The Throne of God and Yesha’yahu’s Commissioning ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 6:1-7 

In my last post, we concluded our examination of the last of The Six Woes and Judgments of Isra’el ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 5:22-30. In this post, will look at Yesha’yahu taken to the Throne of God in Yesha’yahu 6:1-7.

Most prophets record a time when God called them to their ministry. Moshe received God’s call at the burning bush (Exodus 3). Jeremiah heard God tell him that he had been chosen from the womb to deliver a message of judgment and salvation to the nations (Jeremiah 1:4-10). Ezekiel experienced an incredible vision while he was in exile in Babylon (Ezekiel 1:4-3:27). Yesha’yahu received his commissioning vision in the Temple, but in his vision, the Temple was transformed into the Throne Room of Heaven itself.

1 In the year of King ‘Uziyahu’s [Uzziah] death, I saw Adonai sitting on a high, lofty throne! The hem [most translations use train] of his robe filled the Temple.

‘Uziyahu is believed to have died in 739 BCE. This is a critical juncture in history. In 740-738 BCE Assyrian King Tiglath- Pileser III made his first campaign into the west. This is the beginning of a serious military threat that will eventually bring about the downfall of the northern kingdom, Isra’el, the destruction of the capital city of Samaria (along with many other cities of Isra’el and Y’hudah) and the deportation of large segments of the population. The Assyrians are on the brink of establishing the empire that will dominate the ancient Near East for over a century.

Second Chronicles 26:8 tells us that ‘Uziyahu was known worldwide as a king who brought peace and prosperity. He was an inventor. He built up his army to be a powerful force. He was a man who walked with the Lord and was strengthened by the Lord.

The Essentially Holy Place (Holy of Holies) was viewed as the Throne Room of the Lord, so it is logical that the vision is set in the Temple complex. The Ark of the Covenant is portrayed as the footstool of His Throne.

The word translated train by many refers to the hem. It is the richly decorated and distinctive border around the high priestly robe (see comments on Exodus 28:31-35). The hem was used as a mark of identity for people of rank such as priests and kings.

2 S’rafim [Seraphim] stood over him, each with six wings — two for covering his face, two for covering his feet and two for flying. 3 They were crying out to each other, “More holy than the holiest holiness is Adonai-Tzva’ot! [1] The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

The s’rafim were angelic creatures of great power and importance. Their name means “burning ones,” and the implication of fire evokes thoughts of danger and mystery. Covering their eyes shielded them from the brilliance of the divine glory. Covering their feet may have been a posture of submission.

More holy than the holiest holiness [2] is an emphatic or superlative phrase which points to God’s character. He is completely separated from anything profane or sinful. His sovereignty is underlined by the fact that His glory filled the whole earth.

4 The doorposts shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe to me! I [too] am doomed! – because I, a man with unclean lips, living among a people with unclean lips, have seen with my own eyes the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot!”

In Amos 9:1 the shaking of doorposts or thresholds indicates the beginning of demolition. If this was the case, the smoke could be the result of destructive forces at work.

In the presence of such holiness, Yesha’yahu felt the weight of his sinfulness. In the first five chapters, he was saying, Woe unto you. Woe unto you. Woe unto you. But when he saw the Lord, he said, Woe to me. That’s always the way it is. When Kefa realized who Yeshua was, he fell in his boat and said, Get away from me, sir, because I’m a sinner! ~ Luke 5:8 (CJB) When Yochanan saw the Lord on the Isle of Patmos, he fell as though he were dead (Revelation 1:17).

6 One of the s’rafim flew to me with a glowing coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Here! This has touched your lips. Your iniquity is gone; your sin is atoned for.” ~ Isaiah 6:1-7 (CJB)

God prepared Yesha’yahu by cleansing his lips, the instrument by which he would execute his prophetic task. He did this symbolically by having one of His s’rafim touch the prophet’s lips with a burning coal. Fire can purify (Numbers 31:22-23), and this burning coal was taken from the altar where sacrifices were offered to atone for sin (1 Chronicles 6:49).

