So many people think that the prophets of the Old Testament had a bland and repetitive message. They accuse the seers of simply giving a one-size-fits-all “turn or burn” memo for ancient civilizations.
Then, they read Ezekiel’s prophecy against Tyre…and everything changes.
In ancient times, Tyre was a metropolis on par with modern day New York. The city was incredibly wealthy because of its location on – and in – the Mediterranean Sea. (Part of the city was on the main shore and part of the city was perched on an outcropping of rocks in the sea about a half-mile from land.) The town’s location also offered it a tremendous set of natural defenses. Between the prevailing winds that blew onshore and the deep waters surrounding the base of the city’s walls, many thought the city was impregnable.
That may explain why many inhabitants of Tyre didn’t take Ezekiel’s prophecy of destruction very seriously….
I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. She will become plunder for the nations, and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Then they will know that I am the LORD. For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons. His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust. Your walls will tremble at the noise of the war horses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. The hoofs of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 26:3-14)
But, as always, God means what He says.
Just as Ezekiel had predicted, the destruction of Tyre began when Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar launched a 12-year-long siege which ultimately gave him control of the mainland city. (“From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon….”) Tyre’s fall to Nebuchadnezzar happened in 572 B.C., but their troubles were far from over.
In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great, the world’s mightiest conqueror, set his sights on the island city, the only part of Tyre that hadn’t fallen to its enemies. He besieged the island for about six months, but hastened the city’s defeat by building an unthinkable 200-foot-wide causeway all the way across the water to the island! His man-made bridge was built by taking apart the mainland city, brick by brick and timber by timber, and throwing those supplies into the sea to build his causeway. (“They will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea.”)
But Alexander wasn’t the last conqueror who would enter Tyre’s gates. The Muslims attacked in 1291 A.D. and completely desecrated the remaining structures of the city. Tyre would never recover from this fateful blow, fulfilling two prophecies at once: (“I will bring many nations against you…” and “You will never be rebuilt….”)
There is a modern-day city named Tyre, but it’s located down the shoreline from the ancient site. The original city only serves one purpose these days: fishermen use the exposed rocks to dry their nets. (“I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets.”)
Nobody will call biblical prophecy bland again.
The Stones Cry Out: What Archaeology Reveals About the Truth of the Bible by Randall Price. Harvest House Publishers, 1997, Pages 254-255.
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