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Pride as Place: Redemption’s Earth-Shattering Consequences in Zechariah 9-14, Matthew, and the Gospel

Pride as Place: Redemption’s Earth-Shattering Consequences in Zechariah 9-14, Matthew, and the Gospel

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Published by Dave Ketter
Thoughts on pride in Zechariah, Matthew, and how the Gospel answers it in brief.
Thoughts on pride in Zechariah, Matthew, and how the Gospel answers it in brief.

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Published by: Dave Ketter on Jan 06, 2010
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05/11/2014

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Pride as Place:
Redemption
ʼ
s Earth-Shattering Consequences inZechariah 9-14, Matthew, and the Gospel
by David Ketter
 
In the history of Jewish and Christian piety, doctrine, and conversation, theconcept of pride has played a significant role. Oddly enough, this is not because of aplethora of semantic references. In common English translations of the Bible, the words“pride” and “proud” occur around 100 times, with synonyms like “arrogance” and“conceit” bringing approximately 20 more references. Yet, for both the Jewish andChristian traditions, pride is one of the most common and reprehensible sins. This is notwithout justification as the prophets and the wisdom literature of the Old Testamentcastigate and condemn pride and all those who possess it as being among the foremostrebels in a war against the God of Israel.
In the preaching of Jeremiah, pride is cited as one of the primary reasons Judahwill be sent into exile by Yahweh (Jeremiah 13:15-27). Along with their spiritual adulterythe injustice they committed against the weakest among them (common condemnationsin prophetic literature), it is the pride of Israel and Judah that Yahweh is determined topunish. And in two brutal conquests by Assyria and Babylon, respectively, Yahwehcarries out that discipline and breaks the back of His people
ʼ
s pride. The question needsto be asked, however, as to the nature of this pride and what about it is so offensive tothe Living God.
The prophet of exile, Ezekiel, in communicating God
ʼ
s condemnation upon theprince of Tyre, names several elements of pride in Ezekiel 28:1-5 (ESV):“Because your heart is proud, and you have said,
ʻ
I am a god, I sit in the seat ofthe gods, in the heart of the seas,
ʼ
yet you are but a man, and no god, thoughyou make your heart like the heart of a god— you are indeed wiser than Daniel;no secret is hidden from you; by your wisdom and your understanding you havemade wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries;by your great wisdom in your trade you have increased your wealth, and yourheart has become proud in your wealth...
 
In this passage, the prince of Tyre is condemned for two things: (1) the thoughts of hisheart (“I am a god”) and (2) the application and attribution of his skills and successes.But what was the offense? It would be easy, for the ambiguity of English, to assert thatthe prince of Tyre has claimed deity. That is certainly possible. However, particularly inview of Psalm 82 (a pertinent text regarding any ruler), where the same word is used todescribe human rulers, it is also possible that the prince has made a claim to kingship.Further historical research would likely be able to provide further insight into whether itis one, the other, or perhaps a double entendre.
Theologically, however, the point is the same: the prince of Tyre has assertedhimself as something that he is not, taking to himself authority and reverence that doesnot belong to him, and he over-reaches what he is entitled to. Moreover, his reasoningis rooted in how he applies his skills and to what he attributes his successes. In the text,Yahweh acknowledges that the prince is skillful in trade and, by inference, diplomacy. Inother words, his influence over others is effective towards the end of his ownsuccesses, which results in a great deal of wealth. In short, the prince of Tyre worked toget what he wanted and, when he achieved it, attributed all glory of the success tohimself. In short, then, the offense of the prince of Tyre is one claiming to be what one isnot and attributing glory to oneself that belongs to another. What Israel and Judah, andall who share in the sin of pride are guilty of is not having the humility to see themselvesfor who they are and not demonstrating the gratitude towards God that He deserves. Itis, in effect, an active denial of who God is and what belongs to Him. It cannot be anyother way but that God would oppose the proud (Septuagint, Proverbs 3:34).
1
1
The Hebrew text of Proverbs 3:34 contains the same instruction as Septuagint, but varies a great dealsemantically.

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