As the coal touched the area where Yesha’yahu was plagued, it wasn’t to burn him up but to build him up. It cauterized the flow of iniquity from his lips. When we come to a place of saying, “Lord, woe is me. This area of my life is undone. My mind is impure. My speech is cutting. My eyes are wandering. My hands are evil”—whatever might be your area of weakness, the Lord will send a coal from off the altar. If you’ll humble yourself before Him and be open to Him, He’ll cauterize that area – just as He did with Yesha’yahu. [3]

I have always struggled with the idea of having a burning coal applied to my lips. I can recall having my tongue stuck on a freezing flag pole as a kid and getting it unstuck was no fun. When I grew older, I developed a bad case of being a “potty-mouth.” It wasn’t until the Ruach got ahold of me and pointed out scripture that I was convicted of my sin.

In my next blog, we will move on to Yesha’yahu’s Commissioning in The Throne of God and Yesha’yahu’s Commissioning ~ Part 2.

Click for the PDF version.

[1] See the Glossary page above.

[2] Unlike English, Hebrew does not have an equivalent phrase for good, better, best. Consequently, the phrase more holy than the holiest holiness (literally Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh in Hebrew) serves that purpose.

[3] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

The Six Woes and Judgments of Isra’el ~ Part 3 ~ Yesha’yahu 5:22-30 

In my last post, we continued to unpack the next three woes of Isra’el in Yesha’yahu 5:18-21. We covered the next three of the six woes Yesha’yahu declares to Isra’el. In this post, will conclude our examination of the last of The Six Woes and Judgments of Isra’el ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 5:22-30.

The sixth and final woe returns to the earlier issue of alcoholism and twisting justice for money.

22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, men whose power goes to mixing strong drinks, 23 who acquit the guilty for bribes but deny justice to the righteous!

The Bible Background Commentary has this to offer regarding the issue of strong drinks in this period.

A wide variety of alcoholic beverages was available in the ancient world. Wine (from honey, dates or grapes) and beer were the most common. What is classed today as “hard liquor” (requiring a distillation process) was not yet known. The two terms used in this verse may refer respectively to grape wine and date wine, but it is difficult to be certain. The mixing that is mentioned here involves mixing in herbs, spices or oils. [1]

Because people have given themselves over to wine and strong drink, people no longer think clearly. Woe to a society which has come under the bondage of strong drink.

True justice (see Leviticus 19:15) is expected of kings, officials and local magistrates. In fact, in the book of Judges and prophetic literature (Yesha’yahu 1:23) describes a society in which “laws are enacted but ignored.” At that time and true today, an efficiently administered state depends on the reliability of the law and its enforcement. The temptation for judges and government officials to accept bribes is found in every time and place (see Proverbs 6:35; Micah 7:3). Taking bribes becomes almost institutionally accepted in bureaucratic situations as competing parties attempt to outmaneuver each other (see Ezra 4:4-5; Micah 3:11). However, at least on the ideal level, arguments and penalties are imposed to eliminate or at least lessen this problem. Exodus 23:8 forbids the taking of bribes and the perversion of justice as an offense against God, the weak and innocent, and the entire community (see Amos 5:12).

Two judgment speeches (verses 24 and 25) follow the woes.

24 Therefore, as fire licks up the stubble, and the chaff is consumed in the flame; so, their root will rot, and their flowers scatter like dust; because they have rejected the Torah of Adonai-Tzva’ot, they have despised the word of the Holy One of Isra’el. 25 This is why Adonai’s anger blazed up against His people, why He stretched out His hand against them and struck them [so hard that] the hills shook, and corpses lay like trash in the streets. Even after all this, His anger remains, His upraised hand still threatens.

“You brought judgment and destruction upon yourself,” God says, “but My hand is outstretched still.” Look at that hand. It’s not stretched out to strike you down. As I look at that hand, I see the scars where a nail pierced and penetrated the palm (or wrist as some people believe) and I realize that His hand is stretched out not to come down on me but to reach out and save me.

God’s hand is stretched out. The mistakes we’ve made personally, as a church family, as a community, and as a country have been forgiven and covered by the blood of Yeshua if we’ll simply respond and say, “Thank You, Lord, for reaching out, for stretching out Your hand on the Cross, for absorbing My sins. I repent. I change direction. I’m turning away from my old paths to walk in Your way.”

God comes to the vineyard of our nation and looks for the fruit of thanksgiving, rightness, holiness, love, mercy, and compassion, but all He finds is sour grapes and wild fruit. What is the solution? Repentance. Nations don’t repent. People repent. Therefore, it’s time for us to accept our part in the corrupt state of our society. It’s time for us to change our activity and pray on behalf of our country.

26 He will give a signal to faraway nations, he will whistle for them to come from the ends of the earth; and here they come, so fast! – 27 none of them tired or stumbling, none of them sleeping or drowsy, none with a loose belt, none with a broken sandal-strap.

