Pastor Jeremy M. Thomas
Fredericksburg Bible Church
107 East Austin
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624
C0905 – February 4, 2009 – Amos 1:9-10 – Judgment On Tyre
All right, today if you’ll open your Bible to the Book of Amos. This was written somewhere around 762BC, apparently there was a massive earthquake that occurred two years after this prophecy that occurred somewhere in the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah, king of Judah. Josephus links one of Uzziah’s lesser moments to the earthquake. But this was a very well-remembered earthquake. These kinds of geophysical catastrophes were harbingers of God’s judgment and today we want to look at the third nation under God’s judgment, the city Tyre, which stands for Phoenicia. Remember, Amos is approaching the nation Israel in a unique pattern starting with the enemy nations who surround her and pronouncing judgment on them first and then Israel last, this is a trap being set. He springs the trap in chapter 2 but we’re still in the trap setting stage and we’re trying to get into the world of these people so there’s a lot of history, there’s a lot of background. These prophecies didn’t come in a vacuum, they came in an historical context of political, military and economic challenges, just as we face in the present world scene. Places like Damascus and Gaza and Tyre would conjure up all kinds of thoughts in the minds of these people, just as Moscow, Tehran and Baghdad do in ours. So these were well-known places, well-known kings, who had a running history. We want to get a handle on the history of Tyre.
So tonight let’s start in verse 9, Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Tyre and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they delivered up an entire population to Edom And did not remember the covenant of brotherhood. 10“So I will send fire upon the wall of Tyre And it will consume her citadels.”
All right, in verse 9 we begin with the same words used at the beginning of each address, Thus says the Lord, Amos had seen a vision and in this vision came this verbal revelation regarding Tyre. So we are always drawn back to the idea that the Israeli prophets were the mouthpieces of God. They speak on God’s behalf. We call that the Doctrine of Revelation and you might be surprised to find how much God had to say about Tyre.
“For three transgressions of Tyre and for four, now it’s not three or four but only two mentioned here. The point of three and four isn’t to mark out three and four transgressions but to say there have been a whole pile of transgressions. That’s why each week we don’t just walk through the transgressions highlighted, but we show a whole series of sins. Maybe the one or two mentioned by Amos are the one’s that broke the camel's back or maybe they are the central ones, but either way there’s much more transgression committed by these people, which should be obvious because they’re sinners just like you and I. God gives them grace before judgment just as He does you and I. So we want to look at some of the period of grace that led up to this determined judgment. What was it that God put up with for so long that finally ended with this declaration of judgment.
Tyre is the city we meet this week. And just as Damascus stood for the Aramean kingdom to the NE and Gaza stood for the Philistine kingdom to the SW, so Tyre stands for the Phoenician kingdom to the N/NW. This kingdom lays along the Mediterranean coastline or what is called the northern Levant. The Levant being the fertile coastline region along the east end of the Mediterranean. So ancient Phoenicia corresponds roughly to modern day Lebanon in this region of your map. Hopefully you have a map, if you don’t have a map then you can come up here and get one, much of what we’re doing requires familiarity with these regions. Let me suggest a nice Bible atlas you can get for about $20, and that’s The Holman Bible Atlas, we won’t agree with all the dates, borrowed from secular dating, but there are a lot of very high quality maps that show you the terrain, I’ve got a copy here if you want to thumb through it tonight, The Holman Bible Atlas. One of the biggest hurdles to Bible study is geography, so we’re trying to conquer that hurdle over time by delving into this and if you’re like me then after you go over it a hundred times a little bit of it sinks in. The geography of the earth, the topography, I’m convinced is not there by chance. It’s either there by design or chance, those are your only two possibilities. And the Scriptures indicate it’s there by design as a result of the global Flood of Noah about 4,300 years ago. The peaceful terrestria that resulted from that global catastrophe of proportions unimaginable has tremendous consequences for national borders, land value, influence, etc…Anyone familiar with land can tell you how defining a mountain or a river is and how these are often the borders between nations. Acts 17 says God marked out the boundaries of the nations and one of the ways He did that was by the global Flood catastrophe, so we are all affected by that high energy event down to our own day. Other things affected involve the agricultural productivity of certain pieces of real estate and mineral rights, other things involve the growing season, the weather, this is all impacted by your location. They say the three rules of real estate are location, location, location. And the location of the Phoenician kingdom is crucial to our passage today. One of the landmarks left by the Flood in this region was the Lebanon Mountains. Phoenicia was sandwiched, literally between the Lebanon Mountains in the east and the Mediterranean Sea on the west. This thin strip didn’t leave much room for agriculture, certainly not enough to feed the population. So they had to search for different means of economic growth and being that they had several natural harbors, they turned to the sea. Tyre was one of the central harbors. Actually it was an island as you can see from this diagram.
