Ezekiel 27:12-36: Amassing Wealth

Well, I see something and I want it.
Bam! Right now!  No questions asked.
Don’t worry how much it costs me now or later
I want it and I want it fast.
I’ll go to any length, sacrifice all that I already have
and all that I might get.
Just to get something more that I don’t need
and Lord, please don’t ask me what for.
— 77s (“The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes and the Pride of Life”)

What could possibly be better than good looks? How about being filthy rich? We know that Tyre was built from choice materials and by choice laborers from all over the world. The next few verses go on to describe how wealthy she was by using a shipping manifest from her trading partners.

Let’s be honest—there are more compelling things to read in this world than a shipping manifest! Still, there are a few important details we can discover through it:

  • Tyre traded with everyone—the list is quite comprehensive.
  • Tyre bought raw materials and sold finished products.
  • Tyre even traded with Judah—whom Ezekiel puts in a place of honour in the centre of his list.

. . .

Not all was well with the good ship Tyre, though. After 25 verses of unabashed flattery, we are given an idea that something is wrong:

So you were filled and heavily laden in the heart of the seas. (v. 25, NRSV)

On the surface, this is a poetic way of stating the obvious: Tyre is so rich, she is like a ship sailing out under a full load. When you know the fate of Tyre, though, you can sense the sinister undertones.

When the the Tyre-ship Ezekiel described got out to sea, a quick East wind blew up and shipwrecked her. All the wealth that was so painstakingly described in the manifest spilled into the water as the sea closed up over it.

Essentially, this is another way of writing about God thrusting Tyre down into the underworld. In this metaphor, however, God is not even mentioned as a direct agent. It is simply the chaos and unpredictability of the open sea.

. . .

As a prophetic glimpse at the future of Tyre, this passage is a grave tragedy. Let’s take a  minute and examine this story as a parable—something that can speak to our lives.

Do we travel through life amassing wealth?  Are our lives focused on making more money to increase our “standard of living”? (And by standard of living, most of us mean buying more things to entertain us.) Are we so utterly laden down and entrapped by goods, that we are unprepared for what might hit us?

I asked this question last entry, but it remains painfully obvious: are we like Tyre? If a biographer was describing our lives, could she say: “you were filled and heavily laden”? If the chaos and unpredictability of the world were to assault us, would we mourn the loss of our goods, or float peacefully like a leaf on the surface of the chaos below?

. . .

Lord God, you created, sustain, and have first claim on everything in the world. Help us to spend our time doing your work instead of trying to hoard your goods. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

<Ezekiel 27:1-11 | Looking Good

Ezekiel 28:1-10 | The Pride >

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2 Responses to Ezekiel 27:12-36: Amassing Wealth

  1. J. Weatherby September 11, 2006 at 10:10 pm #

    a comment about what you said about Tyre regarding ”amassing wealth” and “entrapped by goods” — Sure, that can be good advice. But Ezekiel seems to be giving instead a warning about the Evil One in the Garden, and what he is like, and his *modus operandi*; the havoc spawned there by the serpent that has been plagueing mankind since then; and a few really big hints about what to beware of.

    Certainly, getting distracted by wealth is not good. But it seems to me, that cannot be what it is about:
    Ezek. 28:13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.

  2. Robin September 28, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Again, God notices stuff.

    Why is it so easy to separate our spirituality from our carnality, church from state, God’s from mine?

    When I read God’s Word, it amazes me how involved he really is in every aspect of our lives, down to the smallest detail. Why would God care about the shipping manifest of a people not his own? “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good” (Prov. 15:3).

    “Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge? The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.

    “Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law; you grant them relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it” (Ps. 94:8-15).

    Father, please don’t let me forget that your eyes are on me always and help me always to live a life pleasing to you. Don’t spare your hand of discipline when I need it because even then you are touching me. The worst thing about the pit is that you are not there. Thank you for never leaving me (Deut. 31:6b).

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