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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Ezekiel 28

 

 

Verses 1-26

Chapter Twenty-eight

The Supernatural Ruler Of Tyre

As we read this chapter carefully it is very evident that two personalities come into view: first the literal prince of Tyre, the one who actually sat on the throne when Nebuchadnezzar’s armies besieged and eventually sacked the city. But back of this earthly ruler was a sinister supernatural king who controlled the heart of the Tyrian prince, filling him with pride and self-confidence and leading him to defy the armies that God, as the Creator and Governor of the universe, had sent against him. The same thing comes out in Isa. 14, where we see Lucifer, a fallen angel, dominating the mind and controlling the spirit of the king of Babylon. These chapters throw a great deal of light on the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6. He tells us that our conflict as Christians is not with flesh and blood but is a spiritual warfare. We are called upon to put on the whole armour of God in order that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, who works through “wicked spirits in the heavenlies, the world rulers of this darkness,” as a more literal translation would read.

The real world rulers of the great earthly powers are not the men who seem to hold the reins of government and dominate the nations. These men are often but puppets under the control of Satan’s minions, angelic personalities and powers who are doing all that they can to thwart the carrying out of God’s counsels. That their efforts will avail nothing in the end is perfectly clear from Scripture; nevertheless, they are able to cause the saints of God and the peoples of the world a great deal of trouble and distress, while the conflict between righteousness and unrighteousness goes on.

The tenth chapter of the book of Daniel gives us added light as to this spiritual warfare. There we find a man of God in prayer for three full weeks; and then an amazing declaration is made by the angel Gabriel who comes at last to answer his petition. He tells the prophet that the request was granted from the first day that he began to intercede for his people; but for one-and-twenty days the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood this angel of the Lord. Now this prince was certainly not the man who sat on the throne of Persia but an evil angel seeking to keep that man from carrying out God’s purpose regarding the restoration of His people.

Another evil prince is mentioned in the closing verses, where Gabriel tells Daniel that he must now go again to fight with the prince of Persia, and later the prince of Grecia would come into the picture; for it was under the great power of Greece that Israel was to come next; and Satan was seeking to control the rulers of that land in order that he might work evil against the people of God.

With all this in view, history becomes a most interesting study indeed. As we look back over the centuries and note the rise and fall of nations and their attitude toward the things of God, we can almost visualize the conflict going on in the heavenlies. Sometimes it looks as though Satan is about to be victor, then his hosts are driven back in ignominious defeat. Thank God, the day will soon come when Satan’s last hold upon the heavenlies will come to an end, and Michael the Archangel, with his attendant angels, will participate in the final battle with Satan and his minions, as a result of which the devil and his angels will be cast out of the created heavens into the earth, where he will have great wrath, knowing that his time is short. This will be the event that will precipitate the great tribulation which immediately precedes the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with His holy angels to execute judgment on all the enemies of God, whether they be men or evil angels.

With these things before us, this chapter becomes exceedingly instructive. The first ten verses have to do with the prince of Tyre, the earthly ruler.

“The word of Jehovah came again unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyre, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because thy heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art man, and not God, though thou didst set thy heart as the heart of God; behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is hidden from thee; by thy wisdom and by thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures; by thy great wisdom and by thy traffic hast thou increased thy riches, and thy heart is lifted up because of thy riches; therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because thou hast set thy heart as the heart of God, therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit; and thou shalt die the death of them that are slain, in the heart of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? But thou art man, and not God, in the hand of him that woundeth thee. Thou shalt die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 1-10.

This monarch is pictured as the very incarnation of pride and self-will. So haughty is he that he pro- claims himself to be a god sitting in the seat of Deity, and one, therefore, whose power no armies can destroy; but he was soon to learn that he was but man and not God, though he had set his heart as the heart of God. He gloried in his wisdom; in his own judgment he was wiser than Daniel and felt that no secret was hidden from him.

This, in itself, is intensely interesting, for it shows us how widespread was Daniel’s reputation at this time as a man of probity and sagacity; his fame had gone far beyond the actual kingdom of Babylon, and this Tyrian prince compared himself with Daniel, and in his conceit considered himself wiser than the prophet whom God had raised up even in Babylon in order to make known His mind and will.

The prince of Tyre gave himself credit for the wealth and commercial standing of the city which he ruled. He was to learn that only by the will of God does any man hold authority, and when that authority is abused God wrests it from him. The army of the strangers whom the Tyrians despised, had come against the city and proven themselves to be the terrible of the nations. God was about to give Tyre into their hands. Its nobles would be brought down to the pit, and its prince was to have an ignominious death, not only unable to protect his city but also unable to save himself. This would be the end of the man who had said, “I am God.” His doom was predicted by Jehovah and none could turn it aside.

