man falling backward off cliff August 28 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Psalms 14, 53, Ezekiel 26, 27, 28

A Fall From Great Heights

We have all admired some person or organization which fell from a great height, and we lamented the loss. Perhaps it happened when a large publicly traded company or national bank went belly-up. Maybe it happened when a talented and much admired sports figure was convicted of a heinous crime. Perhaps it happened when a popular politician, preacher, or teacher was caught in embezzlement or immorality. People and organizations fall from great heights when they are arrogant and corrupt in their dealings. Eventually, their unethical and immoral behavior catches up with them, and then there is a great crash. How do we prevent a fall?

In today's Bible reading, the nation of Tyre is a coastal city, north of Israel. Her king, Ethbaal III, becomes arrogant. His nation is shrewd in business, and so he gains great wealth and prestige by trade. Every nation in the Middle East deals with Tyre, including Israel. When Judah falls to Babylon, however, Tyre is one of the nations who rejoices and tries to profit from her loss. For this, the LORD is irate with the king of Tyre.

The pride of King Ethbaal III is compared to another villain. Many Bible scholars believe Ezekiel 28:12-17 is a reference to Satan (or Lucifer, the illumined one, the bright morning star); however, in the larger context the allusion seems to be a comparison between him and the king of Tyre. God says through the prophet Ezekiel,

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones [a possible reference to the holy presence of God - Ezekiel 10:1-20]. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.” (Ezekiel 28:13-15, NIV)

As Chief Cherub (guardian angel), this illumined one, or bright morning star, had direct access to the presence of God and was highly favored by the LORD of all creation, but pride was his downfall. Since Eden is thought to have been in Babylon near where the Tigris and Euphrates river meet (Genesis 2:10-14), Ezekiel 28:13-15 may have been merely a comparison of the pride of Lucifer and King Ethbaal III, or perhaps, as some theologians suggest, King Ethbaal III was demon possessed (for additional insights about Lucifer or Satan, go to more). For his pride, God cast Lucifer and his myriad of angels down to the earth. From then on he became known as Satan (meaning "adversary") or the devil.

For King Ethbaal's sinful pride, claiming that he is a god (Ezekiel 28:1), and profiting by Judah’s calamity, his nation will be cast down and destroyed by Babylon. As in the case of Lucifer, the world will be appalled at Tyre’s great fall. Ezekiel 26-28 is a lament for Tyre and Sidon’s fall (God does not rejoice at the calamities of nations. His wish is for them to repent and experience His grace, Ezekiel 33:11). This fall from greatness happens gradually as Babylon (in 572-573 B.C.) and Greece (with Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.) cut off her trade and finally destroy Tyre.

Lessons to Live By

  • Are we arrogant about our accomplishments? Do we credit ourselves with success, or humbly give the LORD credit for everything? Let's give God the glory; He lifts up one person and puts down another.
  • How do we get our profits? Do we take advantage of the misfortunes of others or honestly earn them? God judges people for unfairness and lack of integrity in their dealings. He wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves and do no harm to them (Exodus 20:16-17; Leviticus 19:9-11; Psalm 15; Proverbs 3:29; Mark 12:28-34; 1Corinthians 10:23-24).
  • We should live in humility and thankfulness for all God has given us. Let's not let our hearts be lifted up with pride so we think we are invincible. Pride leads to corruption, which leads to destruction. Let's not fall from greatness, any privilege God has given us.
  • God laments the fall of nations. His wish is for them to repent and experience His grace. He wishes the same for each one of us (more...)

Insights on today’s Bible study were gained in part by The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., edited by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, pp.1278-1285.

Focus Verse

Proverbs 16:18 (NIV) “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

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A Look Ahead: God holds Israel accountable for her sins. Holding People Accountable is important. Find out why in our Next Lesson

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