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Don Stewart :: Is Ezekiel Speaking of Satan or the King of Tyre?

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Don Stewart
In the Book of Ezekiel there is a description of someone called the king of Tyre. Though there was an actual historical person who was the king of Tyre, the description the Bible gives of this person seems to go far beyond this human leader. Though in context, Ezekiel was first speaking about the historical king of Tyre, he seemingly moved into the dateless past with a description of the original fall of Satan.

Mortal, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, chrysolite, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald; and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. With an anointed cherub as guardian I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and the guardian cherub drove you out from among the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries. So I brought out fire from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever (Ezekiel 28:12-19).

Description Of Fall?

Admittedly, this is a difficult passage to interpret. There are many who believe that this is a description of the account of the original fall of Satan. Though some of the descriptions given may fit the historical king of Tyre, others certainly do not seem to. These include the expressions: "perfect in beauty," "you were in Eden," "you were on the holy mountain of God," and "you were blameless." These descriptions would not fit the actual king of Tyre. Therefore they are most likely to be understood as statements about the original fall of the angel who became the Devil.

What Can We Learn?

If true, we can learn the following things about this angel.

1. Full Of Wisdom Perfect In Beauty

When originally created by God, this angel, like everything else God created was perfect. Not only that, he seemed to have been especially beautiful.

2. Lived In Eden

This Eden seemingly existed at a far earlier time than the Garden of Eden that God created on the earth. The description given here could hardly refer to the earthly Garden of Eden. In the Garden of Eden, there is no reference to gold or precious stones. The description given in Ezekiel resembles more the New Jerusalem than the Garden of Eden. The New Jerusalem will be the place where redeemed believers live - those who will be a higher order than the angels.

3. Anointed Cherub That Covered

This may indicate that this angel held a position of superiority over all the other angels. The cherubim, along with the seraphim, seem to be the highest rank of heavenly beings. Being the "anointed cherub" speaks of the highest position among the cherubim. The phrase "that covered" reminds us that the cherubim overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant - a position next to the presence of God. All these things seem to add up to say that this personage had the highest rank in the universe of any created being. It is possible, however, that the anointed cherub is not describing the person under consideration but rather the anointed cherub was guarding the "king of Tyre."

4. Was In God's Holy Mountain

The statement here refers to the dwelling place of God - His visible glory. This angel was in the immediate presence of the Lord.

5. Walked In The Midst Of Stones Of Fire

The stones of fire seem to speak of the nearness to God's throne. When Moses brought Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders up to Mount Sinai to see God's presence, we read the following.

And they saw the God of Israel; and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the very heaven for clearness. And the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel (Exodus 24:10,17).

This description could be the same as the stones of fire in Ezekiel. If so, it would indicate the nearness this angel had to the throne of God.

6. Perfect In All His Ways Until His Fall

The perfection of this creature is again stressed. There was no defect in him until he chose to sin. He, like everything God created, was perfect.

7. He Was Lifted Up With Pride Because Of His Beauty

Because of his great beauty, this creature was lifted up with pride. Scripture has much to say on the subject of pride.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

8. His Wisdom Was Corrupted Because Of His Brightness

The great wisdom of this personage had now been corrupted. Obviously it was insanity to think that the creature could somehow overcome the Creator.

9. He Was Thrown Out Of The Mountain Of God

This speaks of either the initial judgment of this angel, or of his future judgment-when he will be thrown down to the earth in the middle of the Great Tribulation. Either way, his judgment is certain.

10. His Position Was Degraded When He Sinned

No longer would this angel hold a lofty position. He will never again be spoken of as the anointed cherub or whatever title he previously held.

11. He Became An Enemy Of Humanity

Now this angel becomes Satan, the adversary, the enemy of humanity.

Summary

From this passage there seems to be a description of the original fall of Satan. If so, we learn much about this personage. He was the anointed cherub who had a special place next to the throne of God. Because of his special place, and his extraordinary beauty, he was lifted up with pride. This caused him to rebel against God, and to be judged for his sin.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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