The demon in money is greed.
— Richard Foster (The Challenge of the Disciplined Life)
“You have come to a dreadful end / and shall be no more forever” (v. 19, NRSV). It’s difficult to imagine words with more finality. We have been looking at Tyre, the island trade-mogul, for a while now. This is the seventh week we have spent on her, to be precise! In this final oracle against Tyre, Yahweh compared the King of Tyre to Adam. Listen to the terminology and think of Genesis:
- “You were in Eden, the garden of God” (v. 13, NRSV)
- “With an anointed cherub as guardian I placed you” (v. 14, NRSV)
- “The guardian cherub drove you out” (v. 16, NRSV)
This is not the only place in scripture where Eden imagery is used. Later in Ezekiel 33:33-36, God declared that when Israel is restored, those passing by will comment that she looks like the Garden of Eden. Isaiah also uses the Eden theme to refer to the restored Israel (51:3, NRSV):
For the LORD will comfort Zion;
he will comfort all her waste places,
and make her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the LORD;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.
. . .
No one in Ezekiel’s camp would be so naïve as to believe that the pagan ruler was somehow literally present with Adam in the garden. Still less would they consider the occasionally voiced belief that the King of Tyre should somehow be identified with Lucifer. The point Yahweh was trying to make is clear: Tyre had everything going for her, just like Adam.
The King of Tyre is described as a “signet” in v. 12. This signet had three characteristics:
- He was perfectly designed (lit. “of perfection” (NRSV))
- He was “full of wisdom” (NRSV)
- He was“perfect in beauty” (NRSV)
As as world power, Tyre appeared perfect and unstoppable. That was, until God judged her for her sin.
Her sin is also listed in three ways:
- “In the abundance of your trade / you were filled with violence, and you sinned” (v. 16, NRSV)
- “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; / you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” (v. 17, NRSV)
- By the multitude of your iniquities, / in the unrighteousness of your trade, / you profaned your sanctuaries” (v. 18, NRSV)
. . .
We have seen this problem before in Ezekiel. The money that came from foreign trade made Tyre very wealthy which led to violence. After all, once you are rich, you must protect your wealth. Her wealth enabled her to beautify herself which only increased her pride. This is an old story, often retold.
It is the connection between Tyre and Adam that challenges us afresh. If Tyre can be compared to Adam, can we be compared to him as well? From a theological standpoint, we all look like Adam—spoiled in sin—until we trust our salvation to the second Adam: Jesus.
Even as believers, we can still find ourselves slipping back into the pattern of the first Adam. Are we ruthless in protecting our money? Does that ruthlessness take the form of sacrificing generosity to the poor? Do we take pride in our social standing that comes as a result of our cash-flow?
. . .
Second Adam, help us to reflect your image instead of wallowing in our natural heritage. In Jesus’ name, Amen.