leading on from those used BY such as Alexander the Great (cf. Daniel 7:6,8:6,21), in his Tyrian causeway, as it in fact did, famously fulfilled in the famed day of Israel's Maccabean empire. That prelude was in that setting; while the return of Israel to come at the day of the Messiah, in His regal reign, is shown in Ezekiel 36-37 (cf. 37:24), when the finale comes and Israel is no more to be selectively removed (39:29), for then the Lord Himself will be sovereign over all the earth (Psalm 73, Rev. 20).
Meanwhile, Israel did come back, the first time of restoration (cf. Isaiah 10:21-23, with 11:11 the second) coming after the assault she inherited in Ezekiel's day. That rebuilding was as detailed in Ezra and Nehemiah, and what arose from that! The Lord has many lessons for the ungodly, both as here nearly 600 B.C., as likewise after the Messiah had been crucified (cf. Zechariah 12, Ezekiel 37). He was careful to make known what He has done, both here and there, that they might learn, at length! (cf. Ezekiel 39:23ff.). When love is not heeded, truth still speaks for itself! That of God does not stumble.
THE PASSIONATE PLEA
Back, then, yes they were back in their land (Genesis 17:7-8), in a veritable prodigy of mercy. Indeed, in truth, God's is a great love, not in soporific dreams or indulgent pretensions, but in a mercy which is pure and a flame which burns clean. Thus in Ezekiel 33, and after much exhibition of the sin of Israel itself (Ezekiel 15-16 for example), God insists that He has warned with Ezekiel a watchman, but if they do not heed, what good is that! If, He speaks generally, the watchman warns and they do not heed, then he is free of guilt but they are not. But WHY NOT HEED? In 33:1 the Lord makes an incandescent appeal. "I HAVE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED!" He declares. Turn, He appeals, why should you die! Turn from your evil ways and live!
Thus amid all of the strictures and structures, for one as for all, there is a divine love which cannot be subverted, but which flames with passion that man might live by truth in love with peace, and not inherit judgment through some combination of wilfulness, witlessness and self-
THE EXTRAORDINARY GRACE
Indeed, straight after this divine cry for man not to be pitiless to himself, comes a marvel of grace. Not only does God so desire His people to return to redemption, covenant, truth in His love; He even has a great bounty. If now someone goes astray and will not heed, he then faces spiritual death; but if he returns to the Lord, all the past is forgiven. What an extraordinary grace loading is this! Flutter into sin, and returning you find pardon; though of course that is no return which is merely a sophisticated deception. If you fall, HE will arise when you come to yourself and return to the One who made and called and provided for you with His own labours.
To be sure, if you toe the line in some superficial sense, and THEN sin, there is no account taken of your passing merit, because of your ultimate decision; it was but a passing sunset. You have nothing to protest when never do you have credit, but only not demerit; and when you have credit, it is because the perfection of God is attributed to you in this, that it is by HIS stripes (as Isaiah 53 declared) that you are healed. HE covers it. Turn back, and there is neither debt nor interest to pay; whereas if you continue in sin, or find it best at the last, then you are only going where you have chosen! The grace jewel comes in pardon of corruption and dismissal of guilt, as Isaiah shows in such detail in 49-66, and the whole New Testament, with Psalm 32 for example showing the same emphasis.
Here then is the way of the new beginning, not in dream or analysis, but through guilt-free release, comfort in release and acceptance by the only God there is, through the only Saviour there is, in the only way there is for this, as in Him who declared (John 14:6): "I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE ..."
You do not have to mortgage for a dwelling here (John 14:1-3); but by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourself (Ephesians 2:5-8). IN this grace, which never leaves the one new born into it (I John 3:9, John 5:24), let us then move like a ship on the waters, not a Tyre, tyro in self-exaltation, but as a child of God, regenerated and renewed, and so not surge into the New Year in any kind of insurrection, but rather in quietness and rest in the Lord, walk in inner peace, and outward strength (Ephesians 3:16).
TODAY WE HAVE SKETCHED THE PATH IN TWO DIRECTIONS. FIRST THERE IS THE PATH FROM TYRE TO DESTRUCTION,
SELF-WILLED, SELF-THRILLED AND SELF-BILLED
WITH ACCOUNTS OF SIN IT CANNOT PAY (Romans 6:23).
THEN THERE IS THE WAY OF MERCY, ILLUSTRATED BY ISRAEL, BOTH IN THE PAST AND IN THAT RESTORATION TO CHRIST PREDICTED TO COME (Zechariah 12, Micah 7, Romans 11). THIS IS THE PATH OF TRIUMPH,
WHERE NEITHER SIN NOR DEATH,
NOR GUILT NOR CONDEMNATION
CAN FIGURE (Romans 8:28ff, John 5:24).
For the one, the very foundations are lowered, dead and deadly, into the sea; the other has an everlasting foundation (Proverbs 10:25, I Corinthians 3:11, Ephesians 1:21, 3:21) and in Christ an everlasting reward (Hebrews 11:6, Ephesians 3:8, Isaiah 51:11). For His people, there is the path of holiness (Isaiah 35:8-10), of godliness, narrow indeed (Matthew 7:15), but reliable, rich in grace, leading to His face (Revelation 22:4). For Him, it is worth facing anything (II Timothy 4:18).
Where in man, "sin abounded," in Christ "grace abounded much more," (Romans 5:20-21), so that "as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." These "receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness," and "will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ," Romans 5:17. Those who receive divinely donated righteousness in Christ indeed have an everlasting foundation, from which none can snatch (Romans 5:18-19, John 10:9,27-28)