The signal or banner was used as a means of calling out an army of a territory or indicating the place where a muster was taking place, or a camp was located. It often featured an insignia of the tribe or division. The word translated whistle can also refer to a hiss.

 28 Their arrows are sharp; all their bows are strung, their horses’ hoofs are like flint, and their [chariot] wheels like a whirlwind.

The Assyrians did not shoe horses, so horses with hard hooves were the more desirable, especially for the rocky terrain of Isra’el. The bow was the main offensive weapon of the Assyrian army. Arrowheads were made of various materials including bone, horn, and various metals. Chariots could accommodate four people and had heavy six or eight spoke wheels.

 29 They will roar like lions – yes, roaring like young lions, they growl and seize the prey and carry it off, with no one to rescue. 30 On that day they will growl at them, like the sea when it growls – and when one looks toward land, one sees darkness closing in; the light is dissipated in the obscuring overcast.” ~ Yesha’yahu 5:22-30 (CJB)

The lion would typically roar as a warning in a territorial confrontation. The growl is appropriate to the seizing of prey. Both images are reflected here. Because of the Lord’s allowance, the Assyrian army would descend on Isra’el in a flawless military maneuver.

In my next blog, we will move on to Yesha’yahu 6 covering his visit to The Throne of God and Yesha’yahu’s Commissioning.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

The Six Woes and Judgments of Isra’el ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 5:18-21

In my last post, we began to explore the SixWoes and Judgments of Isra’el in Yesha’yahu 5:8ff. We covered the first two of six woes Yesha’yahu declares to Isra’el. In this post, we continue to unpack the next three woes of Isra’el in Yesha’yahu 5:18-21.

18 Woe to those who begin by pulling at transgression with a thread but end by dragging sin along as if with a cart rope. 19 They say, “We want God to speed up his work, to hurry it along, so we can see it! We want the Holy One of Isra’el’s plan to come true right now, so we can be sure of it!”

Liberalism and looseness are the third woe. Their sin was one of cynicism. With a tone of disbelief, they challenged God to act. People plunge into sin and then mistake the mercy, patience, and long-suffering of God for apathy, impotence, or even approval. Our Father is incredibly long-suffering, and the wheels of His judgment turn slowly. He waits for us to repent and to come to our sensesbut eventually, we will find ourselves ground up in the inevitable wheels of justice.

Augustine of Hippo says of verse 18: [1]

“Every man braids a rope for himself in his sins. Who makes the rope long? Who adds sin to sin? How are sins added to sins? When sins that have been committed are combined with other sins! Someone committed a theft. To ensure that no one may find out he committed it, he seeks out an astrologer. It would be enough to have committed the theft; why do you want to join a second sin to the first? Then you have two sins. When you are forbidden to go to an astrologer, you rebuke the bishop. Now there are three sins. When you hear it said of you, ‘Cast him out of the Church,’ you reply, ‘I will go to the party of Donatus.’ Now you have added a fourth sin. The rope is growing. Beware of the rope!”

20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who change darkness into light and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter!

Relativism and existentialismthe lack of absolutesis the fourth woe. How many times have we heard sayings such as?

“Dark is light, and light is dark. Sweet is bitter and bitter is sweet. You can’t say what’s right and wrong for everyone. What’s right for you may or may not be right for me. The only absolute is that there are no absolutes. Just do whatever you want.”

They classified actions as an evil that God would call good and vice versa. While the principle is broader than judicial, such moral confusion was particularly reprehensible in the courtroom as we will see in verse 23.

21 Woe to those seeing themselves as wise, esteeming themselves as clever. ~ Isaiah 5:18-21 (CJB)

The fifth woe is intellectualism. The human issue is one of autonomy. Many self-proclaimed intellectuals are agnosticsbut the Bible says it is the fool who has said in his heart that there is no God (see Psalm 14:1). This would be like an ant defiantly declaring that he doesn’t believe in man. I could yell and jump up and down in front of him to prove my existence, but his perspective is so puny, his intellect so small, his perception so restricted that he doesn’t see me. Does that mean I don’t exist? No, it means he’s too small to see me. The only way I would be able to save that ant from destruction would be to become an ant. That’s what God did with us. God said, “I love you so much; I’ll become one of you to talk to you about life and death, heaven and hell, sin and salvation.” That’s how much our Lord loves us.

