Ezekiel 26:1-21 (NIV) 1 In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, because Tyre has said of Jerusalem, ‘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,’ 3 therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. 4 They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. 5 Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. She will become plunder for the nations, 6 and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Then they will know that I am the LORD. 7 “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. 8 He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. 9 He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons. 10 His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust. Your walls will tremble at the noise of the war horses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. 11 The hoofs of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. 12 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. 13 I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. 14 I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. 15 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Tyre: Will not the coastlands tremble at the sound of your fall, when the wounded groan and the slaughter takes place in you? 16 Then all the princes of the coast will step down from their thrones and lay aside their robes and take off their embroidered garments. Clothed with terror, they will sit on the ground, trembling every moment, appalled at you. 17 Then they will take up a lament concerning you and say to you: “‘How you are destroyed, O city of renown, peopled by men of the sea! You were a power on the seas, you and your citizens; you put your terror on all who lived there. 18 Now the coastlands tremble on the day of your fall; the islands in the sea are terrified at your collapse.’ 19 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When I make you a desolate city, like cities no longer inhabited, and when I bring the ocean depths over you and its vast waters cover you, 20 then I will bring you down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of long ago. I will make you dwell in the earth below, as in ancient ruins, with those who go down to the pit, and you will not return or take your place in the land of the living. 21 I will bring you to a horrible end and you will be no more. You will be sought, but you will never again be found, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
On verses 1-21: Tyre was a prosperous coastal city in the ancient Middle East, with the older part of the city (“old Tyre”) situated on the mainland and the newer part situated on an island. Known as one of the great economic centres of the ancient Middle East, Tyre was a significant port city. In addition, Tyre was famous for its purple dye used most famously to make royal robes. It is for this reason that, according to some scholars, the people in the region of Phoenicia, where Tyre was located, became known as “the purple people”.
In verses 1-6 God goes after the people of Tyre for trying to capitalize on the misfortune of the people of Jerusalem (v2). In response to their attitude God says that He will bring down the prosperous, powerful “city of renown” (v17) that is Tyre and turn it into “a desolate city” (v8) and “plunder for the nations” (v5). God would reduce Tyre to “a place to spread fishnets” (v6) (i.e. where fishermen wash their nets) and a city that is “never to be rebuilt” (v6). In verse 14 when God says of Tyre, “I will make you a bare rock” (v14), this is a play on words, since Tyre’s name literally means “rock”.
At the time this prophecy would have sounded highly improbable to Ezekiel’s hearers, since Tyre was an economic powerhouse, a military force to be reckoned with, and had a highly coveted geographic location. However, just a few years after Ezekiel wrote down this prophecy, Tyre would be on the receiving end of a long and devastating siege by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon that lasted approximately 13 years (586 to 573 B.C.) Verses 7-12 in particular predict this siege, specifying King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon as the one who lead this attack on Tyre.
Later in 332 B.C., Alexander the Great would lead the Macedonians to besiege Tyre once again. With siege after siege, Tyre would eventually be reduced to a small fishing village, just as God’s Word predicted, “a place to spread fishnets” (v6). Despite Tyre’s location being “prime real estate” in the Middle East and its access to plentiful resources, Tyre has not risen to prominence in the past several centuries.
What can we learn from this?
1. No matter how powerful any person or kingdom is, its rise and fall are in God’s hands. God can bring down the most powerful and the seemingly unbeatable. God can also raise up the weak and seemingly defenseless. God is sovereign. He decides who will be exalted and who will be humbled.
2. God is faithful to His Word. When God promises something will happen, it will happen, no matter how improbable it may seem.
3. When others suffer loss, do not see it as simply an opportunity for your own advancement. Have a heart of compassion and reach out to those who are hurting.
Heavenly Father, I worship You as the only true Sovereign One, the One who does what He says and who keeps His promises no mater what and no matter how improbable their fulfillment may seem. When other people suffer, may I not see that as simply an opportunity for my own advancement, but may I have a heart of compassion and reach out to them as You would want me to. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!