Ezekiel 26:1-14: Silent Song

Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally.
I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances.
I’m just as happy with little as with much,
with much as with little.|
I’ve found the recipe for being happy
whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.
— Paul (Philippians 4:11-12, The Message)

“I will silence the music of your songs” (v. 13). What a devastating thing to hear from God! Maybe it’s the music lover in me speaking, but that sounds like the ultimate expression of defeat. Your city will be so utterly destroyed, there will be nothing left to sing about. Not even a dirge will be sufficient to tell the tale.

The former chapter of Ezekiel dealt with God’s judgment on four nations who mocked and took advantage of Jerusalem’s destruction. Chapters 16-18 deal with God’s judgment on Tyre, and Chapters 29-32 deal with God’s judgment on Egypt.

It is worth asking why these two nations were singled out for such lengthy treatment, while others get only a few verses. Tyre and Egypt have one thing in common. They were the only two nations who were still resisting Babylon when Jerusalem was destroyed. God used Babylon to do his dirty work, and in resisting Babylon, Tyre and Egypt were resisting Yahweh’s justice.

. . .

Tyre was an interesting city. During Ezekiel’s day, it was located on an Island just off the mainland in the Mediterranean Sea. Being an Island city, it was easier to fortify and much more difficult to attack. Still, God’s justice would prevail even against Tyre. Their song would end.

God told Ezekiel that he would throw nations at Tyre just like the sea throws waves. Nation after nation tried to defeat Tyre, and many fell on her shores. It took a couple centuries until the time of Alexander the great before the city fell. He built a mole from shore to island and conquered. Curiously, sediment collected and modern day Tyre is located on a peninsula in Lebanon.

. . .

I suggested earlier that Tyre and Egypt were judged by God for resisting his judgment that came via Babylon. But that was not the only reason Tyre was judged.

Tyre was a nation who was only concerned for herself. When Jerusalem fell, she was happy—but it was not the happiness of a nation towards a disgraced enemy. Tyre’s happiness grew out of her greed. With Jerusalem out of the way, Tyre would be able to move in and control some major trade routes through the area. Tyre didn’t pause to mourn the loss of Jerusalem: she acted like crazed ancestors at the reading of a will!

Tyre’s end was just as disgraceful as Jerusalem’s. God declared that when she was destroyed, the enemy would take the stones from the buildings and toss them into the sea. All that would be left was a bare rock—something suitable for fishing off of. The song’s over.

. . .

If Tyre’s judgment has anything to say to us it is a warning against greed. This world revolves on greed.  The poor want money, the middle class want millions, and the rich want even more. Watch commercials: they are almost exclusively designed to appeal to greed. Sure, it is not named as greed—that would sound uncouth.  Call it ambition or just something that you deserve; the reality is the same.

. . .

Lord God, help us to avoid the greed. Give us the courage to defeat greed through radical love and generosity towards even our enemies. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 25:1-17 | What Goes Around

Ezekiel 27:15-18 | Fallen Oppressors >

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One Response to Ezekiel 26:1-14: Silent Song

  1. Robin September 23, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    It seems God really knew the people of Tyre. With him being the God of Israel and all, I wonder if the neighbouring nations figured that, although powerful, this God had his hands full and probably wasn’t paying attention to their own behavior and attitudes.

    Surprise! Isn’t it amazing how God’s judgement is tailored to the individual (nation)? He knew them intimately enough to use imagery that captured the heart of their lifestyle: “I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves” (v. 3b); “she will become a place to spread fishnets” (v. 5a); “I will put an end to your noisy songs” (v. 13a).

    What do you see in my heart, Lord? Do you ever look the other way? No: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).

    I love Psalm 139; I mean really, REALLY love it. All at the same time, I find it both intimidating and comforting: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Ps. 139:7-12).

    Lord, you know my heart and yet you have still chosen me as your own. Help me to trust that you know what you’re doing. Just as you spoke judgement to the nations who mocked Israel and thought of nothing but their profit at her fall, you speak mercy, grace and restoration to those who would turn their faces to you:

    “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” (2 Chron. 7:13-15).

    And we are not alone when we approach the throne of God. Not only is he watching us, he is with us in the person of his Son: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).

    As if that weren’t enough, God has also given us his Spirit to guide our every step: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:14, 15).

    As the Lord’s children, we can truly say, “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Ps. 139:5, 6).

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