In my next blog, we will conclude our examination of The Six Woes and Judgments of Isra’el ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 5:22-30.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The Church’s Bible – Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators.

The Parable of the Vineyard ~ Yesha’yahu 5:1-7

In my last post, we examined The Branch of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 4:2-6. In this post, we look at The Parable (or Song) of the Vineyard in Yesha’yahu 5:1-7.

Grapes were among the basic staple products of the ancient Near East, and therefore the care necessary for a vineyard was well known. In the rocky and hilly terrain of Isra’el special care had to be taken to preserve the soil and the moisture necessary to produce good fruit. As the rocks were cleared from the hillside, the stones were used to create terraces to level the ground. This would prevent water drainage and soil erosion. More stones were used to build huts and watchtowers that would be used to protect the crop when it neared harvest time. Constant weeding between the rows of the vine was necessary to prevent weeds from springing up and sapping off the water supply in the soil. Various irrigation techniques were used to assure enough groundwater. If the ground did not have adequate moisture or if the vines were not pruned back, the resulting crop would be small and sour. Finally, some of the stones were also used for winepresses and cisterns on the site so that the grapes could be processed without risking damage during transportation.

Perhaps one of the most impacting teachings of Yeshua dealt with a vineyard. In John 15, Yeshua told His talmidim that He was the vine, they were the branches, and that they must abide in Him and cling to Him if they were to be fruitful in their lives. Where did Yeshua get this illustration? I believe He got it from His Father for here in Yesha’yahu 5, God the Father, through the prophet Yesha’yahu, also talks of the parable of the vineyard.

This song has been identified as a parable, an allegory, and a love poem. Whatever its precise genre, its message is clear and compelling. It uses imagery to make the point that the people of God deserve the punishment coming their way. While previous oracles have hinted at hope beyond the judgment, this poem does not.

1 I want to sing a song for someone I love, a song about my loved one and His vineyard. My loved one had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2 He dug up its stones and cleared them away, planted it with the choicest vines, built a watchtower in the middle of it, and carved out in its rock a winepress. He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only sour, wild grapes. ~ Yesha’yahu 5:1-2 (CJB)

The loved one in the song turns out to be none other than God Himself, and His vineyard stands for His people (v. 7). The singer continues by describing the labor that went into preparing the vineyard. To create a vineyard was no easy matter. There was a period of a few years that passed from clearing the area of stones, planting expensive vines, and building a tower and a winepress. Similarly, God expended great effort in creating the right conditions for Isra’el to flourish as a godly nation. But despite all the work, the vineyard produced worthless grapes. This signified that the people of God did not live up to their promise of being an obedient and blessed people who would also bless the nations around them.

3 “Now, citizens of Yerushalayim and people of Y’hudah, judge between Me and My vineyard. 4 What more could I have done for My vineyard that I haven’t already done in it? So why, when I expected good grapes, did it produce sour, wild grapes? 5 “Now come, I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge, and [its grapes] will be eaten up; I will break through its fence, and [its vines] will be trampled down. 6 I will let it go to waste: it will be neither pruned nor hoed but overgrown with briars and thorns. I will also order the clouds not to let rain fall on it.” 7 Now the vineyard of Adonai-Tzva’ot is the house of Isra’el, and the men of Y’hudah are the plant He delighted in. So, He expected justice, but look – bloodshed! – and righteousness, but listen – cries of distress! ~ Yesha’yahu 5:3-7 (CJB)

This passage is an awesome indictment against the nation of Isra’el, for, in it, the Lord essentially says, “I have blessed you. I have worked with you. I have given so much to you. You are My vineyard, but as I look for fruit in your nation, I find nothing but wild, bitter grapes.” God had indeed blessed the people of Isra’el. He had brought them into a land that was flowing with milk and honey. He had blessed them exceedingly abundantly. But, although they enjoyed the gifts of God, they forgot all about God Himself.

I see a very real parallel between the people of ancient Isra’el and our own country. God has blessed us greatly as a nation. He has blessed us with great freedom and incredible prosperity. And yet we have forgotten Him. We think it is our Constitution, our democratic government, or the free enterprise system that has made us great. We think we have done this by our ingenuity, creativity, or hard work. We congratulate ourselves, all the while forgetting God.

What were the wild grapes that the nation produced instead of the good grapes that God sought for? In the six woes that follow, Yesha’yahu named the sins that brought judgment on the land.

Are we no different than those ancient Israelites?

