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Ezekiel 28 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 13 secs

The Fall of the Anointed Cherub; Ezekiel 28

 

The basic claim of Satan in arrogance was that the creature could rule things and run things as well as the creator could. In his arrogance he thought that he could do it better than God. That is what he wanted his chance to do. Somehow he managed to convince a third of the other angels to join him in this rebellion. His arrogance first of all caused him to be completely oriented and consumed with his own abilities, his powers. He was totally focused on all that God had given him, he lost that perspective on the fact that all that he had, all of his abilities, all of his gifts, all of his power, everything that he had, came from God; it did not originate from within himself. So he was completely self-absorbed and in that self-absorption it led him to a self-deception, the key thought that he could do what God could do. This indicates something about the extent of the knowledge and the power and abilities that this creature had, that he had a vast amount of intelligence, a vast amount of power, a vast talent and ability far beyond anything we can possibly imagine. This is why he is so dangerous and why he is able to do so much that he does. In his self-absorption and self-deception he then begins to justify his own actions when God accused him, and so that is the outworking of the angelic conflict, it is in relation to proving that he is completely wrong in his assertions, that the creature can't do what only the creator can do. 

 

Ezekiel chapter 28 gives us further insights into the dynamics of Satan's fall. This chapter in Ezekiel fits within a context, it fits within the second major division of this prophetic book. In Ezekiel 25 through 32 there are consecutive divine judgments announced upon Gentile nations. In the middle of that section there are three chapters which focus on the destruction of Tyre. Tyre is located in modern Lebanon. It was probably founded not long after the Noahic flood. It is mentioned as early in Scripture as Joshua 19:29 where it is referred to as the fortress of Tyre. It was well defended. It is mentioned in Egyptian, Assyrian and Greek records. It was one of the most powerful city states in the ancient world; it rose to great prominence and founded colonies all around the Mediterranean. They had a merchant marine that was involved in taking goods throughout all of the ancient world and you couldn't trade internationally on the waters without dealing with the merchants from Tyre. This led to tremendous wealth in this city, the wealthiest of the ancient world. They would rather get involved in commerce than fight. They weren't known for military power, they built a defensive fortification around Tyre so that they could protect themselves from invasion but they preferred to pay tribute to other empires rather than to get involved in fighting. But when it came to fighting they did a tremendous job of protecting themselves. They were the first nation to map out and navigate the Mediterranean and they established colonies throughout this area. One of the most famous colonies was Carthage on the northern coast of Africa.

 

Biblically they are important, especially in the time of David. During the time of David Tyre and Israel entered into an alliance that continued for about 200 years or so. This came about because David was responsible for defeating the Philistines. The Philistines were a major rival to the Phoenicians in the maritime trade, so once David defeated the Philistines and the Philistines were no longer a factor, then Tyre had a monopoly on maritime trade. With the increasing growth of the power of Israel under David and then Solomon—the Solomonic kingdom controlled all the land trade routes and the kingdom of Tyre controlled all of the sea routes—no one could do commerce without paying tribute to them and without cooperating with them. It was during an alliance with Hiram that Solomon purchased the great cedars of Lebanon that were floated down the Mediterranean to Joppa and then taken overland to Jerusalem for the building of the temple. This was the first golden age of Tyre. Hiram's dynasty ruled Tyre until 887 BC when a usurper by the name Ethbaal who was the high priest of Baal seized the throne. He was the father of Jezebel and it was through his influence and the power of Tyre through Ethbaal that the worship of Baal and the fertility religions spread throughout all of that area of the Mediterranean and specifically into Israel. When Jezebel married Ahab she brought her priests of Baal with her into Israel and the northern kingdom succumbed to the idolatry of Baalism and fertility worship.

 

Tyre had two sections. There was a mainland city and then there was an island about half a mile offshore. This gave them a particularly unique way of defending themselves because they could leave the land city and be protected by water as well as the walls of the original city on the land, and they withstood a number of sieges.

 

Following the death of Jezebel and the ending of the house of Ahab the political alliance between Israel and Tyre broke up. Tyre then became a target of empirical assault from the various empires coming out of the Mesopotamian area—the rise of the Assyrian empire and then the rise of the Babylonian empire—but they were not able to defeat or conquer Tyre. It was left to Alexander the Great to finally defeat them. What he did (and it fulfilled prophecy) was to attack the old city and everybody had to flee across the water to the island, so he decided to build a causeway out to the island. It fulfilled the prophecy that Tyre would be laid bare and only fishermen would dry their nets on the land. But Tyre did not disappear. It is mentioned in the New Testament in Matthew 11:21; Acts 12:20.

