Sidon’s Punishment is Israel’s Joy

In Ezekiel 28, the Lord commands the prophet to speak against Sidon:

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against her and say, Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, and I will manifest my glory in your midst. And they shall know that I am the Lord when I execute judgments in her and manifest my holiness in her; for I will send pestilence into her, and blood into her streets; and the slain shall fall in her midst, by the sword that is against her on every side. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”  Ezekiel 28:20-23

Sidon was a city on the coast of the Mediterranean to the north of Israel, closely connected to Tyre.  Ezekiel previously denounced the king of Tyre, because he had taken advantage of Jerusalem’s weakness (Ezekiel 26:2).  Tyre’s previous good will toward Israel made this even worse.  Solomon used the cedars of Lebanon, the region of Tyre, in building his house and the temple (1 Kings 5-7).  Hiram had also sent skilled labor to assist in the project.  But Tyre broke that trust by assaulting Jerusalem when it was weak from the attacks of Babylon.  Tyre’s judgment became Sidon’s judgment.  Lebanon had betrayed Israel.

But Sidon’s judgment is like so many passages in Scripture.  God speaks His judgment against them and describes their punishments in detail.  He has two reasons for doing so:

The first is to emphasize the righteousness and the justice of God.  “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).  He cannot stand by forever and allow sins to pile up.  This is true within the Church, and this is also true within the world.  The iniquity of Lebanon was full, and the time for judgment had come (cf. Genesis 15:16).  Therefore, Tyre and Sidon became a warning for Christians.  Jesus denounced Chorazin, saying that Tyre and Sidon, as wicked as they were, would have repented long ago (Luke 10:13).

This is how Christians usually view the judgments of God.  After all, He threatens to punish and destroy Sidon.  However, consider the passage immediately following:

And for the house of Israel there shall be no more a brier to prick or a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord God. Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.  Ezekiel 28:24-26

The destruction of Sidon, and Tyre with it, is good news for Israel.  “Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly” (Deuteronomy 32:35).  God will punish the sins of those who sin against His Church, against spiritual Israel.  That day of judgment may seem so far away, almost like it may never come.  But God has not forgotten His people or their affliction.  God remembered His people in Egypt:  “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew” (Exodus 2:24-25).  God remembered His people when they turned to Him:  “So Israel put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel” (Judges 10:16).  God remembers His people and will not forsake them:  “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them” (Luke 18:7)?

The judgment of the enemies of the Church is good news.  Their destruction is the salvation of Israel.  God indeed desires the salvation of all, but He will also not tolerate sins against His bride to remain unpunished.  This is true of the earthly enemies of the Church as well as the spiritual.  Satan himself will pay for everything that he has done:  “The devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).  Therefore, there is joy and good news in destruction, because God has not forgotten His people.