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I started this blog when I was following the Life Journal Bible reading plan on YouVersion. (I've since completed that plan.) At that time, YouVersion didn't provide any way for people to respond to my notes, other than to "like" them. So this blog is here to remedy that problem. You may comment on my notes here in the comment section.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Satan wasn't the Prince of Tyre

9/6/11 Ezekiel 29-32; Revelation 11

S: Ezekiel 28:11-17 (New English Translation of the Septuagint)

And a word of the Lord came to me, saying: Son of man, take up a lament over the ruler of Tyre, and say to him, This is what the Lord says: You were a signet in likeness and a crown of beauty.

In the delight of the orchard of God you were born; you have bound on every fine stone, carnelian and topaz and emerald and carbuncle and lapis lazuli and jasper and silver and gold and ligyrion and agate and amethyst and chrysolitea and beryl and onyx. And you filled with gold your treasuries and your storerooms among you.

From the day you were created, I placed you with the cheroub in a holy, divine mountain; you were born in the midst of fiery stones.

You were born blameless in your days from the day you were created until acts of iniquity were found in you.

From the abundance of your commerce you filled your storehouses with lawlessness, and you sinned and were wounded from God’s mountain, and the cheroub drove you from the midst of the fiery stones.

Your heart was exalted because of your beauty, and your knowledge was corrupted by your beauty. Because of the multitude of your sins, I threw you on the ground; before kings I gave you to be made an example.

O: This passage immediately follows the one we focussed on yesterday, where God condemned the Prince of Tyre for his pride.

Many Christians have linked this passage with Satan, saying that it is a description of Satan, and how he was a guardian angel in heaven before his fall and people also often link it to Isaiah 14:12-14 and say that it was after this claim of greatness that Satan was cast down as described in the Ezekiel passage.

However, Isaiah 14:4 clearly says that the taunt in Isaiah 14 is directed at the King of Babylon, not at Satan. And, as we saw yesterday, as well as at the start of today's passage, Ezekiel 28 is directed at the Prince or Ruler of Tyre, not at Satan.

Some people say it cannot be directed against the Ruler of Tyre because it says that he was an “anointed guardian cherub”. However, as you can see from the Septuagint translation I quoted above, it might not even have said that in the original prophecy, but rather, this may be one of the many minor scribal mistakes in the Masoretic Text.

Even if this isn't a minor scribal mistake in the Masoretic Text, as Jim McGuiggan argues in his article Satan and the kings Of Tyre and Babylon,

It's so much simpler to allow the whole section (26-28) to stand together as a description of the grandeur of the Tyrian kingdom, its fall and the reasons for its fall. It's described as the foremost trading nation of the world, a renowned city and an about-to-be destroyed city (chapter 26). She sees herself as a rare beauty in chapter 27 and is described as a beautiful sailing ship with timbers, masts, decks and sails from around the world and sailed by mariners from all nations. Her pride is bursting out and though it is a human kingdom it deifies itself (28:1-2). “Will you then say, ‘I am a god,' in the presence of those who kill you? You will be but a man, not a god.” (28:9)

A: I quote again from Jim McGuiggan, "If despite the obvious difficulties, people still insist in finding Satan in this section I don't suppose it matters a whole lot. The trouble is that a whole theology of Satan is built around such flimsy textual work and before you know it all kinds of (often outrageous) assertions make their appearance “supported” by such misused texts. ... Now it's perfectly acceptable to say that a passage like Isaiah 13-14 has a message for arrogance and pride wherever and in whomever it shows itself. But it is foolishness to take a text and say it directly speaks to a specific someone when it clearly doesn't. This undermines our credibility as biblical students who let the scriptures speak to us rather than telling the Bible what to say."

P: Father, help us to stay away from taking our theology out of small passage of scripture taken out of context. Help us to be careful to base our theology on the whole counsel of scripture. In Jesus' name, amen.

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