Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ezekiel 28: Economic Prosperity--Divine or Demonic?

Ezek 28:11-19 The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "'You were the model of perfection,full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries.So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.'" 

Tyre was a coastal city situated on the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean sea. It was a sea-faring city well known in the ancient world for its prosperity through its maritime commerce, trading in all kinds of goods. Though a small city, its economic power and reach was well beyond its size. Tyre is very much like Singapore--small but prosperous and known internationally for its trade and commerce.

However, Ezekiel reveals in this chapter that behind the economic power of Tyre was a spiritual power, viz., this "king of Tyre". In earlier prophecies against Tyre, the reference was to the "ruler of Tyre" (Heb: nagid, "the man at the top"). But now Ezekiel uses the word "king" (Heb: melek, a word used rarely in Ezekiel). It was definitely a reference to a spiritual being because its description could not fit any human king: "You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God" (Ezek 28:12-13). There were only four persons in Eden: Adam & Eve, God and the Serpent. Since he was the "guardian cherub", Ezekiel could not have been referring to Adam, but the Serpent/Satan: "You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you" (Ezek 28:14-15). 

So behind the human ruler of Tyre was a spiritual king who was "full of wisdom" which the human ruler claimed also to possess: "In the pride of your heart you say, "I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas." But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god" (Ezek 28:2). So, prosperity is no guarantee of divine endorsement and blessing--Tyre was a prosperous city for many centuries, but the power behind its prosperity is satanic: "Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones." (Ezek 28:16)

So, we see that the wisdom that empowered the human ruler of Tyre to gain its economic prosperity through trade and commerce did not come from God but from Satan. Prosperity is not always a sign of divine blessing--especially when it is gained through unethical and dishonest practices. So before we say that we are blessed by God because we have just won another business deal, we have to ask ourselves if we have compromised God's moral and ethical standards in the process. If we have, our prosperity may not be from God--our prosperity may put us under demonic power and bondage.

Father, lead us not into temptation of greed and deliver us from the evil one. Amen.

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