A prophecy: The word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrak and will come to rest on Damascus— for the eyes of all people and all the tribes of Israel are on the Lord — and on Hamath too, which borders on it, and on Tyre and Sidon, though they are very skillful. Tyre has built herself a stronghold; she has heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets. But the Lord will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she will be consumed by fire. Ashkelon will see it and fear; Gaza will writhe in agony, and Ekron too, for her hope will wither. Gaza will lose her king and Ashkelon will be deserted. – Zechariah 9:1-5
The subject of today’s passage is God’s wrath against some of the neighboring towns like Hamath, Tyre, and Sidon. God’s ire is especially directed at Tyre. This is not the first time that prophecies have indicated a reckoning for Tyre. Back in Ezekiel 28:1-10 God was dealing with the pride of the king of Tyre and his impression that he ruled the sea rather than God. The king gets a wake-up call from invaders and perhaps some sort of natural phenomena like an earthquake of rearrangement of the coastline that will leave his city in the depths of the sea.
The doom of Tyre was also prophesied by Isaiah when God said that it would be “left without house or harbor” (Isaiah 23:1-18). In that passage the issue was dependence on possessions and trade rather than God. This passage also seems to be dealing with an unhealthy dependence on earthly treasures and skills rather than God’s provision. It seems God is again reminding the people of Tyre that all the wealth and wisdom that they have is not really a result of their own intelligence and business acumen.
They are clearly amassing earthly wealth, “Tyre has built herself a stronghold; she has heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets”. That is a lot of gold and silver dust! When I was a boy my dad and I used to go gold panning for “gold dust”. We never found a lot, but just enough to make it interesting and make us go back in the hopes that we would find “the mother load” of dust. The people selling the gold panning equipment were making far more money than we were on the gold we recovered. But it was fun and a great excuse to hang out together along a beautiful river.
The prophecy here, as in previous prophecies about Tyre, is that “the Lord will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she will be consumed by fire”. This is a little different than previous prediction in that there is to be fire involved. Previous predictions involved the sea in some way and probably drowning. Given a choice of going out by fire or drowning I am not sure which I would choose. Neither is at all pleasant. Interestingly, both of these ways dying involve one’s body being overwhelmed by an outside and elemental force, water or fire.
It sounds like what will happen in Tyre will not be alone in the calamity to come, “Ashkelon will see it and fear; Gaza will writhe in agony, and Ekron too, for her hope will wither. Gaza will lose her king and Ashkelon will be deserted”. The devastation and “fear of the Lord” will spread to neighboring cities along the coast north of Jerusalem. I suppose if this motivates people to turn around a return to God it is a good thing in the end, but I am sure it seemed like a pretty difficult road for the people of Tyre and their neighbors.
The take home for me here is that we need to be very careful about what we treasure and how much we rely on our own skills and resources rather than God. The tools and treasures may look a little different in modern times but the message remains the same, in end God wins.
Prayer: God help us to keep a proper posture toward our pride and possessions so that we do not find ourselves separated from You.