Yerushalayim’s Deliverance Foretold ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’hayu 37:11-20

In my last post, we begin a new mini-series on Yerushalayim’s Deliverance Foretold ~ Part 1 in Yesha’hayu 37:1-10. In this post, we continue to learn about Yerushalayim’s Deliverance Foretold ~ Part 2 in Yesha’hayu 37:11-20.

11  You have heard what the kings of Ashur have done to all lands — they have completely destroyed them. So how will you be delivered?12  Have the gods of the nations delivered them? No, my ancestors destroyed them — Gozan, Haran, Retzef, and the people of ‘Eden who were in Tel’asar. 13  Where is the king of Hamat? the king of Arpad? the king of the city of S’farvayim, of Hena and ‘Ivah?’”

Verses 11-13 repeat the thrust of the threat we saw in Yesha’yahu 36:18-20. Sancheriv again told Hizkiyahu that he should not trust Adonai. After all, the gods of other nations and cities conquered by Ashur in the past had been unable to help them.

14  Hizkiyahu took the letter from the messengers’ hands and read it. Then Hizkiyahu went up to the house of Adonai and spread it out before Adonai. 15  This is the prayer that Hizkiyahu prayed to Adonai:

Hizkiyahu took this threatening letter to the house of the Adonai and spread it out before Him. That’s always a good thing to do with threatening letters that come your way or bills too big to pay. Just spread them out and say, Adonai, help!” Logically and militarily, Yerushalayim was no match for Ashur. But that didn’t stop Hizkiyahu from calling out to the only One who could save them.

16  “Adonai-Tzva’ot, God of Isra’el, who dwells above the k’ruvim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms on earth. You made heaven and earth.

Hizkiyahu addressed his prayer to Adonai-Tzva’ot, God of Isra’el whom he described as enthroned above the k’ruvim. The k’ruvim were among the most powerful of Adonai’s heavenly creatures and are often represented at places close to the divine presence. In particular, this refers to the two k’ruvim whose wings covered the ark of the covenant as it rested in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and temple. Hizkiyahu appealed to Adonai as the One who made the heavens and the earth – the One who is sovereign over all the kingdoms on earth, not just Y’hudah – since Sancheriv had mocked Adonai as a mere local deity.

17  Turn your ear, Adonai, and hear! Open your eyes, Adonai, and see! Hear all the words that Sancheriv sent to taunt the living God. 18  It is true that the kings of Ashur have laid waste all the countries and their lands 19  and have thrown their gods into the fire. For those were nongods, merely the products of people’s hands, wood, and stone; this is why they could destroy them. 20  Now, therefore, Adonai our God, save us from his power— so that all the kingdoms on earth will know that you are Adonai – you only.”

Sancheriv had dared to compare the Adonai to mere idols and suggested that he would defeat Adonai’s people as quickly as he had defeated the gods of the other countries. This is a prayer that produces power because the motivation was not for Hizkiyahu‘s protection but Adonai’s glorification. If Y’hudah should be defeated, then the nations, and in particular Ashur, would believe that Adonai was just like the false gods of all the other nations.

21  Then Yesha‘yahu, the son of Amotz, sent this message to Hizkiyahu: “Adonai the God of Isra’el says: ‘You prayed to me against Sancheriv king of Ashur.’ 22  Here is Adonai’s answer concerning him: “‘The virgin daughter of Tziyon despises you; she laughs you to scorn. The daughter of Yerushalayim shakes her head at you. ~ Isaiah 37:11-22 (CJB)

Adonai responded to Hizkiyahu through His divinely chosen prophet, Yesha’yahu. As Yesha’yahu spoke, he spoke in the name of Adonai.

Daughter Tziyon is a personification of Tziyon, the holiest location in Y’hudah. This reminds the reader of the intimate relationship Adonai enjoyed with His people. The response was addressed to none other than Sancheriv, so the use of this title for Adonai’s people shows from the start how important they were to Adonai.

In my next post, we continue to unpack this exciting encounter in Yerushalayim’s Deliverance Foretold ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 37:21-38.

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Yerushalayim’s Deliverance Foretold ~ Part 1 ~Yesha’hayu 37:1-10

In my last post, we completed the examination of The King of Ashur Threatens Yerushalayim ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 36:11-22. In this post, we begin a new mini-series on Yerushalayim’s Deliverance Foretold ~ Part 1 in Yesha’hayu 37:1-10.

1 On hearing it, King Hizkiyahu tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and entered the house of Adonai.

It was the report from Hizkiyahu’s officials (see Yesha’yahu 36:22). Hizkiyahu assumed a posture of mourning when he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth. He did not turn to a foreign nation like Egypt for help, but he turned to Adonai.

When things are looking bad, the best place for us to be is in the house of the Adonai with the people of Adonai. The enemy will do everything possible to discourage us from coming to the house of the Adonai. But Hizkiyahu knew that was exactly where he needed to be.

