Isaiah 23:1–18 (NKJV)
23:1 The burden against Tyre.
Wail, you ships of Tarshish!
For it is laid waste,
So that there is no house, no harbor;
From the land of Cyprus it is revealed to them.
2 Be still, you inhabitants of the coastland,
You merchants of Sidon,
Whom those who cross the sea have filled.
3 And on great waters the grain of Shihor,
The harvest of the River, is her revenue;
And she is a marketplace for the nations.
4 Be ashamed, O Sidon;
For the sea has spoken,
The strength of the sea, saying,
“I do not labor, nor bring forth children;
Neither do I rear young men,
Nor bring up virgins.”
5 When the report reaches Egypt,
They also will be in agony at the report of Tyre.
6 Cross over to Tarshish;
Wail, you inhabitants of the coastland!
7 Is this your joyous city,
Whose antiquity is from ancient days,
Whose feet carried her far off to dwell?
8 Who has taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city,
Whose merchants are princes,
Whose traders are the honorable of the earth?
9 The LORD of hosts has purposed it,
To bring to dishonor the pride of all glory,
To bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.
10 Overflow through your land like the River,
O daughter of Tarshish;
There is no more strength.
11 He stretched out His hand over the sea,
He shook the kingdoms;
The LORD has given a commandment against Canaan
To destroy its strongholds.
12 And He said, “You will rejoice no more,
O you oppressed virgin daughter of Sidon.
Arise, cross over to Cyprus;
There also you will have no rest.”
13 Behold, the land of the Chaldeans,
This people which was not;
Assyria founded it for wild beasts of the desert.
They set up its towers,
They raised up its palaces,
And brought it to ruin.
14 Wail, you ships of Tarshish!
For your strength is laid waste.
15 Now it shall come to pass in that day that Tyre will be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king. At the end of seventy years it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the harlot:
16 “Take a harp, go about the city,
You forgotten harlot;
Make sweet melody, sing many songs,
That you may be remembered.”
17 And it shall be, at the end of seventy years, that the LORD will deal with Tyre. She will return to her hire, and commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth. 18 Her gain and her pay will be set apart for the LORD; it will not be treasured nor laid up, for her gain will be for those who dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for fine clothing.
This passage clearly continues the judgment cries against the nations that opposed Israel and/or Judah. Tyre is known as a sea country, with an armada of ships that fought against the people of God. However, God reminds them that the sea does not bring forth children, nor bring them up to adulthood. They cannot depend upon the sea, but must realize their only hope was and is God. Their harlotry with the world system will lead to their downfall.
Do not fall prey to the mistakes of Tyre. Do not adulterate yourself with the world system. Do not depend on the nations to protect or provide for you. Instead, depend upon the Lord for your provision and protection, and serve Him faithfully. The fate of Tyre shall not fall on the people of God!
Isaiah Chapter 22
In this passage, Isaiah delivers one of the most saddening of all the prophecies of the book, the proclamation against Jerusalem, the holy city. This capital of Judah is arrogant, boisterous, not aware of the impending tragedy. The rulers are already declared captured. The men are already seen as slain with the sword. Isaiah asked to look away as he weeps over the city.
Isaiah goes on the recount the circumstances of the destruction, as the walls are torn down, and the city is overcome by Elam and Kir, and chariots and horsemen are filling the surrounding valleys, even at the gates. The Lord removed the protection of Judah, and the damage was great.
The Lord God of Hosts then called for weeping and mourning over the judgment declared. However, the inhabitants of Jerusalem instead feasted, saying they would eat, drink, and be merry, for they were about to die. This arrogance elicited the response from God that is chilling:
14 Then it was revealed in my hearing by the Lord of hosts,
“Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you,
Even to your death,” says the Lord God of hosts.
Shebna the Scribe then incurred the judgment of God. He was told that his iniquities were strong enough that his tomb would not even be used. Instead, he would be thrown out on the ground, and his shame will be great. The Lord will give his office to another, and Eliakim will wear his robe and belt and take his place. Eliakim will be a father to Jerusalem and have authority to open and close with the key of David. He will be fastened as a peg in a secure place.
