Today: [Ezekiel 26] Do You Rejoice at the Failure of Others? In Ezekiel 26 the prophet speaks against the city of Tyre, nearby to Jerusalem when they are glad to see Jerusalem fall. Because they were so selfish and hard hearted the prophet declares they will be completely decimated, which came to pass in years to come. The lesson for us is to examine our hearts when we see others suffering or experiencing downturn. Do we look to see if there is a benefit for us, or do we seek out an opportunity to be of assistance to those that are experiencing loss.
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[Eze 26:1-21 KJV] 1 And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first [day] of the month, [that] the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken [that was] the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, [now] she is laid waste: 3 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am] against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. 4 And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. 5 It shall be [a place for] the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken [it], saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations. 6 And her daughters which [are] in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I [am] the LORD. 7 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. 8 He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee. 9 And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers. 10 By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach. 11 With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground. 12 And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water. 13 And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard. 14 And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be [a place] to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken [it], saith the Lord GOD. 15 Thus saith the Lord GOD to Tyrus; Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee? 16 Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at [every] moment, and be astonished at thee. 17 And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, [that wast] inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which wast strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror [to be] on all that haunt it! 18 Now shall the isles tremble in the day of thy fall; yea, the isles that [are] in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure. 19 For thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee; 20 When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living; 21 I will make thee a terror, and thou [shalt be] no [more]: though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord GOD.
In this chapter Ezekiel prophesies against the city of Tyre because the inhabitants thereof rejoiced at the destruction of Jerusalem. The leaders of the city according to verse 2 believed that their commerce would be benefited in the aftermath of the downfall of the southern kingdom of Judah. For this cause (v. 3) the word of the Lord is that many nations will come against this prosperous city in Lebanon and completely decimate it. This prediction of the total destruction of Tyre came to pass in 332 BC when Alexander the great conquered the city and razed it to the ground. In the first century, however we find the city recovered, when Jesus himself visited it with his disciples. In the book of Acts Lydia, a seller of purple would have acquired her goods by import from the city of Tyre that was the principle source of production for the purple dye that nobles and elite people had preference for.
We can ask the question, how did Ezekiel know about the people of Tyre rejoicing at Jerusalem’s destruction? At the time of this prophecy being given, it was just short of 3 weeks since the city of Jerusalem had been sacked and the temple destroyed by the Babylonians. Here we see the precognition, or word of knowledge given in the prophetic word through the prophet Ezekiel. He didn’t know by word of mouth that the city of Tyre was rejoicing over the ashes of Jerusalem, it was something revealed to him by God. This is an important point, that the information and occasion of this prophetic word was not a reactionary statement based on something Ezekiel would have heard by the news of the day. The word of the Lord originated in Ezekiel’s heart by the revealing of the Holy Spirit.
In the New Testament, there are several instances of prophets knowing things by the Spirit regarding the fate of nations and of peoples. In Acts chapter 11 a prophet by the name of Agabus gave a very dire prediction by word of knowledge that a severe famine was about to fall not just upon a certain city but the entire world:
[Act 11:28-30 KJV] 28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Now what would your church do, what would you do if someone gave this word to a group you were a part of? Even to this day self-appointed authorities use this verse as an example of a failed prediction, because they cannot find in independent accounts the record of any worldwide famine predicted by this obscure New Testament prophet. This is a point we have to decide do we believe a 2000 year old account or do we believe a scholar with a Skype account speaking somewhere from an ivy league campus?
The notable thing in the Acts account is not whether or not it came to pass but what the brothers and sisters who heard the word did about it. They didn’t put the word on the shelf. They didn’t take a wait and see attitude. They acted. They acted and gathered finances together to send to the church in Judea because they felt they would be most affected by what the prophet said was coming. Make no mistake, people survived this famine who would have died otherwise because these people chose to believe the prophetic word by Agabus. Imagine a prophecy being given in a nearby church that the offerings being taken up needed to go not to the church budget but to another people in another place without any connection to the group receiving the prophecy. Would the group you are a part of, or your church leaders be capable of that level of obedience?
Because Tyre, or Tyrus mocked the city of Jerusalem they were judged as a city. Here again is an example of God holding not just individuals but a whole city accountable for its actions as a citizenry and as a government administration. Trye saw the fall of Jerusalem as a financial boon and began making preparations within a matter of days to take advantage of the situation. What about your city? Does God hold the city we live in accountable to care anything about any other city than itself? What city on the earth has a line item in its budget to care for any other city? What about our churches? The church is the city of God. Remember that Trye and Jerusalem were nearby to each other. Many churches will spend millions to supply the work of God in a far-off mission field. What about the church down the block? Have you ever been in a meeting where an offering was taken to send to the needs or the building fund of a church 3 blocks away? Why not?
I remember a missions conference I attended in Alexandria, Louisiana, 40 miles from the church that I pastored at the time. The conference was made up of a dozen or so independent, non-denominational churches in the area. They were coming together to coordinated their support of various missions endeavors that the organizing pastor felt were worthy of support from area churches that were not otherwise giving into missionary efforts. As the conference started there were many projects recommended in Africa, South America, and other far flung parts of the world. Being from an Assemblies of God background I had been a part of what that denomination called “home missions” which involved not just supporting far off missions projects, but near to home efforts as well.
The host of the conference invited the pastors present to ask questions or make suggestions, and I spoke up. I asked if there were any home missions projects that they could recommend. I was not prepared for the response I received. The host pastor’s face turned dark and he dismissed my inquiry saying “this is about foreign missions giving, not anything else…” Normally I would have let it go, but I spoke up, pointing out several struggling churches and ministries within 20 minutes of where this meeting was taking place that were worthy of any of the support the pastor’s present could direct their way. I specifically mentioned several pastors that I knew were struggling, on public assistance and trying to keep their doors open when I was abruptly cut off and to my amazement the host pastor dismissed the meeting till the next Saturday with the admonition that only pastors interested in foreign missions were invited to attend.
What was the problem here? The city of Tyre could not help but be glad to see Jerusalem suffer because it meant that the trade and commerce of the city of Jerusalem in its absence would now come to the city of Tyre. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of that churches in a city often benefit in numbers and membership when another church suffers a downturn or closes its doors. God holds us accountable in these times. We should never rejoice at the misfortunes of others, lest the Lord hear it and withdraw His hand of protection from our own interests. The same holds true for us as individuals. If a coworker loses his promotion and you are called to take his place, we need to approach that situation with humility. If a friend suffers a broken relationship and you are benefited by the situation we need to pause and walk circumspectly lest we rejoice at someone else’s suffering. In 1 Corinthians, Paul made this statement:
[1Co 10:24 KJV] 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s [wealth].
Now if you are a cat burglar that might look like a scripture for you to stand on, but what the verse is saying is that we need to act daily not in our own interests only but also and at times even sacrificially in the interests of others from whose situation we gain no benefit. In so doing we insulate ourselves from the fate of cities, groups and individuals who fail to learn the lesson of the fall of Trye predicted in the 26th chapter of Ezekiel.
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