 

One of the things that made Tyre so famous in the ancient world was not only its commerce but what it produced. They were known to produce textiles and dyes. They were able to produce a permanent dye that would not fade or wash out. One of their most famous and expensive dyes was a purple dye which was often used for royalty and the dyeing of royal robes because of its value and because it was so difficult to produce.

 

As we look at this context, chapter 26 describes the destruction of the city. Chapter 27 addresses a lament. A lament is like a funeral dirge that has been composed. It is a prophetic dirge indicating the destruction of the city of Tyre itself. Ezekiel 27:2 NASB "And you, son of man, take up a lamentation over Tyre." In chapter 28 there are two lamentations addressed to the leaders of Tyre. Ezekiel 28:1 NASB "The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, [2] "Son of man, say to the leader of Tyre, '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." So what we see initially is the indictment of the man who is referred to hear as the prince of Tyre. We have to identify who that is. He is identified as the prince of Tyre and his core sin is arrogance, it sounds very similar to that which is expressed by the creature in Isaiah 14. He is a man and he is just as arrogant as the creature Lucifer. The word that is translated "prince" here is the Hebrew nagid. The first ten verses address this prince or leader, and then there is a shift in focus to this individual referred to as the king of Tyre. This indicates that two different creatures are addressed in this chapter, they are not the same. But what we have in the first ten verses is a condemnation of the human ruler of Tyre who at the time was Ethbaal III who ruled from 590-572 BC, roughly the same time as Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Israel.

 

What we have starting in verse 11 is a lamentation addressed to the king of Tyre, i.e. the power behind the throne, the one who is really empowering the ruler. It is not unusual in Scripture for God to address Satan through the creature he is influencing. We see this in Genesis 3:14, 15 when God is addressing Satan as He addresses the serpent. It is really Satan who is empowering the serpent. When Jesus was informing the disciples about His crucifixion Peter began to rebuke Him. So Jesus addresses Satan through Peter and says: "Get behind me Satan." In this particular passage the prince is described as a man and not a god and one who is lifted up by pride, but he thinks that he is going to be a god. So there is a parallel with the fall of Lucifer in Isaiah 14.

 

So the indictment focuses on the arrogance of the ruler. His original sin was a mental attitude sin, what he says in his heart. In vv. 3-5 there are rhetorical questions that are addressed to him to show that he is not as wise as he thinks he is. "Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; There is no secret that is a match for you." The other verses down through verse ten announce judgment on the prince of Tyre and then in verse 11 things are stepped up a little.

 

Verses 11-19 is the section that deals with the fall of Satan. Once of the most interesting facets of this description of this creature, beginning in v. 12, can't quite fit the descriptions of a human being. They go far beyond a human being. For example, he is described as "the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty." Nothing like that was ever said of Adam in the garden or of any other human being. He is located in Eden the garden of God, v. 13. When was there ever a human ruler that was in Eden? Furthermore, the description that is given in v. 14, "the anointed cherub who covers" identifies this ruler as a cherub.

Ezekiel 28:11 NASB "Again the word of the LORD came to me saying, [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." The word "seal" is the Hebrew word chattam which has the idea of something sealed, such as when you would put wax on a document and put the impression of a signet ring on it, and that would seal it; or if it was on an envelope or a scroll that would close it. So it came to be something that was sealed up, that would not be opened again. The word for perfection is the Hebrew word which indicates a plan or a pattern. The idea here is that he is the ultimate in God's creation, the highest creature in every category. The glory of this creature is unsurpassed by any other creature.

Ezek 28:13 NASB You were in Eden, the garden of God…" Some have thought that this must be the Eden where Adam was in the garden of Eden. But this is called Eden, the garden of God. But remember that in Genesis we are told that the garden was planted eastward of Eden, and Eden is the location on the earth of the habitation of God. It seems that the earth at that time was very different from the earth that is described in Genesis 2 & 3. So there was an original earth, a throne of God on that original earth, on the mountain of God (v.14), and it was on this mountain that Lucifer and the other angels worshipped God, and Lucifer in his pre-fall state was involved in this worship of God.