In my next blog, we will begin to explore the Woes and Judgments of Isra’el in Yesha’yahu 5:8ff.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Branch of the Lord ~ Yesha’yahu 4:2-6

In my last post, we concluded our examination of God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim in Part 3 covering Yesha’yahu 3:16-4:1. In this post, we look at The Branch of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 4:2-6.

After saying the times are going to be dark and difficult, brutal and bloody in the previous passage we explored, here in verses 2 through 6, Yesha’yahu says there’s hope – for Isra’el will experience a tremendous awakening. Thus, for the people of Isra’el, the day of the Lord begins as a dark day indeed.

But this is not surprising, for the Hebrew reckoning of any day begins with the setting of the sun. For many of us, our day begins with the rising of the sun, but I like the Hebrew way of thinking better because it begins in darkness and works toward the light. The day of the Lord begins in darkness – judgment, wrath, trouble, plague, problems, war, worry, disease, destruction. But then the Son comes. Yeshua HaMashiach comes back. That’s why Yeshua says, whoever holds out till the end will be delivered. Matthew 24:13 (CJB)

2 On that day, Adonai’s plant will be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the land will be the pride and splendor of Isra’el’s survivors. Most modern English translations of on that day, Adonai’s plant translate it as in that day the branch of the Lord.

The history of the interpretation has followed two distinct paths. One views this phrase as a Messianic title of the promised Davidic ruler, the other interprets it as a sign of God’s blessing on nature and considers the branch to be parallel to the fruit of the land. But the two interpretations may not be mutually exclusive since in Hebrew parallelism the second idea is often not strictly synonymous but expands the thought of the first idea. That day is a future day, a time that comes after the judgment described in 2:5-4:1.

3 Those left in Tziyon and remaining in Yerushalayim will be called holy, and everyone in Yerushalayim written down for life. 4 When Adonai washes away the filth of the women of Tziyon and cleanses Yerushalayim from the bloodshed in it with a blast of searing judgment,

The remnant will be holy. Holiness means set apart or consecrated for service to the Lord. Such a relationship implies an obedient lifestyle. Verse 5 explicitly states that Tziyon’s blessed future condition will be accomplished through judgment. It is an act of the grace of God. God’s people must wash themselves (see 1:16), but it is God who makes them clean.

5 Adonai will create over the whole site of Mount Tziyon and over those who assemble there a smoking cloud by day and a shining, flaming fire by night; for the Glory will be over everything like a hupah [wedding canopy]. 6 A sukkah [1]will give shade by day from the heat; it will also provide refuge and cover from storm and rain. ~ Yesha’yahu 4:2-6 (CJB)

After the Exodus from Egypt, God guided Isra’el through the desert by a cloud and flame (see Exodus 40:38), which represented God’s mysterious and powerful presence with His people. Yesha’yahu used this language to teach that the future remnant will again enjoy an intimate and assuring relationship with God after the judgment.

Yeshua is coming back. He’s going to purge the people of Isra’el of their unbelief. Oh, what a glorious day that will be!

In my next blog, we will move on the explore The Parable of the Vineyard in Yesha’yahu 5:1-7.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] A sukkah is a temporary dwelling associated with the Feast of Tabernacles to remind us of the tents that the Israelites lived in during their Exodus from Egypt.

God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 3 ~ Yesha’yahu 3:16-4:1

In my last post, we continued our look at God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 2 beginning in Yesha’yahu 3:8-15. In this post, we conclude our examination of God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim in Part 3 covering Yesha’yahu 3:16-4:1.

In ancient society, a woman’s wardrobe was frequently a barometer of society. In this passage which is about to unravel, the women dressed seductively. The little cymbals they wore on their feet caused others to turn and see them. The jewelry, headbands, and costly material were all meant to entice. And because of the moral vacuum of their society, not only would their beauty be lost, but they would have to deal with some brutal consequences – not because God would punish them but because, by ignoring His ways and His Word, they would bring a plague upon themselves.

16 Moreover Adonai says: “Because Tziyon’s women are so proud, walking with their heads in the air and throwing seductive glances, moving with mincing steps and jingling their anklets.

The proud daughters of Tziyon stand for the city and the inhabitants of Yerushalayim (1:8), not just its female inhabitants. Though clearly, the inhabitants included its share of rich, snooty women, the fact that such a female personification clearly describes the city in Yesha’yahu 3:25-36 confirms the view that the daughters should not be restricted to the female population.

