Isaiah 23

Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician (i.e. modern day Lebanon) cities that brought great wealth to the nation by shipping and trading. Tyre was a port city built partly on an island just off the Mediterranean coast, and Sidon was a second port city forty kilometres north of Tyre. How incredible that such a successful economy (8) could collapse. But it did, and the world should take note and consider. In (16, 17) Isaiah compares Tyre to a prostitute offering herself to the highest bidder. The chief goals of the people of Tyre were to gratify themselves and accrue wealth by any means possible. Does that in any way resonate with anything we know today? The passage movingly expresses the grief of the people at their losses (1, 6, and 14: ”Wail”). The city was evacuated of joy (7). It’s been said that people who cry over very little else in life will weep over the loss of money. (The Message talks about ”buckets of tears”.)

It is important to see that Tyre and Sidon were brought down because of their pride. That’s the big lesson for us to grab hold of. The central section brings us to the kernel of the problem: ”Is this the city you remember as energetic and alive, bustling with activity, this historic old city, Expanding throughout the globe, buying and selling all over the world? And who is behind the collapse of Tyre, the Tyre that controlled the world markets? Tyre’s merchants were the business tycoons. Tyre’s traders called all the shots. GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies ordered the crash to show the sordid backside of pride and puncture the inflated reputations…nothing left here to be proud of, bankrupt and bereft Sidon.” The Message. As someone said, people may think that they control the economy and what they do with their profits, but God is in charge and has the final say.

Isaiah could foresee a day when Tyre’s riches would no longer be hoarded for her selfish enjoyment, but would be lavished on God and His people (18). Wealth in itself is not evil, but what Isaiah condemns is:

  • The proud disregard for others that hoards wealth;
  • The pride that regularly comes with having wealth;
  • The pride in the commercial/business ability to make money;
  • The pride of success that gives no glory to God

God hates pride however it manifests itself.

To understand what should be the Christian attitude towards wealth and material prosperity, look for example at 1 Tim.6:6-10, 17-19. We should not make it our ambition to be rich, but if God blesses us with much, generosity is not an option.

Prayer: I ask that pride will have no place home in me. My desire is to sweep it out of the ‘house’. Help me Lord, for I can never do this alone.