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Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Isaiah Days 58 to 67



Isaiah Day 58 - Wait... What?

We are covering a whole chapter. Focus :) Especially on the last part.

19 The burden against Egypt.

Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud,
And will come into Egypt;
The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence,
And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst.

2 “I will set Egyptians against Egyptians;
Everyone will fight against his brother,
And everyone against his neighbor,
City against city, kingdom against kingdom.
3 The spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst;
I will destroy their counsel,
And they will consult the idols and the charmers,
The mediums and the sorcerers.
4 And the Egyptians I will give
Into the hand of a cruel master,
And a fierce king will rule over them,”
Says the Lord, the Lord of hosts.

5 The waters will fail from the sea,
And the river will be wasted and dried up.
6 The rivers will turn foul;
The brooks of defense will be emptied and dried up;
The reeds and rushes will wither.
7 The papyrus reeds by the River, by the mouth of the River,
And everything sown by the River,
Will wither, be driven away, and be no more.
8 The fishermen also will mourn;
All those will lament who cast hooks into the River,
And they will languish who spread nets on the waters.
9 Moreover those who work in fine flax
And those who weave fine fabric will be ashamed;
10 And its foundations will be broken.
All who make wages will be troubled of soul.

11 Surely the princes of Zoan are fools;
Pharaoh’s wise counselors give foolish counsel.
How do you say to Pharaoh, “I am the son of the wise,
The son of ancient kings?”
12 Where are they?
Where are your wise men?
Let them tell you now,
And let them know what the Lord of hosts has purposed against Egypt.
13 The princes of Zoan have become fools;
The princes of Noph are deceived;
They have also deluded Egypt,
Those who are the mainstay of its tribes.
14 The Lord has mingled a perverse spirit in her midst;
And they have caused Egypt to err in all her work,
As a drunken man staggers in his vomit.
15 Neither will there be any work for Egypt,
Which the head or tail,
Palm branch or bulrush, may do.

16 In that day Egypt will be like women, and will be afraid and fear because of the waving of the hand of the Lord of hosts, which He waves over it. 17 And the land of Judah will be a terror to Egypt; everyone who makes mention of it will be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts which He has determined against it.

18 In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the Lord of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction. (Righteousness)

19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. 20 And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. 21 Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. 22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.

23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.

24 In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, 25 whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”


Ok. You made it. Some of that was tough going and you are likely confused. One minute Egypt was a mess and then suddenly not? I can assure you that any Jewish person reading this chapter was more confused than you. Egypt blessed? Assyria blessed? The two working together harmoniously and Israel with them?

Egypt was Judah's great enemy to the south. They were the nation they famously escaped from. Israel and Assyria are their enemies to the north and suddenly they are all going to be one big happy family and God is going to bless them?

This is like saying one day the United States, Russia, and the Middle East will be one big happy family...

Tomorrow we'll explore this colossal impossibility further...


Isaiah Day 59 - God Is Not Like Us

18 In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the Lord of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction (Righteousness)

19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. 20 And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. 21 Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. 22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.

23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.

24 In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, 25 whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

If you are wondering why I have put the word 'Righteousness' in brackets after Destruction it is because the Septuagint (the official Greek translation of the Old Testament by the Jews) translates it "City of Righteousness" which makes far more sense given the context.

So what is the context? The first part of the chapter is all bad news for and about Egypt and then suddenly it shifts. Doom changes to promises. Radical promises. It's at the beginning of the shift that one the cities will get a new name - City of Righteousness. City of Destruction just doesn't make any sense. Some English translation call it the City of the Sun. The reason for all the confusion is because the Hebrew word is only used this once in the entire old testament and it's not a well know word. It has roots that could mean destruction or righteousness.

When you consider the 22nd verse destruction could make sense too. It says God will strike Egypt. That sounds bad. However that's not the whole story. God strikes Egypt to heal her. When we strike it is usually to harm but not God. He is not like us.

In my life I have had several surgeries. Most of them were not serious but all involved cutting. The surgeon struck me with his knife but he never struck to hurt me. He struck to heal me. God strikes people but never to harm. The intent is always to heal. Love is always intent on restoration. To Judah Egypt was an enemy. To God they were the sons of His friend Noah. They were His kids. Assyria the same. Wayward Israel the same.

It's easy and natural to perceive those who hurt or threaten us as enemies. God has a broader scope. He sees the big picture. He knows where we were born, the evil tendencies we inherited, the influences around us. His goal is always twofold. To destroy the things that are destroying us but at the same time healing us. It's a tricky thing. Surgeries meant to heal sometimes bring death sooner. God of course is not like a human surgeon. He doesn't make mistakes. There is no slip of the knife or any other miscalculation. However the blows meant for our healing aren't always seen by us as an act of love. We recoil. We question. We doubt. We resist. He understands but He loves us too much to do things our way.

In the end these radical promises to Egypt, Assyria, and Israel will be kept and they apply to us too. The lion will lay down with the lamb and they will not hurt or destroy in all His holy mountain.


Isaiah Day 60 - Story Time

19:16 In that day Egypt will be like women, and will be afraid and fear because of the waving of the hand of the Lord of hosts, which He waves over it. 17 And the land of Judah will be a terror to Egypt; everyone who makes mention of it will be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts which He has determined against it.

18 In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the Lord of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.

19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. 20 And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. 21 Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. 22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.

23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.

24 In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, 25 whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”


I think it's a good time to tell a story that foreshadows elements of this chapter. Israel was not a nation that God chose from among the other nations. Instead it was a nation He built because Abraham chose Him. God promised Abraham that He would build a great nation through his descendants but it sure got off to a rough start. His son Isaac moved around the land of Canaan only to have the locals fill in his wells with sand. He survived it and eventually made peace with the locals but a mighty nation he was not. He only had two sons and they couldn't get along, with Jacob having to run away for fear of his brother. In time they also made peace and by then were quite wealthy but a mighty nation they were not. Jacob had twelve sons and when they were adults a terrible famine struck and to avoid starvation they traveled to Egypt to buy grain. Little did they know that the man who guided Egypt through the famine by storing grain in advance was their younger brother whom they had sold as a slave years earlier. His name was Joseph. In time Joseph made himself known to them and they made peace as well, and the entire family moved from Canaan to Egypt, all 70 of them. A mighty nation they were not.

400 years later God answered the promises he had made to Abraham. By now through polygamy (a common practice at the time), the family had grown from 70 to over a million. So rapid was their growth that the pharaoh at the time felt threatened by this growing people within his nation so he took away their freedoms and subjected them to slavery. That's where Moses entered the picture and grew up to be the deliverer God a promised and when they all left Egypt after the plagues a nation was born. A nation with no place to call home but they were headed for Canaan.

Forty years later they stood at the border. Jericho was the first city they faced. They sent in spies to check it out. They stayed at the local hotel/brothel run by a woman named Rahab, a prostitute. What happened next must have shocked them. She recounted to them the history of all that God had done for them to free them from slavery and bring them safely from the pursuing Egyptian army all the way to Canaan across the barren wilderness. She went on to tell them that everyone in the city knew they were coming and we're terrified. Then she made a request. She asked that they spare her family from the coming destruction.

Picture the scene. Spies from the approaching nation of Israel go to the brothel where they won't arouse any suspicion only to find a prostitute who knows all about them and their God and is asking for mercy for her family.

In Isaiah 19 it says Egypt will be terrified by Judah. Rahab was terrified of Israel. In Isaiah 19 God promised that in spite of that, Egypt would find peace with God and all her enemies. Rahab asked for mercy. She wanted to be at peace with Israel. She wanted her family spared. The spies went a step further. They gave her a scarlet cord to hang from her window and promised her that anyone, absolutely anyone who took refuge in her "home" would be safe.