In verses 11 to 19 the supernatural ruler of Tyre comes before us; though in the latter part of this section we may find it difficult to distinguish between the human and the supernatural, because the one was so completely dominated by the other that his doom was but a picture of that awaiting Satan himself.

“Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared. Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee. By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I have cast thee to the ground; I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee. By the multitude of thine iniquities, in the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of thee; it hath devoured thee, and I have turned thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the peoples shall be astonished at thee: thou art become a terror, and thou shalt nevermore have any being”-vers.11-19.

It is very evident that of no earthly ruler could these words be spoken. Undoubtedly we have here the original condition and the fall of Satan himself. It was of him that God could say, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” Men often ask why God created the devil. The answer is He never created the devil; He created a pure spirit-being of great wisdom and glory, but this spirit dared to conspire against the throne of God, and so the greatest of all the angels became the arch-enemy of God and man.

The prophet says of this spirit leader, “Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God.” This would seem to suggest that before man himself was created, this glorious being had charge of the lower creation. There is a mystery here that we may not be able to solve, but Jesus Himself says, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). He may have been the one appointed from the beginning to take charge of this world. We do not speak dogmatically, however, as to this, but these verses seem at least to suggest it. Every precious stone was his covering. These precious stones speak of the glories in which God’s saints are yet to stand before Him, as we find in the book of Revelation; and here we see them all combined in the robes of this great angelic leader. It was his to lead the praises of the angelic host. The workmanship of his tabrets and of his pipes suggests this: in the day that he was created he was prepared to lead the heavenly choir. He is described as the “anointed cherub that covereth”: that is, he was the angel that attended on the throne of God. It was Jehovah Himself who had set him there. He dwelt in the very presence of Deity, walking up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, for we read, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). He was created perfect, but how long this condition continued we are not told. The Word simply says, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee.”

Verse 16 links the supernatural ruler very closely with the prince who sat on the throne; but God goes on to speak directly of the covering cherub in the following verse, and gives us the secret of his fall. He says, “Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.”

The Lord Jesus shows us that Satan is an apostate; he “abode not in the truth” (John 8:44). The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy not to put undue responsibility upon a novice, or one newly come to the faith, lest he be lifted up with pride and fall into the condemnation of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6). This passage is the key to both these other scriptures. It was pride that turned an archangel into a devil.

The closing verses, as we have mentioned, link this great being so intimately with the literal Tyrian ruler that one can hardly be distinguished from the other. Because of the way in which he dominated the heart of the last prince of Tyre, the judgments depicted were to fall.

The next section deals with the doom of Sidon, a city close to Tyre, which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, but afterwards rebuilt.

“And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Sidon, and prophesy against it, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, O Sidon; and I will be glorified in the midst of thee; and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her. For I will send pestilence into her, and blood into her streets; and the wounded shall fall in the midst of her, with the sword upon her on every side; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor a hurting thorn of any that are round about them, that did despite unto them; and they shall know that I am the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 20-24.

This city is often linked with Tyre in the Scripture. Jesus said, “If the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes” (Luke 10:13). It was not for them to continue until Messiah came; they fell long before because of their pride and arrogance. While God’s judgment as we have noticed before is His strange work, and He takes no delight in it, yet He is glorified even in the destruction of those cities or nations that dare to oppose themselves to His will. And so upon Sidon was to fall pestilence and bloody warfare; and this city, which had been for so long a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, a thorn in their side, was doomed to destruction. But God’s power and might is not only shown in chastising His people when they would depart from Him, and in visiting judgment upon the wicked, but also in the recovery of those who return to Him; and so in the last verses of the chapter we have a promise of Israel’s future restoration.

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the nations, then shall they dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they shall dwell securely therein; yea, they shall build houses, and plant vineyards, and shall dwell securely, when I have executed judgements upon all those that do them despite round about them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah their God”-vers. 25, 26.

These verses are to be taken as literally as the many passages that speak of the desolations of Jerusalem and the scattering of the people of Israel among the nations. The day will come when a repentant remnant will ask the way to Zion, and the Lord will reveal Himself to them and eventually settle them again in their own land where they will dwell securely, building houses and planting vineyards. This is not a picture of the coming glory of the Church in its heavenly inheritance, but is very distinctly a prophecy of blessing upon the earth in the land of Palestine for the restored people of Israel.

They are going back now to their land in unbelief; going back, little as they realize it, to greater sorrows than they have ever known among the Gentiles, even to the days of the great tribulation. But when all that is passed and the Lord Jesus is revealed to them as the Messiah for whom they have waited so long, they will look upon him whom they have pierced, and bow in contrition at His feet, and thus be restored to Jehovah, and so settled in their land in perfect peace.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 28:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/ezekiel-28.html. 1914.

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