Who was involved in the Old Testament in leading in the worship of God? The priesthood. The highest of the Levitical priests was Aaron. He wore a breastplate and on it were twelve stones, each one standing for one of the tribes of Israel. If we looked at this list of stones as a Jew in Ezekiel 28:13 we would see nine of the twelve stones listed here. So we would associate that with being like what the high priest wore. That is probably not an accident but an allusion to a priestly role that the pre-fall Lucifer had among the angels. He was responsible for the real worship of the angels and to present their worship to God. That seems to be indicated by these various stones. "… 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." The KJV translates the latter part of the verse: "the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created." The Hebrew word toph refers to a tamborine, also called a timbrel. a small, shallow, single-headed hand drum. The word translated "pipes" is neqeb which indicates a tube that had holes in it, something that air would pass through. Because of the previous word toph it must be talking about some kind of musical instrument here and it would be some sort of flute-like instrument. Therefore the indication here is that he was involved in music. We know from Job 38 that the angels sang. This all indicates this priestly kind of ministry.

Ezekiel 28:14 NASB  "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." The Hebrew word for "anointed" mimshach which is related to the core or root of msh, meshiach from where we get the word Messiah. The word "covers" is from the Hebrew word which means to cover, to hide something or to shield something, and it is used to refer to the covering of the wings of the cherubim over the ark of the covenant. So this is a very high role associated with the very throne of God, the worship of God, the holiness and righteousness of God. Then the last phrase: "You walked in the midst of the stones of fire." Nobody really knows that that means but these are apparently gemstones that reflected light, and so it was light fire, and it fits the pictures we see of the emeralds and the sapphires around the throne of God in Ezekiel chapter one and Revelation chapter four. So again this is just a description of his closeness to God Himself and his authority over the angels.

Ezekiel 28:15 NASB "You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you." This word for blameless isn't the word for righteousness or a typical word that we would have for moral perfection, but when it is applied to God it always does refer to perfect righteousness. The context determines whether it refers to someone who is simply upright, like Job. He wasn't perfect in the sense of flawless but the word also is related to God, in which case it would mean moral perfection, flawlessness, or a synonym for perfect righteousness. But in this context, notice, it is contrasted with iniquity: "You were blameless …. Until unrighteousness was found in you." So the context clearly indicates that the meaning of the word here must be flawless perfection.

Ezekiel 28:16, the analogy of trade and mercantilism that was part of Tyre's culture. NASB "By the abundance of your trade …" What kind of trading would Lucifer be doing? What is the point of the analogy? He was the one who was bringing, as it were, the priests, the worship of the angels to God. And what was happening was that God was getting all the glory and he wasn't getting any. So as he is involved in worship it becomes something that he is just trading on, and so this metaphor is used. "… You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God." How can that apply to a human being? "And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire."

Ezek 28:17 NASB "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you. [18] By the multitude of your iniquities, In the unrighteousness of your trade You profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; It has consumed you, And I have turned you to ashes on the earth In the eyes of all who see you. [19] All who know you among the peoples Are appalled at you; You have become terrified And you will cease to be forever."

So when we go through this passage we see that the same thing said of the king of Tyre can't be said of any human. No human was in the garden of God, no human was cast out of the mountain of God, no human could be called an anointed cherub who covered. No human fits any of this. This must refer not to the literal king of Tyre but to the power behind the throne.

A comparison of Lucifer with this king: The king is noted for his wisdom but the serpent in Genesis 3:1 was the most subtle of all the creatures. Satan is known for his deceit and his hostility to God as is the ruler of Tyre. Satan is the deceiver as is the ruler of Tyre. He is an instigator of evil, John 13:2, 27, as is the ruler of Tyre. Satan seeks to be worshipped as God, as does the ruler of Tyre. He seeks to overthrow God as does the ruler of Tyre. He appears as an angel of light, as does the ruler of Tyre. The only creature that fits, the only way we can make sense of the passage is if it refers to the fall of Lucifer.

We see again that it is arrogance that is the core of all sin in the universe. When we as human beings fall prey to arrogance we usurp God's role in our lives rather than humbling ourselves as Jesus Christ did to the point of obedience. The application from this is that following in the path of arrogance is following Satan, the originator of arrogance. This always leads to self-destruction. It is only when we are willing to follow the leadership, the pattern of the Lord Jesus Christ and humble ourselves by means of obedience to His Word, even though it costs us everything, that what we gain is everything—spiritual growth, rewards, privilege at the judgment seat of Christ.