Corrupted by Materialism

Isaiah 23 SCC 6/16/13


††††††††††† Ancient Persia is modern Iran. Ancient Babylon is modern Iraq. Aremean Empire is modern Syria. Though the conflicts were ancient in some way they have continued throughout history. The players are basically the same and the conflicts are basically the same.

With these oracles we are reminded of at least three things about our God:

1. The sovereignty of God. These conflicts and wars are within the purview of God. Modern day players are the same as ancient ones. God works sovereignly with the nations. He will judge some nations and choose others in the process. Individuals could always come to the Lord like Rahab in Jericho.

2. The idea of Gods faithfulness to his covenant. Even though judgment there is always reminders of his promises. A remnant will always turn to the Lord and find his grace.

3. Reminds us of gods eternal plan to draw gentiles to himself. Israel was to be a blessing and God would use his people to be a witness to the world.


††††††††††† This is a burden on Tyre. Both Tyre and Sidon were cities up on the Phoenician coast. These cities were influential throughout Israelís history of commercialism and a source of idolatry and corruption. These cities were the northern gateways into Israel so Assyria and other rampaging empires would first meet these cities before entering south into Israeli territory. Tyre and Sidon were about 20 miles apart along the northern coast of Israel.




A Command to Cry Out

Verse 1: There is a miserable destruction laying ahead for Tyre. ĎWail O shipsÖí as far away as the island of Cyprus. These ships that normally dock in Tyre will find it devastated. Tarshish is on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey with ships that ply the ocean, great sailors and merchants. What is being told to them, while off during the merchant marine business in Cyrpus, is that their home, Tyre, has been destroyed. They have no home to return.

A Command to Be Silent

Verse 2: even the cities of the coasts (v 2 v 6) are called to howl because of the destruction coming. They trade and have all of this revenue from Egypt to the Greek isles but itís all going to come to an end. The recipients of the trade, the islands of the Mediterranean, are to be silent. They will no longer be receiving goods and produce from these merchants. They are shocked at this.

Verse 3: Tyre had been the marketplace for the large wheat crops that came from Egypt and were distributed to other Mediterranean lands. Their business was to bring the goods of the Nile basin to the others locations but now that cannot happen. So the ones housing the merchants are to be shocked since the merchants have lost their home and thus the business.

A Command to Be Ashamed

Verse 4: Isaiah also gave voice to the sea, the mother of Tyre, which bewailed its loss at Tyreís demise. Its children were the ships that plied its waters because of Tyreís commercial activity, or perhaps its outlying colonies. This loss would be a source of embarrassment to Sidon since it was a sister city in Phoenicia. Now conquered, you use to be so proud of your little ones.

Verse 5: sorrow over the news of Tyreís downfall would be in Egypt. Tyrian ships transported Egyptian products all over the Mediterranean region. Tyreís destruction would have far-reaching effects. But though not a global problem, it is a problem for Egypt and they are stressed out hearing the armies are coming. What good are lots of produce if there is no one to trade with if there are no merchants and to customers who want them?

A Command Get Up to Tarshish and Wail

Verse 6: Isaiah advised refugees to flee from Tyre to Tarshish. How the course of Tyreís fate would change! Leave to the Asian city of Tarshish. She had for centuries been a world power, not as an empire but as a broker of international trade. Her ambitions were not political, to rule others, but commercial, to grow rich. As such, Tyre symbolizes one aspect of worldly endeavor.

Verse 7: Here is a question of shock and surprise. They simply cannot believe what they hear and see. Tyre was a source of joy for centuries but now must pick up her legs to escape rather than use them to merchandize. No longer can she establish new trading destinations to increase her influence in the region.


Verse 8: no national god like Baal could prevent any judgment God brings upon Tyre and Sidon. Not when the Lord speaks. Who is responsible for this? They are the most honored of nations and everybody comes down and bows to them because they have the goods. Everyone recognizes the beauty of the place. Here is a sense of the ego brought on by the unique position as a trading hub. If you were from Tyre, in the business community you were coddled and acknowledged.

Verse 9: The reason for Tyreís death was the plan of the Lord Almighty. He desired to humble the proud and to humiliate the admired. He wanted to show the transitory nature of human glory and the folly of depending on such glory. God does not object when worthy people receive the credit due them. What He opposes is pride that seeks to live independent of Himself. This is who orchestrated this. But we do not know yet why. God is cutting them down to size the need of which was their ego through the merchandizing and aggrandizement it brought the city and its inhabitants.

Verse 10: Tarshish are invited to expand freely, as the Nile overflowed in Egypt, because God had removed her main competitor, Tyre. The merchant shippers could ply their wares anywhere. There is nothing now to hold them back. The people sailing in these great ships have no home to go to.