God will judge arrogance and unrighteousness leadership. He will elevate the humble and obedient. Be part of the peg that remains, not the one that is removed!
Isaiah Chapter 21
In this chapter, the Lord continues to prophecy through Isaiah of nations that will incur the wrath of Almighty God. He is calling out Babylon, Edom, and Arabia. Babylon will have smoke rising from its great cities, as other nations will overcome them. The watchman sees the lion attacking Babylon along with horsemen. Her idols are destroyed. The threshing floor is full of the chaff of Babylon.
Isaiah goes on to declare the ruin of Edom and Arabia. He instructs Edom to come back to God, as they were descended from Esau, and proclaims the end of Arabia (Kedar). In the end, Isaiah declares: “for the Lord God of Israel has spoken it.” This declaration settles the saying as a divine message and gives the people cause for concern.
The message for us today would be to always stay on the side of right and good. Follow after God with all your heart and obey Him. God is merciful, but judgement will eventually come if one lives in disobedience. Trust and obey God. His is the only way. Jesus is the Way!
Isaiah 20:1–6 (NKJV)
20:1 In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it, 2 at the same time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
3 Then the LORD said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, 4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. 5 Then they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory. 6 And the inhabitant of this territory will say in that day, ‘Surely such is our expectation, wherever we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria; and how shall we escape?’ ”
Ashdod was taken, overcome, by Sargon, the King of Assyria. Assyria was a strong nation and army. However, in this chapter the Lord supercharged Assyria with this powerful, visual sign of Isaiah walking around Israel naked. After this stark image was embedded in the minds of Israel, God then told them that Assyria would parade Ethiopia and Egypt around in like manner after they conquer them in battle. The expectation would be that Israel and the surrounding nations would have the same fear of destruction and capture that Egypt and Ethiopia suffered.
The message here is that shame will come when sin is present. This chapter is stark in its description of Isaiah walking through town naked. The image is meant to instill fear and clarity as to the impending doom coming down against any who ignore the laws of God and disobey them. This image is meant to prepare Israel for what is to come and to let them know that, although their judgment is pending, that God will also measure out punishment to the evil nations surrounding them and bring Israel to a place of restoration. God is good, even when He is “bad.” God is never bad, but sometimes we think He is bad when we don’t get our way. However, God is simply helping us find our way back to truth and holiness so He can bless us again. Let Him have His way. His way is good, His way is best!
Isaiah paints a picture of the Lord riding on a swift cloud to judge and bring fear upon Egypt. God will cause them to fight against one another, even family. Their sorcerers will give bad advice, and the nation will fall into the hands of a cruel master.
Isaiah then tells how the Lord will judge the waters. This is significant, because the Nile River was considered a god in the nation of Egypt. Isaiah says that God will dry up the sea and the river, and the papyrus, from which they made many products, would wither. The fishermen would be without livelihood. He also says that those who work with flax and weave fabric would be ashamed.
Isaiah then moves on to the judgment against the wise men of Egypt. They will be made fools, unable to give wise counsel. A perverse spirit is in their midst, and all their work will cease. He makes a comment that the leaders of Egypt will be fearful like women, which was a derogatory comment in that day. They would fear Judah. In that day, Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land. In their time of distress, they will cry to the Lord and He will send them deliverance. In the days of this prophecy’s fulfillment, there will be an equal prominence for Egypt, Israel, and Assyria, and they will all serve Yahweh.
What a marvelous thing! The judgment of God brings repentance and healing! Many Christians recoil against the idea of judgment or discipline by God on His people in this age of grace. However, judgment, like discipline or chastening, can bring a course correction to a ship lost at sea. Sometimes, an individual, church, or nation must understand the consequences of their actions in order to know the evil of their actions. Also, one must understand the lostness of living outside of God’s will before they can truly appreciate the joys of living in God’s will. Trust and obey Him, and enjoy His love and care. Go your own way and feel the sting of wrath. You won’t like it!
Isaiah 18:1–7 (NKJV)
18:1 Woe to the land shadowed with buzzing wings,
Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,
2 Which sends ambassadors by sea,
Even in vessels of reed on the waters, saying,
“Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth of skin,
To a people terrible from their beginning onward,
A nation powerful and treading down,
Whose land the rivers divide.”
