Question of the Week: Is Ezekiel 28:12-19 actually a description of the account of the original fall of Satan or the description of a historical king of Tyre?
The Book of Ezekiel is a book of prophecy. And like the other Old and New Testament books of prophecy, they are all speaking from God’s perspective. In order to know whether this particular section of Ezekiel is addressing one, the other, or both at the same time, it is best to simply read what it being said. Once we can establish what has been said in the passage, we can take the issues God addresses and ask the question if each are appropriate to apply to a human king or a spiritual entity. Like in any comparison between two figures, it’s easy to find out where one is being referred to over the other when something is said that can’t be applied to both of them at the same time.
The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because your heart is lifted up, And you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, In the midst of the seas,’ Yet you are a man, and not a god, Though you set your heart as the heart of a god (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you! With your wisdom and your understanding You have gained riches for yourself, And gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches, And your heart is lifted up because of your riches),”
Ezekiel 28:1-5 (NKJV)
Point 1: You claimed you are a god but you are a man.
Application: Definitely a man, not an angelic being.
Point 2: Your wisdom gained you riches and your heart was lifted up by them.
Application: Definitely a man, perhaps an angelic being.
In the introductory statements of Ezekiel’s prophecy, it’s very plain that he’s addressing the historical king of the city of Tyre. While parallel passages do clarify that the sin of Satan was pride (Isaiah 14:12-21), it makes the same point as Ezekiel when addressing the King of Babylon. We have yet to prove that either is addressing two audiences at the same time. We won’t treat this as conclusive, nor could we exclusively claim that Satan is the only creature capable of pride. This introductory passage could apply to both Satan and the King of Tyre, but given that only the King of Tyre is addressed, the information we have only suggests that audience.
‘Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god, Behold, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, The most terrible of the nations; And they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, And defile your splendor. They shall throw you down into the Pit, And you shall die the death of the slain In the midst of the seas. “Will you still say before him who slays you, ‘I am a god’? But you shall be a man, and not a god, In the hand of him who slays you. You shall die the death of the uncircumcised By the hand of aliens; For I have spoken,” says the Lord God.’ ”
Ezekiel 28:6-10 (NKJV)
Point 3: The surrounding nations will defile your splendor through the sword.
Application: Definitely a man, not an angelic being.
Point 4: You will be thrown into the Pit by your enemies.
Application: Probably a man, not an angelic being.
Continuing his point addressed to the same audience, Ezekiel continues to address the King of Tyre’s attitude in thinking he was a god. He would be directly reminded of his mortality by being thrown into the Pit, or literally the Grave, by the surrounding nations that hate him. We know how this was fulfilled historically on two occasions. In light of prior passages in Ezekiel 26 addressing the King of Tyre as well, Alexander the Great and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon both sacked and leveled the kingdom of Tyre, the former of which literally fulfilled Ezekiel 26:3-6. While we do acknowledge that Satan likewise will be thrown into the Abyss following the Tribulation period for 1000 years, (Revelation 20:1-3), there are details given in this passage that conflict with that event. Men/surrounding nations won’t throw Satan into the Pit. An angel will see that done according to the text. The details given don’t add up to one another without picking and choosing parts of sentences, rather than points. It would be inappropriate to apply this text to anyone other than a human being.
Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.
Ezekiel 28:11-15 (NKJV)
Point 5: You were perfectly wise and beautiful once, covered with every precious stone and a living instrument of worship to God and perfect when you were created.
Application: Impossible to be a man, very likely an angelic being.
Point 6: You were a chosen/anointed cherub established by God in Heaven.
Application: Not a man, definitely an angelic being.
Ezekiel’s prophecy continues to address the King of Tyre, but with a lamentation or sorrowful observation. He references things we never could apply to a human being after the fall of Adam and Eve. This creature being addressed was described as perfect from the day he was created; not only in what they were in their worship, wisdom, and beauty, but specifically in their ways. If this was directly addressing a fallen sinful human being, it would contradict the Old and New Testament observations about mankind following the Fall of Genesis 3. Romans 3:10-18 and the Psalms it references doesn’t allow the interpretation that a man could be described this way. If that weren’t enough, it even refers to this creature as a cherub. The Cherubim are referenced in Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4 as an exalted type of heavenly creature that worship around the throne of God. The only common factors between the human and the cherub being described is that they both had wisdom and beauty that were prophetically going to be taken away from them because of their iniquity.
“By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you. “You defiled your sanctuaries By the multitude of your iniquities, By the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; You have become a horror, And shall be no more forever.” ’
Ezekiel 28:16-20 (NKJV)
Point 7: The abundance of his trading filled his heart with a false self-image and violence, resulting in him being cast our of the mountain of God and set before kings as an example.
Application: Both a man in regard to trading and humiliated before kings, and an angelic creature in regard to them being cast out of Heaven and consumed by fire.
In conclusion, it’s a false dilemma. The figures being addressed aren’t Satan or the King of Tyre. It’s a both/and scenario. We determine where it applies to Satan where details are given that couldn’t apply to a human being, and vice versa. Both had common causes for their corruption and judgment. Therefore they used as a point of contrast to one another. The same mistakes produced the same consequences.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
Listen: Monday – Friday 5-6pm, on 106.3FM Reach Radio
Email your questions: