Ezekiel 28 - Outline of Ezekiel (MENU page)
As shown in ch. 26-27, the judgment of Tyre was due to its self-centered pride, and its joy at Jerusalem's fall. Enamored with its own beauty, and its powerful position as an engine of worldwide prosperity, the nation was willfully ignorant of the One from whom all blessings flow, and of His purposes. By His judgment upon Jerusalem, the LORD served notice to all nations that He must also judge their sin (eg., Jer 25:29).
     Yet, like Israel, the nations persist in their disregard of God's Word (eg., 2Pet 3:3-7). But judgment is coming. As discussed in the previous chapter, the lamentations for Tyre foreshadow the ultimate judgment of the Gentile world system.
     As we have seen, the LORD held the leaders of Israel (its kings, priests and prophets) responsible for leading their people into sin and apostasy (eg., Eze 34:2,10). In the chapter before us, the LORD addresses the leaders, not only of Tyre, but also of the world system in its ultimate form. This is reflected in the various aspects of Tyre's judgment:
  1. the Place, ch. 26
  2. the Political and Economic System, ch. 27
  3. two Powerful Persons, ch. 28
 
     - Downfall of the prince of Tyre - (28:1-10)
 
1. The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Because thine heart [is] lifted up, and thou hast said, I [am] a God,
I sit [in] the seat of God, in the midst of the seas;
yet thou [art] a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:
3 Behold, thou [art] wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee:
4 With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches,
and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures:
5 By thy great wisdom [and] by thy traffick
{ie., trade, merchandise} hast thou increased thy riches,
and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches:
{cp. Prov 11:28}
...the prince of Tyre...- at the time Ezekiel spoke, Ittobaal II was the king of Tyre.
However, the word for 'prince' {HB=nagid, commander, governor, ruler} often denotes a ruler to whom authority has been delegated by a superior. The invisible superior power behind the human face of leadership will be addressed as 'the king of Tyre', in v.12 and following.
...because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God...
The pride, which caused Tyre to love what it saw in the mirror (27:3), was more extreme within the heart of its leader.
     It was not unusual for the kings and emperors of ancient civilizations to claim divinity, to maintain their dominance over their people. A pagan ruler, holding nearly absolute power, might well convince himself that he was one of the many gods in the pantheon of his people. Yet, believing a lie, a mortal who deifies himself is guilty of blasphemy. (eg., Herod, who knew better, took to himself the honor due to God alone. Acts 12:22,23).
     We should not ridicule the foolishness of those in spiritual darkness, for we share the same fallen human nature which seeks to "be as God" (Gen 3:5). That sinful nature is the root of our rebellion against Him. Yet, the true and living God will pull up that root, for those who turn in faith to Him (Hab 2:4).
     In the days of Ezekiel, the prince of Tyre was aware of the LORD's judgment upon the sinful pride of Jerusalem. Without a doubt, he was also aware of Daniel's testimony and faithfulness to the God who is unlike the world's false gods (eg., Dan 2:46-49, this event was 17 years prior to the fall of Jerusalem, as dated by Ussher).
...thou art wiser than Daniel... with thy wisdom... and understanding... thou hast gotten thee riches...
Daniel attributed his wisdom, and the revelation of hidden things, to the God of heaven (Dan 2:26-28).
     But this prince, being wise in his own conceits, saw himself as the source of wisdom and knowledge, and the master of its skillful application. Like Nebuchadnezzar, before his humbling (Dan 4:30-32), he saw himself, not merely as a self-made man, but as the maker of his prosperous realm. cp. Prov 26:12; Isa 5:21
     The prince of Tyre saw no need to give honor to the God who placed him in a position of power (as Nebuchadnezzar eventually did), because, as far as he was concerned, he was that God.
...thou hast said... I sit in the seat of God... yet, thou art a man... though thou set thine heart as the heart of God.
This will be the claim of the 'man of sin' (also called 'the beast' and 'the antichrist'), who will rule Babylon the Great, during the Great Tribulation.
  • This ruler will install himself, as the object of worship, in the Temple in Jerusalem (2The 2:3,4; Rev 13:4)...
  • As an apostate from "the God of his fathers" {ie., the God of the Bible}, and, therefore, being without excuse for knowingly rejecting the true God, he will exalt himself above every god, as he attempts to force peace upon the holy land (Dan 11:36-39)...
  • A false prophet will force all men to worship this man, 'the beast,' on pain of death (Rev 13:11-17).
 
