Friday, January 27, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Isaiah 18-22
Today’s devotional reading continues Isaiah’s prophetic message of God’s judgment against the nations and Israel. God’s judgment against Egypt (Isaiah 19:1-15 and 20:1-6) was fulfilled when Assyria conquered Egypt in 670 B.C. Isaiah 19:16-25 describes Egypt being fearful of the LORD (i.e. reverencing and worshiping Him) and the nation of Judah (today’s modern Israel). This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, but will be fulfilled at Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.
Isaiah 21:1-10 is a prophecy concerning the fall of ancient Babylon to Assyria (the “desert of the sea” probably referring to the desert region of modern day Iraq). Assyria and Babylon were the two major world powers in Isaiah’s day. Isaiah prophesies in chapter 21 that Babylon would fall to Assyria; however, that nation would eventually become superior to Assyria until she fell to the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C.
Isaiah 22 is a prophecy of God’s judgment against the city of Jerusalem and Judah. After observing the northern ten tribes taken into captivity by Assyria, one would hope Judah, made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin with Jerusalem as her capital city, would have humbled herself before God; instead, we read: “Thou that art full of stirs [noise; shouting], a tumultuous city, a joyous city [jubilant; full of revelers] (22:2).
Mirroring the sinful, narcissistic spirit of the rich fool who said, “eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19), the citizens of Jerusalem took pleasure in their sin, insensitive to the threat of danger and the imminence of God’s judgment. Isaiah foresaw the danger and warned God’s people the day was approaching when their men would be slain in the streets (22:2) and the rulers would flee before the enemy (22:3-7). Jerusalem’s defenses would fail (22:8-11a) and still the people would refuse to turn to the LORD (22:11b). Instead of repenting of their sin and turning to the LORD, the people resolved to “eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die” (22:12-14).
Isaiah 22:15-19 is a denunciation of a leader of Jerusalem identified as “this treasurer, even unto Shebna” (22:15). Like political leaders of our own nation, Shebna had enriched himself and carved out a sepulchre worthy of a king’s burial (22:16). Isaiah prophesied Shebna would be numbered among those carried away captive and his tomb would belong to another. In Shebna’s place, God raised up Eliakim, a man the LORD described as “my servant” and promising “he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah” (22:20-21). In spite of putting a godly man at the helm of the nation’s leadership, God’s judgment of Judah was inevitable (22:25).
I close with an observation: As it was with ancient Judah before God’s judgment against that nation, is it not also true of today’s church in the United States: For too long Christians have lived for today’s pleasures, giving little thought to eternity and God’s judgment.
As God chose Eliakim to serve Judah as a leader who would serve the interests of the people like a caring father, I wonder if the recent election of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence might afford us a parallel with our own nation and times. My friend, I believe God has granted America a reprieve from His impending judgment; let us not play the fool only to hear, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20)
* Please forgive me for posting today’s devotional later than usual. I was traveling Thursday and am feeling a little under the weather today.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith