Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Isaiah Studies (Series 3 of 9 - chapters 22 to 35)|
Chs. 22 & 23
PRELIMINARY to reading Isaiah
I started on the studies in Isaiah in 1997 and finished them in 2012 with large gaps in between. You may therefore find a slightly different style appearing in the 'Comment' section of each individual study, as over the years I have changed my approach. I make this comment in the light of the book of Isaiah. You will see shortly I make a comment about 'scholars' and some have seen differing styles in Isaiah and therefore attributed the writing to different authors. You will see below that he probably prophesied over a period of some 39 years through the reigns and changes of four kings.
Imagine you are a prophet- imagine you are Isaiah - and from time to time over that 39 years you catch a sense of God's heart for His people, surrounding nations, and indeed, the world. He learns to write them down for that is the only way to hang on to what the Lord has said - but it stretches over 39 years. Imagine, if you had started at 25, prophesying until you were 64. You have changed a great deal in that time and you have 'heard' many facets of God's heart. There is unlikely to be a sense of continuity in these writings and, indeed, it is possible that by the end of that period, you are not sure of the exact order of some of them. The only part that really contains historical narrative is in the middle of the book we have today, covering chapters 36 to 39, although there are a few other historical references (e.g. Isa 7 & 8).
With this particular book, read each chapter as a separate passage (although there will be links). In that way you can focus on what Isaiah was 'hearing' at the particular time and about a particular thing or people.
Originally these studies were designed to be used on a daily basis, with a month's set of individual studies to each 'series'. Because of the size of Isaiah there are now 9 series following chapter by chapter through the book, plus one 'mixed' series for the person who wishes to catch an overall 'flavour' of the book. You are advised to use the chapter guide on the front Contents page for the Old Testament.
Things Covered in these Chapters of this Series
1. More Oracles :
Against Jerusalem - ch. 22
Against Tyre - ch. 23
2. Judgment and Promise (the Lord's Kingdom) - chs. 24-27
Universal Judgments for Universal Sin - ch. 24
Deliverance and Blessing - ch. 25
Praise for the Lord's Sovereign Care - ch. 26
Israel 's Enemies Punished but Israel 's Remnant Restored - ch. 27
3. Six Woes - chs. 28-33
Woe to Ephraim ( Samaria )--and to Judah ch. 28
Woe to David's City, Jerusalem 29:1-16
Woe to Those Who Rely on Foreign Alliances 29:17-24
Woe to the Obstinate Nation ch. 30
Woe to Those Who Rely on Egypt chs. 31-32
Woe to Assyria -but Blessing for God's People ch. 33
4. More Prophecies of Judgment and Promise - chs. 34-35
Destruction of the Nations & the Avenging of God's People ch. 34
The Future Blessings of Restored Zion ch. 35
As the Introduction at the very beginning of the Isaiah series' indicates, we have here a variety of words that came to Isaiah at unspecified times. We will thus work through these chapters, dividing them as above but the reader needs to realise that any chapter may be a mixture of warnings, reasons and intended outcomes if people or peoples continue in their godless state, disregarding the Lord. BUT there is also a lot of blessing included which we should watch out for.
Part 1: "More Oracles" Isa 22-23
As we will note in the Recap at the end of this small set of studies, there are two more oracles that continue on from Ch.13 to 21.
Chapter: Isaiah 22
Passage: Isa 22:1-5
A. Find Out
1. How is this described? v.1a
2. What does he ask them? v.1b
3. How does he describe the city? v.2a
4. What is puzzling? v.2b,3
5. How did he feel? v.4
6. What is coming? v.5
1. What are signs of upset here?
2. What strange things have happened?
3. What do you think this suggests to you?
There is no date indication with this serious message to be brought (for that is what oracle means) and later verses indicate that the Valley of Vision (v.1) is simply Jerusalem , a place often of darkness (valley) but often of vision (from the prophets).
It is a town of mixed upheaval tumult (chaotic uncertainty) one minute, revelry (rejoicing) the next (v.2). But there appears fear and uncertainty at the moment, for the people are troubled and flee upstairs to their roof areas, places of security or of rejoicing (v.1b). But there is a question mark in the mind of the prophet for there is death in the city (v.2b), but they did not die in battle by the sword, which suggests they died by plague or famine, both features of siege times.
