The LORD is Waiting, If You Call Upon Him! (Isaiah 35; Isaiah 36)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 35; Isaiah 36

Our study of the Book of Isaiah makes a dramatic shift in today’s Scripture reading. Isaiah 35 continued the revelation of the LORD imparted to Isaiah. Isaiah 36, however, characterizes the role of the prophet as that of a contemporary historian.

Isaiah 35 – The Millennial Kingdom of Christ

Isaiah 34 recorded the summons of the nations of the world to the Battle of Armageddon where the LORD would pour out His wrath on all nations (34:1-7). Isaiah foretold how the LORD had determined to execute vengeance for Zion (the Jews), and in His book the judgment was written and sealed (34:8-17).

Isaiah 35 foretells the Millennial reign of Christ, and the restoration of creation from the effects of man’s sin. Isaiah prophesied, when the LORD returns, and reigns in Zion, the earth will be transformed. The dry land will spring forth with life, and the desert will be adorned with blossoms (35:1). Lebanon, once known for its fragrant cedars, will again display its glory. The beautiful oaks of Carmel will be restored, and the lush green pastures of Sharon will again reflect the glory and excellency of God (35:2).

When Christ returns, humanity will be healed from its ills, the weak will be strengthened (35:3), and the fearful emboldened (35:4). In that day, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will jump for joy (35:5), and the mute will break forth into singing (35:6a)! What a glorious day that will be.

The return of the LORD will restore nature. The desert will flow with streams of water (35:6b), and will blossom like an oasis (35:7). The redeemed will walk “The way of holiness” (or “the holy way”), and the highways will be safe (35:8-9).

Isaiah 36 – A Crisis in Judah

Isaiah, under the guidance of the LORD, then assumed the role of a scribe and historian. Recorded in this chapter are the current events of his day. To those who have followed these daily devotionals, Isaiah 36-39 will sound familiar. Our text is a parallel history of 2 Kings 17-20 and 2 Chronicles 32. (2 Kings was recorded before the Babylonian captivity, and 2 Chronicles is believed to have been penned by Ezra, following the return of God’s people to their land.)

The Siege of Jerusalem

Hezekiah ruled Judah for 29 years, and the events recorded in Isaiah 36 occurred during his 14th year as king. It was in that year, when Hezekiah was about 39 years old, that the armies of the Assyrian king Sennacherib invaded Judah, and began the siege of Jerusalem (36:1).

Rabshakeh, a general of Assyria, led a great army to the walls of Jerusalem, and there he began to reproach Hezekiah, and the soldiers of Judah (36:2-3). He attacked Hezekiah for his faith in the LORD, and mocked the soldiers on the wall for placing their confidence in the king (36:4-5). Unfortunately, rather than trust the LORD, Hezekiah made a treaty with Egypt, and Pharaoh failed to come to Judah’s aid (36:6).

The Scorn of Rabshakeh (36:7-21)

The Assyrian general mocked God, and scorned the people for placing their trust in Him (36:7). He urged Judah to pay tribute to the king of Assyria, and promised to give the nation 2,000 horses for war, but suggested there were not so many men in Judah that could ride horses into battle (368). Rabshakeh even declared the LORD led him to come against Judah with his army (33:10).

Fearing Rabshakeh’s words would discourage the soldiers on the walls of Jerusalem, Judah’s leaders requested the Assyrian deliver his message in the Syrian language (36:11-12). The general, however, refused and continued speaking in Hebrew, longing to discourage them (36:11).

With defiance and contempt, Rabshakeh foretold how the siege would eventually bring the people to famine, and thirst (36:12). He spoke against Hezekiah, and urged the people to neither trust their king or the LORD (36:13-16a). Rabshakeh asserted the fall of Judah and Jerusalem was inevitable, for the gods of other nations had failed to withstand the armies of Assyria (36:17-20).

The soldiers on the wall of Jerusalem remained silent, and none answered Rabshakeh’s insults (36:21). When the king heard the report of the Assyrian’s insults, he tore his robes (an outward sign of grief), and “went into the house of the LORD” (37:1).

Closing thoughts – Where and to whom do you turn in time of trouble? Hezekiah was one of the great kings in Judah’s history (with the exception of David and Solomon, none were greater). Yet, his failure to trust the LORD, and turn to Egypt instead had put the throne, the city, and the kingdom at risk. How different this story might have unfolded had he first turned to the LORD!

As we will see in the next devotional, the LORD was waiting to do for His people what no plot, plan or army could do without Him. When Hezekiah humbled himself, and called on the LORD, his prayers were answered and Jerusalem was saved (Isaiah 37).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith