Ezekiel 26–28. The King of Tyre As a Mask For Satan.
Key Notes:The king of Tyre was a superlative leader over a commercial empire-- a magnificent ship, doomed to sink. Like Nebuchadnezzar, pride was his downfall.
Tyre is a seaport in Lebanon on the Mediterranean. It was “the gateway to the nations” (26:2). Ezekiel spends three whole chapters in his prophecy of Tyre. He tells us of its beauty, the glory of its king and the luxury of its far-reaching trade. Its ruin is the fate of all empires and is a message for us in the modern commercial world.
Ezek. 26: 1–6 He begins with Tyre’s gloat over the fall of Jerusalem and the prophecy of Tyre's downfall.
26:7–14 Nebuchadnezzar will use his battering rams, siege wall, axes and “roof of shields” with horses and chariots against the city. but he will not win the victory. Later in history it will become a bare rock, conquered by Alexander the Great.
26:15–18 The “princes of the sea”, rulers and traders from other ports, will lament the loss of this renowned city.
Similarly, the world's kings and merchants will someday lament the destruction of a greater commercial empire, Babylon the Great of Revelation. Rev.18:9–19.
26:19–21 Its people will be consigned to the Pit, the Nether World, a dreadful end. Ezekiel will say more of the Pit in 32:17–32.
27:1–9 Tyre is addressed directly, likened to a beautiful ship made of fir with a mast of cedar, oars of oak, decks of pine, inlays of ivory and sails of Egyptian linen with skilled pilots and shipwrights.
27:10–12 Troops from surrounding nations add to her splendor. Her army recruited men from Persia, Lud (Lydia) and Put (Libya) as well as regional mercenaries.
27:12–25 She was loaded with merchandise from all the nations around—from Tarshish (Spain) on the west, to Assyria on the east. The list is a fascinating insight into regional wealth and its distribution: slaves, emeralds, ivory, ebony, horses, coral, agate, wine, wrought iron, spices, precious stones and gold, garments and carpets. Note that Israel exported only food and medicine (balm). She had no gold, silver, gems or heavy metals (except copper) or timber. Her economy today is similar--oil and oranges, and tourists.
27:26–36 Heavily loaded, Tyre's ship will sink, to be mourned by the kings, merchants, mariners and pilots of the Mediterranean.
28:1–10 The Lord God addresses the prince of Tyre, an extraordinary man--a genius--wiser than Daniel, wealthy, and very proud. He called himself a god. But he would die at the hand of strangers, and could not call himself a god then.
28:11–19 This lament over the king of Tyre describes him as a highly unusual person.
:12 "You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty."
:13 "You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering."
:14 "With an anointed guardian cherub I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked."
:15 "You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till iniquity was found in you."
:16 ..."so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God and the guardian cherub drove you out from the midst of the stones of fire."
:17 "I cast you to the ground" for pride, a multitude of sins, unrighteous trade, profaned sanctuaries and violence.
28:20–23 Sidon, her twin city, will likewise fall.
28:24–26 But Israel will later be restored so that the people can dwell in their own land securely.
The magnificent figure of the king of Tyre brings Adam to mind, “the signet of perfection”, cast out of Eden by the guardian cherub, and cast to the ground. [Was Adam an ugly and brutish Neanderthal farmer, or beautiful as an angel?]
The other figure that this passage brings to mind is Satan, falling "like lightning from heaven" (Lk.10:18). Scofield's comment on this passage notes that other places also mention Satan indirectly. (Gen. 3:14–15, Matt.16:23). He interprets Ezek.28 as "Satan fulfilling himself in and through an earthly king who arrogates to himself divine honors so that the prince of Tyre foreshadows the Beast [the Antichrist]."
Isaiah 14 contains another highly unusual description, this of the king of Babylon, presumably Nebuchadnezzar.
:12 "How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
:13 You said in your heart,
'I will ascend to heaven, above the stars of God.
I will set my throne on high.
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north;
:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will make myself like the Most High'.
But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit."
In Eden, Satan fulfilled himself by seducing Eve and Adam to become like God, knowing good and evil (i.e., having the right to chose, to be autonomous). In these two kings we see the Satanic ambition to be a god reenacted through brilliant men.
Most theologies reviewed (7 or 8) and commentaries studied (3) do not ascribe either of these passages to Satan. But the Holman Study Bible says "...the God-defying ambition expressed in [Isaiah 14] verses 13,14 surpasses anything that could be put in the mouth of a mere human being (even hyperbolically) .... the best interpretation of this passage is to see in the human king of Babylon a tool in the hand of the devil himself."
The rationale for the Anti-Christ being seen in this light is II Thes.2:4 "...who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God."
While we rightly look with contempt on such vaulting conceit, we must be aware of the temptation to pride in each of us. We long to be exalted, to be lifted up above our fellows, to be called "great", to win the gold medal, to be Number One. But pride and selfishness are the tap-roots of sin.
Pride possessed Satan, the king of Tyre, the king of Babylon, and it may possess you or me.