2 He sent Elyakim, who was in charge of the household, Shevnah the general secretary and the leading cohanim, covered with sackcloth, to Yesha‘yahu the prophet, the son of Amotz. 3 They said to him, “This is what Hizkiyahu says: ‘Today is a day of trouble, rebuke, and disgrace. Children are ready to be born, but there is no strength to bring them to birth. 4 Maybe Adonai your God will hear the words of Rav-Shakeh, whom his master the king of Ashur has sent to taunt the living God, and will rebuke the message which Adonai your God has heard. So pray for the remnant that is left.’”

Hizkiyahu sent a message to Yesha’yahu, saying, Rav-Shakeh has been troubling us, threatening us, and blaspheming Adonai. The time has come to stand -but we have no strength.” Do you ever feel that way? You know it’s a time to be strong, to stand up, to stand fast – and yet you feel drained? Let’s see how Yesha’yahu handled it on behalf of Hizkiyahu.

Hizkiyahu then sent two of his delegation to elicit prayers on behalf of the nation from the prophet Yesha’yahu. One of the primary roles of a prophet was to provide intercessory prayer. The first mention of a prophet in the Bible links the office with prayer (Genesis 20:7). Most of the prophets, beginning with Moshe (Exodus 33) and Sh’mu’el (1 Samuel 12:23), demonstrated the critical role of prayer in their work.

5 When King Hizkiyahu’s servants came to Yesha‘yahu, 6 he said to them, “Tell your master that this is what Adonai says: ‘Don’t be afraid of the words you heard the servants of the king of Ashur use to insult me.

Yesha’yahu assured King Hizkiyahu through his men that Adonai would remedy the threat presented by the Ashurim army. Adonai took the Ashurim challenge personally. The king had shown trust in the Adonai by approaching Yesha’yahu, His servant, to pray.

Of Yeshua, Yesha’yahu would prophesy, Adonai Elohim has given Me the ability to speak as a man well taught, so that I, with My words, know how to sustain the weary. Each morning He awakens My ear to hear like those who are taught.” Isaiah 50:4 (CJB). Do we have a sure word for the fearful people around us? We will if we wake morning by morning to wait on the Adonai. Start your day in prayer.

7 I will put a spirit in him that will make him hear a rumor and return to his own land; then I will cause him to die by the sword in his own land.’”

Adonai would send a spirit of deception to Rav-Shakeh so he would hear and believe a falsehood that would cause him to retreat. The fact that Adonai would send such a spirit evokes the memory of the evil spirit Adonai sent to torment Sha’ul (1 Samuel 16:14) and the deceiving spirit Adonai used to deceive King Achav (1 Kings 22:22).

8 Rav-Shakeh returned and, having heard that the king of Ashur had left Lakhish, found him making war with Livnah.

When Rav-Shakeh had traveled to Yerushalayim, the Ashurim king and his army were at Lakhish, but when Rav-Shakeh returned, the king was at Livnah, a town about eight miles northeast of Lakhish. Sennacheriv had completed the capture of Lakhish and had moved on to the next city on what seemed to be an unstoppable march toward Yerushalayim.

9 Then he heard it said that Tirhakah king of Ethiopia was on his way to fight him. On hearing this, the king of Ashur sent messengers to Hizkiyahu, after ordering them,

Tirhakah, at this point in history (701 BCE) may have been the crown prince of Egypt. He became pharaoh of all Egypt in 690 BCE and ruled until 664 BCE. [1]

10 “This is what you are to say to Hizkiyahu king of Y’hudah: ‘Don’t let your God in whom you trust deceive you by saying, “Yerushalayim will not be handed over to the power of the king of Ashur.”Isaiah 37:1-10 (CJB)

The rumor of Tirhakah’s advance on his rear flank caused Sennacheriv to retreat from his march on Yerushalayim, but before he left, he sent a message to warn Hizkiyahu that his departure was only temporary.

In my next post, we continue to unpack this exciting encounter in Yerushalayim’s Deliverance Foretold ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 37:11-20.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] HCSB Study Bible.

The King of Ashur Threatens Yerushalayim ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’hayu 36:11-22

In my last post, we learned The King of Ashur Threatens Yerushalayim ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 36:1-10. In this post, we complete the examination of The King of Ashur Threatens Yerushalayim ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 36:11-22.

11 Elyakim, Shevnah, and Yo’ach said to Rav-Shakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic since we understand it; don’t speak to us in Hebrew while the people on the wall are listening.” 12 But Rav-Shakeh answered, “Did my master send me to deliver my message just to your master and yourselves? Didn’t he send me to address the men sitting on the wall, who, like you, are going to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?”

When the people of Yerushalayim began to sit on the wall in order to listen to the conversation taking place between Sancheriv’s and Hizkiyahu’s negotiators, Hizkiyahu’s men asked that they be spoken to in Aramaic lest the Jewish populace become demoralized. However, it served Rav-Shakeh’s propagandistic purpose to have the people hear and be frightened by the coming Ashurim army, so he refused this request. He reminded them of the consequences of a long siege. They would run out of water and have to drink their urine; they would run out of food and have to eat their excrement.

13 Then Rav-Shakeh stood up and, speaking loudly in Hebrew, said: “Hear what the great king, the king of Ashur, says!  (emphasis added.)

