Wednesday, September 13, 2023

2023.09.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 22

Read Isaiah 22

Questions from the Scripture text: Against whom/what is this burden pronounced (Isaiah 22:1a)? What question does verse 1b ask? What has occurred (Isaiah 22:2)? What is curious about what has not caused it? In addition to the slain, what fate have others met (Isaiah 22:3)? What is Isaiah’s response (Isaiah 22:4)? Whom does he identify as the victim here? What sort of day is this (Isaiah 22:5)? From Whom has it come? What cities are attacking Jerusalem in the vision (Isaiah 22:6)? How many of them are there (Isaiah 22:7)? What has God done (Isaiah 22:8a)? In what had they hoped (Isaiah 22:8-11b)? But in Whom did they not hope (verse 11c–d)? What had YHWH called them unto, for their forgetfulness of Him (Isaiah 22:12)? But how had they responded instead (Isaiah 22:13)? What will be the result for this generation (Isaiah 22:14)? What member of Hezekiah’s court is specifically addressed (Isaiah 22:15)? How is he planning to honor himself (Isaiah 22:16)? How has he puffed himself up already (Isaiah 22:18c)? But what will YHWH do to all these plans (Isaiah 22:17-19)? To whom, instead, will the Lord give his office (Isaiah 22:20-21)? How effective will Hilkiah be (Isaiah 22:22-23)? But, even with this “secure peg” what will happen (Isaiah 22:24-25)? 

What do individuals learn from God’s judgment on proud nations and churches? Isaiah 22 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that even in the midst of judgment for national/church pride, a believer is called to serve humbly and faithfully. 

Hill of Victory? No. Valley of Vision. Before Jerusalem was the city of David, its advantages height produced such a natural fortification that the Jebusites gloated that the blind and the lame could defend it against David (cf. 2 Samuel 5:6). As we’ve seen throughout the book of Isaiah, it is precisely such a spirit of self-sufficiency that the Lord is condemning not only in His people, but in all of the nations. We may remember how, particularly with Egypt in chapter 19, the Lord attacked the precise things of which they were proud, and which they found their safety. Now the very title that Isaiah gives to the city (“Valley of Vision,” Isaiah 22:1Isaiah 22:5) sets us up for what He will drive home in Isaiah 22:11c–d. Whatever we are proud of will become for us not a hill, but a valley, if we are forgetful of the Lord. In Isaiah 22, Jerusalem serves as a “valley” from which we see that man’s strength is weakness apart from the Lord.

A disaster that distresses the prophet, Isaiah 22:2-7. The city of joyous shouting (Isaiah 22:2a–b) turns into a cemetery (verse 2c–d).  The proud warriors and rulers don’t even get a chance to fight. The slaughter is completed when the disgraced and fleeing rulers are taken down by archers (Isaiah 22:3a–b), and anyone that survives is enslaved (verse 3c–d). Isaiah foresees the Babylonian (Elam, Kir in Isaiah 22:6, and an innumerable army in Isaiah 22:7) invasion that will eventually come, and the annihilation of the holy city (Isaiah 22:5) brings the prophet to bitter tears (Isaiah 22:4). When we see the church under chastening, we must not despise her in our flesh, but weep over her in the Spirit.

The pride that provoked the LordIsaiah 22:11-14. Let men always remember: God opposes the proud (cf. Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). What does a Jerusalem under judgment do? They look into their armory (Isaiah 22:8b); they secured a water supply (Isaiah 22:9Isaiah 22:11a–b); they cannibalized their houses to bolster the wall (Isaiah 22:10). But the one thing that they didn’t do was humble themselves before the Lord in looking to Him (Isaiah 22:11c–d). When God brings distress upon a people, He gives them an opportunity to recognize and mourn over their sin before Him (Isaiah 22:12). If you are too busy trusting in your preparations and “living for the moment” (Isaiah 22:13), you risk sealing the fate of your situation. Nothing can turn back the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem now (Isaiah 22:14).

Personal application of national/corporate providence. Shebna and Eliakim (cf. 2 Kings 18:37) become examples for us of how to make personal application of the lesson that the Lord is teaching Jerusalem in this valley. Shebna, apparently even knowing that destruction was coming, was still interested in making sure that he would be buried in style (Isaiah 22:15-16). But the Lord dashes those plans/hopes (Isaiah 22:17-18). His personal destruction makes way (Isaiah 22:19) for Eliakim to take his place (Isaiah 22:20-21). For his part, Elikaim serves faithfully and reliably (Isaiah 22:21-23), even though God’s personal providence to him does not override the coming destruction of the nation as a whole (Isaiah 22:24-25). He was a sure peg, but the Lord would still tear the nation down.

Sometimes, men are called to live faithfully in days of judgment and calamity. Let them keep their hearts humble before the Lord and be faithful in their service—leaving unto God what will ultimately come of it.

What resources has the Lord given to you? How do you ensure that you only use them in humility and dependence upon the Lord? When have you been afflicted? How did you take that as an opportunity for self-examination and repentance? To what service have you been called in your nation? In the church? How must you perform it, even if the corporate entity is about to be devastated in judgment?

Sample prayer: Lord, too often we have been like Shebna and others like he in Jerusalem, who hoped in their earthly resources and just sought to enjoy themselves while they could. Forgive us for such pride before You. We have missed opportunities for self-examination and repentance and have provoked You all the more. So grant that, whatever the circumstances, we would be as Eliakim, by the righteousness and life of Jesus Christ Himself, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP11 “My Trust Is in the LORD” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

No comments:

Post a Comment