Today’s read of Ezekiel 26-28 contains God’s words against the nation of Tyre; he also specifically addresses the king of Tyre. Part of this passage might be familiar to you. In 28:11-19 God addresses the king of Tyre, but seems to clearly refer to what only can be Satan, as He describes his original beauty, his presence in the Garden of Eden, and his fall away from the God who created him as he lifted up his heart in pride. There’s a similar passage in Isaiah 14 about the king of Babylon, in which God confronts him with his pride in lifting up his heart in pride.
What is the core issue that caused these kings to incur God’s wrath and judgment? Simply, they put themselves in God’s place. “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.” (28:2) When it says the king made his heart like God, it’s not talking about being a “man after God’s own heart” like David. It means that he considered his heart to be just as good and wise as God’s, that his own wisdom and thoughts and opinions were equal to God’s.
Notice that it doesn’t say the king didn’t believe in God. In his mind, God existed, but he just didn’t have the right to rule over him. God was a vague being out ruling His own kingdom, but the king determined that he wasn’t obligated to serve God; instead he was his own god. How did he come to this conclusion? “By your wisdom and understanding you have acquired riches for yourself and have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries. By your great wisdom, by your trade you have increased your riches and your heart is lifted up because of your riches.” (28:4-5) In his mind, the king had accomplished and accumulated a comfortable life by his own efforts. In his estimation, nothing he had came from God; he had done it all himself by working hard and being smart.
Oh, how far we fall when we think we’ve done anything in our own efforts! And how scary it is when we set ourselves against the One who has the right and authority and power over our lives, because He created us. And the message is clear. When we start thinking this way, we are following in the footsteps of Satan, doing exactly what he did. He was created to stand in the presence of the God of the universe and given unimaginable beauty and gifts to use to worship God, yet he turned it all upside down and gave himself the glory.
Did we create ourselves? Can we keep our lungs breathing? Our hearts beating? Our minds thinking correctly? What defense do we have against the ravages of disease and injury? Can we make a broken bone rebuild itself? Are we able to command a bleeding cut to clot so that our very life’s blood doesn’t empty our veins? Can we stop a stroke, or a heart attack, or prevent cancer from eating us away inside? Whether we believe it, or accept it, we are completely dependent on the grace of God. Oh, that we might recognize who He is instead of thinking we are gods of our own making. Oh, that we might run to Him instead of away from Him, in humility and gratitude, and find out just how good and amazing He is.