A CAVEAT ON INTELLIGENCE, WEALTH, AND BEAUTY

(Ezekiel 28:1-10) I believe Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezekiel chapter 28 are parallel passages in the Old Testament which are a representative example of what pride can do to men as they represent a nation, and yet on account of the astonishing supernatural metaphors used for the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14 and the king of Tyre in Ezekiiel 28, the illustration goes far behind them not only as human representatives of the characteristics of a nation but goes behind that to the supernatural force of evil in our world that supremely embodies these characteristics. And so my train of thought is going to run from the Evil one as he influenced oither angels, one as a representative of a whole. And moving from the sin of the angelic world, we’re going to move to a man ashe exemplifies a nation. So we’re moving from angel to angels to man to men. I think Isaiah 14 represents a military power. The king of Babylon was the power of his day. There was nothing that could stand before him for long periods of Near Eastern history, and he is the symbolic embodiment of military power. On the other hand, the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, i think represented commercial power. If you know where Tyre is, it is the place the Israelis and Lebanese have long been fighting over. It’s on the northern coast just above Israel. It’s the ancient sea-faring power known as the Phoenicians. As Babylonn may have represented military power, the nation of the Phoenicians where Tyre is its capital represented commercial power. They were absolutely the sea power of the day and all the commerce that went with it

If you will notice, we’re talking about a man – a world leader, but very quickly it’s going to move from worldly leader to a supernatural leader. the New Testament says that Satan is the prince of the power of the air, and even the god of this world. As an individual, this worldly leader is motivated primarily by the egocentricity of its needs, trends, and motives. And then as a nation, it has seemed to build it’s foundation on success and power, and yet behind it all is the supernatural forces of evil that have the exact same problem. Many people have said verses 1 through 10 is a picture of the Anti-Christ because in verse 2 it’s going to say, “…I am a god, I sit in the seat of God,…”, and 2 Thess. 2:4 has this same description of the Anti-Christ, and we’re going to find that kind of identification all the way through. The Old Testament uses current historical circumstances to foreshadow the end-time. What we’re doing here is the exact same thing. But instead of historical events, we’re using historical personage as in the king of Tyre to speak about some personages that are going to come up on the stage of history. And one personage i.e. Satan, that’s been on the stage for a long, long time even before man.

It’s interesting that the king of Tyre, Ithobaal II had close connection with Israel. Remember Jezebel, Ithobaal’s daughter imported the prophets of Baal and the prophets of Asterah which is the fertility cult of the Canaanite religion, and almost took over the entire worship of Israel. Solomon even contracted an earlier king of Tyre, King Hiram to build the temple of God. So you will see Tyre was never an enemy of the people of God, never. They are in close connection. They do military campaigns together. They are tied economically together, and yet God has a word of judgement on this nation, not because it’s an enemy of the people of God, but because of the pride and arrogance that this nation developed. Now Tyre was the capital of the Phoenician empire. It was an island about a quarter of a mile from the shore with a very deep swift moving channel in between. It was an almost impregnable fortress that never fell to any conqueror, even to Babylon, then the largest world power which staged a 13-year siege. That rocky fortress did not fall. This is the kind of place we’re talking about.

“…because your heart is lifted up…” – what we’re talking about here is the most despicable ambition of all; the creature desiring to be the Creator, the created storming the throne of the One who has created them. Now whether it be Satan who did that initially, or whether it be Adam or Eve who did that same thing, or whether it’s you and i, pride is the central core of man’s problem. That thing that directs every motive, every issue, every energy, every desire – it makes everything focus around us. It makes us the hub of everything that is. That’s the problem here. Wanting to remove God from His place and wanting to put ourselves in that place, it’s exactly what Genesis 3:5 says about the serpent telling Eve, “God doesn’t want you to eat that fruit, because God knows when you eat that fruit, you will be like Him. You will be as gods”. Isaiah 14 talks about the same idea of a ‘heart being lifted up’ in pride. “…I seat in the seat of the gods…” – i don’t really know what that means exactly, except the fact that the king of Tyre thought that he had an impregnable fortress. He thought no one could take that city, and that seems to be the idea here, “in the midst of the seas”. It’s a bit confusing because in verses 4, 8, and 9 here all refer to a human being and not to Satan, and yet chapters 12 and following absolutely can’t refer to a man, and then chapters 16 through 19 are kind of a mixture of a supernatural element in human form which makes it so difficult to be dogmatic about. He is said to be ‘wiser than Daniel’, and by his wisdom and understanding he has acquired riches for himself. He has acquired gold and siver,and by his great wisdom and by his business acumen he has increased his riches, and his ‘heart is lifted up’ because of his riches. The tragedy is, because of his wisdom, because of his riches, because of his beauty (vs 17) he desired to be his own god.

Friends, i want to say i don’t know what you pride in, i don’t know what you boast about yourself; you may be a handsome or a pretty person, you may be a wealthy person, you may be a very intelligent person, but remember the New Testament talks about us rather boasting in Jesus Christ for the center of our worthiness. If you’re putting your foundation on any kind of thing that you’re doing, i promise you in this world and in time, you can go like the king of Tyre. How long does beauty last? How tenuous is riches in a world of war? How quickly does one fall, or one little brain tumor, one little stroke take away all of man’s superior intellect? This man was trusting in his mind, and his wealth, and his beauty, his ‘heart was lifted up’, and in no sooner a time God caused Nebuchanezzar, the cruelest military power of Babylon slaughtered his vaunted city, and took everything his city had. The king of Tyre was brought down to the pit where he so rightly belongs. The king’s death spelled his nation’s death. I want to tell you, a nation that’s exemplified in pride, for its wisdom, for its wealth is a nation that’s on the slides to destruction. While a nation that trusts in God is the nation that’s secure on its foundation. I think this book wants to speak to men as it wants to speak to nations. And because we have personifications in history of this attitude, doesn’t preclude that we’re going to have further personifications of this kind of attitude in our day. And as the Lord has spoken, the boastful is doomed to destruction. What do we brag in as Filipinos?