Reading through the Bible together

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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Isaiah is a prophetic artist. In his time the Assyrian kings portrayed the capture of cities on their palace walls in shocking depictions. Moses’ prohibition against such images limited the Hebrews of using visual arts to portray such cruel scenes, but it did not stop them from using word-pictures. That’s what Isaiah did, he used words for his picture panels, and they are multi-dimensional.

Earthly events happen in the hollow of God’s hand with ultimate control. Cities come and go, not merely because of social, economic, or political reasons, but also because Lucifer has taken control of the city and its inhabitants. Satan has in some cases also deceived the very elect of God which gives additional reasons for God’s punishment of cities.

In this chapter, Isaiah focuses on a very popular city in his day, Tyre. It seems that all roads led to Tyre. Ezekiel speaks of the “Fall” of Tyre during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 26-28). The king of Tyre had Lucifer’s spirit of Rebellion (Ezekiel 28:11-19). Isaiah saw Tyre fall long before it happened. It is not that Isaiah is against living in a city, but he is trying to tell the people of his day that the fall of any city or empire is because it is like a glove on the hand of Lucifer manifesting the same spirit of his Rebellion in Heaven no matter how it is disguised.

The empires and cities of the past were in one sense all “Babylons” for they were considered as being the gates of the gods. And every time a city fell, it was attributed to some sins that made the gods angry. Isaiah wishes to show that all these “Shutdown” activities came from above. But these disasters in history cannot be compared to the global disaster during the Executive Judgment of God at the time of the end. Tyre was like an octopus with tentacles in every country (v. 1b), ships in every harbor, and merchants from everywhere (v. 2b).

She was “the market of nations,” the Wall-Street of ancient times (v. 3c). Her “feet carried her afar” (v. 7c); she was the pride of all beauty and the honored city of the earth (v. 9a-b); the center of entertainment and performing arts and music “making sweet melody and many songs” (v. 16). She provided employment for other people, but the young daughters were misused and the virgins were oppressed” (v. 12). Isaiah warns that though Tyre was a “joyous city” (v. 7a) and a “giver of crowns” (v. 8), which made her to rejoice, but not for long (v. 12).  When the Lord destroys the economic hub of the city “there will be no more strength” (v. 10b). The Lord is the One who topples empires and capitals of empires. “He has stretched out His hand” (v. 11) and “has made kingdoms tremble” (v. 11b).

This is not just Tyre but also the land of Canaan, and it is not because God is a “bully” as some atheist make Him out to be. Canaan was so wicked that God commanded that its strongholds destroyed” (v. 11c). But Israel did not obey, settled in these cities and became secular and forsook God. These Canaanite cities also were the glove on Satan’s hand with artificial glory, deceiving relationships, and fake happiness. Even if people will run away to settle in other countries to escape the punishment, “there they will find no rest” (v. 12b), says the Lord.

The prophecy that Nebuchadnezzar would come and destroy Tyre and that it would be “wounded” or “shut-down” for 70 years (v. 13) all came true. Isaiah speaks of Tyre as “The Forgotten Harlot” but that at the end of the 70 years her “wound” would be healed.  Her glory would return to the advantage of all, even to “those who live before the Lord” (vv. 16-18).

Isaiah’s main message concerning the fall of Tyre will find a climax in the next chapter dealing with the Fall of the Earth.

Dear God,
There is a Tyre in all of us that appeals very hard to our passions and emotions. Lord, help us and free us from the spirit of Tyre so it will not wear us down and destroy our spirituality and relationship with You.  Amen.

Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea