The Visions and Oracles of the Prophet Ezekiel (18)
Biblical Research Monthly, January 1947 thru September 1950 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
- Some Preliminary Observations
- The Call and Commission of Ezekiel
- The Beginnings of Ezekiel's Ministry
- The Final Collapse of Judah Under the Babylonian Siege
- Jehovah's Withdrawal from the City and it's Downfall
- The Flight and Capture of the King Symbolically Represented and Warning Against a Wrong Attitude Concerning Prophecy
- Prophecy and Idolatry
- Israel, the Burnt Vine and the Unfaithful Wife
- The Riddle of the Two Great Eagles and the Messianic Reign of Christ
- God's Reply to the Proverb, “The Fathers have Eaten Sour Grapes, and the Children's Teeth are Set on Edge”
- The Young Lions and the Rods of Judah
- Israel's Past and Future Experiences
- The Sword of Jehovah
- Sinful Jerusalem and Her Punishment
- The Lewdness of Oholah and Oholibah
- The Boiling Caldron
- Oracles Concerning Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia
- The Oracle Concerning Tyre
- The Oracles Concerning Egypt
- The Watchman on the Wall (Chapter 33)
- The Untrue Shepherds of Israel
- The Flock of Jehovah and its Shepherd
- The Judgment upon Edom
- The Curse Removed from the Land of Israel
- Israel's Restoration to the Land of the Fathers and Her Conversion
- The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
- The Scattered Nation of Israel Reunited under King Messiah
- The Overthrow of the Russian Forces that Invade Palestine (Chapter 38)
- The Overthrow of the Antichrist's Forces Invade Palestine (Chapter 39)
- The Millennial Jerusalem
- The Millennial Temple
- The Prince and the Glorified Millennial Temple
- The Land of Israel in the Millennium
The Oracle Concerning Tyre (Part One)
In Ezekiel's day Tyre was the commercial center of the world. The Mediterranean Sea was a Tyrian or Phoenician lake. Colonies established by Tyre dotted the Mediterranean coast. Carthage in North Africa is supposed to have been settled by the Tyrians. The vessels of the maritime powers headed toward Tyre as the mart of the ancient world. The trade and commerce of the peoples of the known world of that day were linked with the welfare of the Tyrian nation. The prophet Isaiah saw this fact and in his oracle concerning the downfall of Tyre foretold that its collapse would mean the paralysis of trade and commerce of that day and time. The news of Tyre's fall, in fulfillment of Isaiah's prediction, which would be passed on by ships leaving the doomed city as they met other ships laden with commerce on their way to Tyre, would throw them into consternation and despair. In Isaiah's day Tyre did occupy a very prominent place in the world of commerce. But a hundred years later, in the time of Ezekiel, Tyre had gained for herself the topmost round of influence and power. Her position among the nations in the latter part of the seventh century before Christ was so very commanding that Ezekiel devoted three chapters to the discussion of her downfall.
Ezekiel, chapter 26, which is our study for this issue of the Monthly, naturally divides into four sections:
- Tyre's Sin, The Cause of Her Downfall (vss. 1-6);
- The Babylonians and The Greeks, God's Instruments of Punishment (vss. 7-14);
- Dismay Among the Princes of the World over Tyre's Fall (vss. 15-18);
- The Descent of the Inhabitants of Tyre into the Nether Parts of the Earth (vss. 19-21).
I. Tyre's Sin, The Cause of Her Downfall (vss. 1-6)
This oracle was given in the eleventh year of Jehoiachin's captivity, which was the tenth year of Zedekiah's reign. This message therefore came a year before the downfall of Jerusalem, but political observers of that day could see the doom written over the Jewish state from the events as they were developing.
Little did the Tyrians realize that their history and their welfare were bound up with Israel, as is the fortune of all nations tied indissolubly with the Jewish people. This fact becomes apparent to everyone who realizes the significance of the following passage:
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
When he separated the children of men,
He set the bounds of the peoples
According to the number of the children of Israel.
For Jehovah's portion is his people;
Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 32:8,9)
Israel is the hub of the nations and all things revolve around this people of destiny.