Forget the causeway for now, that was built later by Alexander the Great and we’ll come back to that. You can see from the island itself you had in the north the Harbor of Sidon, because it faced the city of Sidon, and it was naturally protected from the rough waters, in the south they had the Harbor of Egypt, because it faced Egypt, it was protected by the Island of Hercules as well as ancient man-made jetties. This is our port of interest but this wasn’t the only harbor city, they also had Byblos, Sidon, Beyrutus, modern day Beirut, and Arvad. This was the landscape the Flood and other disasters left this region to work with so they turned to the sea for their economic stimuli plan.
The Phoenician’s were the first people who ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters; we even think Jonah boarded a Phoenician ship on his voyage from Joppa to Tarshish. These were a tremendously powerful seafaring people who founded colonies on the island of Cyprus, such as Kition, in the Aegean Sea, along the coastlines and on the islands. In Greece, even farther west, on the northern coast of Africa, Carthage was founded by Phoenicians, the islands of Sicily and Corsica, as far as southern Spain in the region of Tarshish and beyond the straits of Gibraltar to the city of Cadiz, which they founded. Tartessus, and even beyond, they founded the city of Marseilles, in modern day France.i So they had founded quite an economic empire. God had given them all this in that He set up the geographical position via the Flood of Noah which resulted in this unique base for merchant seafaring. And the chief port of the Phoenician empire was Tyre located here on the map.
Turn over to Ezek 26 because we just want to show how prosperous Tyre’s merchant economy was. And the first thing we want to observe as you flip from chapter to chapter starting in chapter 26, if you’re Bible has pericopes, the little headings given to each section by the translation committee, if it has those, how many chapters are devoted to Tyre? Chapter 26, keep flipping the page, chapter 27, keep flipping, chapter 28. Chapter 29 gets into Egypt. In Amos we get two verses, Ezekiel gives us three chapters worth of information on Tyre. And most of it deals with their economic prosperity. At one time it was said in the ancient world, "The commerce of the whole world was gathered into the warehouses of Tyre." So let’s look at the warehouse starting in 26:3. She’s going to be judged, “I will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves.” Observe the distinctive seafaring language fit for Tyre. V 4, “They will destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; and I will scrape her debris from her and make her a bare rock.” Today Tyre is a rock, they call it, es-Sur or Sour. v 6, “Also her daughters who are on the mainland” will be killed, which shows you that Tyre was an island. V 12, the prosperity, “Also they will make a spoil of your riches and a prey of your merchandise, break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses,” v 15, “Shall not the coastlands shake at the sound of your fall when the wounded groan, when the slaughter occurs in your midst?” A description of all her economic ties along the coastlands, all the cities they founded and did business with in the Mediterranean and beyond, they’re shocked at her fall. If you look at v 19 you see more oceanic metaphor, “when I bring up the deep over you and the great waters cover you,” a description of her judgment. But do you see how personal this is? History is very personal and when God goes to address people in history He does so in language that fits their society. Going over to chapter 27, v 3, “and say to Tyre, who dwells at the entrance to the sea, merchant of the peoples to many coastlands, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “O Tyre, you have said, ‘I am perfect in beauty.’ They built a great kingdom. They were extremely prosperous. Is there anything wrong with prosperity? No problem. Man was created to have dominion, man was created to prosper over the face of the whole earth. The problem is not the tools used to prosper, the money, the architecture, the engineering, the creativity; there’s nothing wrong with those things in and of themselves. What’s the problem? The problem is when they are subject to the flesh. The flesh likes to use all those things in an autonomous fashion. The carnal man, which we all have, is at enmity with God, and uses those tools to build the kingdom of man. We become the definers, we become the namers; we, by an act of sheer human will, become great and it’s that mental attitude sin that “We did this, look at what our hands have done, look at how great we are”. That’s the problem. Continued descriptions…verse 4, “Your borders are in the heart of the seas;” in other words their borders had extended into the seas. “Your builders have perfected your beauty. “They have made all your planks of fir trees from Senir; They have taken a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast for you. 56“Of oaks from Bashan they have made your oars; With ivory they have inlaid your deck of boxwood from the coastlands of Cyprus. 7“Your sail was of fine embroidered linen from Egypt So that it became your distinguishing mark; Your awning was blue and purple from the coastlands of Elishah. 