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The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Messages for the Modern World from an Ancient Prophet is the theme we are working through and is based on Ezekiel’s prophecies.
This prophet lived in a foreign country during perilous times.
He found God to be very real and present, just as we can find Him to be today.
Today we are talking about The Price of Success.
Ezekiel 28:17 NKJV
17 “Your heart was [a]lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor;
I cast you to the ground,I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you.
Ezekiel 28:1-19 NKJV
Proclamation Against the King of Tyre
1 The word of the Lord came to me again, saying,
2 “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord God:
“Because your heart is lifted up, And you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, In the midst of the seas,’ Yet you are a man, and not a god,
Though you set your heart as the heart of a god
3 (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel!
There is no secret that can be hidden from you!
4 With your wisdom and your understanding
You have gained riches for yourself,
And gathered gold and silver into your treasuries;
5 By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches,
And your heart is lifted up because of your riches),”
6 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God:
“Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god,
7 Behold, therefore, I will bring strangers against you,
The most terrible of the nations;
And they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom,
And defile your splendor.
8 They shall throw you down into the Pit,
And you shall die the death of the slain
In the midst of the seas.
9 “Will you still say before him who slays you,
‘I am a god’?
But you shall be a man, and not a god,
In the hand of him who slays you.
10 You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
By the hand of aliens;
For I have spoken,” says the Lord God.’ ”
Lamentation for the King of Tyre
11 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God:
“You were the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
Was prepared for you on the day you were created.
14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers;
I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
Till iniquity was found in you.
16 “By the abundance of your trading
You became filled with violence within,
And you sinned;
Therefore I cast you as a profane thing
Out of the mountain of God;
And I destroyed you, O covering cherub,
From the midst of the fiery stones.
17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor;
I cast you to the ground,
I laid you before kings,
That they might gaze at you.
18 “You defiled your sanctuaries
By the multitude of your iniquities,
By the iniquity of your trading;
Therefore I brought fire from your midst;
It devoured you,
And I turned you to ashes upon the earth
In the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you;
You have become a horror,
And shall be no more forever.” ’ ”
In Jesus name we pray.
Before the Israelites were carried away captive into Babylon, they prided themselves on being the most religious people on earth.
They had the most magnificent temple the world had ever seen in which to worship God.
They had a “holy city” that was known the world over as the city where the God of the Israelites, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, lived.
They had their holy days, their specified times for prayer and the offering of sacrifices.
But gradually, inevitably, all of this worship had become mere ritual and formality.
God was in the temple, and what they did between their stated times of worship, how they reacted toward their fellow humans in their business dealings and in their personal relationships, was beside the point.
But now they are away from their precious temple and their holy city.
And they can’t do anything about it!
Because of their wrong and restrictive concept of worshipping God, they have come to think that they really can’t worship Him anymore, and that it is all His fault!
Therefore, in this highly symbolic and imaginative passage, Ezekiel is showing them that worshipping God is a total experience.
And here he focusses on, of all things, the business world, the world of commerce.
He uses the “prince of Tyre” as a type of person who has certain skills and talents that are vital for any successful business person.
- Let’s identify the prince of Tyre.
Who is this man who Ezekiel describes so well for us?
To begin with, Tyre was the capital city of the Phoenicians.
It was in the shadows of the Lebanon mountains at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.
The city of Tyre was built on a rocky island about eight hundred meters from the shore.
Between the island and the mainland was a deep harbour.
Behind Tyre lay the mountains, with their rich supply of timber for ship building.
And in front of Tyre lay the world.
The peculiar genius of Tyre was not so much in sailing and building, but in commerce.
In Ezekiel’s day Ithobaal the second ruled over Tyre.
But he is not necessarily the man Ezekiel is describing in chapter twenty eight.
Most probably he is presenting a symbol of the whole Phoenician culture, its strengths and its weaknesses, to drive home the lesson he is trying to teach his people.
Ezekiel understood, and he wanted desperately for his people to understand, that the entire economic system of a people is an important part of spiritual life.
The qualities that make for success in business are good, it is the abuse of them that is evil.
By and large the Phoenicians had been a people of resource, daring, and imagination.
They took the natural gifts which they had been endowed and used them with intelligence.
But these Phoenicians, with all their natural talents and abilities, do not know the true God.
They had no relationship with Him, and therefore those talents they had in the area of business and commerce were destined to go sour.
They were amazingly successful, but because they did not recognise who their success came and for what it was intended, they were destined, like all enemies of God, to fail.