The special sin of the Tyrians as set forth in Ezekiel 26:1-6 is that of jealousy of the Jewish people and their gloating over the fact that some calamity was overtaking the Hebrews. In other words, the Tyrians were animated by the spirit of anti-Semitism. They therefore rejoiced at the downfall of the Jewish kingdom.
They thought that, by the downfall of Judah, the doors of commerce — especially from the south — would be opened up to them, and hence greater riches would come to them. Thus the prophet stated that the Tyrians had said with reference to Jerusalem's calamity: “Aha, she is broken that was the gate of the peoples; she is turned unto me; I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste” (vs. 2). It is clear that this spirit of anti-Semitism and jealousy expressed itself in actual rejoicing at the calamity that overtook Judah. This spirit whenever it crops out in any peoples is always punished. One should realize this fact. It is set forth in Psalm 137. God there pronounced judgment upon both Babylon and Edom because they hated the Jews and gloated over the misfortune that had come into the life of that nation. Let us always be sympathetic toward others, regardless of what their attitude is toward us.
The prophet foretold the downfall of Tyre as a judgment upon this people because of their wrong attitude toward the Jews. In describing the downfall of Tyre, he compared the various enemies that would come against that city to the lashing of the waves of the sea against the shore. In describing this calamity, he spoke plainly and stated that Tyre would be overthrown and that the site of the city would become a place for the spreading of fisherman's nets. This prediction was literally fulfilled, as we shall see.
II. The Babylonians and The Greeks, God's Instruments of Punishment (vss. 7-14)
In verses 7-14 we have a direct prophecy concerning the Babylonian siege of Tyre and later that of the Greeks under Alexander. The reader should turn to his Bible and peruse carefully verses 7-11. In this passage he will see that the entire prophecy contained in these verses is a graphic description of the Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar that laid siege to Tyre. From profane history we learn that the Babylonians besieged it for thirteen years, but were unable to overthrow the nation. In these verses the entire description eddies around Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Hence we see the repeated pronoun “he” occurring in these verses.
Beginning with verse 12, however, and continuing through verse 14, we see that the pronoun “he” has been dropped out and that the plural pronoun “they” has taken its place. This change of pronouns shows that there is a different situation described in verses 12-14. Who are the ones thus engaged in the operation described? This question is answered by a glance at these words: “... and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the waters. This prophecy is more or less enigmatic to those who have only the prophecy. But when we look at profane history, that which is rather indistinct becomes very sharp and clear. From archaeological discoveries and profane history we know that Nebuchadnezzar fought against Tyre for thirteen years, but was unable to capture it, though he did much damage to the city. At that time it was located on the mainland. Out in the sea, just west of this site, was an island with a channel of something like a half mile separating it from the mainland. After the Babylonians ceased their siege of Tyre, the leaders decided that they did not want to pass through such harrowing experiences as they had endured during those thirteen years of warfare. They therefore abandoned their city on the mainland and built a new one on this island, which they fortified and made into one of the strongest citadels of ancient times.
Finally, in the fourth century before the Christian Era, Alexander the Great made his dash toward the east in his bid for the imperial purple of the world. Naturally he came down the Syrian coast and demanded the surrender of Tyre. The leaders, feeling their position was invulnerable to the attacks, refused to surrender. Thereupon Alexander built a causeway from the mainland out to the island. Part of the material he used was from the ruins left in the abandoned city on the mainland. Thus the rocks and timbers were thrown into the sea by Alexander and his workmen in building this causeway. When this was actually accomplished, Alexander sent his forces out to the island, attacked the city, and soon overcame it. In the light of these historical facts, we see that the ones described in verses 12-14 who take the timbers and the rock of the abandoned city and cast them into the sea are none other than the Greeks. Thus we may be confident that they are the ones who are mentioned in these verses.
An understanding of the prediction concerning the Babylonian and later the Grecian siege of Tyre is an illustration of the law of double reference. According to this principle the prophets frequently described two events or peoples separated by some distance of time and blended the descriptions into a single picture. This is a most important principle and must be understood by all students of prophecy.
