Ezekiel 28:11-19: Adam Again

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:

  1. He was perfectly designed (lit. “of perfection” (NRSV))
  2. He was “full of wisdom” (NRSV)
  3. 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:

  1. “In the abundance of your trade / you were filled with violence, and you sinned” (v. 16, NRSV)
  2. “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; / you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” (v. 17, NRSV)
  3. 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.

< Ezekiel 28:1-10 | The Pride

Ezekiel 28:20-26 | Manifest Holiness >

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One Response to Ezekiel 28:11-19: Adam Again

  1. Robin September 28, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Ouch!

    I can’t help but notice the big deal God makes of the King of Tyre’s righteousness BEFORE “wickedness was found in him.”

    As a parent and a children’s ministry worker, sometimes I feel as if a whole lot of work goes into a venture that appears at first glance to bring small returns, e.g. I stay up until 4 AM preparing and praying over my 1/2-hour Chapel presentation about the apostle Paul only to end up spending half that time seemingly off-topic answering kids’ questions about where God was when the world began and how plants survived for a day without sunlight.;) Sometimes it feels as if God doesn’t have anything to say until we do something wrong, and then BAM! Are we in for it!

    It’s just not true, as this passage shows. Yes, the King of Tyre is in big trouble, but God spent so much time describing how beautiful he was before his eyes shifted from the Creator to the creation.

    God notices, he rejoices when we walk with him and are able to enjoy the benefits of an upright life devoted to serving him. He’s the proudest parent around and I’m sure his “scrapbook” is full of moments we may have forgotten as we served him but that he has cherished close to his heart.

    “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Ps. 103:1-5).

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