Explore The Bible Study: Warns

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John Maxwell once said that, “There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. 'Good pride' represents our dignity and self-respect. 'Bad pride' is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.” LifeWay's Explore the Bible Study: Warns, focuses on the destructive power of selfish pride. We should be able to determine whether selfish pride is evident in our lives, be aware of the damage it can do, and develop a plan to deal with it. 

When we speak of pride, we can be referring to it in positive terms such as pride in our appearance or our work. We encourage our children by saying how proud we are of them. We might even say to them, “You should be proud of yourself.”  All of these expressions communicate a positive kind of pride: dignity, respect and honor, traits that we all can embrace. But pride isn’t always positive. Pride can also mean conceit, arrogance, or superiority. This kind of pride is based on self-centeredness, and it is destructive. This kind of pride invites God’s judgment.

You are a man and not a god

Previously, God’s message through Ezekiel was aimed at the people of God – the Israelites. The message was two-fold. First, it was to those who were taken into Babylonia exile. They were the remnant that God would use to redeem His people once again at a point in the future. Second, it was to those who were still in Jerusalem. His message to them was that judgment was not yet over. 

Then, in Ezekiel 25–32, God pronounces judgement against other nations. Ezekiel highlighted God’s coming judgment on Ammon (Ezekiel 25:1-7), Moab (Ezekiel 25:8-11), Edom (Ezekiel 25:12-14), and Philistia (Ezekiel 25:15-17). These surrounding nations had celebrated Judah’s fall and even assisted the Babylonians in the conquest at some level. God would bring them down.

Ezekiel then announced a lengthy judgment on Tyre, a leading, successful city of the Phoenicians (Ezekiel 26:1–28:19), because of its pride. God describes their pride in Ezekiel 28:1-5: The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Lord God says: Your heart is proud, and you have said, “I am a god; I sit in the seat of gods in the heart of the sea.” Yet you are a man and not a god, though you have regarded your heart as that of a god. Yes, you are wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you! By your wisdom and understanding you have acquired wealth for yourself. You have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries. By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, but your heart has become proud because of your wealth. 

The success of Tyre produced selfish, arrogant pride. The ruler of Tyre felt there was no authority higher than himself, that he was above other gods, even the idol god they worshipped, Baal. He also believed he had accomplished everything without the help of any god, and that he needed no one else because of his position. As God’s pronouncement of judgment begins, He reminds the leader of Tyre that he was a man and not a god. 

Success does not mean you are sinless – Ezekiel 28:11-15

While this passage is speaking of the literal king of Tyre and the pride in his life, it uses an analogy comparing the king with someone who was in the Garden of Eden. Some believe this person was Adam, while others believe it is a reference to Satan. Either way, Adam, Satan, and the king of Tyre all had something in common—their successes and blessings did not hide their sinfulness. Ezekiel reminds the king and all of us that wickedness is still persistent in our lives because we live in a sin-broken world.

Reflect on your own life. Consider all that God has done in your life. What are some of the blessings you can identify? Now consider the sins or “wickedness” that still persistently dwell in your life. How can we avoid thinking that our successes and blessings make us greater or better than others? How can we avoid thinking we don’t need God anymore because of our own self-sufficiency?

How would you respond if someone came to you and pointed out that God had blessed you but also pointed out the wickedness of pride that was in you as well? What would your response indicate about pride?

The king should prefer repentance over God’s judgment, compassion over wrath, and the beauty of confession over the ugliness of sin. However, God didn’t hear any confession, regret, or repentance coming from Tyre’s ruler, even after sending a warning shot through His messenger Ezekiel.

Selfish pride will lead to your downfall - Ezekiel 28:16-19

What were the negative results that occurred because of the king of Tyre’s pride? (Violence, sin, disgrace, banishment, corrupted wisdom, losing position, profaning of the sanctuary, destruction, being a negative example to others, and so forth).

Based on these passages, how does one’s arrogant, selfish pride affect the lives of others? How have you seen arrogance and selfish pride affect a church? A home? An individual?

Have you ever been appalled at someone who was arrogant? How has/did their arrogance affect your relationship with them? Did they ever earn your respect? How does this compare to the results described in verse 19?

Many people did business with Tyre, and they would be horrified as they witnessed Tyre’s destruction. Tyre’s judgment would provide a stern warning to all who witnessed it. Tyre would never exist again, something other nations and peoples never thought would occur.  Additionally, the king would become a spectacle and example before other kings.

If you own a business or supervise people in the workplace, how can pride keep you from being an effective leader?

If you are working for someone who reflects arrogant, selfish pride, what type of environment does that create? How do you survive in such an environment?

If you experience this type of pride in a family, what kind of environment does it create? What can you do to survive in such an environment? Are you the perpetrator of such an environment?

God’s judgment and salvation reveal that He is God and we aren’t! - Ezekiel 28:25-26

In 722 BC, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and deported the population to various regions in the Assyrian empire (2 Kings 17:6). The Babylonians later had exiled part of the population of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, and soon would destroy Jerusalem and the temple (2 Kings 25:8-10). Throughout history, other smaller nations also had deported groups of God’s people into slavery (Amos 1:6,9). But God promised He would gather His people again, and affirmed: I will demonstrate my holiness through them in the sight of the nations. 

When God’s people experienced His restoration and saw Him judge their enemies, Ezekiel affirmed, they will know that I am the Lord their God. Those who oppose God would and will see His power in judgment, while those who love God would and will experience His love through salvation. In that day, God’s people will know Him at a level they have not known Him previously.

The Rest of the Story

God used Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, as His hand of judgment against the prideful and idolatrous city of Tyre. Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for 13 years, resulting in the destruction of the mainland sectors, but not its island sector. Centuries later, in 332 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered Tyre by constructing a causeway out to the island that his army used to reach and conquer the city. Later, in Roman times, the city flourished again. Jesus visited the area during His ministry. Paul spent seven days in Tyre after his third missionary journey.

Tourists today can walk among the ruins of the once great city of Tyre that stands as a constant reminder of what takes place when man becomes so puffed up with pride that he no longer needs god or actually thinks that he has become as great as god.

Prideful people in our time rise and fall as they did in Ezekiel’s day. Among them are politicians, media stars and personalities, musicians, millionaires, corporate businesspeople, and yes, even churches and church leaders.

Billy Graham once even said that, “self-centered indulgence, pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.”

Many believe that self-centered pride is good. The thing about swelled chests, however, is that they often birth feelings of invincibility. Thinking personal god-like power shields them from any force great enough to bring them down, the proud rest in a delusion.

Solomon reminds us in Proverbs 6:16 that God hates six things and the first thing listed is arrogant eyes. The expression refers to a person so proud that he or she denies the one true living God—their eyes are focused solely on self. It is my prayer that you will not allow pride to manifest itself in this way in your life.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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