Verse 11: the Lord has given the command through Canaan to destroy the strongholds. Canaan is used to remind us that this land is the ancient battleground of the faith. This is the territory that had worshipped Baal but they will be destroyed because of their corruption, their sin, and their idolatry. So other nations are negatively influenced because the trade routes are disrupted. Tyre a stronghold is overwhelmed by Assyria. Sin has repercussions.

Verse 12: The Phoenician coastal cities would have no more joy, peace, or security. Their residents would flee to even to the island of Cyprus but would not be able to find rest. So there is no more reason to be happy. You think you may be able to run away too Cyprus but even though you will not be safe from those who destroyed you in the first place.


Verse 13: the Tyrians were looking to Babylon for deliverance but Babylon is destroyed and Assyria did so with siege towers, stripping the palaces, and making Babylon in southern districts of the empire a ruins. An invader, an opportunist had been left alone by Sargon king of Assyria. Sargon hds his eye set on the Levant. Sennachreib, the next king, has nothing to do with games and turns to Nineveh, southern day Mesopotamia and wipes him out. After wiping him off of the map he turns eyes back to the coastline of the Fertile Crescent. Tyre is warned. They are in the crosshairs. That will be your fate. Assyria will now turn her site back on the coastline of the Fertile Crescent and invade from the northern approaches. No alliances would stop this advance. There will be no protection because it is the Lord who has determined they would be destroyed.

Verse 14: Even though Tyreís demise would give Tarshish more control, Tarshish would suffer because Tyre determined the prosperity of the Mediterranean world. The ships of Tarshish would have no port to enter at Tyre v 1, and they would have no security for their enterprise. How foolish it would be, then, for the Jerusalemites to pin their hopes on Tyre. Here is the lament. But why does this take place?


There is no place in our lives for ego. Ego is birthed through self-sufficiency. When we look at our accomplishments and their outcomes and take the credit. When we exploit our position of influence to our advantage at the expense of another and feel justified because of an inflated sense of self. This will get you nowhere with God. It incites God to act against you. There is no room for ego in a devoted follower of Jesus.






Verse 15: they will go into captivity but the Lord will bring them back and they shall return to their merchandizing. In the day that the Lord would execute His plan against Tyre, there would be a period of 70 years when Tyre would experience relief from her oppressors. The length of a life will be the length the city will be forgotten but then the song of the prostitute applies to her future.

Verse 16: the imagery of a Ďharlotí throughout is not used to conjure immorality but as a merchandizing term to say that the Tyrians trade and sell with everybody. They make a lot of money through anyone who comes into their city to sell to trade or to buy and become wealthy. Theoretically a prostitute has been forgotten and so she picks up an instrument in the streets to ply her wares for customers. But the prostitute here is the city that has been forgotten. But with the case of the merchant and the prostitute, they are not makers of their own wares but essentially are selling something the market desires and making a profit on the movement of those goods. Tyre has prostituted herself as all coming to her for what they desire and the merchandise she is trading.

Verse 17: Tyre would attract interest in herself again, and what she did was selfish and strictly for money. At the end of 70 years the Lord would restore Tyre to her former position of playing the materialistic harlot among the nations. She will reestablish her trading but she will also prostitute herself to these nations once again. God will remember her. She will return to her profits specifically made by a materialistic prostitute. But there is now a very surprising turn around in her future:


Verse 18: The solution to this is to take the goods she prostitutes and give them to God. She will not accumulate for herself but rather she will give her profits to those who set before God. The profits a prostitute makes will now be given to God. Now they are good wholesome products of high quality clothes for those who have none. This lowers her ego, and her status of overwhelming wealth. Going back into business the wealth becomes sanctified and everyone survives.


††††††††††† But the change in the Tyriansí attitude that this verse promises did not mark them then; they still engaged in commerce for selfish ends. Thus this verse looks beyond the history of ancient Tyre to a time yet future when God will transform hearts and cause Gentiles worldwide to come and worship Him. In the future Tyre will have a new status, a new spirit, and a new allegiance (Ps 87:4). She will join the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Assyrians (18:7; 19:18-25) and many other Gentiles in uniting to fulfill Godís glorification of Israel.


The Judeans should not envy the Tyrians, nor should Godís people of any age envy materialistic idolaters. Ultimately Godís people will enjoy all the wealth of Tyre that will come to her God. The oracles then of Chapters 13-23 seem to be saying that since the glory of the nations in 13-14 equals nothing, and since the scheming of the nations in 14-18 equals nothing, and since the vision of this nation in 21-22 equals nothing, and since the wealth of the nations in 23 equals nothing, donít trust the nations!


So What?

The same is true today. If we believe that a system of alliances can save us, we have failed to learn the lessons of Isaiah and of history. God alone is our refuge and strength. Donít establish connections to get you by. Doní think that ingenuity will be the answer. Donít consider who can come through for you. Look up not out. Look up not in. Look up not down. Look up not around. Look up not back. You are not master of your fate. God is in charge and you are responsible to live your life. God will do his job and you must do yours while never forgetting that God is doing His.