By Collin Ross
The prophetic fall of Tyre is a story with which many of us are familiar. A man attains incomprehensible success in the form of fame, power, and wealth. But rather than lifting him to new heights, the weight of his great accolades pulls him under the water to his doom. We have heard countless renditions of this story, from A Christmas Carol to children’s cartoons—a man reaches the peak of success only to stumble and fall off the mountain.
Fame, power, and wealth are not the problem, though their prevalence in these kinds of stories should be noted. The charge that God brings before the king of Tyre is that he has a prideful heart (Ezekiel 28:2). The king has forgotten his place in the universe. He is but a man—a creature, not the Creator. He was once full of wisdom, perfect in beauty, and “blameless in [his] ways until wickedness was found in [him]” (v.15).
We all know that the king is not alone in this misunderstanding. The season of Lent reminds us of our struggle to come to grips with the reality that we are not the center of the world. Ezekiel reinforces the universality of this issue by placing the king of Tyre in Eden (v.13). Humanity has been fighting the desire to be gods since the very beginning!
To believe that we are gods is of course a delusion of grandeur, but it is one in which we often participate. In fact, early Christian leaders like Augustine identified pride as the core sin from which all others find their source. In modern times, it can be so easy to think we have everything under our control. We make money using our skills in the workplace. We procured the house where we live, the car we drive, even the devices on which we read these devotions! Of course there are always things beyond our means, but for the most part we can manage life on our own.
That is, until we can’t. Anyone who has walked through illness, crisis, or trauma knows the paradigm-shattering experience of being powerless to create the life you desire. At some point, inevitably, we run into the wall of our mortality, our creature-ness, and we admit that we are not gods.
The Lord intended to open the king’s eyes to the truth of his mortality. In spite of his enormous wealth and power, the king would die like all men do (v.10). Only God has eternal dominion.
The humility that Christ calls for in His disciples is not thinking less of oneself; rather, it is thinking rightly of oneself. It is remembering that we are made in the image of God and not the other way around. It is ascribing to God the many blessings we know and trusting not in our own righteousness but in the righteousness given to us by the eternal Son.