Wednesday 18 August 2010

Bible Book:

"Your heart is proud and you have said, 'I am a god ...' yet you are but a mortal, and no god, though you compare your mind with the mind of a god." (v.2)

Ezekiel 28:1-10 Wednesday 18 August 2010


The state of Tyre (at the time an island, now part of themainland of southern Lebanon) was Israel's western neighbour andwas rich and powerful. Its trading ships travelled the length ofthe Mediterranean. Relations with Israel were often friendly, butTyre was seen as a threat, not least because its religion exerciseda powerful attraction. Several Old Testament prophets made it thetarget of criticism.

Interestingly, in today's passage it is not the religious practicesof Tyre that are condemned but a general attitude to life. Inattacking its ruler, Ezekiel attacks the nation as a whole.

The people of Tyre were clever. ('Daniel' in verse 3 is evidentlynot the central character of the book of that name but aproverbially wise man.) Their technical, trading and navigationalskills enabled them to accumulate great wealth. They may, as someancient cultures did, actually have regarded their ruler as divine,but if so in Ezekiel's eyes it is just a symptom of a general andfatal arrogance. They see themselves as a superpower, untouchable.But being human calls for humility.

After the recent world banking crisis it is easy to focus onEzekiel's criticisms of wealth and arrogance, but his words cutdeeper. Knowledge and technology, trade and wealth bring greatbenefits, but they may also bring a false sense of security. We areunlikely to think of ourselves as gods but prosperity may blind usto our human limitations.

What is striking about Ezekiel's words, as about similar passageselsewhere in the Old Testament, is that he sees not just his ownpeople, Israel, who have a special calling and have received God'slaw through Moses, but all nations, small and great, as morallyanswerable to God. Ezekiel's words are not just for religiousbelievers.

To Ponder

Where in our society may we be tempted to 'playGod'?

To what extent is wealth, and the security itbrings, a blessing from God or a hindrance to faith?

How might a proper sense of humility expressitself in daily living?

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