III. Dismay Among the Princes of the World over Tyre's Fall (vss. 15-18)
In verses 15-18 we see a prediction that the various princes of the different kingdoms with which Tyre had commercial relations and dealings were amazed, yes, they were dumbfounded to learn of the downfall of this great commercial queen that was, figuratively speaking, reigning over international trade and commerce of that time. This paragraph reminds one of the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 23, in which he depicts graphically the consternation and the dismay that would be experienced by all when Tyre would fall.
IV. The Descent of the Inhabitants of Tyre into the Nether Parts of the Earth (vss. 19-21)
In verses 19-21 of this chapter is a clear description of the results of the complete overthrow of Tyre. Here the Lord affirmed that He would make the city desolate like many others of former days that had flourished but that were lying in ruins. Since Tyre was beside the sea, and since the waves and billows when there is a hurricane often bring damage and ruin to coastal towns, the prophet thought of these various nations who would come against Tyre and who would finally destroy her, and spoke of them in terms of the waves of the sea. From this fact there grew out or developed the use of waters, especially agitated waters, as a symbol of peoples' and nations' being in a state of unrest and on the move.
The leaders of Tyre are represented here in this passage as descending to the nether parts of the earth, to Sheol (vs. 20). This type of language reminds one of such passages as Isaiah 14:9-20. A careful examination of this scripture shows that Isaiah was speaking of the world dictator or ruler of the end time. He will be slain and his spirit will descend into the pit of the abyss. The people living upon the earth at that time will learn of his being killed. The spirits of those who have gone on before and who are still in Sheol will recognize him as he enters the realm of shades and will ask how it is that he has been reduced to the condition in which they are.
Sheol, or Hades, as it is known in the New Testament, is presented to us as being in the center of the earth. Before the death of Christ there were two apartments of it, separated by a vast gulf (Luke, chapter 16). To one of these the righteous upon death went; to the other the lost went. Since, however, Christ won the victory for believers at the cross, the saints of God today no longer descend to Hades as they did prior to that epochal event. Upon death, rather, they go into the immediate presence of Christ. At the same time, even today, the lost when they depart this life, go down to Sheol, or Hades, as the lost did before the death of Christ. To depart out of this life without God and without Christ is indeed the tragedy of all tragedies that can come into the life of the individual. There is but one wise way for a person to act, and that is to accept the Lord Jesus Christ by faith now before he is called hence from this life.
Our prediction shows that the Tyre of which Ezekiel spoke would go down in utter defeat and become a desolate city. This actually transpired. According to Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 23:15), after seventy years it would be remembered and would come back and become a commercial center, but would be nothing in comparison with what it was before its overthrow. Insular Tyre is in existence even at the present day. Through the centuries the sea has washed the sand against the causeway which was erected by Alexander, and now there is an isthmus about three miles wide that connects insular Tyre with the continent.
The Messianic Hope
In the last of verse 20 the desolate condition and overthrow of Tyre and its not rising again to glory and power as it had been are contrasted with a vision of the future when God will “set glory in the land of the living.” Since the expression, in the land of the living, is used, it is clear that the prophet had a world outlook — a view of men wherever they are. The Lord therefore said that He would set glory, His own glory, in the land of the living. When this passage is read in the light of parallel ones, we can see that this is a prediction of the time when the glory of the Lord will encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Thus in Ezekiel's mind Tyre, the commercial capital of the world, stood as the emblem of the world-city of the end time — rebuilt Babylon — which will go down forever. When that event occurs, then God will place glory in the land of the living — throughout the entire world. Then will be introduced that era of righteousness and justice, during which Messiah will reign for a thousand years.
The Oracle Concerning Tyre (Part Two)
In verse 2 of chapter 27, we are told that its contents is a lamentation over Tyre. The word in the original which is rendered “lamentation” implies rather a funeral dirge. At the same time Tyre is represented as a gallant ship, the greatest of its day, that sails, forth from port and into stormy seas where it is wrecked and where there is indeed a great loss of property and life.
Ezekiel chapter 27 falls naturally into three divisions:
- Tyre, A Gallant Ship (vss. 1-11);
- The Markets where Tyre did Business (vss. 12-25);
- The Shipwreck (vss. 26-36).