3 All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth:
When he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it;
And when he blows a trumpet, you hear it.
4 For so the LORD said to me,
“I will take My rest,
And I will look from My dwelling place
Like clear heat in sunshine,
Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
5 For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect
And the sour grape is ripening in the flower,
He will both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks
And take away and cut down the branches.
6 They will be left together for the mountain birds of prey
And for the beasts of the earth;
The birds of prey will summer on them,
And all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.
7 In that time a present will be brought to the LORD of hosts
From a people tall and smooth of skin,
And from a people terrible from their beginning onward,
A nation powerful and treading down,
Whose land the rivers divide—
To the place of the name of the LORD of hosts,
To Mount Zion.
Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Ethiopia is clear and specific, speaking about their particular and unique qualities (insects, shipping, powerful, tall, smooth-skinned). He then speaks of God lifting up His banner, which is typically a sign of an army going into warfare. As He looks down upon the nations, He sees Ethiopia and pledges revenge and devastation against them. They will experience the heat and oppression of God’s wrath, with their harvest failing and their plants dying. Animals will devastate the remains. At that time a gift will be brought from Ethiopia to Mount Zion.
This language speaks of the eventual dominance of God and His people over all the earth. While it did have significance for the people of that particular day, it also speaks to the futuristic kingdom of God on earth when all nations will bow before the Lord. Be on the right side. Follow God wholeheartedly and see His justice prevail!
Isaiah 17:1–14 (NKJV)
17:1 The burden against Damascus.
“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city,
And it will be a ruinous heap.
2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken;
They will be for flocks
Which lie down, and no one will make them afraid.
3 The fortress also will cease from Ephraim,
The kingdom from Damascus,
And the remnant of Syria;
They will be as the glory of the children of Israel,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
4 “In that day it shall come to pass
That the glory of Jacob will wane,
And the fatness of his flesh grow lean.
5 It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain,
And reaps the heads with his arm;
It shall be as he who gathers heads of grain
In the Valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it,
Like the shaking of an olive tree,
Two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough,
Four or five in its most fruitful branches,”
Says the LORD God of Israel.
7 In that day a man will look to his Maker,
And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel.
8 He will not look to the altars,
The work of his hands;
He will not respect what his fingers have made,
Nor the wooden images nor the incense altars.
9 In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough
And an uppermost branch,
Which they left because of the children of Israel;
And there will be desolation.
10 Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation,
And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold,
Therefore you will plant pleasant plants
And set out foreign seedlings;
11 In the day you will make your plant to grow,
And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish;
But the harvest will be a heap of ruins
In the day of grief and desperate sorrow.
12 Woe to the multitude of many people
Who make a noise like the roar of the seas,
And to the rushing of nations
That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
13 The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters;
But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind,
Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
14 Then behold, at eventide, trouble!
And before the morning, he is no more.
This is the portion of those who plunder us,
And the lot of those who rob us.
Isaiah shares the word of the Lord against Damascus, Syria. He begins by sharing that the city will no longer exist, but be a heap of ruins. He goes on to speak of how the glory of Jacob will wane, and the harvest will be ruined, with only a few grapes and olives left to gather. This ruin will cause Israel to turn back to the Creator, the Holy One of Israel, with respect. Israel will forsake their idols and incense altars. With this revival among the Jews, the cities of those who vanquished them will be desolate. Their gardens will also fail, and grief and desperate sorrow will overtake them. The noisy armies, multitudes of nations, will be rebuked by God and flee away. In a night, the loss will occur like a whirlwind sweeping through a land. This chapter makes it clear that God knows exactly what He will do and what He is doing. God is specific and clear, and carries out His plans with excellence. Give Him your allegiance. Serve Him gladly. Do not rebel or serve other Gods, for judgment can still fall. Instead, serve Him gladly and walk in His ways. If you do receive His chastening or judgment, repent and watch the restoration of God occur, even winning the victory over your enemies. He is sovereign and He is mighty!