For the Love of God, Volume 2/September 25
From Gospel Translations
2 Samuel 21; Galatians 1; Ezekiel 28; Psalm 77
THE LONG PROPHECY AGAINST THE city-state of Tyre culminates in this prophecy against Tyre’s king (Ezek. 28:1-19). Historically, the king in question was Ithobal II. Yet it is clear from the chapter before us that the focus is not so much on a particular monarch as on all he represents.
The charge constantly repeated is that the king of Tyre says in his heart, “I am a god” (28:2, 6, 9). The context shows that the issue is not that the individual monarch is making some sort of monstrous personal and ontological claim, as that the king, typifying the attitude of Tyre as a whole, is immensely self-confident, proud of fabulous commercial success and, in consequence, fiercely independent. There is no sense of personal weakness or need, still less any lingering sense of dependence upon the God who made them and who providentially rules over them. The heart of the issue is easily summarized: “By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud” (28:5).
The iniquitous dimensions of the arrogance are highlighted by the many allusions back to Genesis 2—3 (clearer in Hebrew than in English translation). They thought of themselves as being in Eden, the garden of God (28:13), as being God’s guardian cherub (28:14), but they will be expelled (28:16). In other words, their sin is of a piece with that of Adam and Eve. They, too, wanted to be like God, independent, knowing good and evil themselves without anyone (not even their Maker!) to tell them. In both cases the result is the same: ruinous disaster, death, catastrophic judgment. There is but one God, and he rightly brooks no rivals.
This is a pretty obvious summary of the passage. But we must think through what this says to any culture or country or church that is hooked on wealth today. Of course, very poor people can be materialistic, in the sense that material possessions are what they most want. Materialism is not the exclusive preserve of the rich. But the focus here is on the wealthy, whose possessions have made them proud. They are above the common folk, above other nations that are impoverished or dispossessed. At what point does the famous line of the Lord Jesus bite into us hard: “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matt. 6:24)?
The fact that America is the sole surviving superpower has bred more than a little arrogance. Countless pundits have argued, reasonably enough, that the moral indifference to presidential lying is to be attributed to a strong economy more than to anything else. So how far and how long will God let us go if there is not broad and deep repentance?