Anklets were solid rings usually made of bronze. The same word is also used of the irons used to hobble camels. Some burials of the Iron Age evidence arm and ankle rings still on the body.

Kefa wrote: “Let it be the inner character of your heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit. In God’s sight, this is of great value.” 1 Peter 3:4 (CJB) That kind of beauty is never lost, ladies.

17 Adonai will strike the crown of the heads of Tziyon’s women with sores, and Adonai will expose their private parts.” 18 On that day Adonai will take away their finery – their anklets, medallions and crescents, 19 their pendants, bracelets and veils; 20 their headbands, armlets, sashes, perfume bottles, amulets, 21 rings and nose-jewels; 22 their fine dresses, wraps, shawls, handbags, 23 gauze scarves, linen underclothes, turbans and capes. 24 Then, there will be instead of perfume, a stench; instead of a belt, a rope; instead of well-set hair, a shaved scalp; instead of a rich robe, a sackcloth skirt; and a slave-brand instead of beauty.

God will humiliate these proud women who represent the city and inhabitants of Yerushalayim. Their physical appearance will be spoiled, and their finery will be removed. They will end up wearing sackcloth, ugly and uncomfortable. While this language should be understood figuratively of the city of Yerushalayim, it also has a literal significance. Wealthy, beautiful, well-dressed women would be reduced to such a state during the coming military siege.

The Hebrew in verse 17 for private parts is hard to translate. Some Bibles translate it as referring to a “bald head” which in that culture would have been as equally humiliating as exposing their private anatomy.

25 Your men will fall by the sword and your warriors in battle. 26 Her gates will lament and mourn; ravaged, she will sit on the ground. 1 On that day, seven women will grab hold of one man and say, “We will supply our own food and wear our own clothes. Just let us bear your name; take away our disgrace.” ~ Isaiah 3:16-4:1 (CJB)

War will severely reduce the male population of Yerushalayim. Presumably, these seven women have lost their husbands and sons and are therefore left socially defenseless even though they are not without means. This was a common aftermath of war. It was contractually and legally the husband’s responsibility to provide food and clothing. These women are not looking for financial provision and would certainly be willing to bypass the usual conventions of the bride price. Not only would the women be affected by the dark days that lie ahead, but the men of Yerushalayim would die, and the entire city would fall. That is why God sent Yesha’yahu with this word of warning.

In my next blog, we will move on the explore The Branch of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 4:2-6.

Click here for the PDF version.

God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 3:8-15

In my last post, we began our look at God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 1 beginning in Yesha’yahu 3:1-7. In this post, we continue to look at God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim in Part 2 covering Yesha’yahu 3:8-15.

8 For Yerushalayim is ruined, and Y’hudah has fallen; because their words and deeds defy Adonai, in open provocation of His glory.

Although Y’hudah was experiencing a time of prosperity, the handwriting of decay was on the wall. The Assyrians were already camped at their border. But because the economy was rolling along, many people were not listening to Yesha’yahu warning of destruction.

Sha’ul told us that the signs of the end of our age would be like birth pangs (1 Thessalonians 5:3). In other words, times of travail will be followed by times of peace. It is the wise individual who doesn’t get lulled by times of calm, but rather is constantly aware of the nearness of the Lord’s coming.

9 Their very look witnesses against them! They parade their sin, like S’dom; they don’t even try to hide it – all the worse for them! – they bring evil on themselves.

Yesha’yahu compares Y’hudah to S’dom, the preeminent early example of open, flagrant sin as well as God’s determined judgment (see Genesis 19). Although Yesha’yahu was prophesying the end of their society as they knew it, the people weren’t listening. Instead, they flaunted their sin even as those in S’dom.

10 Say that it will go well with the righteous, that they will enjoy the fruit of their actions; 11 but woe to the wicked, it will go badly with him; for what he has done will be done to him. 12 My people – children, oppress them, and women are ruling over them. My people! Your guides lead you astray and obliterate the paths you should follow.

But not all people will experience the severe judgment of God. The righteous will find reward in a good life, and the wicked will suffer. In both cases, they will get what they deserve. Their guides sound vaguely similar to the Anti-Messiah.

13 Adonai rises to accuse; He stands to judge the peoples. 14 Adonai presents the indictment against the leaders and officers of His people: “It is you who devour the vineyard; in your houses is plunder taken from the poor. 15 What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding down the faces of the poor?” says Adonai Elohim-Tzva’ot.” ~ Isaiah 3:8-15 (CJB)

In Acts 7:56, we read of Yeshua standing to welcome Stephen home. Here, however, we see the Lord standing not to welcome but to judge.