8“The inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were your rowers; Your wise men, O Tyre, were aboard; they were your pilots. 9“The elders of Gebal and her wise men were with you repairing your seams; All the ships of the sea and their sailors were with you in order to deal in your merchandise.” What’s the main thought here? What’s the key point Ezekiel’s getting across? They had the finest of everything. These people had it all. Economic prosperity. V 10-11, here’s military prowess, notice the special forces from other nations they’d hired out, “Persia, Lud and Put, the sons of Arvad and your army were on your walls, and the Gammadim were in your towers.” Nations specialized in certain arts of war and what this is saying is they’d hired out special forces, well-trained warriors with various expertise to guard their economic empire. Tyre was a splendid place. But the thing that happened is they exalted themselves in their heart; pride and arrogance characterized them. vv 12-24 you can see the extent of the trade empire, v 12, Tarshish, that’s in southern Spain, v 13, I just mention Meshech, that was to the north, toward Russia but probably by the Black Sea, v 14, Beth-togarmah, that’s in Turkey, v 15, the sons of Dedan, they settled in southern Arabia, v 16, Aram, that’s modern day Syria, v 17, Judah and the land of Israel, we know where they are. v 22, Sheba, that’s in Egypt, Verse 23, “Haran and Canneh, in Assyria, modern day Iraq, Eden, that’s in southern Iraq. Just look at the extent of the trade empire. And skim through and just look what they traded in. You could get anything you wanted from Tyre, Tyre was a fantastic city, it was the trade capital of the ancient world. And being the trade capital of the ancient world and being masters of the sea they extended their influence all over the world.
The way they did this was their ships. We wouldn’t do justice to the Phoenicians if we didn’t talk about their ship building. They used their native fir trees to make the planks and the cedars of Lebanon for their masts. They built cargo ships, merchant ships, fishing ships and warships, any kind of ship you wanted. They were the world’s greatest ship builders, they were on the cutting edge of technology in ancient ship building. The techniques were so advanced they were lost and not rediscovered until the 18th century. Thousands of years passed after the Phoenicians were off the scene before this technology was recovered. For example, they have this strange appendage on the bow. Scholars used to think this was a battering ram for ships in war. They found out that’s not what they were for at all, they were to keep the ship perpendicular to the waves so you don’t get turned sideways and capsized. Another advanced technique was the mortise and tenon method of planking. They would carve mortises along each fir plank, insert tenons along the plank like a row of teeth and then insert the tenons into the mortises on the adjacent board. Then they drilled two holes, one in each board and drove a wooden peg into each to hold the mortise-tenon joint. When they put the boat in the water the planks would expand making it water-tight.ii Where did they get this advanced ship-building technology? An engineer named Tim Lovett suggests they got it from the Ark of Noah; that this is pre-Flood technology being brought over and used in the post-Flood civilization. He says this technology literally exploded on the scene right after the Flood. So probably Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth knew this technology, applied it and passed it on to their children and grandchildren after the Flood. The Phoenicians became the masters of this technology. And in the course of their seafaring they used that technology to build a massive economic concourse in the Mediterranean world.
Now we want to get to some of the biblical details. Two transgressions are mentioned by Amos, obviously there were many others. Amos is announcing their iniquity is full. But the two he mentions are slave-trafficking and covenant breaking. First, slave-trafficking, they delivered up an entire population to Edom, which is the same thing Gaza had done last week (Amos 1:6; Joel 3:4-8). They sold everything else; why not sell people into slavery? And they did this in light of a covenant of brotherhood. The sin being that they didn’t remember the covenant. God looks at a contract as a binding agreement that transcends generations. So we want to look at the covenant. To do so let’s start with the Tyrian King, Hiram and King David. Turn to 2 Sam 5:11. It’s about a thousand years before Christ, David has consolidated his kingdom, it’s a united kingdom and in verse 11 David wants to build his house and settle down. “Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David with cedar trees and carpenters and stonemasons; and they built a house for David.” So the lumber to build David’s house was the cedars of Lebanon, Hiram also sent carpenters who knew how to work the cedar and stonemasons. The Tyrian stonemasons had also mastered the craft of ashlars, which are massive foundation stones, stones weighing hundreds and hundreds of tons, if you’ve been to the Temple Mount you’ve seen the ashlars laid by King Herod in the western wall tunnels, the technology of mining them, moving them and setting them was developed by the Tyrians. So the skilled laborers who built David’s house were from Tyre.
