God will UTTERLY DESTROY all our ENEMIES in the FUTURE
September 3 Bible Reading: Ezekiel Chapters 25-27
“Thus says the Lord God to Tyre: 'Will the coastlands not shake at the sound of your fall, when the wounded cry, when slaughter is made in the midst of you? Then all the princes of the sea will come down from their thrones, lay aside their robes, and take off their embroidered garments; they will clothe themselves with trembling; they will sit on the ground, tremble every moment, and be astonished at you. And they will take up a lamentation for you, and say to you: ‘How you have perished, O one inhabited by seafaring men, O renowned city, who was strong at sea, she and her inhabitants, who caused their terror to be on all her inhabitants! Now the coastlands tremble on the day of your fall; yes, the coastlands by the sea are troubled at your departure.’” (Ezek. 26:15-18)
The above passage is part of a long prophecy of destruction that the prophet Ezekiel delivers against the city of Tyre, a principal seaport city of the Phoenicians. Tyre was situated to the north of Palestine and about 25 miles south of Sidon. When the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C., the city of Tyre rejoiced since the field was clear for them to secure the caravan trade in addition to the maritime routes that they had already cornered earlier.
However, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied against Tyre (see Jer. 27:1–11) followed by the prophet Ezekiel who prophesied the total destruction of Tyre (vv. 3–21). These prophecies were fulfilled in two stages. The first stage of destruction happened when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, besieged Tyre for thirteen years (585–572 B.C.) and gave it a crushing blow. The second stage of destruction happened much later in 332 B.C., when Alexander the Great besieged the island city of Tyre for seven months. He finally captured it when he built a causeway from the mainland to the island by using the debris of the ruined mainland city. As a fulfillment to Ezekiel’s prophecy: "I will make you a terror, and you shall be no more; though you are sought for, you will never be found again" (v. 21) - Tyre has never been rebuilt!
News of the total destruction and ‘death’ of Tyre caused great consternation among other nations and Ezekiel’s prophecy of the downfall of Tyre is a description of an ancient funeral service (v. 16). It was customary for friends and mourners of the deceased to sit on the ground in sackcloth, lamenting their loss with loud wailing. This is exactly how the princes of the sea (rulers of various settlements in Phoenicia that were connected with Tyre) lamented in song (see vv. 17, 18) after they took off their robes and embroidered garments (see Jonah 3:6). They would finally surrender and submit to Babylonian rule after they saw what had happened to Tyre.
Tyre deserved God’s judgment due to her greedy rejoicing over Jerusalem’s fall. They anticipated that without Jerusalem being able to secure the overland caravan routes, they could now ship more products by sea. As the people of Tyre rejoiced at the destruction of Jerusalem, little did they dream that their turn was coming soon! The city of Tyre seemed impregnable to all attacks, but Nebuchadnezzar would besiege it and later Alexander the Great would wipe it off the face of the earth. Tyre would become a bare rock, a place only for drying fishing nets (vv. 4, 14). This was a total fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy that Tyre would end up like a ship caught in a storm and lost at sea, a fitting illustration for the seafaring Phoenicians.