By Benjamin H. Liles
A popular mid-eighties song by Christian music group proclaimed, "Son of the morning, highest of all. You had so much going till you took the fall. Had a place in the glory but you wanted it all. Impossible odds but you had the gall. It seemed so unlikely that you would rebel, such a worthy opponent that you knew so well. But you went down fighting when you heard the bell, took a third down from heaven when you went to hell. This means war and the battle's still raging, war and though both sides are waging. The Victor is sure and the victory secure, but till judgment we all must endure; this means war!" (This Means War, This Means War, Petra, 1987).
What does this song have in common with Ezekiel 28, when it's also based on a reference out of Isaiah 14:12-15? Ezekiel is given this straight from God: "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you" (Ezekiel 28:12b-15, New King James).
I think it's a common misconception that we only make mistakes that a God like the One who created us and the Universe is Someone we simply cannot relate to. But that's hardly the case. Sure we get that picture from the Old Testament, but what we don't see in the Old Testament we do see in the New. Prior to coming in the flesh as God's only Son, Jesus Christ, we're told this, "The king proclaims the LORD's decree: "The LORD said to me, 'You are my son. Today I have become your Father. I will make him my firstborn son, the mightiest king on earth" (Psalm 2:7, 89:27, New Living Translation).
Jesus Christ had this to say, "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt...Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?" (Matthew 18:23-27, 33).
The link between Jesus' parable about forgiveness and about pride and arrogance is that while we all sin, we all don't sin in the same way. Likewise, what we're forgiven much is how much we will end up showing in terms of what we believe we have forgiven others.
That may not make a lot of sense there, but here's an illustration to prove my point. For this we'll say that there's a man who's speeding around town in his brand new BMW. There's not a law about what the acceptable speed is. So one day the town officials decide 55 is the best speed to be at and even under, for safety reasons and concerns. The man who bought his BMW doesn't see the signage posted up so he goes back to careening and swerving about town without realizing he's breaking the law.
Until...he gets pulled over and uses the excuse, "But there's never been a law about that." The Officer who handed him his ticket, replies back, "Until now." So, the gentleman goes to court and he's sympathetic, has no means to pay off his debt. The judge orders that his fine is paid as long as he obeys the laws of the town. So the gentleman goes his way. He even stops speeding around town, but he has one debt owed to him. Ah, you see this now, right? It looks vaguely like what Jesus just spoke on about forgiveness. Well, let's say this guy, instead of going to demand payment from the one who owes him, forgives the guy of his debt, telling him exactly what happened to him and why he's allowing the debt to be forgiven.
All that to go to this verse, "Therefore I tell you, because her many sins have been forgiven, she has loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little" (Luke 7:47, Berean Study). Yes, Jesus forgives the woman then and there in the very next verse, but what there's more being said about the guy who did nothing on Jesus' behalf; he had been forgiven little, so his love wasn't much towards Jesus.
What if we adopted the attitude of loving everyone a great deal? As Scripture says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind and all your strength" (paraphrase of Deuteronomy 6:4). And yet Jesus also added the words, "The second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:39, Jesus uses Leviticus 19:18 to stress the same love we love God with towards our neighbors).
In this sense Tyre was doomed because they didn't love others or God with the same respect. It's that same reason God gave such a pronouncement against the king of Tyre. And in that same breath, if the king isn't showing any kind of gratitude, more than likely neither are the people. So, what can we do? It says a great deal when we start wrapping things up here that we can suffice it to say pride and arrogance lead to a fall. We can also say we should love as much as to what we've been forgiven much for. God's forgiven me for my sins, as many as they are to proclaim His word, and as such my desire is to speak words of love and truth to all so that the glory of Jesus Christ be revealed.
Therefore, it stands to reason that what we can do is to look at ourselves in the light and love of God's revealing love. He shows us our sinfulness, and calls us out on it so He can restore us. And He does this in an amazing way. He takes us into places where we can see things as they should be: we go into a desert because, in a sense we're already dry. But also God allows us a desert experience to show us something more, something as significant as this, "Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert" (Isaiah 43:19, Holman Christian Standard). He takes us into the desert to give us His Spirit. This verse was fulfilled in Jesus' time and is still given as a promise even today.
What we see as barren and fruitless in our lives is God's way of saying, "Dear one, you are spiritually dead. Let me allow you this time, this place, to do something amazing within you if you allow me. Let me give you my Spirit, which will quicken and make you alive; to restore and revitalize you." It's His work within us that tells us and others He has richly and lavishly loved us so we can forgive one another of each and every debt we have against one another. Much more than that we have access to a Heavenly Father, who through the Son gave us His life so we can have it abundantly. He went to the cross so we can partake in the same life with which Jesus came out of the grave with. Where it seems death resides, life abounds in and with God. Do you see it? Do you want more of it? Lay down that sickness of arrogance and pride and allow God to greatly love you. I pray this in Jesus Christ's holy and precious name, Amen.