God Glorified in the Execution of Judgment
Ezekiel 28:20-24
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,…

Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Zidon, etc. Zidon was "an ancient and wealthy city of Phoenicia, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, less than twenty English miles to the north of Tyre," and on the extreme northwestern border of the land of Israel. The Hebrew word Tsidon signifies" Fishing," and indicates the earliest employment of its inhabitants. The land in the neighborhood of Zidon was of great fertility. "Adjoining the city there are luxuriant gardens and orchards, in which there is a profusion of the finest fruit trees suited to the climate." "The gardens of Zidon," says Dean Stanley, "are conspicuous even from a distance." In early times Zidon seems to have been a more important city than its neighbor, Tyro (cf. Joshua 11:8; Joshua 19:28). Homer, in his poems, makes no mention of Tyro, but several times he mentions Zidon and the Zidonians. But from the time of Solomon until the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, Zidon appears to have been less influential than Tyro. Our text declares the judgment of God against Zidon, and that in that judgment he will be glorified; and it suggests that he is glorified.

I. IN THE REASONS OF HIS JUDGMENT. These reasons maybe arranged under two heads.

1. The conduct of the Zidonians in relation to himself. They were idolaters, worshipping Baal, the sun-god (1 Kings 16:31), and Ashtoreth as their tutelary goddess (1 Kings 11:5, 33; 2 Kings 23:13). It was from them that these idolatries had been introduced amongst the chosen people. The influence of Zidonian women upon the religious character of Solomon was most deplorable; and the marriage of Ahab to Jezebel, a Zidonian princess, was prolific of most disastrous consequences to the kingdom of Israel, both religiously and in other ways. The Zidonians might have obtained the knowledge of the true God from their neighbors the Israelites, and have turned to him in heart and life, if they had been so disposed. But instead of that, they corrupted Israel with their idols. Thus they robbed God of his rightful honor and praise. And his glory he will not give to another, neither his praise unto graven images (Isaiah 42:8).

2. The conduct of the Zidonians in relation to his people. We have already spoken of their evil influence over them religiously. In other ways they were troublesome to them. They had been as "a pricking brier" and "a grieving thorn" to Israel (ver 24). There is probably a reference in this verse to Numbers 33:55 and Joshua 23:13. And, like others of the neighbors of the Israelites, the Zidonians seem to have rejoiced in their troubles and distresses. They are said to have done "despite unto them" (Ver. 24). They had made them smart with their contempt and derision. The Lord takes notice of this, and will judge them for it. Says Hengstenberg, "While the Lord chastises his own people with an unsparing rod, he visits the neighboring heathen nations for the wrong which they have done to his people, as if it were directed against himself, and verifies in them his word, 'He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye' (Zechariah 2:8)." Thus we see that there were good reasons for this judgment. God does not punish any person or people without just cause.

"His work is perfect;
For all his ways are judgment;
A god of faithfulness and without iniquity,
Just and right is he."

(Deuteronomy 32:4.) Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of thy throne (Psalm 89:14); "Righteous and true are thy ways, thou King of the ages" (Revelation 15:3).

II. IN THE NATURE OF HIS JUDGMENT. "I will send into her pestilence, and blood in her streets; and the wounded shall fall in the midst of her, with the sword upon her on every side" (Ver. 23). This judgment by pestilence and sword call hardly be said to have been executed in the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar, seeing that Zidon submitted to him apparently without offering any serious resistance. But this threatening of pestilence and sword may point to the sufferings of the Zidonians at a later period of their history, in consequence of their revolt against the Persians, to whom they were then subject. Zidon was at that time a wealthy and flourishing city; and the revolt would probably have been successful but for the treachery of Tennes, their king, who, in fulfillment of a compact with Artaxerxes Ochus, the Persian monarch, betrayed into his "power one hundred of the most distinguished citizens of Zidon, who were all shot to death with javelins. Five hundred other citizens, who went out to the king with ensigns of supplication, shared the same fate; and by concert between Tennes and Mentor, the Persian troops were admitted within the gates, and occupied the city walls. The Zidonians, before the arrival of Ochus, had burnt their vessels to prevent any one leaving the town; and when they saw themselves surrounded by the Persian troops, they adopted the desperate resolution of shutting themselves up with their families, and setting fire each man to his own house ( B.C. 351). Forty thousand persons are said to have perished in the flames. Tennes himself did not save his own life, as Ochus, notwithstanding his promise to the contrary, put him to death. The privilege of searching the ruins" for the gold and silver they contained was sold by Artaxerxes for money. But our point is that the character of this judgment contributes to the glory of God. Whether we refer the prophecy to the conquest by Nebuchadnezzar, or to the terrible transactions connected with the revolt against the Persian power, or to both, there was nothing arbitrary on God's part in the execution of the judgment. The Lord did not, as it were, go out of his way to inflict it. The Zidonians may be said to have brought it upon themselves. Yet all was regulated and controlled by the providence of God. The Divine punishment of sin is never an arbitrary infliction, but the natural working of a necessary law. The penalty is the natural consequence of the transgression. The suffering is the fruit of the sin.

III. IN THE EFFECT OF HIS JUDGMENT. A twofold effect is exhibited by the prophet.

1. Relief and blessing to the people of the Lord. "And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor a grieving thorn of any that be round about them, that did despite unto them" (Ver. 24). This refers not to the Zidonians alone, but to the other peoples who, being neighbors to the house of Israel, had been a trouble unto them. They "that are round about them, that did despite unto them," would cease to molest and distress them. "God's judgment on the ungodly tends to the good of his Church."

2. Acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Lord. Twice in this brief paragraph it is said of the Zidonians, "And they shall know that I am the Lord." (These words, which occur so frequently in this book, we noticed in Ezekiel 6:7, 10; Ezekiel 7:4.) The people of Zidon "must recognize or experience him in his operations, whom they obstinately refused to recognize willingly" (Hengstenberg). It is also said of the Israelites, "they shall know that I am the Lord God." In the relief afforded to them and the deliverances wrought for them they would recognize the presence and power and supremacy of Jehovah. Thus "the Lord of hosts is exalted in judgment, and God the Holy One is sanctified in righteousness" (Isaiah 5:16). - W.J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

WEB: The word of Yahweh came to me, saying,

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