The problem with being great!
God holds all human greatness in contempt.
The LORD of hosts has purposed it, to bring to dishonor the pride of all glory, to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.
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The problem with being great!
The city of Tyre was one of the oldest cities in the world, possibly dating back to 2700BC. So, at the time that Isaiah is writing it has existed for over 2,000 years. It was a world-renowned port and was one of the main centers of trade in the Mediterranean. Ships from all over the known world came to trade. Tyre was also a very wealthy and influential city. And as often happens with wealth, success, and power, the city of Tyre was filled with pride. They believed that the city was enjoying its success because they were somehow better than the world around them. And eventually they came to believe that they were the source of their wealth, power, and success.
Isaiah is speaking a prophecy of judgment upon this pride-filled city. Just a few years after this prophecy was given the Assyrians came in and conquered the city of Tyre and maintained control of it for seventy years. Once the Assyrians were gone, Tyre returned to its same wicked ways. This prophecy was then fulfilled again and again until finally Alexander the Great utterly demolished the city.
In our verse for the day, we see it wasn’t the Assyrians or Alexander the Great, but God who did it. Occasionally God will act as He did with Sodom and Gomorrah and rain down judgment personally. But His usual way of judging a nation is by using another nation against them. God influenced the Assyrians to attack Tyre. It was His hand directing this wicked nation to be a club of judgment against the city of Tyre.
And we are told the reason for this judgment is to show the world how God feels about all human greatness. God holds all human greatness in contempt. That means that He considers it useless and worthless; He despises it. At the time of this prophecy Assyria was the ‘greatest’ nation in the world. Their greatness was not so great that they could stop God from using them as His tool of judgment. And Tyre, even though it was wealthy, successful, and powerful, couldn’t stop God’s judgment from falling on them.
Human pride and greatness are an offense to God. God resists human pride, and He despises human greatness. The reason for this is because it diminishes human’s view of the greatness of God. The greater we see ourselves; the smaller God becomes in our view. And the smaller God becomes in our view, the less we tend to depend upon Him. We close ourselves off to His presence and make it very difficult for His grace to impact our lives. And we desperately need God’s grace flowing freely into our lives.
The antidote to this problem is humility. As I get to know God better and better, I grow more aware of just how great God is. And as I compare my ‘greatness’ with His, I realize that I am exceedingly small. And as I realize that I throw myself on His mercy, and I become more open to receive His grace. I don’t know about you, but I want all of God’s grace that I can get. Jesus, help me to be small.