As exemplified by Rav-Shakeh, a big mouth is often indicative of a wicked heart. When someone has to speak loudly to make himself heard, there’s usually something amiss in his heart. [The exemption is those of us who are very hard of hearing and may not even know we are talking loudly.]

14 This is what the king says: ‘Don’t let Hizkiyahu deceive you, because he won’t be able to save you. 15 And don’t let Hizkiyahu make you trust in Adonai by saying, “Adonai will surely save us; this city will not be given over to the king of Ashur.”

Again Rav-Shakeh mocked the idea of trusting in Adonai to rescue Y’hudah from Ashur. But as the previous chapters have asserted many times, trusting Adonai is precisely what the people of Y’hudah should do in this situation.

16 Don’t listen to Hizkiyahu.’ For this is what the king says: ‘Make peace with me, surrender to me. Then every one of you can eat from his vine and fig tree and drink the water in his own cistern, 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land with grain and wine, a land with bread and vineyards.

Ashur’s imperialistic policy called for the deportation of a subjugated people. Rav-Shakeh presented his ultimatum for surrender. For the time being, the Y’hudahim would stay in their land, but after a while, they would be deported to another area. Such a policy was put into place in 722 BCE when the Ashurim conquered the northern kingdom and deported the vast majority of the native population and then brought in foreigners to live there. This policy was intended to break the connection between a people and the god of their land.

18 Beware of Hizkiyahu; he is only deluding you when he says, “Adonai will save us.” Has any god of any nation ever saved his land from the power of the king of Ashur?

Rav-Shakeh does just what HaSatan does to us. First, he plants a question in the ears of the people of Yerushalayim concerning their king. HaSatan attempts to deceive us at every turn. Rav-Shakeh argued that the Adonai could not save Y’hudah any more than the gods of other nations and cities that had been defeated by Ashur.

19 Where are the gods of Hamat and Arpad? Where are the gods of S’farvayim? Did they save Shomron from my power? 20 Where is the god of any of these countries that has saved its country from my power, so that Adonai might be able to save Yerushalayim from my power?’”

Rav-Shakeh specifically mentioned the defeat of three cities whose gods were unable to rescue their inhabitants. Arpad and Hamat were cities in northern Syria known to have been defeated by Ashur at an earlier time. The exact identification of S’farvayim is unknown.

21 But they kept still and didn’t answer him so much as a word, for the king’s order was, “Don’t answer him.” 22 Then Elyakim the son of Hilkiyahu, who was in charge of the household, Shevnah the general secretary and Yo’ach the son of Asaf, the foreign minister went to Hizkiyahu with their clothes torn and reported to him what Rav-Shakeh had said. ~ Isaiah 36:11-22 (CJB)

Hizkiyahu did not give his officials authority to negotiate with Ashur. They reported the proceedings to the king. Their clothes that were torn were a common sign of mourning, showing their deep distress.

In my next post, we learn about Yerushalayim’s Deliverance Foretold in Yesha’yahu 37.

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The Joy of the Redeemed ~ Yesha’hayu 35:1-10

In my last post, we explored A Prophecy Against the Nations in Yesha’yahu 34:1-17. In this post, we learn of The Joy of the Redeemed in Yesha’hayu 35:1-10.

Chapter 35 is a mirror image of chapter 34, where Adonai announced that He would turn the nations into a wilderness. In chapter 35, He proclaimed that He would transform the people of Adonai from a wilderness into a garden. The principle of both chapters is that Adonai’s people should trust Him, not the nations.

1 The desert and the dry land will be glad; the ‘Aravah will rejoice and blossom like the lily.

In Romans 8, Sha’ul tells us that all creation is groaning, waiting for the day of redemption. In other words, even the earth realizes it’s in a fallen state. But when Yeshua comes back, everything will be made right once again.

Recall that the ‘Aravah is the desert area south of the Dead Sea. Scientists tell us that the deserts on our planet are expanding at an alarming rate. Ten thousand square miles of desert are being added in North Africa alone each year. But when the kingdom comes, the desert shall suddenly rejoice and blossom like a lily.

How can this be? It is suggested by some scientists that there will be another shift of the axis. If the earth is made straight again, much of the polar ice caps will melt, adding incredible amounts of water and causing evaporation and the reemergence of a water canopy surrounding the planet. Fossil evidence indicates that the earth at one time was uniformly temperate. Scientists suggest that this could happen again. [1] This is an interesting theory, but I don’t think it is connected to “global warming” per se.

2 It will burst into flower, will rejoice with joy and singing, will be given the glory of the L’vanon, the splendor of Karmel and the Sharon. They will see the glory of Adonai, the splendor of our God.

With the elimination of Edom, regions north of that land are freed from oppression and are restored to fertility and prosperity. L’vanon, Karmel, and Sharon were regions especially lush in vegetation.

3 Strengthen your drooping arms, and steady your tottering knees. 4 Say to the fainthearted, “Be strong and unafraid! Here is your God; He will come with a vengeance; with God’s retribution He will come and save you.”

