By Benjamin H. Liles
"And it came to pass in the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Son of man, because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, "Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste"'...I will make you a terror, and you shall be no more; though you are sought for, you will never be found again'" (Ezekiel 26:1-21, New King James).
Between what God says to the Kingdom of Tyre and what Jesus Christ illustrates when He talks to the rich young ruler, being rich or great isn't the measure of who or what a man is. God pronounced judgment on Tyre for the simple reason that they were gloating over the coming destruction of Jerusalem, God's holy city. In their minds they were saying, "Wow! Look at that, now we can be more filled with resources, richness and blessing at the expense of the Jews." God says to them, basically, "Not so fast! I will send Nebuchadnezzar to you, to destroy and make you uninhabitable."
So why do I compare what Jesus and the rich young ruler with that of God's pronouncement on Tyre? If you look between the contexts of both what is said to Ezekiel by God, as well as what Jesus says to the rich young ruler you see the similarity there. He tells the young man, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Matthew 19:21, Christian Standard). The outcome of that conversation is that the young ruler goes away grieving as he had many things he didn't want to give up to follow Jesus.
The problem is, according to Jesus, a camel is more humble and accepting of God's word than a rich, prosperous man. The phrase "It is easier for a camel..." is a common proverb used among Mid-Eastern people to mean that there is "extreme difficulty of this case" (Barnes' Notes on the Bible). In other words the young man who came to Jesus thought he could get to heaven because he prospered and kept the fullest of the Jewish law. Jesus is simply correcting the man's thinking, letting him know that possessions don't save you. The faith which you have, in Jesus Christ, being God's Son--in regards to what He's done on and at the cross--is far superior than the possessions you have.
Materialism isn't what it's cracked up to be, in short. Jesus tells the disciples that man can be saved by the power of God, and Him only, not by any other means (see Matthew 19:23-26). Again, the people of Tyre didn't see the God of Israel protecting those in Jerusalem. It caused them to rejoice as they had everything they needed and much more. They took for granted that their richness, their greatness was a test from God to repent and to come to Him. But they ignored what God was saying to Ezekiel.
How can we avoid the same issue and fate these days? I suggest we put our hope and faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. No other man has said or done the things Jesus Christ said, who fully obeyed God and chose to submit to the Father's claim that He was to be the last and final, perfect sacrifice so that we have restoration to God through Jesus Christ. It is our faith that pleases God. Let me put it in a slightly different way so it can be understood: remember when God told Abraham to give up Isaac, his son? (see Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham chose to obey what God told him by faith, not completely understanding what future promise God had in store for those who shared the same faith.
When we read the psalmist's words, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him" (Psalm 34:8, Berean Study) the implication is clear that faith is needed for God's approval. The writer of Hebrews almost echoes that as well: "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6, New American Standard).
I conclude with this bit for you: God's desire for you is to see you having faith in the promise He sent His Son to die in your place. Those things which you possess they can honor God, to glorify Him, but they don't help you in being accepted into Heaven. We're told in His word, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27, New King James). Our faith in Jesus Christ, what He has done on our behalf on the cross, is of the utmost importance; our actions by our faith in Him show where our hearts lay--in the promise He sent His Son to redeem us from sin, death and destruction. It is in this I pray that you are encouraged, built up, and have the faith needed to seek God in all things. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen.