ALL our EARTHLY TREASURES will PERISH one DAY: "The ships of Tarshish were carriers of your merchandise. You were filled and very glorious in the midst of the seas. Your oarsmen brought you into many waters, but the east wind broke you in the midst of the seas. Your riches, wares, and merchandise, your mariners and pilots, your caulkers and merchandisers, all your men of war who are in you, and the entire company which is in your midst, will fall into the midst of the seas on the day of your ruin." (Ezek. 27:25-27)
The city of Tyre was the ancient capital of the Phoenicians and the dominant sea power in the ancient world. The first oracle by Ezekiel in chapter 26:2–21 was a direct prophecy of Tyre’s destruction; the second oracle in chapter 27 was a lament for this fallen city.
The first section of this lament (27:1–9) pictured Tyre’s former glory by describing her as a beautiful and costly ship, loaded with riches and growing wealthy as it did business with all the nations. The second section of this lament (27:10–25) listed out the many trading partners of Tyre. The third section of this lament (27:26–36) described Tyre’s catastrophic shipwreck with the loss of her people and her wealth. All the merchants would lament the loss of their great wealth.
The fall of the city of Tyre is pictured as a sinking ship that was overloaded. The vastness of the commerce of Tyre in luxury goods is described in detail in verses 12–27. The passage lists some twenty-three countries doing trade with about thirty-eight basic products. It broke apart and sank when a dangerous east wind arose (v. 34). This violent east wind refers to the conquest of the nation of Babylon that was located east of Tyre (vv. 26b, 27).
In the Bible, the east wind has been repeatedly described as powerful and potentially destructive (see Gen. 41:6; Job 27:21; Isaiah 27:8). The east wind is particularly destructive at sea (see Psalms 48:7), as well as on land (see Ezek. 17:10; 19:12; Jer. 18:17). Thus it symbolizes the destruction the Babylonian army would bring on Tyre. In 26:7, it is specified that Babylon would come from the north. This was the direction from which the Babylonian army would invade Phoenicia!
No one thought Tyre could be defeated. But her strength, her wealth, and her skill were no match for the east wind (Babylon) who obeyed the command of God. Tyre’s fate would be a warning to all the other nations that watched from the shore. What a rebuke to covetousness!
Let us remember that all the treasures and goods that we accumulate will perish one day. As John Ortberg has described in his book: “When The Game is Over, It all Goes Back in the Box”, all our toys and treasures that we accumulate in this earth will be returned to the earth and its maker God one day. Let us live our lives with an eternal perspective keeping the right objective: being rich toward God and His kingdom. Let us keep our eyes on the real prize, the one that unlocks the kingdom of God!