Read Isaiah 23
A Prophecy Against Tyre
23 A prophecy against Tyre:
Wail, you ships of Tarshish!
For Tyre is destroyed
and left without house or harbor.
From the land of Cyprus
word has come to them.
2 Be silent, you people of the island
and you merchants of Sidon,
whom the seafarers have enriched.
3 On the great waters
came the grain of the Shihor;
the harvest of the Nile was the revenue of Tyre,
and she became the marketplace of the nations.
4 Be ashamed, Sidon, and you fortress of the sea,
for the sea has spoken:
“I have neither been in labor nor given birth;
I have neither reared sons nor brought up daughters.”
5 When word comes to Egypt,
they will be in anguish at the report from Tyre.
6 Cross over to Tarshish;
wail, you people of the island.
7 Is this your city of revelry,
the old, old city,
whose feet have taken her
to settle in far-off lands?
8 Who planned this against Tyre,
the bestower of crowns,
whose merchants are princes,
whose traders are renowned in the earth?
9 The Lord Almighty planned it,
to bring down her pride in all her splendor
and to humble all who are renowned on the earth.
10 Till your land as they do along the Nile,
for you no longer have a harbor.
11 The Lord has stretched out his hand over the sea
and made its kingdoms tremble.
He has given an order concerning Phoenicia
that her fortresses be destroyed.
12 He said, “No more of your reveling,
Virgin Daughter Sidon, now crushed!
“Up, cross over to Cyprus;
even there you will find no rest.”
13 Look at the land of the Babylonians,
this people that is now of no account!
The Assyrians have made it
a place for desert creatures;
they raised up their siege towers,
they stripped its fortresses bare
and turned it into a ruin.
14 Wail, you ships of Tarshish;
your fortress is destroyed!
15 At that time Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the span of a king’s life. But at the end of these seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute:
16 “Take up a harp, walk through the city,
you forgotten prostitute;
play the harp well, sing many a song,
so that you will be remembered.”
17 At the end of seventy years, the Lord will deal with Tyre. She will return to her lucrative prostitution and will ply her trade with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth. 18 Yet her profit and her earnings will be set apart for the Lord; they will not be stored up or hoarded. Her profits will go to those who live before the Lord, for abundant food and fine clothes.
Isaiah 23 is the story of Tyre and the redemption the Lord brings to it. Tyre was a city that essentially ruled the trade waters with the port being in Northern Israel. In the ancient world, Tyre was bustling with trade from all over, but also had a cloud of materialism and pride to cover it. It had strongholds of selfish glory and was dishonoring to the earth (v. 9). The Lord recognizes the land as a place of anguish, bareness, and ruin. The Lord then declares for seventy years the city of Tyre be forgotten, but when the seventy years have come and gone, He will declare it holy in His eyes. Tyre will return as a supplier of abundant food and fine clothing with all the wages deserving.
Before we begin to unpack what this story of a city means for us reading today, it’s important to note that this turns from an impersonal story to an intimate story. The words used in the beginning of the passage refer to the city as “it” and on occasion refer to the city as “her”. By the end of the story and as a result of the redemption of the city, the city is referred to as “her” multiple times over the course of one verse (v. 18). There seems to be less pointing of “that city over there” and more of personal ownership and upholding in the word usage of “she.”
In the writing of the story, the city is once lost, but now has a true Owner of abundance.
We could easily look at this story and look down upon Tyre, but isn’t this a symbol of the story of us? Once being lost, broken, and prideful, then encountered by the one true God, later to be restored completely. He takes our brokenness and heals it. We go from being separate from God, broken, filled by selfishness to being fully restored and blessed through Jesus’ justifying us on the cross. He pulls us near to say, “This one is mine.” Thank you, Lord, for being in the business of restoring Your people.
- Where in your life have you seen redemption through the cross?
- What in your life looks like the old Tyre? Pride? Selfishness? Greed? Anger?
- What can you do today to live in the fullness of freedom of Jesus?
Thank you for restoring me through the blood of Jesus. Thank you for making me a new creation. Show me where I need to be more like You. Show me where I am not experiencing the fullness of Your Freedom you have given me. Amen.
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