Isaiah 23 (Tyre)

In turning to Tyre, we observe the final target of God’s eyes in the panning of His gaze to and fro upon diverse nations for 10 Chapters now, not excluding various prophecies directed to Israel and Judah (Isa. 13-23). Predominately, but not exclusively, this is God’s judgment upon Tyre through historical Babylon. This being the case, Tyre’s humiliation is a 70-year captivity like that suffered by the Jews at the hand of historical Babylon (Isa. 23:15, Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10, Dan. 9:2). Of all places, though, why is Tyre dealt with in this manner? Firstly, let the reader understand that the burden of the Spirit was great for this City because of its notoriety among the nations. It was known to be “the Crowning City”, the place where the “merchants are princes” and the “traffickers are the honourable of the earth” (Isa. 23:8). In other words, this is a “harlot” City that has captured the lust of many nations; every one of them being taken with longing to visit Tyre for a season of “fornication” (Isa. 23:15-17)! Thus, the LORD has purposed to put an end to the madness and folly of all nations with this wretched City (Isa. 23:9, 11)!

“The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.” – Isa. 23:9

“He stretched out His hand over the sea, He shook the Kingdoms: the LORD hath given a commandment against the merchant City, to destroy the strong holds thereof.” – Isa. 23:11

In doing so, the LORD raised up historical Babylon for the task. A thorough account of all that God did historically say and do in retaliation to Tyre’s insolent wretchedness via Babylon can be observed at length in Ezekiel 26-28. However, Isaiah 23 makes other points of emphasis that would be impactful to the ancient recipients of this prophecy. The LORD speaks of the demise of Tyre as it relates to Zidon (Isa. 23:2, 4, 12) while making comparisons to the desolation of Egypt & ancient Chaldea (Isa. 23:5, 13) in the following manners. Tyre’s desolation will result in Zidon’s lamentation because Zidon is the mother City of Tyre located north on the same coast. Also, in Tyre being brought to desolation, its lifeline to the sea will be severed. One such means for revenue was the River Sihor, which was a river of Egypt by which they traded with Tyre (Isa. 23:3). Like Assyria ruined ancient Chaldea, Chaldea will ruin Tyre (Isa. 23:13); or, like Zidon was pained at the report of Egypt being ruined by historical Babylon (Isa. 19, Jer. 46), she will be pained at the report of Tyre’s lowly estate (Isa. 23:5). All of these things are lively illustrations that would have been very impactful to the ancient readers of this prophecy.

At last, in Isaiah 23:15-18 we observe the happening of a 70-year captivity of sorts. Tyre, “after the end of seventy years” (Isa. 23:15), will be replenished and effectively restored to her former inglorious notoriety of wealth and national fornication as a harlot. Fearfully, the harlot will sing and make sweet melodies once again (Isa. 23:16)! Certainly, this restoration has been realized in history through the likes of historical Babylon, as already stated, but the divine intention communicated in Isaiah 23:17-18 does clearly transcend any historical fulfillment of the past. We, in retrospect (having been given the Book of Revelation), are able to identify the clear intention outlined in the exaltation of a harlot of this sort (Isa. 23:17), and, the looting of a harlot for the enrichment of Zion (Isa. 23:18). It is no coincidence that the inglorious estate of future Babylon is personified as a harlot system of worldwide unity and prosperity in Revelation 17:1-18 (Isa. 23:17). Nor should we be surprised that Tyre would be swallowed-up into the greater scheme of things and thus be made to give all her gain unto Christ in the aftermath of the 2nd Advent War and for the glory of the Millennial Reign that heads up in Zion (Isa. 23:18, 60:1-23, 66:1-24, Zech. 14:1-21, Ezek. 36:28-38, 39:21-29, Rev. 20:1-6). Nor can we forget that Christ will literally shake all the kingdoms of the world as never before at the commencement of the 2nd Advent War as a greater fulfillment of Isaiah 23:11 (for more information, see “The Shaking (7th Vial)”). Herein, on these two occasions (Isa. 23:11, 17-18), the prophecy of history suddenly shifts into futurity in the declaration of a greater fulfillment that is unimaginable to the ancient readers!