Yet there is also shame in the city for it would appear that the leaders of the city fled at the rumour that an enemy was coming, yet they appear to have walked right into the enemy and were captured without a fight (v.3). This state of affairs leaves the prophet in anguish for the city and its people (v.4). He summarises what is coming. So far this is all prophetic vision but there is coming a siege against Jerusalem , a time of tumult and terror when all this will be fulfilled (v.5). An oracle was a serious message of warning brought by a messenger. The writing is on the wall, as we say! The warning is clear.
1. Times of peace may not last, enjoy them while you can.
2. Upsets come because of the sin and folly of man. Pray against them.
Chapter: Isaiah 22
Passage: Isa 22:6-13
A. Find Out
1. What is happening at Elam and Kir? v.6
2. What is happening in the land? v.7
3. With what result? v.8
4. Yet how had Jerusalem prepared? v.9-11a
5. Yet how had they failed? v.11b
6. What had the Lord said, but what had they done? v.12,13
1. What do verses 6 to 8 describe?
2. How had the Lord called them to respond?
3. But how had they reacted?
Elam is to the east of Babylon and suggests that the people of that region was arming themselves to come against Jerusalem (v.6) so that soon across the valleys of the land, there are chariots and horses (v.7) that eventually appear at Jerusalem's gates and Jerusalem's defences are swept away (v.8a)
Jerusalem had heard of what was coming and so had shored up the city walls (v.9,10) and made sure they had plenty of water to see them through any siege (v.9,11a), yet in all this they had not turned to the Lord to seek for His help (v.11b). When that day approaches the Lord counsels them (presumably through His prophet) to take it seriously (v.12) and call a time of prayer and fasting (implied). But instead when it came to it, the people were blasé and instead held a time of partying (v.13) almost as a means of blotting out what was coming; either that or as a denial of what would happen. There is a refusal to face the awfulness of what is happening.
If this was a distant prophecy looking forward to the years of attack by Babylon eventually culminating in the Exile, then it was perfectly fulfilled as Jeremiah at the time warned and warned and warned, and yet the leaders and the people simply refused to take him and his message seriously.
1. Sin so often refuses to take God's warnings seriously.
2. The devil whispers again, “Surely not…”
Chapter: Isaiah 22
Passage: Isa 22:14-25
A. Find Out
1. What does God say about this sin? v.14
2. What was Isaiah to say to whom? v.15,16
3. What will the Lord do with him? v.17-19
4. Who will the Lord replace him with? v.20-22
5. What will he be like? v.23,24
6. Yet what will happen? v.25
1. What sin was it that was not able to be atoned for?
2. What was Shebna assuming, but what was the reality?
3. What was the reality about his replacement?
We start with this strange reference to a sin that cannot be atoned (v.14). The sin referred to earlier (v.11b) was of not relying on the Lord and that was not going to be atoned for in Isaiah's lifetime ('til your dying day), meaning that Israel would not repent in his lifetime.
But then the focus turns on Shebna the most senior palace official (v.15) who saw his future as eventually ending in Jerusalem as he planned his grave there (v.16), but the Lord warns him that he will be taken from Jerusalem and taken into exile; his time in this fine position is strictly limited (v.17-19)
Shebna is going to be replaced by Eliakim who will receive his position and authority (v.20,21) and he will become one who Jerusalem look to as a father figure. He will receive the authority of kingship (v.22) and he will appear like a peg driven into firm ground – fixed and stable (v.23) and he will receive glory and honour in this position and that glory will be shared with his family (v.24) inferring that his position will continue on for a while yet but, the Lord warns, there will come a time when this ‘peg' will give way and be broken out of his place (v.25) and those who rely on him will be cast adrift.
1. Don't assume that just because there is peace at the moment it will always be like that. God does deal with sin in the long term.