That's exactly what happened and Rahab went on to marry one of the men of Israel from the tribe of Judah. They had a son. That son had a son. That son had a son... You can read about it in Matthew 1. Long story short Rahab is an ancestor of Jesus. Rahab the prostitute from "evil" Jericho.

What's the lesson? We are all His children and He will bring the willing from every nation under heaven. He promises that whoever seeks Him will find Him and whoever comes to Him, He will never turn away. Rahab was terrified because she felt like she could never be one of His people. God didn't just give her a break, He brought her right into the family so that her name is listed among the ancestors of Jesus.

Good news? The deeper you dig, the better it gets and as unlikely as this promise in Isaiah 19 sounds it will be kept. God kept His promise to Abraham. He kept His promise to Rahab and He will keep every other one He has ever made.


Isaiah Day 61 - Living In Fear

20 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?'"

Many get hung up on the nudity in this chapter. We wonder "Did God really make Isaiah walk around naked for three years? And what exactly did naked mean?"

Well we know for sure that it meant naked buttocks because the text says so. What we should be taking from this history lesson is that God will stop at nothing to save us from ourselves. Jesus Himself hung naked and exposed on the cross for us.


What happened as you will recall was that Judah was being threatened by Israel and Syria in the north and God promised they wouldn't succeed but king Ahaz didn't believe Him and made a deal to get protection from Assyria. That deal turned into oppression by Assyria so they turned their hope to Egypt and Cush for help.

What Isaiah was asked by God to do was let them know that Egypt would not be able to save them because they too were going to be taken captive by Assyria and dragged away naked and ashamed.

The lesson for us? If we put our trust in anyone or anything but God we will discover sooner or later that we are left with nothing and no one to save us. 


Isaiah Day 62 - Babylon is Fallen

21 The burden against the Wilderness of the Sea.

As whirlwinds in the South pass through,
So it comes from the desert, from a terrible land.
2 A distressing vision is declared to me;
The treacherous dealer deals treacherously,
And the plunderer plunders.
Go up, O Elam!
Besiege, O Media!
All its sighing I have made to cease.

3 Therefore my loins are filled with pain;
Pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor.
I was distressed when I heard it;
I was dismayed when I saw it.
4 My heart wavered, fearfulness frightened me;
The night for which I longed He turned into fear for me.
5 Prepare the table,
Set a watchman in the tower,
Eat and drink.
Arise, you princes,
Anoint the shield!

6 For thus has the Lord said to me:
“Go, set a watchman,
Let him declare what he sees.”
7 And he saw a chariot with a pair of horsemen,
A chariot of donkeys, and a chariot of camels,
And he listened earnestly with great care.
8 Then he cried, “A lion, my Lord!
I stand continually on the watchtower in the daytime;
I have sat at my post every night.
9 And look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen!”
Then he answered and said,
“Babylon is fallen, is fallen!
And all the carved images of her gods
He has broken to the ground.”

10 Oh, my threshing and the grain of my floor!
That which I have heard from the Lord of hosts,
The God of Israel,
I have declared to you.


Admittedly it doesn't flow as we would tell a story but dig a little and it is all there. Isaiah has a vision or dream that terrifies him and prevents him from sleeping. Chariots are coming. He can't quite make out who or what so he is told to set a watchman up to get a clear view of who or what is coming. The watchman sees a lion. This is clearly Babylon as an quick search of ancient Babylon on Google images will show you. Just as America uses the eagle so Babylon was decorated with lions that had eagles wings to declare both it's strength and speed.

Previously in the vision God declared "Go up o Elam (Persia) and besiege O Media!"

Then after the watchman sees the lion God declares "Babylon is fallen, is fallen!"

About a century after this vision Babylon (the lion) came and destroyed Judah, taking many captives back to Babylon including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Shortly after that the king of Babylon had a dream (Daniel chapter 2) in which he was shown his kingdom would come to an end. 70 years later that's exactly what happened and guess who destroyed Babylon? Elam (Persia) and the Medes.

What does all this have to do with you and I? God sees the future. He knows the end from the beginning and whatever comes against you, frightens you, steals your peace and your sleep Good has already seen. He saw it coming and behind it a solution. Satan may harass us, terrify us, and seem completely undefeatable but Satan too is fallen. His end is assured. We have nothing to fear except unbelief. Trust the One who sees the much bigger picture, who has every hair on your head accounted for, and who declared His unconditional love on a hill called Calvary. Trouble will come but so will victory.


Isaiah Day 63 - Don't Miss This Even Though It Appears Completely Irrelevant

    11 The burden against Dumah.

    He calls to me out of Seir,
    “Watchman, what of the night?
    Watchman, what of the night?”
    12 The watchman said,
    “The morning comes, and also the night.
    If you will inquire, inquire;
    Return! Come back!”

    13 The burden against Arabia.

    In the forest in Arabia you will lodge,
    O you traveling companies of Dedanites.
    14 O inhabitants of the land of Tema,
    Bring water to him who is thirsty;
    With their bread they met him who fled.
    15 For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword,
    From the bent bow, and from the distress of war.

    16 For thus the Lord has said to me: “Within a year, according to the year of a hired man, all the glory of Kedar will fail; 17 and the remainder of the number of archers, the mighty men of the people of Kedar, will be diminished; for the Lord God of Israel has spoken it.”


    The reason this all sounds so meaningless is because we are unfamiliar with the names and places and find it hard to track a story that isn't written as we would write it.

    Here's what we know so far. Judah is in trouble not because of outside forces but because of corruption within. She is a small nation surrounded by many other nations of various sizes and strengths. First she got word that Syria and Israel were coming together against her. God sent Isaiah to King Ahaz to tell him they would not succeed and there was nothing to fear. He did not listen but instead bought protection from Assyria further to the north. This relationship of paid protection soon turned sour. Desperate Judah looked to the south to Egypt, Cush, and Ethiopia. Isaiah warned that was no answer as they too were about to fall. Now they are looking to the south east where Edom and Arabia are.

    Between Judah and those nations is a mountain range called Mount Seir. Before our age of technology the first line of detection against impending danger were watchmen. From city walls, towers, high hills, and mountains these watchmen kept an eye out day and night. Here Judah inquires to the watchman on Mount Seir "What of the night? What do you see? How are things? Would it be safe to flee this way?"

    The answer comes with a double meaning. "The morning comes and also the night." This is a good answer. What he is saying is that night turns to morning and back to night and nothing changes. All is well.

    But God says something strange. He says "If you are going to inquire, inquire. Return! Come back!

    Why are we asking humans what is going on when God already told us? Can they see more than He can? Are they more concerned for our well being than He is?

    There are two vital lessons to draw from this seemingly irrelevant passage. The first is are we seeking God for an answer about how things really are or are we looking for answers we want to hear? I can't tell you how many times people have come to me looking for advice only to continue on and do what they were going to do anyway. They weren't looking an honest opinion or wise counsel or really any counsel. They were hoping to find a voice that would agree with them. The Bible is full of stories where kings or the people or both asked the prophets what they should do or how things were going to go and most of the "prophets", the "watchmen" told them exactly what they wanted to hear. It was only the faithful ones like Isaiah they told the truth and most of them ultimately paid for it with their lives. That's why Jesus referred to the religious leaders of his day as those who "kill the prophets and all those who are sent to you."

So lesson one is be careful where you get your counsel from, who you follow, who your watchman is.

The second lesson is even more critical. Judah was looking outside herself for solutions and protection, forgetting that the problems were within. They always are. Judah was corrupt. Injustice was the norm. Oppression was common place. Her enemies were not Israel, Syria, Assyria, Babylon, or anyone else. She was the author of her own demise. God was not calling her doom down on her. He was offering a way out. "Return! Come Back!" Let's deal with the issue rather than running all over looking for a place to hide in denial.

The New Testament says many sobering things. Here are just two of them:

2 Peter 3:1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

and

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions...