Adonai will save His people from the godless nations that oppress them. Adonai’s retribution refers to the punishment due to the wicked and the reward due to the righteous.

How are we to strengthen people who feel weak or fearful? We are to tell them Yeshua is coming back. The way to enhance people – whether yourself or others – is to say, “Fear not. Be strong. Yeshua will come and save you.”

5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped; 6 then the lame man will leap like a deer, and the mute person’s tongue will sing. For in the desert, springs will burst forth, streams of water in the ‘Aravah; 7 the sandy mirage will become a pool, the thirsty ground springs of water. The haunts where jackals lie down will become a marsh filled with reeds and papyrus.

In the Kingdom, the healing ministry that Yeshua began on earth will be gloriously completed. Elsewhere in Yesha’yahu, these physical disabilities (blind, deaf, and lame) are metaphors for spiritual shortcomings (29:18; 42:18-19; 43:8). They have been physically dead to godliness, but in the future, they will come alive. Not only will the lame walk, but they will leap like a deer. Not only will the mute speak, but they will sing for joy. A similar transformation is described with the language of nature. The parched ground will flow with water.

8 A highway will be there, a way, called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not pass over it, but it will be for those whom He guides – fools will not stray along it.

In the Kingdom Age, the Way of Holiness shall be established. Everyone will walk together in love and righteousness as the Prince of Peace reigns. Even the most foolish of us will not miss the cutoff or take a wrong turn on this glorious highway of wholeness and rightness.

9 No lion or other beast of prey will be there, traveling on it. They will not be found there, but the redeemed will go there.

HaSatan will be bound at this time. Thus, we will not even hear a growl from the roaring lion of 1 Kefa 5:8.

10 Those ransomed by Adonai will return and come with singing to Tziyon, on their heads will be everlasting joy. They will acquire gladness and joy, while sorrow and sighing will flee. ~ Isaiah 35:1-10 (CJB)

The road described in verse 8 will be safe, and it will lead to Tziyon, where Adonai makes His presence known to His people.

Somewhere we got the mistaken idea that holiness is joyless. Here, however, we see that, as we cruise down the Way of Holiness, everlasting joy will replace heaviness and gladness will replace sadness.

In my next post, we begin to learn that The King of Ashur Threatens Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 36.

Click here for the PDF version.

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

A Prophecy Against the Nations ~ Yesha’yahu 34:1-17

In my last post, we wrapped up A Woe Against Those on Whom the King Will Take Vengeance ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 33:14-24. In this post, we explore A Prophecy Against the Nations in Yesha’yahu 34:1-17.

In Yesha’yahu 34, we see a picture of the Great Tribulation, specifically the battle of Har-Megiddo.

1 Come close, you nations, and listen! Pay close attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and everything in it; the world, with all it produces.

The first thing I noticed in this verse was the pluralization of the nation. Adonai is not just the God of Israel. He is the Adonai of the whole world, so He calls on all the nations to hear Him when He speaks. That includes all of us.

2 For Adonai is angry at every nation, furious with all their armies; He has completely destroyed them, handed them over to slaughter. (emphasis added.) 3 Their slain will be thrown out; the stench will rise from their corpses; the mountains will flow with their blood.

Revelation 14:20 tells us that, at the battle of Har-Megiddo, the blood will flow as high as a horse’s bridle. Jeremiah 30 calls this the time of Ya’akov’s trouble, for, in the Tribulation, the nation of Isra’el and all the earth will be shaken to its core in preparation for the coming of the King.

4 The whole host of heaven will decompose, the heavens themselves be rolled up like a scroll; all their array will wither away like a withering grape-leaf that falls from a vine or a withered fig from a fig tree.

Adonai’s warring activity has cosmic implications. The ancient nations thought of the stars as representing their gods. This image in Yesha’yahu of the whole panorama of the sky being rolled up like a parchment scroll is unique in the Hebrew Bible. In Revelation 6:14 we read: “The sky receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place.”

5 ‘For my sword has drunk its fill in heaven; now it descends on Edom to judge them, the people I have doomed to destruction.’

Since verses 1-4 are concerned with Adonai’s punishment of the nations, it may be that the description of Edom as a sacrificial victim is simply an example of what will happen to them all. Indeed Edom serves in many cases as Israel’s prototype “enemy.”

6 There is a sword that belongs to Adonai. It is filled with blood, gorged with fat, filled with the blood of lambs and goats, gorged with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For Adonai has a sacrifice in Botzrah, a great slaughter in the land of Edom. 7 The wild oxen will fall with them, the young bulls with the strong, mature ones. Their land will be drunk with blood, and their dust made greasy with fat.

Botzrah is the capital of ancient Edom, present-day Saudi Arabia. Edom is the area where Esau settled. The language of sacrifice is explicit in these verses.

8 For Adonai has a day of vengeance, a year of requital for fighting with Tziyon.

Edom had a reputation for taking advantage of Isra’el whenever Isra’el was weak.

9 Its streams will be changed to tar, its dust to sulfur, its land burning tar 10 that will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will rise forever. In all generations, it will lie waste; no one will pass through it ever again.