I. Tyre, A Gallant Ship (vss. 1-11)
Since Tyre was a maritime power, in fact the leading maritime power of the day, the ship was naturally the thing concerning which everyone thought when their attention was directed to the Tyrian nation. What Great Britain has been for the last few centuries among the nations in conducting world-trade, Tyre was in her day and time. Her supremacy and priority in this sphere of human activity was unquestioned.
Orators have used this figure of speech with telling effect. Constantly we read from their pens and hear from their lips references to the “ship of state.” Thus the state is compared to a ship. It is quite likely that this metaphor was drawn from our passage.
In verse 3 Tyre is quoted as saying, “I am perfect in beauty.” 7 Naturally a people that engaged in trade and commerce would acquire the very best from all lands. Thus they would have the very best tools with which to build and with which to adorn their city. In comparison then with other cities of the world, we have a right to believe that Tyre stood in the foremost ranks. Of course it is to be understood that the Tyrians had a higher estimation of their own city than others doubtless would entertain. The word that is rendered “perfect in beauty” occurs in Psalm 50:1,2. In this passage reference is made to the millennial Jerusalem, which will indeed be the beauty spot of the entire world when our Lord returns and reigns there.
The Lord states that Tyre dwells at the entry of the seas. The word “entry” as we see from the footnote of the Revised Version, is in the plural number and means “entrances.” The original city of Tyre was built on the mainland. About one-half mile out in the sea was an island. Thus ships coming from the south would enter the harbor from that direction, whereas those from the north would enter from the northern side of the island. All ships, as the word here is employed, would come into these two different harbors.
In verses 4-11 the prophet thinks of the Tyrian city-state and its great trade and commerce as a great ship which is the best of its kind and which has been built out of materials brought from various places. Its workmen, having the very best of materials and being experts in their field, are represented as building this most beautiful ship. According to verse 5 the planks were of fir trees which were brought from Senir. This word is the Aramaic for Sirion, which is just another word for Mount Hermon. Mount Hermon is in the Anti-Lebanon range and is visible by its snow-capped peak for miles in every direction. The cedars from Lebanon are likewise used in making the masts of this gallant ship. The oars are made of the oaks of Bashan (vs. 6). The benches are constructed of ivory inlaid in boxwood brought from the Island of Cypress. The sail of the ship is made from Egyptian linen which is inwrought with broidered work, and into which was woven the emblem of the Tyrian nation.
This description of the various materials used and the place from which they were brought is continued in verses 8-11. But this much of the description suffices to bring before our minds the prophet's thought. By his description and by this metaphor the prophet meant to say that all the nations mentioned as contributing certain things for the construction of this Tyrian ship actually did make a contribution to the civilization which Tyre built up.
II. The Markets where Tyre did Business (vss. 12-25)
In verses 12-25 we are given quite an extended list of the countries with which Tyre carried on commercial relations. Heading this list is Tarshish. There is quite a dispute as to the meaning of this term. Some have thought that it refers to Spain; others, to Britain. I am persuaded that, when all of the facts are taken into consideration, the probabilities are found to favor Britain's being the country to which reference is made. In verse 12 we are told that Tarshish was a merchant who traded with Tyre, and whose goods consisted of silver, iron, tin, and lead. There is an echo of the barter system in this verse. These different commodities are found in Britain.
In verse 13 Javan, Greece, is first mentioned. Of course, Greece was on the mainland of the European continent. But the Greeks were a maritime people who did quite a bit of colonization and engaged in trade and commerce. Thus there were commercial relations between the Tyrians and the Greeks. But in no sense did the Greeks constitute a rival for them. Along with Greece is mentioned Tubal and Meshech. By many scholars Tubal is considered as the phonetic equivalent to Tobolsk, which is one of the large cities of Russia. Meshech is the modern Moscow of Russia. These two latter cities “traded the persons of men and vessels of brass” for merchandise. Of course these came overland to some port and then were carried to Tyre. It is altogether possible that they might have come overland down through Asia Minor and then along the Syrian coast to Tyre.
Next in the list is Togarmah, who traded with Tyre with horses, war horses, and mules. Togarmah was probably ancient Armenia, which has now been swallowed up by Turkey and Russia. The war horses and mules were used most efficiently in warfare as it was conducted in Ezekiel's day.
