The great ancient city of Tyre was located on an island just offshore of the current city of Tyre, Lebanon. This global powerhouse was once the center of commerce for Phoenicia, dominating trade on the seaways of the Mediterranean and beyond, perhaps even to England and West Africa. Centuries before the empires of Greece and Rome came on the scene, Tyre had a corner on the maritime trade. But Tyre was blocked from achieving dominance on land by Judah, which possessed the crossroads for the land trade routes.
God’s judgement of Jerusalem through King Nebuchadnezzar presented a new opportunity for Tyre – it would now be able to move in to absorb Israel’s abandoned land trade routes, as well.
But Israel was still the apple of the Lord’s eye. His judgement was meant to correct them, not to destroy them. Other nations that sought to capitalize on God’s judgement to enrich themselves at Israel’s expense would find themselves under an even harsher wrath. Ezekiel writes of this:
1 On February 3, during the twelfth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, Tyre has rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Ha! She who was the gateway to the rich trade routes to the east has been broken, and I am the heir! Because she has been made desolate, I will become wealthy!’
3 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am your enemy, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the waves of the sea crashing against your shoreline. 4 They will destroy the walls of Tyre and tear down its towers. I will scrape away its soil and make it a bare rock! 5 It will be just a rock in the sea, a place for fishermen to spread their nets, for I have spoken, says the Sovereign Lord. Tyre will become the prey of many nations, 6 and its mainland villages will be destroyed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.
14 I will make your island a bare rock, a place for fishermen to spread their nets. You will never be rebuilt, for I, the Lord, have spoken. Yes, the Sovereign Lord has spoken! Ezekiel 26:1-6,14 (NLT)
Ezekiel spoke this prophecy against Tyre twelve years after Jehoiachin, Judah’s final king in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, had been carried off into Babylon. From here until Christ’s birth, this line would be sustained by governors, not kings.
As stated, the prophecy against Tyre came to pass in waves. First, Nebuchadnezzar would come against it and greatly weaken it, but not destroy it. Forced to pay Babylon tribute, Tyre survived for another couple of centuries until Alexander the Great of Greece came against it. Alexander’s forces built an isthmus out to the island and destroyed it, leveling it and leaving it as a scraped rock in the sea, even unto this day.
What are the lessons for us in this?
First, storms may blow against us and we may suffer painful loss, but God will not abandon us. He will watch over us even in our hour of darkness. Those who would take advantage of us in our weakness will one day pay a price for it.
Second, God’s word is true. When Nebuchadnezzar failed to level Tyre down to bare rock, many doubted the accuracy of Ezekiel’s prophecy. But God said in the prophecy that He would use many nations to come against Tyre and come as in waves. Two hundred years later, the final wave came through the siege of Alexander, and the ancient island of Tyre fell to him, never to be rebuilt. It remains as flooded ruins today, offshore of the modern city in Lebanon.
Is there a word from God in your own life that has not yet been fulfilled? We can trust that the answer will come in the Lord’s time.
Has the Lord made a promise to You in the past? Has it come to pass? What remains of it to be fulfilled?
Lord, thank You for Your unending care for me. Your love is so far beyond anything that I deserve. Help me to walk in Your light, forgiven and filled with Your Spirit. Grant me compassion for others and help me to act upon it for their benefit and to Your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.