Although often mentioned as a sealant material for boats, boiling tar appears in Old Babylonian texts as a form of punishment. Coupled with the foul smell of burning sulfur, both elements being available in the region of the Dead Sea, they could easily be associated with Adonai’s wrath. This punishment is similar to that He had brought against Sodom and Gomorrah.

For years, Bible scholars wondered how an area could burn forever. Now we know – for if a bomb or some other device ignited the vast oil reserves of Saudi Arabia, they would burn forever. Whether a bomb ignites them or they are ignited supernaturally, they will indeed burn. [1]

11 Horned owl and hawk will possess it, screech owl and raven will live there; he will stretch over it the measuring line of confusion and the plumbline of the empty void.

The symbol for utter destruction here is that birds best known as inhabiting and scavenging desolate places have settled in ruins.

12 Of its nobles, none will be called to be king, and all its princes will be nothing.

Edom’s kingship was ancient, predating that of Isra’el, but Adonai will bring that institution to an end since He is bringing the nation itself to a close.

13 Thorns will overgrow its palaces, nettles, and thistles its fortresses; it will become a lair for jackals, an enclosure for ostriches. 14 Wildcats and hyenas will meet there, and billy-goats call to each other; Lilit [the night monster] will lurk there and find herself a place to rest. 15 There the hoot owl will nest, lay her eggs, hatch and gather her young in its shade. There the vultures will assemble, every one with its mate.

The prophecy is that of a city becoming a wilderness. Not only will the public buildings of the nation be overgrown out of neglect, but wild animals – a number of which were considered unclean – will make their homes among the ruins.

16 Consult the book of Adonai and read it: not one of these will be missing, none will be lacking a mate. For by His own mouth He gave the order, and by His Spirit, He brought them together. 17 It is He who cast the lot for them, His hand measured out their shares. They will possess it forever, and live there through all generations.” ~ Isaiah 34:1-17 (CJB)

The meaning of the book of Adonai is unknown. It may be a reference to a heavenly scroll, but if so, it is hard to know how the hearer could refer to this document. The appeal to a scroll could be a rhetorical device to emphasize the certainty of Edom’s destruction and its transformation into a haunt for wild animals.

In my next post, we explore The Joy of the Redeemed in Yesha’hayu 35:1-10.

Click here for the PDF version.

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

A Woe Against Those on Whom the King Will Take Vengeance ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 33:14-24

In my last post, we learned of A Woe Against Those on Whom the King Will Take Vengeance ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 33:1-13. In this post, we wrap up A Woe Against Those on Whom the King Will Take Vengeance ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 33:14-24.

14 The sinners in Tziyon are frightened; trembling has seized the ungodly. “Who of us can live with the devouring fire? Who of us can live with eternal burning?”

Having seen Adonai move against the Ashurim, His people quake, fearing they’re next in line for judgment. Who can stand in the presence of such an awesome Adonai? The answer in the following verses are similar to Psalms 15 and 24, thought to be liturgies used by those entering the sacred space of the sanctuary.

15 He whose life is right and whose speech is straight, he who scorns getting rich by extortion, he who shakes his hands free of bribes, stops his ears against talk of bloodshed and shuts his eyes against looking at evil. 16 Such a person will live on the heights, his refuge a fortress among the cliffs, his food, and water in steady supply.

Righteousness –He whose life is rightis described in this verse in relational terms. Adonai will dwell with those who refrain from acts that exploit other people. The righteous person will avoid extortion, bribery, and murder. A Believer who is walking with Adonai in the time of the consuming, devouring fire will be able to stand. The same fire that petrifies those who aren’t Believers will purify those who want to be more like Him.

17 Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will gaze on land stretching into the distance.

The King is none other than Adonai Himself. The picture of the King in His beauty looks to the future after the judgment and the destruction of the enemy when Adonai’s people will be restored.

18 Your mind will meditate on the terror: “Where is the man who did the counting? Where is the man who did the weighing? Where is the man who numbered the towers?”

In this glorious future, no longer will there be emissaries from the oppressive enemy to take the resources of the people of Adonai or those who try to prepare for battle against them.

19 You will not see the intransigent people, that people whose language is so obscure, whose stuttering speech you cannot understand.

The Ashurim tax collectors, some of whom may have come from various parts of the empire, spoke Aramaic, while the majority of Isra’eli spoke only Hebrew. They may also have had strange-sounding accents, which added to the sense of foreign control and oppression for the people of Y’hudah.

20 Look at Tziyon, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Yerushalayim a secure abode, a tent that will not be removed, whose pegs will never be pulled out and whose guy-ropes will not be cut. 21 But there in His splendor, Adonai will be with us, in a place of rivers and broad streams. But no boat with oars will go there; no majestic ship will pass by.

Of Yerushalayim, the most fought-over city in the history of humanity, Adonai says it shall be a quiet habitation, that it shall stand. Despite the current tensions in the Middle East with the Iranians rushing to develop nuclear weapons, perhaps the safest spot on the face of the earth is Yerushalayim, for Adonai guarantees her preservation. To describe Tziyon as a place of rivers and broad streams is to paint a picture of future blessing since Yerushalayim had nothing of the kind.