Turn over to 1 Chron 22:4. After David built himself a house he wanted to build a house for God because he was still in the Tabernacle so he wanted to build Him a Temple. And where do you think the materials were going to come from? v 4, “and timbers of cedar logs beyond number, for the Sidonians and Tyrians brought large quantities of cedar timber to David.” So David is making the preparations because Solomon was a young kid, he didn’t know where to get the best materials so David is setting it all up. But the Lord wouldn’t let David built it because of verse 8, David was a blood man and so the task was given to Solomon.
The relations between Tyre and Israel got closer in the time of Solomon, turn over to 1 Kings 5. “Now Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father, for Hiram had always been a friend of David.” Notice the term friend, they were friends, because what happens later violates the friendship. “Then Solomon sent word to Hiram, saying, “You know that David my father was unable to build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the wars which surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. 34“But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. 5“Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spoke to David my father, saying, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he will build the house for My name.’ 6“Now therefore, command that they cut for me cedars from Lebanon, and my servants will be with your servants; and I will give you wages for your servants according to all that you say, for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians.” 7When Hiram heard the words of Solomon, he rejoiced greatly and said, “Blessed be the Lord today, who has given to David a wise son over this great people.” 8So Hiram sent word to Solomon, saying, “I have heard the message which you have sent me; I will do what you desire concerning the cedar and cypress timber. 9“My servants will bring them down from Lebanon to the sea; and I will make them into rafts to go by sea to the place where you direct me,” which place ended up being Joppa, “and I will have them broken up there, and you shall carry them away. Then you shall accomplish my desire by giving food to my household.” 10So Hiram gave Solomon as much as he desired of the cedar and cypress timber. 11Solomon then gave Hiram 20,000 kors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty kors of beaten oil; thus Solomon would give Hiram year by year. 12The Lord gave wisdom to Solomon, just as He promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a covenant.” And there’s the covenant Amos is referring back to. There was a covenant of brotherhood. And I hope you noticed the terms of the contract. Solomon wants, in verse 8, cedar and cypress timber, Hiram wants, in verse 9, food. Because what did we say about Tyre, that area doesn’t produce enough food, so Israel nearby as a mass agricultural market was the provider. How many of you remember in Acts 12 Herod Agrippa was up in Caesarea one day and he made himself out to be a god and he got worms and died? Who came to him that day? Blastus from Tyre. Herod had been waging an economic war with Tyre by cutting off the food supply and so the king at the time sent Blastus, his chamberlain down to get an audience with Herod to get the food supply lines opened back up. So Tyre continually depended upon Israel for food. But I wanted you to see the brotherly contract Hiram and Solomon entered into and if you read on in the passage you see the Temple was a massive engineering project. It took seven years with that kind of labor to get the thing built.
Other things Hiram and Somon did together: Hiram sent his experienced seafarers to join Solomon’s fleet at Ezion-Geber on the Gulf of Aqaba, what is today called Eilat. It’s very beautiful, I’ve been here, Solomon kept his fleet of ships here and from here they sailed together to the Arabian and African coasts, bringing back exotic woods and other luxury goods, including gold from the land of Ophir (1 Kings 9:26-28; 10:11-12; 2 Chron. 8:17-18; 9:10-11).
If you turn over to chapter 9 you see another term of endearment between these two kingdoms. Verse 13, do you see the word “brother”? So this was a close relationship, these people sailed together, these people were friends, they looked upon one another as family.
If we look a little bit in history the arrangement, if we put it in stages: stage one, David, stage two Solomon, stage three is Ahab. At stage three, Ahab seals the alliance by marrying Jezebel. To see this turn to 1 Kgs 16:29-31. We’ve all heard of Jezebel. Well, she was the daughter of the Sidonian king, Ethbaal, and he ruled Phoenicia at the time. And the way you sealed a covenant was to give your daughter in marriage to the other party. That way if you don’t hold out your end of the bargain we’ll kill your daughter. It’s kind of a strong motivation to uphold your end of the bargain, and of course, if you kill the daughter of the king there’s going to be war. So you have this close relationship between these two kingdoms. Verse 29, “Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him. 31It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him.” In addition to all this evil he added some more to the pile and increased the suffering. Ahab made this contract, which he was not supposed to do, and the result of course was that he was the one who introduced Baalism into the pantheon of gods and goddesses already in the northern kingdom. But our point is to show this alliance was strengthened. It was already there with David and Solomon and the covenant of brotherhood they had was sufficient. I think when you go this one step further and intermarry they made a grave mistake.
But over time the Tyrian’s did not remember the covenant of brotherhood and they did something they should have never done. This was totally unprovoked. No king of Israel or Judah ever made war on Phoenicia. And yet they took some Israelites as war captives and delivered them up to Edom. We don’t know when exactly they did this. Some have suggested during the campaigns of Hazael and Ben-Hadad of Aram, they took Israeli prisoners of war and the Aramean’s turned them over to the Tyrians and the Tyrians sold them to Edom. Again, this was a whole region of Jews taken captive. Tyre sells them to Edom, which controls a large section of the Kings’ Highway, a major international highway, and from here they were sold to who knows where. And so they did not remember the covenant of brotherhood; they committed this treachery and therefore the Lord announces judgment through Amos.
“So I will send fire upon the wall of Tyre, And it will consume her citadels.” In short, military defeat. Now Tyre was a well protected city. It was a small island about 3/5 of a mile from the mainland, you could easily surround it but the problem was it was fortified with city walls and so you had to fight it virtually from the sea and so your fleet had to deal with all the winds and storms of the Mediterranean and they could sit peacefully in their fortress. Further, they had hired special forces from various nations, men trained in special arts of war were stationed in Tyre, at least during certain periods of her OT history.
Now we saw when we looked at the Ezekiel chapters, the three chapters, Ezek 26, 27 and 28 tremendous wealth, turn to chapter 28. We said, it’s not the wealth that’s wrong, it’s not the productivity of man. Man was created in God’s image to have dominion and the tools of dominion, the math, the engineering, the architecture, the shipbuilding, the stonemasonry, the tools used to build that empire, there’s nothing wrong with those things. What’s wrong is the underlying motive. The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. When we use the tools subject to the world system, which is against God, when we use the tools to build the kingdom of man in opposition to the kingdom of God, that’s when there’s a problem. It’s a problem not with the tools but a problem with man. Man is autonomous, man is depraved and when he expresses himself through these tools in a rebellious spirit, that’s where the problem is. That we will be the definers of meaning, we will define our own existence, we will build our kingdom, we are god. And that was the downfall for Tyre. Pride cometh before the fall. Turn to Ezek 28 because pride came before another historic fall. Ezek 28 is a very interesting chapter. Observe first of all, in verse 2 a lament is taken up over the quote, “leader of Tyre,” and that word means the ruler, the prince, he’s the top dog, he’s the human leader. But drop down to verse 12, here another lament is taken up against quote, “the king of Tyre,” and this is another entity. This is someone who holds superior rank to the leader of Tyre. But there’s a link between these two, they’re very comparable beings. So if we go back and take up the lament of the leader, in verse 2, let’s see what words the Lord has for him. “‘Thus says the Lord God, “Because your heart is lifted up And you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods In the heart of the seas’; Yet you are a man and not God, Although you make your heart like the heart of God— see the self-exaltation. Verses 3-5 are a parenthetical remark giving the background of why this man claimed to be ‘a god.’ 3Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; There is no secret that is a match for you. 4“By your wisdom and understanding You have acquired riches for yourself And have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries. 5“By your great wisdom, by your trade You have increased your riches And your heart is lifted up because of your riches— more economic prosperity and added to that mental prowess, ability to solve riddles. “Therefore,” verse 6, “thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you have made your heart Like the heart of God, 7Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, The most ruthless of the nations. And they will draw their swords Against the beauty of your wisdom And defile your splendor. 8‘They will bring you down to the pit, And you will die the death of those who are slain In the heart of the seas. 9‘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?” What a great end to the leader, he’s going to be captured and in the midst of the political arraignment, “Who do you think you are now, “Oh leader of Tyre?” And he’ll be executed. But now turn to verse 12. The second lament, because here’s the ultimate source of the pride that tainted the whole Tyrian kingdom. It wasn’t just the leader, it wasn’t just the people, there was a deeper problem and so this lament is taken up against this greater being. We want to find out who this being is. 12“Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13“You were in Eden, the garden of God;” who do you think this is? Who is He referring to as being in the garden of Eden? Eden was a defined region before the Flood, who ever got in that place? He can’t be talking about Adam. Adam died before the Flood, this is long after the Flood. “Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared.” Think of the wealth and the beauty of this being, and ask yourself, how does that compare with the Tyrian kingdom? Are there some striking parallels? 14“You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.” Who are we talking about? Lucifer if you want to call him that. He was the one in Eden. 15“You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you.” There’s the origin of sin, it was found inside a personal being, a personal creature. 16“By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore 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. 17“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.” Notice the splendor, the beauty, Satan got so impressed with himself, pride cometh before the fall, just like Tyre, a splendous, beautiful kingdom that had become prideful. Therefore, “I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you.” and it goes on to describe Satan’s fall. So who ultimately was behind and governing this kingdom. If Satan is labelled the King of Tyre then he’s superior in rank to the “leader of Tyre.” So this is a satanic kingdom. Satan was taking two of his primary characteristics, his beauty and his wisdom and selling them off on the leader of Tyre who said the same thing Satan said, “I am a god,” the ultimate declaration of autonomy, and then these sins trickled down to his whole kingdom. And God, just as He brought Satan down, was going to bring the kingdom of Tyre down. Pride cometh before the fall. And America corporately needs to be bowing the knee to God right now, humbling herself before Him, instead of saying, “Oh, look at us, the greatest superpower, the richest nation, look what we did, look at us, look at all we’ve done, we’ve made a name for ourselves, we’ve defined the meaning of life, we define education in the public schools, we define when life begins, we define what form of government is just and then force that on every other country as if we were God. Economic prosperity and military might have always led to these autonomous actions by human governments and after a short period of prosperity, then comes pride and finally military defeat.
All right, so how did Tyre fare? Amos says they would be judged. How did it happen? Well, it probably should be seen in three stages. It’s not a definitive defeat. The first stage comes at the hands of the Assyrian Shalmaneeser. He besieged the city, assisted by Phoenicians of the mainland, for five years and while he did some damage basically he could not take the city. The second stage comes at the hands of the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 27:1-7). He besieged the city for thirteen years, apparently without success. But the Tyrians did submit to Nebuchadnezzar and the city went into decline. The third stage came at the hands of Alexander the Great in 332BC. He was on his way to Egypt to spread the Greek empire when he had to stop and lay siege to Tyre for seven months. In an epic battle he had to construct a siege ramp more than 3/5 of a mile across the sea, a remarkable feat which made him the first to conquer the island city.iii Six thousand people were slain outright, 2,000 were crucified, and 30,000 were sold as slaves. So, needless to say Alexander was a little bent at the Tyrians. But did you hear what happened to 30,000 of them? They were “sold as slaves.” In other words, they who sold Israelites as slaves to Edom, themselves were eventually sold as slaves.iv This was probably the final defeat and fulfillment of this prophecy. But it did continue to maintain much of its commercial importance till the Christian era. The Gospels record that Jesus attracted followers from as far away as Tyre and Sidon (Mark 3:8), and once visited that area (7:24).v It is referred to in Matt. 11:21 as being a city which would have repented if the miracles done in other places had been done there and Acts 12:20 where Blastus, the king of Tyre’s chamberlain got an audience with Agrippa to relieve famine problems in Phonecia. In Acts 21:3 Paul landed there on a ship carrying cargo to be dropped off in Tyre. There was a group of believers there who accommodated him to the shores when he left, just as at Ephesus. In 1291 it was taken by the Saracens, and remained a desolate ruin until recently a city has been built there. It will be destroyed in the Tribulation.
In summary, the greatest ancient seafaring merchants built an economic trade kingdom that fell flat on it’s face because they became materialistic and they puffed up with pride just as Satan had said, “I will become as God,” so they said, “I am a god, I sit in the seat of God.” The spirit of autonomy. In addition to all that, the thing that broke the camel's back is that they broke the covenant of brotherhood with Israel by slave-trafficking with Israelites. And the consequences of cursing Israel are that you will be cursed, Gen 12:3. And cursed they were, eventually defeated by Alexander the Great and sold into slavery themselves under the sovereign providence of God. Therefore Amos’ trap is being set, undoubtedly his audience is happy about this declaration, for to them they communicate that Israel was going to enter a period of economic stability and homeland security unlike any other. May we remember that what we have is not by our own works but God’s grace and that cursing Israel will result in the curse of God who is sovereign over all the nations.
i M.G. Easton, Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996, c1897).
iii Paul J. Achtemeier, Publishers Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature, Harper's Bible Dictionary, Includes Index., 1st ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), 1102.
iv Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (1:1429). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
v Paul J. Achtemeier, Publishers Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature, Harper's Bible Dictionary
, Includes Index., 1st ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), 1102.
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