PART TWO: CH 13-39
Ch 7-12 – posed a question – Is God sovereign for all the nations? Specifically, can God deliver from his people from Assyria? In short, can God be trusted?
Ch 13-35 – God’s answer comes in four parts —
- Ch 13-23 – God asserts his lordship over each of the nations
- Ch 24-27 – God is not merely reacting to what the nations do, but He is in fact the main actor on the world’s stage
- Ch 28-33 – God is superior to human leaders
- Ch 34-35 – God reveals the ultimate results of the two course of action, concluding in Ch 35 with the promise that God can and will redeem. In other words, God can be trusted.
Ch 36-39 – Is it blind faith to trust God or can we experience God’s trustworthiness today?
Judgment against specific nations
- 13:10 – the ultimate expression of human pride is idolatry, the sin of making deity in the human image.
- 13:11-12 – sin of pride is identified as the cause of God’s wrath
- Ch 14 – fall of Babylon – God will restore his people because he loves Israel but also for the sake of his own name in the world
- Ch 14:15 – death mocks every person’s claim to be God; death is the ultimate proof or our creatureliness/finitude
- Ch 16:13-14 – warning not to make alliance with Moab for purposes of mutual security
- Ch 16:4-5 – Moab is representative of the nations which will come to the mountain of God in the last days
- Ch 15:1 and 16:6 – all of Moab’s abundance can be taken away in a single night
- Ch 17:10-11 – absence of proper behavior negates any claim of having proper mental activity
- Ch 17:12-14 – God must keep his promise toward his people because his name is at stake
Nation #1: Egypt
- Ch 19-20 – God’s word against Egypt
- Ch 30-31 – Hezekiah was tempted to rely more and more upon Egypt as the threat of Assyria loomed larger
Isaiah’s word – whatever we trust in place of God will eventually turn on us and destroy us.
- Ch 19 – Why trust in Egypt when she has nothing to offer you that you do not already have?
- Ch 20 – Why trust Egypt when recent history shows she will betray you?
- Ch 19:2 – Egypt against Egypt – way of expressing inner discord
After 6 strong dynasties during 3000-2200 BC, there came a 200 year period when each of the the 42 city-states became a country unto itself and general chaos reigned. Then the 12th Dynasty united the land for about 200 years from 1990-1785 BC) but again choase took over for 2 centuries . Pattern repeated.
Interesting trend – whenever a self-confident people like the Egyptians lose their way, depression settles in. And with that depression, there is a shift from universalism to spiritism. Monotheism (unified religion) gives way to polytheism. Spiritism includes things like voodoo and magic.
- Ch 19:5-10 – without the Nile, there would be no Egypt. Tremendous dependency on water.
- 19:6-7 – exporting industry ceases
- 19:8 – end of fishing
- 19:9 – end of production of linen from flax. Flax depends on water.
- 19:11-15 – in addition to boasting in her rich religion and productivity, she also took pride in her ancient wisdom.
Isaiah challenges Egypt’s wise men. Egypts’ gods are helpless, their productivity is contingent on God, her wise men are stupid.
Bottom line – Egypt has nothing to offer.
Most astounding thing, and yet, Judah sought out an alliance with this Egypt.
Repentance and judgment come through retribution and judgment. Judgment serves as a wake up call to begin seeking a way out, and eventually finding our way to God.
God wants Egypt to find him. 19:23 – highway – methaphor for removal of alienation and separation – free traveling from one area to another without fear of being plundered. God’s longing for a swift and open communication between himself and all peoples but also among his peoples.
Warning to Judah – do not make your own man-made highway to Egypt to escape Assyria. Your only hope and Egypt’s is in God.
- 19:24-25 – if Judah turns to the nations in trust she will be nullifying her ministry to them. Instead Judah was called to be the vehicle of redemption.
- 21:3-4 – Isaiah’s compassion toward Babylon reflects the character of God
- 21:8-9 – idolatry is a manifestation of the human thirst for glory, of which Babylon is the chief symbol.
- 22:8-11 – Isaiah doesn’t condemn his choice to prepare for imminent attack. He condemns his order of priorities. Before looking to the physical he should have looked at the physical.
Ch 22 -in the face of impending doom, given Babylon’s collapse and failure, surely Jerusalem should repent and turn to God. Instead they look to their weapons, hold parties and build tombs – all this in the “Valley of Vision.”
Nation #2: Tyre
Tyre represents mercantile wealth. Tyre was a Phoenician colony and they developed all around the Mediterranenan basic – thus they became the preeminent seafarers of the region (like Spain and England in later times).
Tyre did not have the glory or sophistication or culture of Babylon. But she did have her wealth. Between Babylon and Tyre, they capture everything that each civilization across time considered valuable.
Isaiah’s warning – do not trust the nations of the world. They, like you, are under the judgment of God.
Difficult to know if Isaiah had a specific event in mind. Tyre came under attack 5 times from Isaiah’s time to 332 BC. Only the last of these, Alexander the Great’s was successful.
Tyre had survived attacks previously because when the main city on the shore was under attack, the people retreated to a citadel on an isalnd offshore. They outwaited the seige.
Alexander succeeded by dismantling the onshore city and using its materials to build a ramp over which his seige machiens could go across to break the citadel wall. Crucified 2000 soldiers and sold 30,000 into slavery. Tyre never regained her ancient status and is today a small town of about 6000 inhabitants.
Do we find our security in an intricate system of alliances?
Chapters 38 and 39 serve as a counterpoint to Chapters 36 and 37.
Should I trust God or Assyria? This was Hezekiah’s struggle.
3 segments – Ch 36-37, 38, 39
- Ch 36-37 – Hezekiah is reduced to helplessness before Assyria but he turns to God and finds relieft
- Ch 38 – Hezekiah is again helpless, time time before illness. He again turns to God and is restored
- Ch 39 – Hezekiah has the opportunity to give glory to god in the presence of Babylon but instead falls prey to the tempation to trust the accumulated wealth of Judah and parade his own glory. Result: the coming captivity to Babylon is announced.
Lessons of chapters 7-35 have been forgotten in chapters 36 and 37.
There is evidence that 38 and 39 happened prior to chapters 36 and 37. Isaiah’s intent is to stress some theological conclusions. The question – if God could be trusted and would deliver from Assyria, why would there be a subsequent defeat at the hands of the Babylonians?
Conclusion #1 – trust must become a way of life, not merely a genie in a lamp to be rubbed in times of emergency.
Conclusion #2 – by ending it this way, Isaiah wants to stress the fallibility of human leaders and his warning that our trust cannot rely on even the godliest among us.
Closing remarks about judgment
- We will all be judged – in this life or the next.
- God’s timetable vs human timetable. We think God is silent in the face of evil. God is sovereign.
- Trust stems from a conviction of God’s sovereignty. 26:9 – judgment has a negative connotation, but there is a positive one revolving around the concept of government. Proper operation of society under God’s rule leads to justice and only this way can people learn righteousness.
- Related to this is 28:26 – justice or mishpat is more than legal justice. It refers to creation order, both spiritual and physical dimensions.
Struggle between pride and trust
26:16-19 – trust in human potential brings disaster. Divine ability in the face of human ability – NT teaching on the Spirit. Spirit-filled living – I trust God for every facet of my life.
Final remarks about Ch 1-39 and where we go from here.
If trust in God is the basis for servanthood, what will motivate us to trust in him? How do we reconcile God’s holy character and human sinfulness? Ch 7-39 provide the groundwork for the solution to the problem raised in chapters 1-5, but the problem still remains. How can sinful, rebellious people of God become a holy trusting people of God?
Ch 40-66 provides the answer to that question.