22 For Adonai is our judge, Adonai is our lawgiver, Adonai is our king. He will save us.

Adonai is our judge, lawgiver, and king, offices that provide internal and external stability and security.

23 For your ropes are hanging loose, not holding the mast, not spreading the sail. Then the plunder shared out is so huge that even the lame get part of the spoil.

The boat imagery may point to those ships in verse 21 that try to assail Tziyon. But rather than taking plunder away, even the lame among the people of Adonai will receive a portion.

24 No inhabitant will say, “I am ill”; the people living there will be forgiven their sin. ~ Isaiah 33:14-24 (CJB)

The change from judgment to salvation for the people of Adonai takes place for one reason: they will be forgiven their iniquity.

When Yeshua returns, when Yerushalayim is quiet, when the river flows through the city, there will be no more sickness. When the Yeshua walked on earth, all that came to Him were healed without exception. Thus, Yeshua’s ministry on earth provided a sneak preview of great coming attractions.

In my next post, we explore A Prophecy Against the Nations in Yesha’hayu 34.

Click here for the PDF version.

A Woe Against Those on Whom the King Will Take Vengeance ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 33:1-13

In my last post, we examined a prophecy concerning The Women of Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 32:9-20. In this post, we learn of A Woe Against Those on Whom the King Will Take Vengeance ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 33:1-13.

This is the sixth and final woe in chapters 28-33. The woe pronounces the destruction of a betrayer. Many interpreters believe the reference is to Sancheriv, whom King Hizkiyah of Y’hudah paid to back off from the siege of Yerushalayim that we will explore later in chapters 36-37. But others believe it is a general reference to the deception of the nations.

1 Woe, destroyer, yourself undestroyed! Woe, betrayer, yourself unbetrayed! When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed; when you tire of betraying, they will betray you.2 Adonai, show us mercy; we have waited for you. Be their arm every morning, and our salvation in time of trouble. 3 At the sound of the tumult, the peoples wander off; when you exalt yourself, the nations are scattered.

Since the nations have let them down, Adonai’s people have no recourse but to wait for Adonai to save them.

4 Your spoil is gathered as if stripped by shearer-worms; they run over it like a swarm of locusts.

In Scripture, locusts are often symbols of a large destroying army. The irony here is that the former destroyer, Ashur, is now to be picked over even more thoroughly than were its victims.

5 Adonai is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Tziyon with justice and right. 6 He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge, and fear of Adonai, which is His treasure.

Tziyon’s treasure is not gold, silver, or weapons. Its treasure is the fear of the Adonai. A relationship of dependence and trust leads to action by a warring Adonai on behalf of His people. We all need to be dependant upon and trust in the Lord for all your needs.

Verses 7-13 describe a future attack (perhaps Sancheriv’s attack on Yerushalayim in 701 BCE) as if it were happening in the present.

7 Hear their brave men crying out for help! The envoys of peace weep bitterly.

The envoys of peace weep bitterly as warriors control the streets. Diplomacy has broken down. Of late, that seems to be a recurring theme in our international relationships.

8 The highways are deserted; there are no travelers. He has broken the covenant, despised the cities; he has no regard for human life.

He here appears to be Sancheriv.  He has broken the covenant may be a direct reference to the agreement that Sancheriv made to withdraw from Yerushalayim after being paid tribute – a promise he did not honor. Since the army is on the brink of attack, all travel has ceased.

9 The land is mourning and wilting away. The L’vanon is withering with shame. The Sharon has become like the ‘Aravah. Bashan and Karmel have been shaken bare.

The shattering of nature’s normal function, coupled with a gloomy recital of areas known for their fertility, once again reflects Adonai’s displeasure. The locales generally run north to south: from the lush forests of L’vanon, south to the fertile plain of Sharon on the coastal plain, east of the Galilee to the Bashan plateau and its excellent grazing areas, and then south again to the Karmel range is also known for its herding. The reference to Aravah is to the desert plain south of the Dead Sea.

10 “Now I will arise,” says Adonai, “Now I will exalt and lift myself up.

At this moment of tension, a time when Isra’el’s abilities are insufficient, Adonai will rise up. This shows He is about to make an appearance as a warrior. Several psalms call on Adonai to arise to fight on behalf of the psalmist and his people.

11 You conceive chaff and give birth to stubble; your breath is a fire devouring you. 12 The peoples will be as if burned into lime, like thorns cut off to burn in the fire.

In spite of the efforts of the enemy to win a victory, they will accomplish nothing productive. They conceive and give birth, not to life but death, here represented by dead vegetation that is good for nothing (chaff and stubble).

13 You living far off, hear what I have done! You who are near, acknowledge my strength!” ~ Isaiah 33:1-13 (CJB)

Adonai’s warring activity will be a testimony to the whole world, both near and far, of His strength.

In my next post, we continue to explore A Woe Against Those on Whom the King Will Take Vengeance ~ Part 2 in Yesha’hayu 33:14-24.

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The Women of Yerushalayim ~ Yesha’yahu 32:9-20

In my last post, we learned of the Coming of a Righteous King in Yesha’yahu 32:1-8. In this post, we examine a prophecy concerning The Women of Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 32:9-20.

9 You women who are so complacent, listen to me! Overconfident women pay attention to my words!

The prophecy now addresses the women in the community of the people of Adonai. They also show pride in human resources rather than in the Adonai. They are complacent and overconfident.

10 In a year and a few days more, you overconfident women will shudder, because the vintage will fail, the harvest will not come.

It appears that the security of these women is in the abundant produce of the land, but Yesha’hayu pointed out that this prosperity is temporary. In the next year, vintage (wine) and harvest (crop production) will fail. Tough economic times are ahead.

11 Tremble, you complacent women! Shudder, you overconfident women! Strip bare, wear sackcloth to cover yourselves.

Yesha’hayu seems to be saying: “You should be wearing sackcloth in brokenness and humility. Instead, you’re dressed for a party.” One of the rituals associated with mourning and supplication is to wear sackcloth (see Genesis 37:34; 1 Kings 20:31-32). Any society whose women begin to lose their moral moorings and begin to flaunt their sensuality is headed for trouble.

12 Beat your breasts in mourning for the pleasant fields and fruitful vines,

In addition to wearing sackcloth, beating one’s chest was also a mourning customs.

13 for the land of my people, producing thorns and briars, for all the happy homes in the joyful city.

The land will produce thorns and briers, useless plants, instead of grains and vines. The idea is similar to the curse against Adam in Genesis 3:18.

14 For the palace will be abandoned, the crowded city deserted, ‘Ofel and fortress wastelands forever, a delight for wild donkeys and a pasture for flocks –

Not only will the fields be desolate and unproductive, but so will the city of Yerushalayim. It will be turned into the haunt of wild animals.Ofel (Citadel) refers to a portion of Yerushalayim where a specific watchtower stood (see Nehemiah 3:26).

Because the Adonai would mercifully and mightily deliver Yerushalayim from destruction at the hand of the Ashurim, this prophecy would see fulfillment when the Jews were carried into captivity to Bavel in 586 BCE. Of course, it would be even more fully and tragically realized in the destruction of Yerushalayim by Rome in 70 CE.

15 till the Spirit is poured out on us from above, and the desert becomes a fertile field, with the fertile field regarded as a forest.

When the Spirit is poured out, everything changes. We see three great outpourings of the Spirit in Scripture: before the end times in Joel 2, at the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and in the millennial kingdom as seen here. That is not to say that the Spirit isn’t being poured out daily now.

16 Then justice will dwell in the desert, and righteousness abides in the fertile field. 17 The effect of righteousness will be peace; the result of righteousness, quiet trust forever.

Being right with Adonai and our neighbors will bring peace. Shalom is more than the absence of conflict. It includes personal wholeness and does not depend on outside circumstances.

 18 My people will live in a peaceful place, in secure neighborhoods, and tranquil dwellings.

Living in a peaceful place and feeling secure and tranquil were blessings of Isra’el’s covenant with the Adonai, but the people’s sin had previously brought curses rather than blessings.

19 Just as the forest will surely come down, the city will surely be laid low. 20 Happy are you who sow by all streams, letting oxen and donkeys roam freely. ~ Isaiah 32:9-20 (CJB)

The godly would remain secure even with evidence of Adonai’s judgment all around them.

In my next post, we move to the sixth and final woe in chapters 28-33 in Yesha’hayu 33:1-13 to learn about A Woe Against Those on Whom the King Will Take Vengeance ~ Part 1.

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Coming of a Righteous King ~ Yesha’yahu 32:1-8

In my last post, we concluded our investigation of a Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 3 in Yesha’hayu 30:27-33. In this post, we take a brief respite from the woes, and we will learn of the Coming of a Righteous King in Yesha’yahu 32:1-8.

1 There is coming a king who will reign justly and princes who will rule uprightly.

In light of the dark days they were experiencing, this would have been a message of comfort and hope to Adonai’s people. Scholars are divided over whether the king who will reign righteously is a direct reference to the Messiah or whether it describes a historical king like Hizikiyahu (sees 2 Kings 18-21) or Yoshiyahu (see 2 Kings 21-23). Of course, Yeshua is THE King, and Hizikiyahu and Yoshiyahu were pale anticipations of the Him. The point is that the future will bring just leadership.

2 A man will be like a refuge from the wind, like protection from a storm, like streams of water on arid ground, like a rock cliff shading a weary land.

The benefits the people will experience because of their righteous leaders are described metaphorically. They are protection and provision in difficult circumstances. Ultimately, Yeshua is the hiding place in a weary land.

3 The eyes of those seeing will not be closed; the ears of those hearing will pay close attention. 4 The minds of the impetuous will learn to weigh carefully; the tongues of the stutterers will speak readily and clearly. 5 The mean person will no longer be called generous, or the miserly said to be noble;

These verses form a reversal of the conditions faced by Yesha’yahu in his description of his calling in 6:9-10. What changes Israel’s fortunes is the rise of a righteous king who enforces the law and maintains order.

