Friday, February 17, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Isaiah 34-39
Isaiah 34 speaks of God’s great and universal judgment of the nations of the world.
Isaiah 35 describes the world and nations after God’s judgment and Christ’s Millennial Kingdom…a time the desert will bring forth life and flower with beauty and reflecting God’s glory (35:1-2). What a wonderful day that will be…the weak will be strengthen (35:3), the fearful made embolden (35:4), the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame shall jump for joy (35:5), the dumb will break forth into singing (35:6), the desert will flow with streams of water (35:6b) and bloom like an oasis (35:7)…and the redeemed whose trust is in the LORD will walk on the “Holy Way” and come to Zion, the mount where the LORD rules and reigns (35:8-10).
We have traveled in today’s scripture from the judgment of God against the rebellious nations of the earth (Isaiah 35) to the benevolent reign of Jesus Christ in His future Millennial Kingdom (Isaiah 36). We return to Isaiah’s day as Sennacherib, king of Assyria has not only overrun Israel (the northern ten tribes), but is laying siege to Judah and its capital Jerusalem (Isaiah 36).
Preacher and author Warren Wiersbe sums up Isaiah 36-39 in these words: “Hezekiah [the king of Judah] faced three crises in a short time: an international crisis (the invasion of the Assyrian army), a personal crisis (sickness and near death), and a national crisis (the visit of the Babylonian envoys).” [The Bible Exposition Commentary – The Prophets]
An emissary of king Sennacherib is sent to confront king Hezekiah (36:4-8) and demand tribute be paid to the king of Assyria. Fearing the emissary’s message would disturb the men defending the city walls of Jerusalem, Judah’s leaders asked he deliver the message from the king of Assyria in the Syrian language (36:11-12); however, the messenger refused and raised his voice against the men on the wall, mocking king Hezekiah and his faith God would deliver Judah (36:13-22).
Hearing the threats of Sennacherib, king Hezekiah humbled himself, tearing his robe (36:22) and crying out to the LORD (37:1). The prophet Isaiah, God’s man for such an hour, encouraged the king’s counselors to assure the king God would deliver the nation and destroy Sennacherib (37:5-7).
Having received a final warning that mocked Hezekiah and his faith in God, the king cried out to the LORD (37:14-20). Isaiah assured Hezekiah the LORD was with him and his enemy would be destroyed (37:33-35). Chapter 37 closes with the LORD sending an avenging angel against the Assyrian army, slaying 185,000 soldiers, even as the sons of king Sennacherib’s killed him (37:33-38).
Isaiah 38 is a remarkable chapter. God sends Isaiah to deliver a sobering message to king Hezekiah: “Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live” (38:1). In itself, that message was not unusual, for it stated the reality all sinners, great and small must eventually face. What is extraordinary is, when Hezekiah heard the words of the prophet, he prayed and God added 15 years to his life (38:2-6). As a sign that Hezekiah’s life would be extended, God turned the shadow on the sundial back ten degrees (38:7-8). Isaiah 38 concludes with king Hezekiah authoring a psalm of thanksgiving for God’s grace in extending his years (38:9-22).
Today’s scripture reading concludes with Hezekiah making a dreadful error in judgment when he allows ambassadors from Babylon to enter his palace and see the riches of the treasury with which the LORD had blessed him and the nation (39:1-2). Isaiah admonished Hezekiah, warning him that his foolish, arrogant decision to display the nation’s treasuries would inevitably lead to Babylon taking away Judah’s wealth and her most favored sons (39:3-8).
I close with a personal observation: I have seen many men and women who, after experiencing a degree of success in their endeavors, whether in business or ministry, allow their hearts to swell with pride and, setting aside their dependence on God, sacrifice the very humility that was the incentive and catalyst of God’s blessings.
Life Lesson: Deflect the best things men say about you and don’t believe the worse; for somewhere in the midst is the truth about your character and person.
Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith