Does the statement in Ezekiel 28:15 make a case against human inherited sin (like 18:20), or is it rather speaking of an angelic being?
Contextually this is a message of judgment issued during the Jewish Babylonian exile, nearly six centuries before Christ, against the Syrian “king of Tyre” (vv. 12-19).1 It figuratively portrays his environment of wealth, privilege, and security at the beginning of his life, while he was still in his innocence. The imagery describes him as an anointed “cherub” dwelling in God's “garden” and “holy mountain,” i.e., enjoying divine favor and blessings.
The king is then reminded that this state of perfection or innocence lasted until “iniquity was found in you” (v. 15). Consequently he was cast out of God's mountain (out of God's favor) to the ground, upon the earth, symbolizing his public defeat and humiliation (vv. 16-19).
This passage affirms the period of innocence in one's life (not totally depraved at birth!) until sins are willfully committed. Elsewhere in scripture we learn that accountable persons, mentally capable of discerning right and wrong, become sinners when they succumb to temptation and violate the divine will (James 1:14-15; 1 John 3:4).2
--Kevin L. Moore
1 Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.
2 See K. L. Moore, “Are Humans Totally Depraved at Birth?” Moore Perspective (1 July 2015), <Link>.
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