Isaiah 23:1-18 – Watch Out for Pride

Read Isaiah 23:1-18

We close out the series of oracles against neighboring nations today with Tyre. Tyre was a city along the Mediterranean Sea, known for its commerce. It was a major trading center, and the other prophets also speak of Tyre. Ezekiel devotes several chapters to Tyre. We learn of God’s plans to destroy Tyre because he hated their pride. Pride separates people from God. “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has done it to destroy your pride and bring low all earth’s nobility.”

Think about pride for a minute. As a noun, it’s defined as “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”  (Foregoing taken from a google dictionary search result.) In the Bible pride is more than just arrogance. It goes deeper and includes our will or intention, rather than seeking on God’s will. We can then join Jesus in saying, “Thy will be done.”  

You can see either definition would separate us from God if we are more concerned with our own efforts and having recognition for our achievements. It’s the difference between being self-centered and God-centered. We can see here how God’s fury is unleashed against another outlying nation because of their pride. It does us well to remember that God’s plan for salvation involves the whole world. Just because the people of Tyre aren’t “followers” at the moment, God is making a statement.

For seventy years Tyre will be forgotten. A good example of “out of sight out of mind.” But there was a future for Tyre. God proclaims it will return. “Yes, after seventy years the Lord will revive Tyre. But she will be no different than she was before. She will again be a prostitute to all kingdoms around the world.” It’s evident that the people will not have learned their lesson. They don’t yet know God and the mercy he can offer.  While God promises to restore their city, the people will apparently fall back into their old (bad) habits once again.

We can do that, too. There’s something about the old “comfort zone” that lures us in. Many people are afraid of change. Maybe the question we should be asking is, “do you want things to get better?” Change is inevitable, we just want to be focused on making positive changes in the world around us. The people of Tyre should have been asking that question. How can we be better? James 4:6 says, “And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” If only the people of Tyre had returned with hearts full of humility.

Yet, God has the final victory. “But in the end her profits will be given to the Lord. Her wealth will not be hoarded but will provide good food and fine clothing for the Lord’s priests.” There will be a happy ending for the Lord’s people. How it will happen, I’m not exactly sure. We do know that Tyre still exists today, and it is the 5th largest city in Lebanon.  

Be careful of pride in your life. Never be too arrogant to pray. Don’t fear the answer God might give you. Don’t rush ahead with your own agenda before God reveals his agenda. We should never fear asking God for help or fear the rejection of others if we take a stand on our faith. When “no” is the right answer, we need to be bold enough to say so. We should not be afraid of losing our own control but be convinced that God’s power and control is so much better.

Are you putting too much emphasis on things you are prideful of and not turning to God? Sometimes it’s just a priority shift. Take some time to look inside at your motivations. Is your pride in yourself or in something outside yourself keeping you from spending time listening for God’s voice?

Let’s pray … Lord, forgive me for my prideful ambitions. I know it works so much better when I let you take the lead. I can have pride in what we accomplish together. I love how your word comes alive for me each day. Thank you for the opportunity to stay connected to you in this way. Continue to nourish my spirit so that I can be a light for you in this world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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