Today: [Ezekiel 27] Dealing with Partial Fulfillment of a Word from God. In Ezekiel 27 we see the prophet continuing to address the coming destruction of the city of Tyre. The word that is given was fulfilled in part against this city almost immediately. It was actually almost 300 years before the word came to pass in totality. When we receive a word from God, we often get frustrated when it doesn’t come to pass on our timetable. Because of this we lose out on what God has for us. This chapter demonstrates the need for proper discernment and patience when considering the fulfillment of prophecy.
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[Eze 27:1-36 KJV] 1 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 2 Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus; 3 And say unto Tyrus, O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, [which art] a merchant of the people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O Tyrus, thou hast said, I [am] of perfect beauty. 4 Thy borders [are] in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty. 5 They have made all thy [ship] boards of fir trees of Senir: they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee. 6 [Of] the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; the company of the Ashurites have made thy benches [of] ivory, [brought] out of the isles of Chittim. 7 Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was that which covered thee. 8 The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners: thy wise [men], O Tyrus, [that] were in thee, were thy pilots. 9 The ancients of Gebal and the wise [men] thereof were in thee thy calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise. 10 They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness. 11 The men of Arvad with thine army [were] upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadims were in thy towers: they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect. 12 Tarshish [was] thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all [kind of] riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs. 13 Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they [were] thy merchants: they traded the persons of men and vessels of brass in thy market. 14 They of the house of Togarmah traded in thy fairs with horses and horsemen and mules. 15 The men of Dedan [were] thy merchants; many isles [were] the merchandise of thine hand: they brought thee [for] a present horns of ivory and ebony. 16 Syria [was] thy merchant by reason of the multitude of the wares of thy making: they occupied in thy fairs with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and agate. 17 Judah, and the land of Israel, they [were] thy merchants: they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm. 18 Damascus [was] thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool.
This chapter of Ezekiel continues a lamentation over the city of Tyre. Ezekiel reviews the grandeur of the city and her subsequent ruin and destruction, and the reaction of the various trades and tradesmen who prospered there and now have lost their livelihood and commerce. Verse 1 begins with the familiar phrase: “the word of the Lord came to me…” signifying that while the subject of this chapter is the same as chapter 26, this is in reality a separate prophetic word. The first part in chapter 26 enunciated the condemnation of the city, and this chapter expresses a lamentation for the consequences of the judgments given.
The term “the word of the Lord” occurs 258 times in the scriptures, with almost half of them (112) located in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The word prophet occurs almost the same number of times as this phrase itself (242 times). The very first mention of the word prophet in the scripture is in Gen. 20:7 when the Lord tells Abimelech in a dream that Abraham is a prophet who will pray for him that he might conceive children with his wives. The word prophet here is the Hebrew word “nabi” and it means to “cause to bubble up, to pour forth words abundantly, to sing, to be mad, to be mad and prophesy…” This tells us that what is given when we read passages such as these is very spontaneous in character. While this chapter laments the fate of Tyre, it is probable that Ezekiel spare very little pity for this city that rejoiced at the destruction of Tyre. It is the heart of God that is reveal as emphasizing how unnecessary the destruction was of this city that was so heavily involved in the construction of the temple of Solomon centuries before.
We can read in the scriptures regarding various cities like Sodom and Tyre, Ninevah and other cities that were centers of enmity against God’s people. The thing to realize is that God looked upon them as well as His creation. Even regarding the despised and hated Babylon, Jer. 25:9 tells us that Babylon was the servant of God, just as Cyrus was described in Isa. 45:1. It gives us pause, regarding being too dismissive of those we look upon as enemies of the cross of Christ. Whether we consider North Korea, or China, or Syria and Damascus, we do well to remember that even the most villainous individuals were born in innocence and constitute as well as us those for whom Christ died.
19 Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market. 20 Dedan [was] thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots. 21 Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they occupied with thee in lambs, and rams, and goats: in these [were they] thy merchants. 22 The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, they [were] thy merchants: they occupied in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold. 23 Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, [and] Chilmad, [were] thy merchants. 24 These [were] thy merchants in all sorts [of things], in blue clothes, and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of cedar, among thy merchandise. 25 The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas. 26 Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas. 27 Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that [are] in thee, and in all thy company which [is] in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin. 28 The suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots. 29 And all that handle the oar, the mariners, [and] all the pilots of the sea, shall come down from their ships, they shall stand upon the land; 30 And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes: 31 And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart [and] bitter wailing. 32 And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, [saying], What [city is] like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea? 33 When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many people; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise. 34 In the time [when] thou shalt be broken by the seas in the depths of the waters thy merchandise and all thy company in the midst of thee shall fall. 35 All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in [their] countenance. 36 The merchants among the people shall hiss at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never [shalt be] any more.
Tyrus was a city of much commerce by way of the sea. The chapter concludes with a litany of the many nations and city-state who would lament the destruction of this hub of seafaring trade. We remember that these prophecies of Ezekiel regarding Tyre come forth barely 20 days by the date mentioned in verse 1 from the time that the destruction of the city of Jerusalem was complete. The fulfillment of this word came almost immediately at least in part when Babylon besieged Tyrus just a few years hence, holding the city shut up from all trade until it’s leaders agreed to pay her tribute. Then in 332 BC as previously mentioned, Alexander the Great razed the city to the ground bringing the complete fulfillment of all that God said through the prophet Ezekiel.
This is a case in point to demonstrate the manner in which a prophecy is given and the means comparatively by which it comes to pass. There was a partial fulfillment almost immediately, and then much later the fullness of the word was accomplished. When you receive a word from God be aware that there are different levels of fulfillment. Some things may come to pass almost immediately but not in full. This can be deceiving to us when we think perhaps the prophecy failed because the full measure of its message was left undone. This is why 1 Thess. 5:7 warns us not to despise prophesying. We want the word of the Lord to be clear and simple with a well-defined fulfillment. It just doesn’t happen that way. Joseph received a word in a dream that his family would bow down before him and that he would lord over them. What happen next was about being thrown a pit, sold into slavery and then a long prison sentence. In such cases the word itself becomes a difficulty as David said in the Psalms regarding Joseph:
[Psa 105:19 KJV] 19 Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
The purpose of a word from God is not the same as a psychic reading or a clairvoyant message. The word may promise an outcome but there is a process involved that may not be wholly to our liking. Living for Christ is not equivalent to standing at someone’s door on Halloween with our bags open to receive candy. This is a discipleship. It is about taking up the cross of God’s process and being faithful to the end when the promised outcome is realized. Most people never make it that far. They step out on a word from God and quickly give up faith that it will ever happen because contrary circumstances are involved. The reticence, and outright rejection of the prophetic by church leaders is because they pander to these people who have no interest in the process of discipleship in living for God. We ourselves must guard against a cotton-candy idea of receiving from God and determine to be patient and hold our criticisms of the prophet until the word has time to be fulfilled.
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