Ezekiel 28:1–5, 11–13a, 14–19 comment (0)
June 26, 2014
By Douglas K. Wilson, Ph.D.
Related Scripture: Ezekiel 28:1–5, 11–13a, 14–19
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Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
WHEN PRIDE TURNS TO GREED
Ezekiel 28:1–5, 11–13a, 14–19
Selfish pride is the topic of this week’s lesson. Satan’s fall was the result of equating himself with God (Isa. 14:12–14). The kingdom of Israel split, in part, because of King Rehoboam’s unwillingness to heed godly counsel (1 Kings 12:1–8). Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar faced God’s judgment as a result of his arrogance (Dan. 4:28–32). In the case of each person, self-importance led to a belief that he deserved more.
In this chapter, we see a portion of God’s judgment upon the nations. Within the surrounding chapters, Ezekiel explains that each of these people groups faces God’s wrath in order for them to know that He is God (Ezek. 25:7, 11, 17; 26:6; 28:22–23; 29:6, 9; 35:4, 9, 15; 36:23; 37:28; 38:23; 39:7). Pride may lead to greed, but God is able to conquer these debilitating sins. Truly God overcomes evil with good.
Portrait of Selfish Pride (1–5)
Like other men of great power, the ruler of Tyre was proud of his accomplishments. He attributed divinity to himself, declaring, “I am a god.” In his own mind, this ruler was wiser than the young civil servant Daniel, who was already making a name for himself in Babylon through his faith and wisdom (see also Ezek. 14:14, 20). The ruler’s economic prowess and trading skills made him a rich man and he took pride in his growing fortune.
James writes that every good and perfect gift comes from God (1:17). Our talents and abilities, however great or small, are entrusted to us by God. No matter what our vocation — whether doctor or lawyer, architect or engineer, teacher or administrator, accountant or banker, preacher or deacon, manager or laborer — our abilities are given to us to bring God glory. When we fail to do so in word and deed, we rob God of His glory and take it for ourselves.
Problem of Selfish Pride (11–13a, 14–15)
This passage offers interpretive challenges. Is Ezekiel referring here to the king of Tyre, to Satan and his fall or a combination of the two? Does this tell us that the fall of Satan did not occur until after the creation of the Garden of Eden? Is the “king of Tyre” a reference to a territorial spirit over a portion of modern day Lebanon? Or is the prophet simply writing metaphorically here? These questions are worthy of further study.
Earlier in Israel’s history, Solomon wrote: “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). Jesus explained that God honors the humble, but He humiliates the prideful ones (Matt. 23:12). In fact, He instructed His disciples to take humble positions in public gatherings (Luke 14:8–11). James and Peter both indicate that when we as believers humble ourselves, God will lift us up (James 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:6).
Pitfall of Selfish Pride (16–19)
Pride led to corruption. Corruption led to disobedience. Disobedience led to expulsion. Expulsion led to disgrace. Disgrace led to humiliation among peers — “I made a spectacle of you before kings” and “all those who know you among the nations are appalled.” Humiliation led to social extinction — you “will never exist again.”
Throughout biblical history, prideful leaders faced God’s judgment for their arrogance, but He has lifted up the humble. Pharaoh ultimately lost his heir to the throne, his firstborn son, for his unwillingness to release the Israelite slaves (Ex. 12:29–30). Uzziah, king of Judah, became a leper because he entered the Holy Place to burn incense, an area reserved only for consecrated priests (2 Chron. 26:16–23). Though sentenced to death, Hezekiah wept before God and was granted an extended life of 15 more years (Isa. 38:1–5). In the New Testament, Herod Agrippa died after taking pride in the knowledge that some called him a god (Acts 12:22–23). By contrast, when Paul was called a god by the people of Malta, he took care to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 28:6). We must take great care to give glory to God.