Concerning Tyre: Profiting from Betrayal

Amos 1:9-10

Two men were journeying together. One of them picked up an axe that lay upon the path, and said, “I have found an axe.” “No, my friend,” replied the other, “do not say ‘I,’ but ‘We’ have found an axe.” They had not gone far before they saw the owner of the axe pursuing them, and he who had picked up the axe said, “We are undone.” “No,” replied the other, “keep to your first mode of speech, my friend; what you thought right then, think right now. Say ‘I,’ not ‘We’ are undone.” Amusing story but one heard more and more frequently in our culture.

Google search, 6 image previews on first results page – 2 of 6: “Loyalty is rare. If you find it, keep it.” and “Fake people don’t surprise me anymore, loyal people do.” According to Forbes magazine, brand loyalty a thing of the past. And researchers at Wharton (Business) School believe employee loyalty in serious decline.

Betrayal, opposite of loyalty, around since Serpent in the Garden. Can put faces to it, e.g., Joseph and brothers; Delilah for huge sum sold Samson; Judas sold friend for 4 months’ pay. Don Richardson / Peace Child tells of Sawi tribe, New Guinea viewed Judas as hero. Yet betrayal one of those sins that should not even be named among Christians (Eph. 5:3). Especially betrayal for profit as merchants of Tyre were guilty. For them, profit in form of money or equivalent; comes in other forms – professional or political advancement, fuel to satisfy sinful desire, boosting pride, bragging rights.

Following pattern of previous condemnations, Amos continues working his way around Judah and Israel. Now moves to northwest, to fortified city of Tyre – first mentioned Josh. 19:29, within border of land assignment to tribe of Asher. Their repeated sin is identified along with consequences for it. Will consider how appears today and why is a problem in God’s eyes.

A. particular, egregious sin – human trafficking… among friends v.9b

relationship – 2 Sam. 5; 1 Kings 5

seems Tyre one of those places within their boundaries Jews failed to subdue or drive out as God had commanded

apparently close and friendly relationship between Tyre and early kings of Israel – Hiram took initiative to build palace for David – huge boost to establishing David’s leadership/authority

is even possible Hiram was God-fearer – when Solomon requested men and materials for Temple,

1 Kings 5:7 “So it was, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly and said, Blessed be the LORD this day, for He has given David a wise son over this great people!”

much commerce between Tyre and Israel, profitable in both directions; were strong allies, friends, may have had some common religious ground

even if no formal covenant between two political entities, they acted for generations as if were bound as closely as brothers

something changed – lengthy “burden”, pronouncement of judgment, against Tyre in Isa. 23

seems between two accounts that fattening bottom line came to top of priorities – profit-making, materialism became #1

Zech. 9:3 Tyre has built herself a rampart and heaped up silver like dust, and fine gold like the mud of the streets.

whatever commitment to honoring true God present in Hiram’s day long gone, relationship with God’s people only profit-oriented

Philistines showed up, bunch of POW’s to get rid of, merchants of Tyre seized opportunity for profit instead of doing right

could have taken high road, bought Israelite captives out of their slavery, then given freedom and sent home

instead, acted as middle-man, marketing former friends to highest bidder – in this case, sworn enemies the Edomites

compounded injustice already perpetrated by Philistines – perpetuating slavery, profiting from sale of human beings (image-bearers), betrayed friends (who had brought them much good) to enemies

not only closer to home geographically, closer in relevance to Israel’s behavior

Israel smarting under mistreatment by Phililstines/Tyrians/Edomites, to an extent rightly so; enemies had gone over top

had in effect tried to sell out God to his enemies – Baal, Ashtoreth, Moloch, fertility gods and goddesses, the highest bidders

those gods promised all pleasures true God did… without need to give up sinful pleasures – could have cake and eat it

Judah/Israel failed to see cost of idolatry – gave up freedom (enslaved to sin), future (child sacrifice), favor of true God

and… failed to see themselves in Tyre, how their being sold to Edom for reward same as their selling God out to idols