Note what this prince of Tyre, representing his successful country, is saying.
He takes inventory and finds that he has been immensely successful.
He has made money hard over fist.
His bank accounts are overflowing.
Everywhere he turns, he is a success.
And so he says, “Move over, God! Ive learned Your secret now! Ive learned how to work this thing called ‘success,’ and I don’t need you or anybody! From now on I’ll pilot this ship, and while im doing it, I’ll run the lives of all those around me to my advantage!”
Ezekiel told us that this man did possess greta potential, he could have been a very useful servant of God.
But he let pride take over.
And the essence of pride is putting self in the place of God.
This sin comes easily to successful people, in fact, it comes easily to all of us, whether or not we are the receivers of material success.
2. What the definition of the word success.
The word success has been dragged through the muck and mess of self centeredness.
In some cases, achieving success has meant trampling on others to reach a pinnacle, only to find it a lonely place.
Satan has taken something that God intended to be good in a person’s life and made it an evil, destructive thing.
Nonetheless, it is God who gives a person the potential to be successful and then expects that person to use that success for God’s glory and for the blessing of God’s people.
There is nothing evil about wanting to be successful in whatever life work God leads you to pursue, even being materially successful, as long as we have a clear definition of what the word means from God’s perspective.
In the past few decades, God has allowed people to make fantastic strides in knowledge and technical skills.
Think, for example, of the vast number of highways and airlines and railways in our country that join farms, and mines and and factories to the distributors, which intern deliver their life sustaining products to the people.
All of this has happened because of the knowledge and discipline and skill of people who have dreamed and planned and built.
Humans have broken loose from the firm grip of the earth’s gravity, have soared through space to walk on the moon’s surface, and have even developed technology that allows people to live in space for lengthy periods of time.
In medical science, unbelievable strides are being made in corrective and life sustaining surgical techniques because of the skills God has allowed people to develop.
But then we have the question, has all of this success been dedicated to the service of God, or like a preening peacock, has man become proud and like Ezekiel’s prince of Tyre, “corrupted his wisdom for the sake of his splendour?”
3. What is God’s assessment of success?
What is the way to success?
A statement in the book of Proverbs simply but clearly points the way for us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
But the prince of Tyre, like many other successful people in every generation, chose “splendour,” or self glory, as his goal instead of allowing his success to be a means of worshipping God.
And the final result for him was spiritual shipwreck.
Jesus asked a question one day that ought to burn into the heart of every ambitious person.
Mark 8:36, For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
This is what Ezekiel was saying in his own way.
He was preaching for a verdict.
His congregation consisted of alert, intelligent, ambitious people who’s homeland lay in ruins.
They were trying to carve out a new life for themselves and their children in Babylon.
What goals should they seek?
In answer, Ezekiel drew for them the picture of this man who sought, and reached, the wrong goal.
Why did God give us abilities?
He did so that we might serve Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
And how do we do that?
It is chiefly by loving, which means respecting, our neighbour with the same kind of wisdom that we show in respecting ourselves.
Any economic system in the world that puts profit ahead of justice is in danger..
God will not have it!
Great empires and nations in the worlds history have tried it, and for a season have flourished and revealed their splendour.
But inevitably their foundations have crumbled, and they have come crashing down in humiliation and defeat.
The engineers and architects of those systems failed to remember that the God who gave them the ability to be successful demands equal time!
He demands that they worship Him, not only in the temples that they have built, but also in the market place where they work.
When we fail to do this, whether we are in Phoenicia or in Australia, we destroy ourselves.
Any true success, whether it be about the life of an individual, a nation, or an empire, is beautiful.
There is a beauty in the way Ezekiel described the success of the prince of Tyre.
But there is a lethal danger when humans reach the point in their climb toward success when they wave goodbye to God and decide they can make it the rest of the way on their own.
We need to go with God to His house on the Lord’s day and worship Him.
But we also need to go with God to the marketplace on Monday and let the fruit of your labour, of your mind and your hands, bring ultimate honour and glory to the God who made you and endowed you with your talents and abilities.
Until next time
Stay in the Blessings
I really want to encourage you to be diligent with your Bible study time, because God has so much more for us than we can get from just going to church once or twice a week and hearing someone else talk about the Word.
When you spend time with God, your life will change in amazing ways, because God is a Redeemer.
Theres nothing thats too hard for Him, and He can make you whole, spirit, soul and body!
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2022 IS A YEAR OF REPENTANCE AND BLESSINGS
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