6 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God;
7 Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations:
and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom,
and they shall defile thy brightness
{ie., splendor}.
8 They shall bring thee down to the pit,
and thou shalt die the deaths of [them that are] slain in the midst of the seas.
9 Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I [am] God?
but thou [shalt be] a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.
10 Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers:
for I have spoken [it], saith the Lord GOD.
...therefore, I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations...
In the near term, the foreign forces, directed against Tyre, would include those of Nebuchadnezzar (Eze 26:7), and later, of Alexander the Great (Eze 26:12-14).
     In the distant future, the forces, of powerful nations to the south and north of Israel, will be gathered against the antichrist who will have established himself in Jerusalem. The ensuing battles will demonstrate that he is not as wise and glorious as he claims to be (v.7; Dan 11:40-45).
...they shall bring thee down to the pit... thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers...
In the near term, the prince of Tyre would suffer a disgraceful death, perhaps without burial ('...as them that are slain in the midst of the seas,' v.8).
     But as applied to the antichrist, there is further significance in this language. As the battle of Armageddon is brought to its conclusion, by the return of Christ, the antichrist will be "taken... and cast alive into a lake of fire..." (Rev 1919-21). The "deaths {plural} of the uncircumcised" refer to his immediate consignment to the first and second death (physical death, and also eternal spiritual separation from God). The second death is such a severe sentence, that (with the exception of the antichrist and his false prophet) it will not be executed until careful review at the Great White Thron judgment, following Christ's Millennial Kingdom (Rev 20:11-15).
     The 'uncircumcised' are those whose hearts are not right with God, because they have not entered into covenant relationship with Him. Circumcision was an external sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. However, to be acceptable before God, a person must be 'circumcised in heart' (ie., with his sinful fleshly ways cut off, in order that he might live for God, cp. Jer 9:25,26; Rom 2:28,29). That change of heart is the work of God's Spirit, within the believer (2Cor 5:17). It is not a matter of an external physical sign, but of the replacement of the old sinful nature with a new nature from God (Gal 6:15).
     At the Great White Throne, the second death befalls those whose names are not in the Lamb's Book of Life, because they have never placed their trust in the One who died to take away our sin, that we might live with Him in His righteousness (cp. Joh 8:24; Col 2:11-13).
     The antichrist's blasphemous crime, in presenting himself as God and Savior of the world, will be rewarded with a fast track to judgment and the early execution of his sentence, prior to Christ's Millennial Kingdom (Rev 19:20; 20:4). The antichrist's judgment is also described in Dan 7:9-12).
...thou shalt be a man, and no god, in the hand of him that slayeth thee {some MSS read: 'in the hand of those who slay thee'}.
Ultimately, the sentence is spoken and executed by the Lord (eg., Rev 19:21). But all of heaven will be in agreement with His decisive action.
 