B. consequences v.10

a city-state during time of Amos, commercial center in two parts – old city on mainland, new city on island 1000 yds. offshore

had both north and south harbors with breakwaters to protect shipping regardless of wind direction

promised judgment, actual outcome not specified beyond loss of defenses… presumed subjugation by another power

Zech 9:4But behold, the Lord will strip her of her possessions and strike down her power on the sea, and she shall be devoured by fire.

overthrow attempted more than once – under siege by Assyrians (Sennacherib) 5 yrs, Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar) 13 years

finally Greeks – Alexander the Great, 332 BC; destroyed old city, used rubble to build causeway to island and subdue new city

much of what made Tyre great in its day now either destroyed or sunken under water and silt deposits

C. today

betrayal has become common enough, come up with our own phrase in last decade to describe/refer to it:

“To throw (someone) under the bus” is an idiomatic phrase in American English meaning to sacrifice a friend or ally for selfish reasons.

has been frequently misused, however… things like this don’t enter common speech accidentally – has basis in real life

high profile – Edward Snowden / Julian Assange / WikiLeaks

Snowden got job would give access to sensitive information, stole it, leaked it betraying many who worked hard to make country/world safer place

Julian Assange, helpers at WikiLeaks – pretended to be “friends” so they could steal information, then use to betray/humiliate

that’s how computer hacking often works – pretend to be someone you’re not, a friend, to the computer

ultimate goal – stated altruistically: “All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” (Snowden)

no remorse for law-breaking, satisfaction expressed over what was accomplished, much to fuel pride

also high profile – Roman Catholic church “scandal”

regardless of specific circumstances and actions, a clear pattern of betrayal – taking advantage of those who trusted, doing so for personal gain

same true for school teachers, physicians, others who are initially trusted simply because of position – then betray that trust, use it to satisfy pleasure


ABC series (’13/’14) “Betrayal”, woman unhapy in marriage, gets involved in adulterous relationship, supposedly to improve position on happiness scale

aptly named – in proper marriage, both parties enter lifelong commitment and trust each other to keep it – unfaithfulness is betrayal of covenant commitment

betrayer sells out to one with coin of personal satisfaction – promise or appearance of providing greater satisfaction than current spouse

domestic abuse

like priests and pastors and teachers and doctors, is betrayal of trust – selling dignity of person for sake of feeding desire for power/control

ultimately, abuser seeking to satisfy desire for pleasure, or in many cases, seeking significance – controlling another means they must be important

then are those who simply pursue desire for lawlessness – freedom from restraint, no limits, opportunity to abuse promises that

in every case, one way or another betrayer has personal profit/gain as #1 priority without consideration of other person

D. why a problem

opposite of / violation of chesed – loyal love / covenant faithfulness

Ex. 34:5-7Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

“chesed is one of the richest, most theologically insightful terms in the OT. It denotes “kindness, love, loyalty, mercy,” most poignantly employed in the context of relationship between God and humans as well as between one human and another.” Mounce

embedded in character of God – not simply what he does, how he relates to others, but essential to who he is

trust closely related to loyalty – fear of betrayal sacrifices trust

“need” for funky pen to check cash… but think about where that quickly leads

and… when becomes every man for himself, society ceases to function

loyalty essential ingredient of biblical love, expected of all believers

the one who truly loves is loyal – not talking about blind loyalty; love requires loyalty, loyalty requires love which is desiring/doing what is best for other person

betrayal sacrifices another for self — love sacrifices self for another — this is model God has given, standard God expects of us

just as God remains loyal to his people while disciplining for sin, so we should apply same to relationships with others

As people of God, have duty to remain loyal/faithful in relationships, especially relationship to him. Should be reflected in interaction with others, should be what we encourage others to do. May not be able to turn tide of the culture but can surely walk right path for those behind us to follow.


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