2. If there is ongoing sin God WILL deal with it, even if He takes His time over
Chapter: Isaiah 23
Passage: Isaiah 23:1-9
A. Find Out
1. Which city is to be destroyed? v.1
2. Who will be affected and why? v.1-3
3. Who else will feel it? v.4,5
4. Who again will feel it? v.6
5. How had Tyre influenced others? v.7,8
6. But now why is that coming to an end? v.9
1. What had Tyre been known for?
2. How had it influenced the whole area?
3. But now how was that all to end?
Tyre had been a coastal city with a harbour (v.1) to whom traders from the whole of the Mediterranean had come so that it became a market place (v.3), a place for trading for all surrounding nations. The ‘merchant navy' of Tarshish (either Spain or Africa probably) came to it (v.1,6) and would feel it's loss immensely, for loss is what is coming as this oracle, this serious message, predicts destruction of the city (v.1).
The merchants and seafarers of Cyprus (v.1) of Sidon (v.2), of Egypt (v.3) and of Tarshish (v.1,6) will anguish because of this loss. It is like the sea speaks (v.4) as the word will be carried by ships to Sidon (v.4), Egypt (v.5) and to Tarshish (v.6). Tyre had had great influence and men from there had travelled widely (v.7) and affluence had followed them and kings and princes rose up on the wealth generated from this one place. (v.8)
Yet, as so often happens in sinful humanity, pride rose up (v.9), and pride always pushes away the Lord and claims the glory for itself, declaring, haven't we done well. It appears that it is because of this pride that the Lord stands against this city and declares its destruction and, for that matter, the destruction of all who will rise up and distort the truth with pride.
1. Beware pride, that distorter of the truth that makes you think that you alone are the cause of your success.
2. Realise that the Lord is the giver of success and praise Him for it.
Chapter: Isaiah 23
Passage: Isaiah 23:10-18
A. Find Out
1. Note again those affected by Tyre 's fall. v.10-12
2. Who were they to look to as an example? v.13
3. What does he reiterate will happen? v.14,15a
4. But yet what will happen? v.15b,17
5. So what should they do? v.16
6. How will Tyre eventually be different? v.18
Because we tend to deny warnings of bad things happening, Isaiah piles on pictures to reinforce – this IS going to happen to Tyre . To Tarshish comes the call, focus on agriculture and providing for yourself rather than shipbuilding (v.10) because the place where you trade will be gone. The Lord has instructed that the fortresses of Canaan (see the alternative note) be destroyed (v.11) and that includes Sidon as well as Tyre (v.12a). Even if they escaped to Cyprus they would still find upheaval (v.12b)
If they are unsure as to the Lord's power, see what He did to the Babylonians (v.13a), what He did to them using the Assyrians (v.13b). Thus the same will happen to Tyre (v.14). For seventy years Tyre will be nothing and so forgotten (v.15a).
But that will not be the end of it because at the end of that seventy years (v.15b,17a) the Lord will allow Tyre to be restored (v.17b) so that she will trade with all the other nations again (v.17c)
Remember this, say the Lord, remember it like a wandering minstrel wandering through the city and singing out the truth as a reminder (v.16). Yet the future of Tyre will be very different for the money she makes will be used by the Lord and not hoarded for personal gain (v.18a). This is the amazing thing: Tyre will eventually be used to bless the people of God (v.18b)
1. God works in the long term.
2. Try to catch the big picture, not just today and tomorrow.
RECAP "More Oracles" Isaiah 22-23
In this first group of 5 studies we have seen :
An Oracle Against Jerusalem – Ch.22
An Oracle Against Tyre – Ch.23
Here we have two oracles or strong messages of warning coming from the Lord. They both come well before the misfortunes foretold come about. The first is in respect of the city of the Lord's people, the second against a city of the world. In both there is pride and disregard for the Lord. Both appear self reliant and both will be brought low. Changes are coming and they are brought about by the Lord who will no longer tolerate these states of affairs. Here we thus have two specific warnings against specific groups of people, continuing on from the previous chapters that had likewise spoken against specific peoples (starting from Ch.13 – Babylon , Ch.14 – Assyria & the Philistines, Ch.15 – Moab , Ch.17 – Damascus , Ch.18 – Cush, Ch. 19 – Egypt , Ch.21 – Babylon )
1. The Lord holds nations to account.
2. Nationally the sins of pride & godlessness so often prevail.
3. The Lord sees and will act.
Thank the Lord that He is sovereign and that nations and national leaders will be held accountable to Him.
PART 2 : "Judgment and Promise"
In this next Part (Ch.24-27) the prophecies go worldwide (universal) and general, and then are about the Lord's people.