Isaiah 23:1-18 The Burden of Tyre

13-06-09 The Burden of Tyre CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

The burden of Tyre is a literal prophecy against a city named Tyre, but it appears to have its ultimate fulfillment in the destruction of Mystery Babylon at the end of the Tribulation.

The city of Tyre was located on the Mediterranean Seacoast of Lebanon, north of Israel.  It was south of its sister city, Zidon, which is south of the current city of Beirut.

As you can see from the prophecy, Tyre was one of the oldest [v.7] and most prosperous sea ports on the Mediterranean Sea [v.3], maintaining trade relations with Tarshish [v.1, probably in Spain], Chittim [v.1, Cyprus], Zidon [v.2], and Sihor [v.3, in Egypt along the Nile].  In addition, in Ezek 27:5-25, we see Tyre trading with every major market in the world at that time in the countries of Spain, India, Greece, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Arabia and Persia.  They built ships, kept an army and traded in lumber, precious metals, iron, tin, lead, brass, ivory, ebony, fine linen, slaves, horses, mules, precious stones, broidered work, wheat, honey, oil, balm, wine, white wool, spices, precious clothes, lambs, rams, goats, and chests of rich apparel.

The prosperity of the merchants in Tyre elevated the city to the status of “the crowning city,” [v.8] and its merchants and traffickers as “princes” and “the honorable of the earth,” [v.8].  This city was in the center of Phoenicia and its influence is still known today in that our language uses the Phonetic alphabet.

The success of this city in the global economy was due to its underlying association with the devil.  Look carefully at Ezek 28:2-7 and 12-14, and notice that the Lord is addressing the devil in the prince [or King] of Tyrus.  It is through the devil’s wisdom, understanding and traffick [Ezek 28:4-5] that Tyre became so prosperous and proud [v.9].

The devil’s influence in the city is also the reason that the Lord eventually destroyed it [v.9, 11-12].  They were noted for their idolatry, predominately Baal worship, which terribly affected Israel under Ahab’s reign when he married Jezebel [1 Ki 16:30-33].

The destruction of Tyre was two-fold.  First, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the city and destroyed all but the island [Ezek 26:7-12].  Then, later, Alexander the Great destroyed the island and what was left of the remains of the former city, using those remains to build a causeway to the island.  Notice how thorough and complete this destruction was:

  • No house [v.1] – Ezek 26:4
  • No entering in [v.1] – ships cannot even access what used to be the port
  • No inhabitant [v.4] – the sea could bring its merchandise but not its children [they had all died or sailed away to other countries, v.6-7, 12]

The report of her destruction was as painful as the report of the destruction in Egypt when Moses led the Jews out of their bondage and up to the land of Canaan [v.5, Jos 2:9-11].

The latter part of the chapter, beginning with v.13, seems to apply more to the Lord’s destruction of the anti-christ’s kingdoms than it does to Tyre alone.  Tyre has been annihilated, yet there is a reference here to her singing as a harlot [v.15-16] and committing fornication with the kingdoms of the world [v.17].  That’s something that Mystery Babylon does in Rev 17:2 and 18:3, 9.

A thorough reading of Rev 17-18 reveals the similarities between Tyre and Mystery Babylon.

  • Both are harlots – Rev 17:1; Is 23:15-16
  • Both have world-wide influence – Rev 17:1, 15; Is 23:3, 8
  • Both commit fornication with kings – Rev 17:2; Is 23:17
  • Both are overcome by the Lord – Rev 17:14; Is 23:9
  • Both are defeated by nations – Rev 17:16; Ezek 26:3
  • Both made the merchants rich – Rev 18:3; Ezek 27:33
  • Both are bewailed by kings – Rev 18:9-10; Ezek 26:16-17
  • Both are bewailed by merchants – Rev 18:11; Ezek 27:29-32
  • Both are bewailed by shipmasters – Rev 18:17-18; Is 23:4
  • Both trade in all the same merchandise – Rev 18:12-13; Ezek 27:5-25
  • Both are involved in slave trade – Rev 18:13; Ezek 27:13
  • Both are beyond compare – Rev 18:18; Ezek 27:32
  • Both are totally annihilated – Rev 18:21; Ezek 26:12-14
  • Both are thereafter devoid of music – Rev 18:22; Ezek 26:13
  • Their merchants were the great men of the earth – Rev 18:23; Is 23:8

Furthermore, notice the reference to the “Assyrian” [Is 10:5] who founded “the land of the Chaldees,” [v.13].  He typifies the anti-christ and the Lord brought his Chaldean kingdom to ruin through the Medes and Persians in Daniel 5.

Thus, ultimately, this prophecy is fulfilled at the Second Coming of Jesus when “her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord” and there are people dwelling “before the Lord,” [v.18, Zech 14:20] to wear it and eat it.