Isaiah 23 is a long oracle, predicting the fall of Tyre. This prophecy begins by instructing trading ships from Tarshish to wail because of the downfall of their wealthy trading partner.
Many, if not most, scholars believe that Tarshish was in Spain. It was likely a Phoenician colony. The implication was that Tyre was at the time very influential and capable of making even far off cities wealthy, but that was about to end. The reason for the wailing was that soon Tyre would be left without house or harbor. Next, the prophecy turns to Egypt, which was wealthy because of its trade with Tyre. Isaiah 23 predicted Tyre’s downfall and that Egypt would be in anguish because of it.
We come to the next two questions in our series of questions from God. They are directed at Tarshish, the colony of Tyre. Isaiah 23:7-8, “Is this your city of revelry, the old, old city, whose feet have taken her to settle in far-off lands? Who planned this against Tyre, the bestower of crowns, whose merchants are princes, whose traders are renowned in the earth?” (NIV)
Most of the questions that God asks in Scripture are easy to answer, just hard to live with, because they usually force us to admit a problem in us. This one is even easier than most because God answers His own question in the very next verse.
Not only does He say He would destroy Tyre but He gave the reason for it. Isaiah 23:9, “The Lord Almighty planned it, to bring low the pride of all glory and to humble all who are renowned on the earth.” (NIV)
Arrogant pride in His creation is something God will not put up with. He declares at least twice in Scripture (Isaiah 42, 48) that He will not share His glory with anyone else. There are many examples in the Bible of those who found that out the hard way. Lucifer, Pharaoh, Haman, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, Ananias, and others illustrate it for us so very well. Proverbs 3,16,11,29, James 4, 1 Peter 5, 1 John 2, etc. give us clear warning against pride.
Pride is a terrible sin that many of us fail to deal with. It is much easier for us to focus on some corrective action needed in someone else’s life. It is very hard for us to deal with this attitude in our own heart. Pride is the first sin, and many believe that all other sin grows out of pride. Ezekiel 28 sheds some light on this passage in Isaiah 23.
It equates the leader of Tyre with Satan, the fallen angel who introduced sin into the world and describes his fall from heaven caused by pride. Here in Isaiah 23, God plainly says that Tyre, this rich, proud, influential city, will be destroyed because of its pride. If this applies to Tyre, what makes us believe it does not also apply to us? It is very easy for Christians to want bigger and better and flashier in all we do.
It is hard for us even when we are doing ministry in God’s name and for His glory not to also desire some of that glory for ourselves. Surely, we need to consider our motives and desires.
Pride has caused many a leader to make terrible mistakes and fall into gross sin. Pride has prevented many a reconciliation to take place between estranged people. Pride has rendered many a testimony powerless for the kingdom of God. Much tragedy could be averted if we would test our motives in all that we do for the presence of pride.
Please do not miss the lesson in Isaiah 23 that allowing pride in your life allies you with Satan. Check with Tyre, Egypt and Tarshish to see how that worked out for them.