There are and will continue to be many voices telling you all kinds of things. Some of those things you will want to be true but they will only bring you more trouble. That watchmen who said all was well on Mount Seir said something he didn't realize. He ended with the statement that night was coming. Night is coming for those who refuse to "return and come back." There is no safety or love for you anywhere else. Jesus may want to deal with some things that you don't want to deal with but it's for our good. Stay with Him. You won't regret it.


Isaiah Day 64 - When Jerusalem Falls

22 The burden against the Valley of Vision.

What ails you now, that you have all gone up to the housetops,
2 You who are full of noise,
A tumultuous city, a joyous city?
Your slain men are not slain with the sword,
Nor dead in battle.
3 All your rulers have fled together;
They are captured by the archers.
All who are found in you are bound together;
They have fled from afar.
4 Therefore I said, “Look away from me,
I will weep bitterly;
Do not labor to comfort me
Because of the plundering of the daughter of my people.”

5 For it is a day of trouble and treading down and perplexity
By the Lord God of hosts
In the Valley of Vision—
Breaking down the walls
And of crying to the mountain.
6 Elam bore the quiver
With chariots of men and horsemen,
And Kir uncovered the shield.
7 It shall come to pass that your choicest valleys
Shall be full of chariots,
And the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.

8 He removed the protection of Judah.
You looked in that day to the armor of the House of the Forest;
9 You also saw the damage to the city of David,
That it was great;
And you gathered together the waters of the lower pool.
10 You numbered the houses of Jerusalem,
And the houses you broke down
To fortify the wall.
11 You also made a reservoir between the two walls
For the water of the old pool.
But you did not look to its Maker,
Nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.

12 And in that day the Lord God of hosts
Called for weeping and for mourning,
For baldness and for girding with sackcloth.
13 But instead, joy and gladness,
Slaying oxen and killing sheep,
Eating meat and drinking wine:
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

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.


Here is described the then future destruction of Jerusalem. Allow me to list the points that jumped out at me:

1, vs 2 Your slain men are not slain by the sword nor dead in battle.

2, vs 4 I will weep bitterly

3, vs 4 The daughter of My people

4, vs 5 crying to the mountain

5, vs 8 He removed the protection of Judah

6, vs 11 but you did not look to its Maker

7, vs 14 surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you

It isn't difficult to trace the story here even through the unfamiliar way of telling it. Jerusalem is going to fall but they won't die because of the battle. They were dead already. There was not a drop of love left in them. They were as cold as ice and hardened as steel. The situation is so bad that God describes Himself as weeping bitterly and cannot be comforted. So much for the pagan picture of God filled with blood thirsty wrath intent on wiping people out.

What happened? It can be summed up in what He calls them, the 'daughter of My people'. In John 8 when speaking to the leaders Jesus said they were indeed Abraham's descendants but they were not Abraham's children. It sounds contradictory but the meaning is clear. The blood line is the same but the heart, the character, the essence of the people is nothing the same. Abraham would not recognize them as his children and they would reject him as their father. The people living in Judah at the time of Isaiah were from the same bloodline but that was the only connection. They were the daughters of His people. He could not claim them as His own.

As trouble came upon them they cried to the mountain. They looked for protection in the armor of the House of the Forest. These are references to their pagan religions. The gods inhabited the mountains and forests. That's why we read so much about the high places. Even as death was staring them in the face they didn't acknowledge God or look to Him for help so He withdrew His protection with bitter tears. He would not force Himself upon them nor subsidize their evil. In all their attempts at saving themselves by fortifying the walls and building a water reservoir they never once turned to Him. Remember the promise Jesus made? - "Anyone who comes to Me I will never cast out". They didn't come to Him. Not once. They didn't call to Him. The relationship between Judah and God was completely severed.

Then Isaiah tells us that God told him there would be no atonement for this. No forgiveness. No turning back. It was over. Why? Is God so cruel? Never. It is not in Him to be cruel. He is the opposite of cruel. The reason there is no forgiveness for anything described in this chapter is simple. No one ever asked. It was available but never requested.

None will ever be lost or tossed because of Him. Any who several themselves from Him will cause him to weep bitterly tears but He will respect their choice and quietly withdraw while they reap what they have sown.

The good news? The choice is completely ours.


Isaiah Day 65 - How the Mighty Have Fallen

15 Thus says the Lord God of hosts:

“Go, proceed to this steward,
To Shebna, who is over the house, and say:
16 ‘What have you here, and whom have you here,
That you have hewn a sepulcher here,
As he who hews himself a sepulcher on high,
Who carves a tomb for himself in a rock?
17 Indeed, the Lord will throw you away violently, O mighty man,
And will surely seize you.
18 He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball
Into a large country;
There you shall die, and there your glorious chariots
Shall be the shame of your master’s house.
19 So I will drive you out of your office,
And from your position he will pull you down.

20 ‘Then it shall be in that day,
That I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah;
21 I will clothe him with your robe
And strengthen him with your belt;
I will commit your responsibility into his hand.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem
And to the house of Judah.
22 The key of the house of David
I will lay on his shoulder;
So he shall open, and no one shall shut;
And he shall shut, and no one shall open.
23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place,
And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.

24 ‘They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers. 25 In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the Lord has spoken.’”

Shebna was the treasurer and essentially the palace ruler for king Hezekiah. His role was similar to the one Joseph had for the pharaoh in Egypt back in Genesis. He was the leader of the faction who wanted to buy protection for Judah from the Egyptians after the previous king Ahaz had sold them out to the Assyrians. It's kind of like hiring one loan shark to pay off another one. On a smaller scale it's like getting a new credit card to pay off the old one. Isaiah told Ahaz not to get mixed up with Assyria to begin with and he told Hezekiah (and Shebna) not to get mixed up with Egypt.

Not only was Shebna the 2nd in charge over all of Judah, he was using the position to make a very comfortable life for himself, even planning ahead with a prestigious burial spot for himself - an elevated sepulchre.

God has a message for Shebna. He'll never be buried in it. His life of selfishness and abuse of power will be stripped from him and he won't even get to rest in his fancy tomb. His position will be given to Eliakim who will serve with integrity.

The lesson? What goes around comes around. True leaders serve others, not themselves. Shebna is a poster child for the deep sickness that afflicted Judah. It was men like him who caused God to declare "My soul hates iniquity (evil) and the sacred meeting." Remember that from chapter one?

The good news is that right will prevail. Love will win. Justice will be restored. The oppressed will be set free from their oppressors. Shebna (Satan) will be replaced by Eliakim (Jesus) and they will never again hurt or destroy in all His holy mountain.


Isaiah Day 66 - Arguing Over Keys

22:20  ‘Then it shall be in that day,
That I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah;
21 I will clothe him with your robe
And strengthen him with your belt;
I will commit your responsibility into his hand.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem
And to the house of Judah.
22 The key of the house of David
I will lay on his shoulder;
So he shall open, and no one shall shut;
And he shall shut, and no one shall open.
23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place,
And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.

24 ‘They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers. 25 In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the Lord has spoken.’”

I am a Seventh-day Adventist. Some assume this means Roman Catholics are my enemies. For some Adventists this may sadly be true but not for me. I know there are some in my church who don't really love Jesus and there are many Catholics who do. I have friends who are Roman Catholic that I deeply respect.

Today's lesson from Isaiah is not at all intended as a slight toward or bashing of Roman Catholicism. It is just the truth as I believe Jesus taught it. It is an argument over keys. What you do with this information is up to you.