- Lamentation for the king of Tyre - (28:11-19)
11. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus,
and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God;
every precious stone [was] thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond,
the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold:
the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14 Thou [art]
{ie., wast} the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee [so]:
thou wast upon the holy mountain of God;
thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 Thou [wast] perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created,
till iniquity was found in thee.
This final lamentation, in relation to Tyre, is the LORD's lamentation (as spoken through Ezekiel), for its 'king.'
The king described here is far above any human king, in his powers, glory, and history.
This is one of very few passages, where the LORD reveals the background and character of Satan, the enemy of our souls, and the god of this age (eg., Isa 14:12-17). It is this 'king' who is the evil mastermind and power behind his blasphemous 'prince' (the antichrist, v.2).
Yet, before his fall, he was one of the highest created beings in the LORD's service.
...thou sealest up the sum {or, 'thou, who sealest up the measure of perfection' [Darby]}, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty {ie., splendor}...
The perfect wisdom and splendor which he bore were given to him, by the LORD, whose glory he reflected. In Isa 14:12, this beautiful being is called "Lucifer" {ie., Light Bearer}. But the Light was not his own.
     In his fallen state, Satan still presents himself as an angel of light (2Cor 11:13-15). But now, no longer reflecting God's glory, he projects a counterfeit glow, to deceive and distract men away from "the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (ie., Jesus Christ, Joh 1:9).
...thou hast been in Eden the garden of God...
When God created man and placed him in the garden (Gen 2:8), Lucifer was there. This could not be said of any earthly king.
...every precious stone was thy covering...
Lucifer's adorning refracted the Light of God into dazzling rainbows of vivid colors. The breastplate of the Levitical high priest was similarly adorned, and would have shined brilliantly in the light of the Lampstand within the Tabernacle (Ex 28:17-21). Of course, that light was but a dim shadow of the Light of God's glory. Furthermore, the high priest did not wear those gems to beautify himself, but rather to bear the names of God's people before the Mercy Seat (Ex 28:29). What great and honorable responsibility must have been vested upon Lucifer!
...the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee, in the day thou wast created.
Some translations render 'tabrets' and 'pipes' as 'settings' and 'mounts' for the precious gems. However, every other occurrence of the Hebrew word for 'tabrets' refers to 'timbrels' or a similar percussive musical instrument. The word for 'pipes' occurs only in this verse. However, several passages associate 'timbrels' with wind instruments such as 'horns' or 'organs' (eg., Psa 150:4). Apparently, Lucifer was also given a wonderful voice and musical ability, with which to reflect the LORD's glory in songs of praise.
     Tragically, today, his technical expertise evidently inspires the popular music which promotes and glorifies the world's ungodly ways.
...thou art {wast} the anointed cherub that covereth {ie., that fences, that guards}; and I have set thee so...
- The word 'cherub' is used elsewhere in Ezekiel, of the beings which went straight forward to accomplish God's purposes. In Ezekiel ch. 9-11, these beings transported the Glory of God, in its departure from the Holy of Holies, and from the city toward the east (eg., Eze 9:3).
- This word for 'anointed' occurs only here. It has a connotation of 'spread out' or 'overspreading' like wings.
- The word for 'covereth' first occurs in Ex 25:20. Its root meaning is "to entwine as a screen" [Strong], the implied meaning is 'to fence' or 'to guard.'
     The golden cherubim above the Mercy Seat, like the rest of the Tabernacle, were shadows of a heavenly reality (Ex 25:17-20). Although we cannot fully understand the position to which Lucifer was appointed, it appears that he was charged with closely guarding the Glory of God. As such, he may have been the created being who was most intimately associated with the Presence of the LORD.
...thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
The 'holy mountain of God' refers to the heavenly Zion, from which the LORD governs the universe. While 'the mountain of God' often refers to the earthly Jerusalem (eg., Eze 20:40), the things described here belong to a much higher realm.
     Because 'the stones of fire' belong to that heavenly realm, their significance is not completely clear to our fleshly eyes. However, scripture does provide some insight as to their meaning. These two Hebrew words, for 'stones' and 'fire,' first occur together in Deu 5:22 and 9:10, where the Law was written in stone, by the God whose glory was displayed by fire. While the earthly stone tablets would be broken, His Word is forever settled in Heaven (Psa 119:89). His counsels and purposes are unchangeable and unbreakable, for they are energized and ensured by the all consuming zeal of the LORD. (These "stones of fire" may also be related to "the seven Spirits of God," by which His purposes are fully accomplished. cp. Rev 4:5; 5:6)
     Due to his position in the Presence of God, Lucifer was in the central command room of the whole created realm... he was intricately familiar with God's purposes.
...thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
Lucifer was created perfect and full of wisdom. (In contrast, Adam was created innocent and naive.)
Discontent with his privileged position, Lucifer desired to displace God. Isa 14:12-14
     Observe the stark contrast between this usurper's heart and the heart of the One who left His rightful position upon God's throne, and humbled Himself, to take upon Himself our sin and the death we deserve, so that we might enter and enjoy His glory (Php 2:5-11)!
 
