There’s a Judgment Day Coming on the Nations Ezekiel 25-32, cont’d.
Ezekiel 26:1-28:19-Judgment of Tyre (cont'd)
Ezekiel 27:1-36-Tyre is depicted as a beautiful ship. Ezekiel is commanded to lament, or weep, over the destruction of Tyre in all of her beauty and wealth.
Ezekiel 28:1-10-Ezekiel is instructed to tell the king of Tyre (Ittobaal II) that he is going to be judged for making himself appear to be a god…this is the sin of pride.
Ezekiel 28:11-19-These verses speak not just of the king of Tyre, but the power behind his throne, Satan.
28:12 the king of Tyre. This section (vv. 11-19), with its superhuman references, apparently describes someone other than the human ruler of Tyre; namely, Satan. If so, Satan’s unique privileges before his fall are described in verses 1`2-15 and the judgment on him in verses 16-19. You had the seal of perfection. I.e., Satan was the consummation of perfection in his original wisdom and beauty.
28:14 Satan had occupied a special place of prominence in guarding the throne of God (cf. Exod. 25:20).
28:15 blameless. In the sense of moral soundness and integrity. By creation Satan was perfect; but pride was his downfall (1 Tim. 3:6; Isa. 14:13-14).
28:16-19 Satan’s judgment, announced in these verses, will not be consummated until he is cast forever into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).
The Ryrie Study Bible, footnotes on 28:12,14,15,16-19, pp. 1268-1269
28:11–19 The context of chaps. 26–28 and the stated subject, “concerning the king of Tyre,” make it clear that the primary message here regards the literal king of Tyre. The word “king” (melek) is used elsewhere in Ezekiel primarily of the kings of Babylon (e.g., 17:12; 19:9; 21:19; 24:2; 26:7; 29:18; 30:10; 32:11) and Egypt (29:2; 30:21; 31:2; 32:2). The fact that the “ruler” (nāgîd) of Tyre in 28:1 is here called “king” suggests to some that there is something different about the one addressed in the lament. One suggestion is that it is the patron god of Tyre in view here, whose name, Melkart, means “king of the city.” This view is difficult, as Zimmerli argues, since “king” elsewhere in Ezekiel describes an earthly ruler. In a parallel verse in 32:2 it refers to the Egyptian pharaoh—“Son of man, take up a lament concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Zimmerli’s alternative explanation, however, that the different terms betray the separate origins of the two oracles is at least as unlikely.
The statement “you were in Eden, the garden of God” (v. 13; cf. 31:8–9) must mean that the king of Tyre is being compared to someone who was in the garden of Eden. The verses describe someone in an exalted position who was favored by God but who became corrupt and lost that position. This could describe the first man, Adam.76 Yet even granting the figurative nature of language, it seems that something more than a human creature is in view. Perhaps Adam was a “model of perfection,” “full of wisdom,” and “perfect in beauty” (v. 12), but Scripture never describes him as such. Nor does it speak of him as adorned with “every precious stone” (v. 13). The difficulty, however, is that no one else is described in such terms either. Some suggest that adornment with precious stones is an allusion to the Jewish high priest (Exod 28:17–20), but such a confusion of images would hardly communicate a coherent message.
Especially significant is that the one addressed was “anointed” (v. 14) and “ordained” as “a guardian cherub” by the God who was speaking through Ezekiel (v. 14) and that he previously dwelt not on the earth (v. 17) but “on the holy mount of God” and “walked among the fiery stones” (v. 14). Such descriptions make it unlikely that a strictly human creature is in view.
Furthermore, the cause for his loss of favor and exalted position do not match the biblical account of the fall of humanity. The woman was driven by a desire to gain wisdom and become like God (Gen 3:5–6). But this character’s sin is said to have arisen from pride on account of his “beauty” (v. 17) and “splendor.” Consequently, he “corrupted” his divine gifts and became full of “wickedness” and “violence” (vv. 15–17).
Some of the difficulties of identification may result from a shift of focus back and forth between the king of Tyre and the figurative character. The comparison has surely been temporarily abandoned when “widespread trade” is said to be the expression, cause, or occasion for his wickedness and violence (v. 16). This apparently was something true of Tyre but not of anyone in Eden. However, this shift of focus does not explain all the divergencies unless the figurative character was a supernatural one. Nor does Scripture ascribe this specific kind of wickedness or the resulting judgment to humankind generally after the fall. The flood is said to have been God’s judgment on the “wickedness” of a “corrupt” world “full of violence” (Gen 6:5, 11–13), and the people in the “plain of Shinar” exhibited great pride in desiring to “make a name” for themselves by building “a tower that reaches to the heavens” (Gen 11:1–4). But in neither case was the judgment described as being driven “in disgrace from the mount of God,” “expelled … from among the fiery stones,” or thrown “to the earth” (Ezek 28:16–17), although Adam and his wife were “banished” and driven from “the Garden of Eden” (Gen 3:24).
The suggestion that the passage has borrowed from some creation account other than Gen 1–3 is purely conjectural and highly speculative. Borrowing is not the best answer to the question of the interpretation of Ezek 28. To suggest that it is purely an imaginary story about creation that also involved the king of Tyre, composed from the mind of Ezekiel, stretches our own imagination.
Who, then, was the person whose character was like the king of Tyre that fulfilled the elements of vv. 12–17? The serpent was known for his craftiness (Gen 3:1), his deceit, and his anti-God attitude (3:4), leading humanity to sin (3:6–7). Elsewhere he is presented as a deceiver (Rev 12:9; 20:2), an instigator of evil (John 13:2, 27), one who seeks worship as a god (Luke 4:6–8; 2 Thess 2:3–4), and one who seeks to get others to renounce God (Job 2:4–5). He appears as an angel of God (2 Cor 11:14) and as the father of lies and violence (John 8:44), distorts Scripture (Matt 4:6), opposes believers (2 Cor 2:11), and finally is judged (Matt 25:41; Rev 19:20–21; 20:13–15). Therefore the conclusion that the figure behind the poetic symbol is the serpent (also known as the adversary, the devil, Satan; Rev 12:9) is a logical one.
Ezekiel began with a funeral lament for the city of Tyre (27:1–36), calling attention to its materialism, pride, and self-sufficiency. He then moved to a discussion of the king of Tyre presenting his arrogance and self-will (28:1–19). Overlaid in these prophetic messages are many elements that extend beyond the characteristics of the city or the king. This is not an unusual prophetic phenomenon. Ezekiel presented the king of Tyre as an evil tyrant who was animated and motivated by a more sinister, unseen tyrant, Satan. The picture presented by the prophet goes beyond what we know about the adversary in other passages. It tells us of his wisdom, beauty, appearance of perfection, appointment as a guardian and his expulsion from the presence of God.
Of the twenty elements associated with the king of Tyre in 28:11–19 most also are found in Isaiah’s indictment of another tyrannical ruler, the king of Babylon (Isaiah 14:12–17). These passages sometimes are compared and related to Satan as the figure behind the elements. Of the twenty elements, fourteen also are found in Isaiah.
The sinister character of the mastermind behind God’s enemies is not always recognized. The real motivating force behind the king of Tyre was the adversary, the satan, who opposed God and his people from the beginning (28:6–19).
Logos Bible Software, The New American Commentary: Ezekiel, Cooper, L. E. (1994). (Vol. 17, pp. 266–269). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Ezekiel 28:20-26-Judgment of Sidon.
Sidon was located next to Tyre.
Prayer: Father, help me to always be aware that there are evil supernatural powers at work that are attempting to affect me. Don’t let me be deceived by them. Their methods are insidious and their work is continuous. Give me Your wisdom so that I might recognize them for what they are…and give me Your power so that I might stand strong against them.