Yesha’yahu returned to the legal language with which the book began. The leaders were guilty of destroying the vineyard, the land of Y’hudah, through their exploitation of the poor.

Those in authority had abused their power and authority. As a result, they were about to find themselves under the authority of the invading Assyrians.

In my next post, we will conclude our exploration of God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 3:16-4:1.

Click here for the PDF version.

God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 3:1-6

In my last post, we concluded our look at The Coming Day of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 2:18-22. In this post, we begin our look at God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim beginning in Yesha’yahu 3:1-6.

1 For see! The Lord, Adonai-Tzva’ot, will remove from Yerushalayim and Y’hudah every kind of support – all reserves of food and water; 2 heroes and warriors, judges and prophets, diviners and leaders, 3 captains of fifty, men of rank and advisers, skillful magicians and expert enchanters.

Since God’s people trust in humans (see Isaiah 2:22) rather than in Him, He will remove from them every kind of security. Not only would there be a lack of food and water, but there would be a dearth of leaders, of mighty men, knowledgeable men, wise men, and skilled men.

Siege warfare was designed to isolate a city and create a blockade that would eventually force a surrender. With the enemy camped around the city, the fields could not be harvested for their food supply. No one could get in to bring in food, so the people in the city had to live on whatever had been stockpiled in the city. If the water source for the city were a well or spring outside the city walls, the siege would be short, for the cisterns would quickly run dry. Yerushalayim had a water supply that could be accessed from inside the city walls. To survive a siege would require capable leadership that could keep morale high and successfully manages food rationing.

4 I will put children in authority; capriciousness will govern them. 5 People will oppress each other – everyone his friend, everyone his neighbor. The young will be insolent toward their elders, the insignificant arrogant toward the respected. 6 A man will take hold of his brother in his father’s house and say, “You have a coat, so rule us! Take charge of this ruin!” 7 But on that day, he will protest, “I don’t have a remedy, I lack food and clothing for my own house; don’t put me in charge of people!”

With the removal of the leaders in whom the people trust comes the installation of youths to replace them. The result will be social chaos and oppression.

Whether regarding the last days of the ten tribes or the last days of our society, children will rule. We see that happening to a degree even now, for, in many countries of the world, it is the students who bring down governments. There was a time when gray hair was highly esteemed. Now, however, it is the opinion of younger generations that seems to be most highly valued in our culture.

In Israelite society, the oldest active male was the head of the household. He typically represented the family in the community and made the decisions for the family. As a result, the senior members of the family usually commanded a high degree of respect and honor.

In such a disorderly society, it did not take much to be a leader among men. In the vignette described in these verses, the people are so unwilling and unfit to lead that a man will be pressed into a leadership role just because he has a coat. But what would be left for him to lead? Only a heap of rubble.

In my next post, we will continue to explore God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 3:7-15.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Coming Day of the Lord ~ Part 3 ~ Yesha’yahu 2:18-22

[Since this is a fairly short post, I thought I should post it sooner than my usual Sunday/Wednesday schedule.}

In my last post, we continued to look at The Coming Day of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 2:7-17. In this post, we conclude our look at The Coming Day of the Lord beginning in Yesha’yahu 2:18-22.

18 The idols will be completely abolished. 19 People will enter cracks in the rocks and holes in the ground to escape the terror of Adonai and His glorious majesty when He sets out to convulse the earth. 20 On that day a man will take hold of his idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, and fling them away to the moles and bats! 21 Then they will enter the cracks in the rocks and the crevices in the cliffs to escape the terror of Adonai and His glorious majesty when He sets out to convulse the earth. 22 Stop relying on man, in whose nostrils is a mere breath— after all, he doesn’t count for much, does he?” ~ Isaiah 2:18-22 (CJB)

It is clear to me that although verse 18 has certainly been partially fulfilled, it won’t be completed until the ultimate Day of the Lord at Yeshua’s Second Coming.

People will flee in terror from the coming judgment of God. In the ancient Near East, earthquakes are an indication of the divine involvement in battle. Additionally, the dread of a deity as a divine warrior was often believed to precede a powerful, successful army into battle.

Out of fear, they will throw away their precious idols. Just as men have fled from the glory of the Adonai, the idols will be tossed aside as useless.