16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned:
therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God:
and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty,
thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness:
I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick;
therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee,
and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee:
thou shalt be a terror, and never [shalt] thou [be] any more.
...by the multitude {ie., abundance} of thy merchandise {ie., trade} they have filled... thee with violence {ie., falsehood, wrong, maliciousness}...
The prince of Tyre convinced himself that he was God, as he viewed the prosperity of his commercial trade (v.2,5). The heart of the 'prince' was moved by the heart desires of the 'king' of Tyre (Isa 14:13,14).
     But what merchandise did Lucifer have to 'trade'? He sold himself as the replacement for God. A third of heaven's angelic beings bought his lies, to their eternal ruin (Rev 12:3,4a; Jude 1:6).
     The antichrist will sit in the Temple showing himself that he is God, because he will be indwelt by Satan's spirit. Rev 13:4
...thou hast sinned... therefore, I will cast thee as profane out of the mount of God, and I will destroy thee...
This word for 'sinned' {HB=chata'} has several connotations: (a) missed the way (eg., Josh 7:11), (b) incurred guilt (eg., Gen 43:9, trans. 'bear the blame'}, (c) forfeited (eg., Hab 2:10, where 'sinned against' means 'forfeited...').
     Because of the 'malicious falsehood' which 'filled the midst' of Lucifer, he was 'cast out' as 'profane' {ie., defiled} for he had become incompatible with the holiness of God's Presence. He was no longer eligible to fill his privileged position; he would no longer be privy to the counsels of God; and he would lose everything... not only his exalted role, but also his eternal soul (cp. Luk 10:17-20).
     Although the LORD cast him out of heaven, to this day Satan remains very active in the environs of earth, as 'the prince of the power of the air' (Eph 2:2). When the time is right, he will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10).
...thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom...
Lucifer deceived himself in thinking that his beauty and wisdom were intrinsic to his own being. When he rebelled against the Only Wise God (1Tim 1:17; Jude 1:25), he was left to his own corrupt wisdom, which is deadly foolishness (cp. Rom 1:22-25; 1Cor 1:19-21).
...I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings...
At his judgment, the truth concerning Satan's defiled character will be displayed to the world which he deceived and destroyed. Isa 14:9-17
...thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities {ie., perversities}, by the iniquity {ie., perverseness} of thy traffick {ie., trade}...
Does Satan have 'sanctuaries' {ie., holy places}? Sadly, yes, for he is behind the world's religions, which unknowingly worship demons (1Cor 10:20), and he has infiltrated the church, promoting apostasy with doctrines of devils (1Tim 4:1).
     Satan is a very active and persuasive salesman, who deceptively sells empty promises to the gullible. The tricks of his trade are abundant and perverse. His multi-level marketing enterprise trains and employs many similar salesmen (cp. 2Cor 11:13-15; Eph 4:14; 2Pet 2:18). The antichrist and his false prophet will be at the top of their class (2The 2:9,10; Rev 13:11-14).
...therefore, will I bring a fire out of the midst of thee, it shall devour thee...
This is a frightening statement concerning the self-destructive nature of sin.
     Elsewhere we read that the fires of judgment would overtake Judah (eg., Eze 5:4) and also her enemies (eg., Amos 1:9,10,14). Often, these fires are described as being kindled in the hatred of one nation for another.
     But here, the fire that consumes Satan, arises from within Satan himself. For although he rebelled against God, he knows and cannot escape the Truth concerning Him (Deu 4:24; Isa 43:10-13).
...they that know thee among the people shall be astonished {ie., appalled, devastated, desolate} at thee...
Those who believed Satan's lies, will be devastated to meet the deceiver who led them into destruction.
 
- Judgment against Sidon - (28:20-26)
20. Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
21 Son of man, set thy face against Zidon, and prophesy against it,
22 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I [am] against thee, O Zidon;
and I will be glorified in the midst of thee:
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD,
when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her.
23 For I will send into her pestilence, and blood into her streets;
and the wounded shall be judged in the midst of her by the sword upon her on every side;
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.
24 And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel,
nor [any] grieving thorn of all [that are] round about them, that despised them;
and they shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD.
...I am against thee, O Zidon...
Zidon {Sidon} was another ancient city of the Phoenicians. The city was named for the firstborn son of Canaan (Gen 10:15).
     Sidon was closely associated with her daughter city, Tyre (Isa 23:8-12), and was under the same spiritual king (v.12). Satan actively seeks to destroy God's people, and to disrupt God's purposes for them. But the LORD will prevail.
     Zidon was a center of idolatrous religion. King Solomon's marriages to heathen women (including a Sidonian) introduced Jerusalem to idolatry (1Kin 11:1,33, c. 1000 BC). Later (c. 925 BC), king Ahab, married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal king of Zidon, to further the decline of the already apostate northern kingdom of Israel (1Kin 16:31,32).
     In spite of such marital connections between their nations, Zidon, like Tyre, had a long history of harrassing Israel (eg., Judg 10:12).
...I will be glorified in the midst of thee... for I will send into her pestilence, and blood into her streets...
The LORD was about to judge Zidon, by the hand of the Babylonians, for their evil influence and injustices against Israel. Jer 27:2-7; Joel 3:4-8
...and they shall know that I am the LORD...
Note that the knowledge of the LORD would come to Zidon in two ways...
  1. through their judgment, by the sword. v.22,23; cp. Eze 25:17; 26:6
  2. through the restoration of Israel, by the LORD. v.24-26
    "There shall be no more a pricking brier... or grieving thorn... unto the house of Israel." - Because Israel failed to completely remove the Canaanite nations, they became entangled in the confusion of false religions, and in commitments to ungodly relationships (Num 33:55,56; Josh 23:13; Judg 2:3). Israel's troubles, caused by their willful disobedience, had brought shame to God's name. But when He, for His name's sake, judges their enemies and restores Israel as His people, the nations (including Zidon) would come to know the true and living God. eg., Eze 36:36-38
25 Thus saith the Lord GOD;
When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered,
and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen,
then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob.
26 And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards;
yea, they shall dwell with confidence,
when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them;
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD their God.
The LORD will be 'sanctified' {ie., 'set apart' as the true God} in the eyes of the Gentile nations, through His work in behalf of Israel (Eze 36:22,23). At that time, the eyes of 'the house of Israel' will also be opened, and they will also come to know the One from whom they had rebelled. (These thoughts will be developed further, later in the book of Ezekiel.)

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