When Yeshua reigns in righteousness, men will see clearly. As a result, dark will not be called light (Yesha’yahu 5:20). Things will be seen for what they are in truth. That is why the mean or foolish, person will no longer be thought of as generous and noble.

6 for the mean person will speak meanness, his heart planning evil so that he can act godlessly, spreading error concerning Adonai, as he lets the hungry go on starving and deprives the thirsty of drink.

Proverbs make it clear that a fool is someone who rejects Adonai and has a detrimental effect on the community. Here Yesha’yahu claims that folly among the leadership leads to hunger and thirst.

7 The mean person’s means are mean – he devises wicked devices to ruin the poor and needy with lies, even when their cause is just. 8 But the generous person devises generous things, and his generosity will keep him standing. ~ Isaiah 32:1-8 (CJB)

In contrast to the person who will be destroyed by his self-interest and indulgence, the generous person will thrive because of his selflessness. Yeshua would not only perfectly embody this principle but put it into words when He said, “Whoever finds his own life will lose it, but the person who loses his life for my sake will find it.” ~ Matthew 10:39 (CJB)

In my next post, we move on in Yesha’hayu 32 to learn about The Women of Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 32:9-20.

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Woe to Those Who Rely on Egypt ~ Yesha’yahu 31:1-9

In my last post, we began to explore a Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 2 in Yesha’hayu 30:12-29. In this post, we conclude our investigation of a Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 3 in Yesha’hayu 30:27-33.

This is the fifth woe in chapters 28-33. The issue again is that Adonai’s people were trusting foreign nations (in this case, Egypt) rather than Adonai for help against their enemies.

1 Woe to those going down to Egypt expecting help relying on horses; trusting in chariots, because they have many, and in the strength of their cavalrymen but not looking to the Holy One of Isra’el, not consulting Adonai.

The “holy war” theme of the Tanakh makes it clear that Isra’el’s safety depended on Adonai, not on the size of their army. Examples include the battle of Jericho (Joshua 7), Gid’on’s victory over the Midyan (Judges 7-8), and countless other accounts (Psalm 20:7).

2 But He too is wise and can bring disaster, and He does not take back His words; He will rise against the house of evildoers and against the help of those who do wrong. 3 Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses’ flesh and not spirit. So, when Adonai stretches out His hand, both he who helps will stumble, and he who is helped will fall; both will perish together.

Isra’el’s attempt to get help from Egypt will backfire because Adonai will cause both helper (Egypt) and helped (Adonai’s people) to be destroyed. It’s as if the Adonai is saying, Why are you looking to the Egyptians? They’re not going to be able to help you. They’re not Adonai. They’re only men. So, seek Me instead.”

Are we reticent to seek the Adonai? Our strength comes from our dependence upon Adonai alone.

4 For here is what Adonai says to me: “As a lion or lion cub growls at its prey and isn’t frightened away by the shouts of hordes of shepherds called out against him their voices do not upset him so likewise Adonai-Tzva’ot will descend to fight on Mount Tziyon, on its hill. 5 Like hovering birds, Adonai-Tzva’ot will protect Yerushalayim. In protecting it, He will rescue it; in sparing it, He will save it.

Adonai is the only One who can protect His people. In these verses, Yesha’yahu uses two images to describe Adonai’s protection. He is a fearless lion on behalf of Isra’el against the foreign armies (represented by the shepherds who try to fend Him off). He is also hovering over His people as birds hover over their prey. The point is that Adonai will see to the deliverance of His people.

6 People of Isra’el! Return to Him to whom you have been so deeply disloyal! 7 For on that day everyone will discard his idols of silver and idols of gold, which you made for yourselves with your own sinful hands.

The restoration of Adonai’s people has two sides: returning to Him, which implies repentance, and rejecting false gods in the form of silver and gold idols. We see this prophecy fulfilled when Hezekiah removed the high places, broke the idols, and cut down the groves used in idol worship (2 Kings 18:4).

8 Then Ashur will fall by a sword, not of mortals, a sword, not of humans, will devour him; he will flee before the sword, and his young men will be put to forced labor.

Adonai is the real reason Ashur will fall. He will use Bavel for this task, but Adonai is the One who will give Bavel the victory.

9 His rock, out of terror, will pass away, and his panicked officers will desert the standard.” So says Adonai, whose fire is in Tziyon, whose furnace is in Yerushalayim. ~ Isaiah 31:1-9 (CJB)

Though the reference is unusual, the rock is probably a reference to the Ashurim king. A rock is something that provides shelter and protection, but in this case, the rock will fail to give a defense. The standard is a reference to a battle standard used to rally troops. Tziyon’s fire and Yerushalayim’s furnace may be a reference to the altar fire, but in the context of judgment, it may point to the fire that will come out of Yerushalayim to destroy the attacking enemy.

In my next post, we move on to Yesha’hayu 32. Yesha’yahu takes a brief respite from the woes in this chapter, and we will learn of the Coming of a Righteous King in verses 1-8.

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