Verse 22 states an important and pervasive theme in Yesha’yahu connected to the prophet’s concern that God’s people act with humility. They were not to trust in man but to put their confidence in God.

“Don’t look to man,” God says. “You don’t even know if he’s going to have another breath. Instead, look totally, fully, and only to Me.” [1]

Come Lord, quickly!!

In my next post, I will explore God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 3:1-26.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary.

The Coming Day of the Lord ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 2:9-17

In my last post, we began to look at The Coming Day of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 2:6-22. I decided to switch gears for my blog for this series as I will be taking more of a verse-by-verse format. We only covered verses 6-8. In this post, we continue to look at The Coming Day of the Lord beginning in Yesha’yahu 2:9-17.

Why will God judge His people? We learned in Part 1 it was (and still is) because of their idolatry, covetousness, pride, and exploiting of the poor. Instead of holding to the truth of God’s Word, they were full of sorcerers, not unlike many “religious seekers” today. The growth of Eastern religions in the modern Western world is a phenomenon that is both frightening and challenging. Even nonreligious people are practicing Eastern forms of meditation and relaxation, following techniques that are being taught in university classes and business seminars.

9 A person bows down, a man lowers himself — don’t forgive them! 10 Come into the rock, hide in the dust to escape the terror of Adonai and the glory of his majesty.

In the ancient world, a bright or flaming aura surrounding deity is the norm in depicting the glory of his majesty. It is especially evident in the divine warrior motif where the deity unveils his glory as he fights for his people.

11 The proud looks of man will be humiliated; the arrogance of men will be bowed down; and when that day comes, Adonai alone will be exalted. 12 Yes, Adonai-Tzva’ot has a day in store for all who are proud and lofty, for all who are lifted high to be humiliated; 13 for all cedars of the L’vanon that are high and lifted up, for all the oaks of the Bashan; 14 for all the high mountains, for all the hills that are lifted up; 15 for every high tower, for every fortified wall; 16 for every “Tarshish” ship, for every luxurious vessel. 17 The pride of man will be bowed down, the arrogance of men will be humiliated, and when that day comes, Adonai alone will be exalted.

With the words proud looks of man will be humiliated, Yesha’yahu expressed one of the major themes of his book. Through judgment, God cuts down the sinful pretensions of His people.

The prophets of the Tanakh often spoke of a Coming Day of the Lord (Joel 1:15; Amos 2:1,11,31; 5:18,20; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Zechariah 14:1). This day is the judgment of sinners, which means the redemption of God’s people. However, God’s people in this verse were the object of His anger since they were rebelling against Him. While the Day of the Lord ultimately points to the final judgment, God’s temporal punishments of His people are often understood to be anticipatory fulfillment of the final judgment. L’vanon and Bashan were well known for their fertile lands and their impressive trees. Thus, they are representative of arrogance built on abundance. God’s judgment is against all kinds of pride.

The cedars of the L’vanon and the oaks of the Bashan were valued for their size, beauty, strength, and durability. They would be used in the building projects (such as gates and palaces) that were the sources of pride for nations and in which they would put their trust. The cedars of L’vanon and oaks of Bashan speak of men that are proud of their abilities. Who or what do we put our trust in? For my wife and I, it is the Lord and ADT Security.

The high mountains could speak of government. Walls and towers speak of military might. Walls of this period were solid and could be made of mud brick, fieldstone or ashlar [large square-cut] stone. While towers and walls were features of fortified cities, there were also many garrison fortresses built along trade routes and borders. In Isra’el both the fortresses and towers were rectangular. Since city walls have not been preserved to their original height, it is difficult to say how high they were. A width of fifteen to twenty feet was common and judging from their massive foundations and the length of ladders used for scaling the walls, a height of thirty to forty feet would not be unusual.

Trade using seagoing vessels was already taking place in the first half of the third millennium BCE. Excavations of a sunken merchant ship (off the coast of Turkey) from the period gives a good idea of the variety of items being shipped. Trading ships of the first millennium were single-masted with a crow’s nest and could feature either one or two banks of oars. A typical length would be about fifty feet, though larger ones are known. [1]

It is not idols, but only Yeshua who will ultimately be exalted. When He comes back to this planet, before He rules and reigns in the Temple, there will be a time of chastening and judging. As a result, people will take all that they once worshiped to the dump to be left to the rats because, at last, all idols will be seen to be meaningless.

In my next post, I will finish with this topic for now as we explore The Coming Day of the Lord ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 2:18-22.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament