26 “Your rowers have brought you out
into the high seas.
The east wind has wrecked you
in the heart of the seas.
27 Your riches, your wares, your merchandise,
your mariners and your pilots,
your caulkers, your dealers in merchandise,
and all your men of war who are in you,
with all your crew
that is in your midst,
sink into the heart of the seas
on the day of your fall.
28 At the sound of the cry of your pilots
the countryside shakes,
29 and down from their ships
come all who handle the oar.
The mariners and all the pilots of the sea
stand on the land
30 and shout aloud over you
and cry out bitterly.
They cast dust on their heads
and wallow in ashes;
31 they make themselves bald for you
and put sackcloth on their waist,
and they weep over you in bitterness of soul,
with bitter mourning.
32 In their wailing they raise a lamentation for you
and lament over you:
‘Who is like Tyre,
like one destroyed in the midst of the sea?
33 When your wares came from the seas,
you satisfied many peoples;
with your abundant wealth and merchandise
you enriched the kings of the earth.
34 Now you are wrecked by the seas,
in the depths of the waters;
your merchandise and all your crew in your midst
have sunk with you.
35 All the inhabitants of the coastlands
are appalled at you,
and the hair of their kings bristles with horror;
their faces are convulsed.
36 The merchants among the peoples hiss at you;
you have come to a dreadful end
and shall be no more forever.’”– Ezekiel 27:26-36 ESV
The second half of God’s funeral dirge for the fallen city of Tyre picks up the earlier refrain, dolefully chronicling its seemingly meteoric fall from grace. Its merchants had served as rowers on the ship of state, successfully navigating the city into the lucrative waters of global trade. But as they plied the waves of the Mediterranean in search of goods from distant lands like Africa, Spain, and Greece, they encountered a divinely ordained storm.
“A mighty eastern gale has wrecked you in the heart of the sea!” – Ezekiel 27:26 NLT
And sings the sorrowing details concerning this maelstrom from the hands of the Almighty.
“Everything is lost—
your riches and wares,
your sailors and pilots,
your ship builders, merchants, and warriors.
On the day of your ruin,
everyone on board sinks into the depths of the sea.” – Ezekiel 27:27 NLT
Tyre will become like a ship that goes down in a stormy sea. Everything and everyone on board will be lost as the waves of God’s wrath engulf the ship and render it unseaworthy and incapable of staying afloat.
“I will bury you beneath the terrible waves of enemy attack. Great seas will swallow you.” – Ezekiel 26:19 NLT
Ezekiel sings of the panic-stricken sailors crying out as their “ship” succumbs to the relentless battering of the waves and begins to break apart in the storm. Those on the shore will hear their screams of terror and mourn the loss of their friends and loved ones.
They cry aloud over you
and weep bitterly.
They throw dust on their heads
and roll in ashes.
They shave their heads in grief for you
and dress themselves in burlap.
They weep for you with bitter anguish
and deep mourning. – Ezekiel 27:30-31 NLT
The atmosphere is one of utter dismay as Tyre’s fellow merchants and business partners view the tragic scene taking place right in front of their eyes. They’re witnessing something unfathomable. In their minds, Tyre was virtually invincible, a perennial power in the region that had successfully sailed the sometimes stormy diplomatic seas for centuries. Tyre enjoyed strong relationships with powerful allies and was too well-connected to suffer defeat, even at the hands of the Babylonians. With their great wealth and profitable trading routes, they could negotiate their way out of any conflict. Or so they thought.
The funeral song God wrote has them singing their own mournful tune as they recall the glory days of Tyre and its epic demise.
“Was there ever such a city as Tyre,
now silent at the bottom of the sea?
The merchandise you traded
satisfied the desires of many nations.
Kings at the ends of the earth
were enriched by your trade.
Now you are a wrecked ship,
broken at the bottom of the sea.” – Ezekiel 27:32-34 NLT
At one time, Tyre had been the darling of the nations, providing them with much-needed goods from distant lands. Everyone had grown rich and prosperous through their relationship with this booming commercial empire. But God predicts their eventual and unavoidable fall. The once-great city will become like a ship-wrecked vessel lying at the bottom of the sea, its hold full of the priceless cargo that had helped to put it on the proverbial map of the world.
This sorrowful song brings to mind a more recent tune that recalls another ship lost at sea. It’s Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Its doleful lyrics tell of the large freighter that sank in a violent storm on Lake Superior in 1975. In his inimitable style, Gordon Lightfoot chronicled the thoughts of a shocked nation as they considered the unlikely fate of this massive ship.
Does any one know where the love of God goesWhen the waves turn the minutes to hours? The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her They might have split up or they might have capsized They may have broke deep and took water And all that remains is the faces and the names Of the wives and the sons and the daughters – Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Near-hurricane-force winds and waves up to 35-feet high brought about the demise of the Edmund Fitzgerald. But it was God Almighty who orchestrated the “sinking” of Tyre. God had warned them that they would pay dearly for their previous unjust treatment of His people, and when they deemed to rejoice over the fall of Judah, it would be the final straw.
“I will stop the music of your songs. No more will the sound of harps be heard among your people. I will make your island a bare rock, a place for fishermen to spread their nets. You will never be rebuilt, for I, the Lord, have spoken. Yes, the Sovereign Lord has spoken!” – Ezekiel 26:13-14 NLT
“I will bring you to a terrible end, and you will exist no more. You will be looked for, but you will never again be found. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” – Ezekiel 26:21 NLT
Tyre’s fate was sealed because Jehovah Adonai (yᵊhōvâ ăḏōnāy) had ordained it. There was no escape. Its mighty ships, great wealth, defensive walls, and well-trained army would prove no match for the God of the universe. Once the citizens of this powerful Phoenician city decided to gloat over the fall of God’s people, they had a target on their backs. Their desire to pursue profit at all costs would cost them dearly. Their love affair with power, possessions, and influence would prove to be their undoing. And there is a timeless lesson to be learned from their fall.
“The record of Tyre has a peculiar relevance for our day, for those areas in which she excelled and was the envy of the entire ancient world are precisely the fields in which every modern nation seeks superiority. But Tyre has a message for our age, and it is that riches without God are unable to satisfy the heart of man and often keep many from dependence upon God. Has not this spirit invaded the church, and does it not pervade the lives of too many Christians?” – Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.