Dedan likewise carried on a lucrative trade with the Tyrians. These brought to the mart of Tyre ivory and ebony. The Syrians traded with Tyre in emeralds, purple, and broidered work, fine linen, coral, and rubies. Judah and Israel's articles of commerce were “wheat of Minnith, and pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm.”
This list continues on through verse 25, but the examination thus far is sufficient to enable us to see the meaning of this passage.
III. The Shipwreck (vss. 26-36)
In the last paragraph of this chapter, verses 26-36, the prophet reverts to his metaphor in thinking of Tyre as a gallant ship that puts out to sea, and that eventually by its pilots is run into rough waters and a stormy sea. This storm wrecks the ship. There is a total loss of it with all its cargo. It therefore goes down never to reappear. All of those that were carrying on traffic and trade in this city of Tyre and the officials of the government directing the national life are all represented as being aboard the ship. For instance, the pilot, directing the movements of the ship, would represent the officials of the government. The marines in like manner would symbolize the people who were the merchants and the traders of the city. The artisan classes on the ship would represent the working classes of Tyre. When the ship is wrecked, it goes down, nothing being salvaged. It is never raised, brought back to port, and repaired — as is often done in connection with modern vessels that suffer shipwreck.
Tyre as the commercial, maritime nation of that day and time did suffer shipwreck. It went down and ceased to be the mighty mistress of commerce and trade. And yet Tyre has continued through the centuries to the present day as a small insignificant town on the island, where is stood when it fell. Of course by the action of the sea Alexander's causeway which he built has developed into an isthmus; but Tyre remains there an insignificant place today. The Word of God is always sure of fulfillment.
The repercussions from the fall of Tyre reverberated throughout the Mediterranean world, causing economic chaos in the commercial world at that time. All students of prophecy can compare Tyre and its fall, together with the results, to that of the fall of Babylon the Great in the very end of the age. As all students know, the prophecies concerning Babylon (Isaiah, chapters 13 and 14; Jeremiah, chapters 50 and 51) have never been fulfilled completely. Since these predictions still await fulfillment, it will become necessary for Babylon to arise from the dust of the past and to gain the ascendancy and control over the nations there foretold. At the end of the Tribulation, as we see in Revelation, chapter 18, Babylon, the pride of the Chaldeans and of the men of the world, will fall. When that occurs, the reverberations will be heard throughout the entire world. With the fall of Babylon will come the end of the Tribulation, when the Lord Jesus will descend from heaven to the earth, lift the curse, take the world situation in hand, and establish a reign of righteousness and peace that will endure for one thousand years.
As we consider the fall of Babylon, the city described in Revelation, chapter 18, we must differentiate clearly Babylon the city of this chapter from Babylon the harlot of Revelation, chapter 17. Those who are familiar with the Book of Revelation know that Babylon the harlot will be the ecclesiastical octopus that will be supported by the world government during the first half of the Tribulation. In the middle of the Tribulation the Antichrist will become so very jealous of those having in charge this religious world-system that he will cause it to be dissolved and overthrown in order that he might receive the worship, praise, and adoration of the entire world. Thus the overthrow of Babylon the harlot occurs in the middle of the Tribulation; the overthrow of Babylon the city takes place at the very end of the Tribulation.
Amid a world that is torn by strife, and that is wrecked by warfare, we who know the prophecies concerning earth's golden area long for that day to dawn. Thus we say, Even so, come, Lord Jesus — come quickly!
The Oracle Concerning Tyre (Part Three)
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:
- The Prince of Tyre (vss. 1-10);
- The Anointed Cherub (vss. 11-17);
- The King of Tyre (vss. 18,19);
- The Oracle Concerning Sidon (vss. 20-24);
- The Restoration of Israel (vss. 25, 26).
I. The Prince of Tyre (vss. 1-10)
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.
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.
II. The Anointed Cherub (vss. 11-17)
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.
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 06 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 (Revelation 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 09 of What Men Must Believe. Also refer to my series, The Unseen World of God, a group of nine articles appearing in the Biblical Research Monthly, January to September, 1943, inclusive.)
III. The King of Tyre (vss. 18,19)
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.
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.
V. The Restoration of Israel (vss. 25, 26)
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.