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.