Let me start by saying I have been to Rome. I have visited the Vatican. I have taken in the artwork, the buildings, the whole atmosphere of the place. I can tell you there are far more keys in Rome then there are pictures or statues of Jesus. Why keys? Because Jesus told Peter He would give him the keys of the Kingdom. From there an idea developed that Peter was the successor of Jesus and had the keys of the Kingdom so whoever got in or was kept out was at Peter's discretion. When Peter died the keys were passed to the next leader of the Christian Church and so on. That line of leaders according to Roman Catholic understanding are the Popes and the keys of the Kingdom are in their hands. What they say is Truth by virtue of the fact they said it. If you ever visit Rome you will see a crown and keys all over the place. It is a visual reminder that the keys of the Kingdom belong to them.

Here's the problem. The Jews believe the kingdom and the keys to it belongs to them. They are the successor of Abraham. The promises were made to him first so they hold the keys. Some feel the truth has to be one or the other. Either the Jews hold the keys or Jesus took them from the Jews and now the Popes hold the keys. Isaiah tells us neither is true. So does Jesus.

Shebna was a Jew. Eliakim was a Jew. Shebna had the keys but he was unfaithful with them so God took the keys from him and gave them to Eliakim who He promised would be faithful. In fact the keys here are described as the keys of the house of David. But wait. David wasn't the first Jewish king. Saul was. Why aren't they called the keys of the throne of Saul? We'll that's easy. Saul was unfaithful like Shebna. David was faithful like Eliakim.

Do you see the pattern? The keys aren't passed through a bloodline. They aren't given to an organization. They're not a right given unconditionally that can never be taken away. The keys are given to the faithful. Satan once had keys to the Kingdom. He was the highest angel. Now he isn't even allowed in the Kingdom. Unfaithfulness cost him that privilege.

The Kingdom is a heart matter. Judah is on the verge of destruction because she gave her heart to pride, selfishness, injustice, and evil. The keys were taken away.

You don't gain heaven by belonging to a certain group or joining a particular church. The Kingdom is for those who have given the keys of their heart to the King.


Isaiah Day 67 - Destruction for a Purpose

23 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.


Two weeks ago I was in our little town and a backhoe was swinging his bucket through the roof of a house. Pure destruction. How could someone do something like that?! As I'm sure you can guess they were tearing the house down to make room for a new one. The old one was so bad that building new was cheap and better. There was nothing worthwhile left to salvage.

Tyre was the port city of the Eastern Mediterranean. Like most port cities it was a wild place. It became so corrupted that like Judah, God withdrew His protection and destruction followed. A Jew would wonder "What concern is Tyre to God? They are not His people." We should consider it a miracle of His grace that inspite of the disdain the Jews developed for everyone but themselves and their narrow view of who were "God's people" the Bible still tells the story of God's concern for all people. He sent Jonah to Nineveh even though Jonah's own prejudice tried hard to resist and was angry when God showed them His mercy. As we have seen in Isaiah and continue to see, God has His loving eye on all people.

The interesting thing about Tyre is that their demise was on a timer just like Judah:  seventy years. Babylon destroyed them both and Medo-Persia restored them both. The last part of the chapter gives us a glimpse into their future. It says when they are restored they will use their wealth and success for good and be an instrument in the Lord's hand.

 Did it happen? When Jesus was here some 600ish years later He visited Tyre and Sidon. His disciples begrudgingly followed. Time had not changed the Jews disdain and prejudice. If anything it was worse. While they were there a woman came to Him and addressed Him as "Lord, Son of David". Her words betray the fact that she knows exactly who He is and the history of Israel. As we say in religious circles, she knew the truth.

The disciples wanted Jesus to send her away but He did not. Instead He granted her request to heal her daughter and commended her faith. How is it that a woman from such an "ungodly" place where the Jews would never go could know about their God and love Him?

Clearly God's love extends beyond our made walls and borders and reaches to those we refuse to reach. Just as Isaiah predicted, when Tyre rose from the ashes the Lord would be part of them. They would be different. They would be better. In Jerusalem they rejected Jesus as a son of the devil but in Tyre He was welcomed as the Lord, the Son of David.

Let your mind stretch with these thoughts. Maybe, just maybe those who love in other places we consider unChristian are more like Him than we are... I do have a man cold today so maybe it's just me...

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