After all the judgement pronounced on Israel, we are in the thick of judgement against neighboring cities. Today’s chapters are about the port cities of Sidon and Tyre and it’s leader.
What is so fascinating to me, is how chapter twenty-eight’s judgement, specifically against Tyre’s leader, seems to go back and forth between describing a king who thinks too highly of himself (28:2), and a description that most Christian Theology books use to define Satan (28:12-19). In fact, this is the “Satan fell from heaven” (v. 16) back story we learn as kids, then have trouble finding later.
The other city mentioned in twenty-eight, is Sidon. I found it interesting, it is very much personified as a female, counting seven feminine pronouns. This prompted a glance at Wikipedia to learn more about these ancient city’s histories.
SIDON was the firstborn of Canaan, the son of Ham, the son of Noah. We are talking ancient cities. In 1855, the sarcophagus of Eshmunazar II was discovered and placed to have been created around 500 BC (within a century of the time of Ezekiel). His mother was called a priestess of Astarte, who was the goddess of the city. Perhaps this is why the LORD calls the city a she? Astarte was a goddess of fertility, sex, love and war. She is thought to have been an adaptation of the goddess Anat, the sister/lover of Baal. Today, Sidon is the third most populous city in Lebanon.
TYRE was claimed to have been founded by extension of Sidon. The famous Queen Jezebel (wife of Israel’s King Ahab) was from Tyre, and brought with her the worship of it’s god, Baal (also known as Melqart). To me, this explains why the leader of the city could be semi-fluid with Satan. Today, Tyre is the fifth most populous city in Lebanon.
PHEW. I find these studies into understanding the spiritual undercurrent of Canaan both interesting and disturbing. I feel like I need to shake that all off with a reminder of how completely and easily the LORD says He will handle these “people/cities/beings”.
Sidon: “I will send pestilence to her and blood to her streets, and the wounded will fall in her midst by the sword upon her on every side; then they will know that I am the LORD.” (28:23)
Tyre: “All the inhabitants of the coast-lands are appalled at you, and their kings are horribly afraid; they are troubled in countenance. The merchants among the people hiss at you; you have become terrified and you will cease to be forever.” (27:35-36) “You will die the death of those who are slain in the heart of the seas. Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of your slayer, though you are a man and not God, in the hands of those who wound you?” (28:8-9) “I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have become terrified and you will cease to be forever.” (28:18b-19)
HE IS THE LORD! He proves Himself as King of Kings and LORD of Lords over all these petty deities of the land. The warfare He waged against Canaan was very spiritual, more spiritual than we westerners can easily wrap our minds around. We get hung up on the war and worrying if righteous were swept away with the unrighteous. The LORD goes out of His way to let us know that He knows how to save righteous people and, trust Him, they were a minority.
This brings to mind the story in Matthew 15:21-28 when a Canaanite woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon came after Jesus, begging for mercy on behalf of her demon-possessed daughter. This is the lady Jesus indirectly calls a dog, and who responds with a desperate point about eating table scraps. He then praises her, saying, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” (v. 28) What a powerfully redemptive moment, so easily missed!
It’s so exciting to discover new depths to the wondrous things Jesus redeemed throughout His life. It says, “her daughter was healed at once.” Those scary Satan/demon-controlled cities were judged by the LORD, and that scary demon possessing that little girl was cast from her at once. He is the One with the power, and He is Mighty to save. He aint afraid of no cherub that got too big for his britches.
“I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.” (28:16)
Spend time worshiping the LORD, today, for His power over all spiritual forces.