Ever question why God allows certain bad things to happen? Ever wonder where God is during times of trouble? Ever find yourself doubting God, questioning His judgment? During these times, Biblical history can be especially reassuring to Christians. The Bible reveals that God does have a pattern; He’s just too creative to do it the same way twice. Unlike man, God’s past performances are indicative of His future actions. The Bible makes it clear, through good times and bad, believers can take comfort in a simple fact…God’s got this!
For example, the Bible reveals that for over 400 years the ancient nation of Israel had been ignoring God’s prophets and turning away from the Lord. They wanted to be like other nations. They wanted kings and armies, worldly prestige, wealth, and pleasures like the other nations. There is nothing wrong with wealth, pleasure, and a good reputation when achieved within God’s ways, but that is not what ancient Israel did. They instead embraced the world’s way of obtaining these things rather than the Lord’s. Though they claimed to love the Lord, they worshiped idols made by man. They ignored God’s warnings that came through His Word and mocked His prophets. They may have come near to the Lord with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him.
Therefore, ancient Israel reaped the whirlwind of this world…temporary success followed by bad governments, a civil war which created Judah and Israel, and a corrupt priesthood and culture. They achieved their goal. They finally looked just like the nations around them, and ultimately they were defeated. The Bible reveals a Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar, whom the Lord called “My servant” (Jeremiah25 & 27), was sent by the Lord to correct His own chosen people. History records that in 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar completely destroyed Jerusalem.
This led the neighboring city of Tyre to mock both God and His people. After all, Tyre’s leaders thought, how great could the God of Israel be if His nation had been destroyed?
Tyre was a wealthy city, an active sea port. It had become rich by trading with all the nations of the world, even trading with Israel by providing the cedars for David’s palace and Solomon’s Temple. It consisted of a city on the mainland and an island fortress a half-mile off shore. But now they were arrogant and were mocking God.
So the Lord told the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 26:4-6) that Tyre would fall. “They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers. I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. She will become plunder for the nations and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
Let’s pause for a moment. Why was the Lord doing this to Tyre? He says at the end of verse 6, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” The Lord’s heart is to save, not to destroy. In Ezekiel 18:23, the Lord asks this question, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” declares the Sovereign Lord. “Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live”?
The Lord’s ways are not our ways. They are higher than our ways. The Lord would not allow Tyre’s mockery and idol worship to continue because it would lead the people of the city to Hell…eternal separation from Him. They would continue to raise their children in their idol-worshipping ways, separated from God and ultimately from eternal life in heaven. Our Lord plays for keeps, and He will do whatever it takes to get anyone’s attention.
History documents Nebuchadnezzar rolled into Tyre just as the Lord said he would. He laid siege to the city for thirteen years and destroyed the portion of the city on the mainland. But he had no navy, so the people of Tyre who retreated to the island fortress a half mile off-shore were spared. They lived to tell the tale to future generations.
After Nebuchadnezzar’s army left, the people of Tyre rebuilt their city. The survivors had to make a choice: either listen to the Word of the one true God or ignore it. The prophet Isaiah declared almost 200 years earlier, “Seek the Lord while He can be found. Call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts…and let him return to the Lord and He will have compassion on him, our God will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)
Some of the survivors heeded the Lord’s warning and turned to the God of Israel, but most did not. After all, the city had not been made “a bare rock” with her “rubble scraped away” or “thrown into the sea” and “become a place for fishnets” as the Lord had claimed through His prophet Ezekiel…at least not right away!
History records that Alexander the Great paid Tyre a visit in 332 BC, over 220 years after Nebuchadnezzar rolled into Tyre. Like his Babylonian predecessor, Alexander destroyed the mainland city. He too had no navy and no way to attack the island fortress that again so many people fled to.
However, Alexander came up with a new plan. History records that his army built a 200-300 foot wide, half mile long causeway to the island. They used the “rubble” from the mainland city to build this bridge, completely stripping away the city to “bare rock”. The island fortress was conquered! And to this day, the remnants of Alexander’s causeway remain…fertile fishing grounds, a wonderful place for “fishnets”! God keeps His Word!
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
From ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
And I will do all that I please.’ (Isaiah 46:8-10)
Today, over 2000 years later, the ruins of Alexander’s causeway still remain as a reminder of the “One, True God” who keeps His Word and wants all to see, believe, and be saved. We can still trust God to carry out His plans and purposes and His timing is perfect. God will use our difficult circumstances, our pain, to save lives by pointing people to their Messiah, Jesus Christ, so that they will believe and be saved. Whatever we may be going through, remember this truth…God’s got this!