Good evening Church! We are continuing on in the prophecy of Isaiah, attempting to complete this section where the prophet has been addressing the surrounding nations. Lots of stuff going on in this section, and I acknowledge that it is a difficult large chunk of Isaiah to get through, but there’s some good stuff I hope to hit tonight, when we finish tonight, starting next week it gets good, and gets better and better as we move through the prophecy so stick it out. Chapter 20 may seem a bit odd to us, it does to me, but God had a point to make and it seems he used the prophet to act out this point, to live it, so it was a visible message to the people.
God sometimes does that with prophets, real ones at least. He instructed Hosea to marry a prostitute, for example, to paint a picture of his love for an adulterous people, and we see one of these times in the life of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 20 vs. 1
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,
This actually gives us a bit of a timeline to reference. See that Tartan here is the Assyrian army who has come and taken Ashdod, Ashdod was a city of the Philistines, you’ll remember that I previously described the philistines and a pain in the butt neighbor to Israel and one that was in constant conflict with them. We know from secular history that this even occurred in 711 BC.
Remember Isaiah is primarily prophesying to Judah at this point in time in his ministry. And he knew, and God knew that if Judah witnessed the city of Ashdod and the Philistines fall to the Assyrian army, then they would fear that they were next and rather than reach out to God for help and deliverance, they would make one of their unholy alliances with a pagan nation, in this case Egypt. So Isaiah is given an odd assignment, to deliver the naked truth to Israel about their circumstances.
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.
Now most of the commentaries I consulted on this, and I listened to several people teach this section, most either ignored it, or were quick to explain that he wasn’t bare naked, but only removed his outer garment the sackcloth, down to his inner linen clothes as a sign of complete poverty and humility. It’s not the biggest point to be made in this prophecy, but I’m not sure we can know that.
Do you guys remember when David danced before the lord, and his wife Michal saw him leaping and dancing before the Lord and she despised him in her heart? Well in that scene the bible says, 2 Sam 6:14
14 Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.
It doesn’t say that here, but it says it there, it could have said it here, but here it says walking naked and barefoot. I only bring it up to say when the Bible doesn’t say something, don’t say that it does, when it does say something, don’t ever exclude what it says, explain it away or apologize for it, but deliver it in the most loving way that you can. I know there were some people here on Sunday, that were ridiculously uncomfortable with the message, hopefully from the Bible and not from me, but we need to let the truth of the Word speak.
God is intending to send a message here, a visible one to his people, about the humiliation that was about to befall Egypt. Isa 20:3-4
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.
Again, sounds naked to me. The point in this we see in the rest of this chapter Isa 20:5-6
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?’ ”
Assyria is coming from the north, we can’t place our hope in them, Egypt is no help to us at all…how shall we escape, the hope is that they will see this and turn to the Lord.
Now in chapter 21 we turn away from Assyria and back to Babylon… one of our major themes in these next couple of chapters is judgement, a reminder that our righteous God, our holy God, in order to be those things is also a God of judgement who is just. This chapter begins with a return to the prophecy against babylon, who again has not yet risen to become a superpower…Isa 21:1-2
1 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.
Here Babylon is referred to as the Wilderness of the Sea, because the area was made up of marshlands and lakes, it was a desolate wilderness area, we see dessert and wilderness synonomous in the bible, this speaks of a whirlwind that was coming, from the desert…this was a portion of scripture along with passages in Jeremiah and Ezekiel that were hotly debated back in the 90’s when American forces were entering into Iraq, or Babylon, and what was that movement of forces called? Dessert Storm..we will see that that was not a complete fulfillment of the prophecy against Babylon, there is more to come, but it was an interesting time.
Interesting reference here to Elam and Media these are the ancient names for the people of Persia, modern day Iran....it was the Mead's and Persians that ultimately defeat the Babylonians, who defeated the Assyrians…all of this was prophesied about, in fact they Bible even gives us the name of Cyrus the leader of the Persians in the book of Daniel.
We know from verse two that a vision is coming, we see that starting in verse 3…Isaiah 21:3-5
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!
So again this whirlwind is rising up, they set a watchman, they are fearful, Isaiah is stressed out even giving the vision on behalf of the people, as this is being pronounced it is a great opportunity for them to repent, but they set a watchman and then eat and drink, with the idea of tomorrow we might die…arise you princes, anoint the shield, they would rub oil on the shields before going into battle, like a boxer putting Vaseline around his eyes hoping to deflect blows from arrows or swords.
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.
A lion would have been the most desperate cry a Shepard watching over the sheep at night could cry..then we hear Isa 21:9-10
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.
What is interesting about verse 9, Babylon is fallen, is first it hasn’t risen yet at the time of this prophecy, but this is also exactly what is cried out in Revelation 18 in the final battle with spiritual Babylon is taken down…verses 11+12 are a burden against Dumah, another name for Edom...
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!”
The watchman says the morning comes, and indication of reprieve. Like there is terror in the night with a longing to see the dawning of day, and the watchman says the morning comes, oh, but also the night, so whatever good news the morning brought, it was dispersed again with nightfall. Whatever good news was found in the pronouncement the morning was coming was short lived, and nightfall came. Now verses 13-16 is the judgement coming to Arabia Isai 21:13-16
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;
So we have a time frame in the prophecy, he says it will be within a year from the time that he gives this message that all the glory of Kedar will fail. vs 17 Isa 21:17
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.”
Chapter 22, he now begins to speak about Jerusalem. Isa 22:1-4
1 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.”
This is an interesting name for Jerusalem, we most often think of Jerusalem being up, not a valley. Usually when the bible talks about going to Jerusalem from anywhere, it talks about going up to Jerusalem, we refer to is as a city on the hill. Some say it is called the valley of vision here because of the number of prophets God spoke to there throughout history…maybe.
I think more likely being a high place, means there are also valleys, right beneath mountains are valleys, in the context of the prophecy I think the Valley of Vision is speaking of seeing the approaching Assyrians beneath Jerusalem and ready to attack.
We know from Jeremiah that when Jerusalem was overtaken by the Babylonians, many of the men didn’t die bravely in battle but by famine and pestulance, sometimes because they ran cowardly away from the fight. So big trouble is ahead, your people are fleeing
vs, 3 your rulers have been captured, in verse 4 we see this is breaking Isaiah’s heart. Isa 22:5-8
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;
God is judging His own people here, it says He removed the protection of Judah, why would God do that? God gives us opportunity after opportunity, after opportunity to turn to Him the easy way, to repent and be restored. TO be corrected in a spirit of gentleness, unless we don’t. Sin, unrepentant sin leads to death, the wages of sin is death, eternal separation from God and everything good.
This should have been a time when they woke up! Sunday I talked about Christians that are sleepwalking. That should have been a time when some said wait, this passage is talking about me, and they should tell God they are sorry and get back on track. Here, the protection of God has been removed from Judah. Rather than turning to God for their salvation this says “You looked in that day to the armor, they trusted in their own weapons, but is says the armor of the house of the forest, the idea being that they were taring down their own houses to fortify the walls, so now they are suffering, and suffering loss…but they are not yet crying out to God…verse 9
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.
They had dug a tunnel for the water in the days of King Hezekiah, started digging at each end and met the two tunnels together, it measures over 1700 feet, I have no idea how they did that. You can actually walk through there today if you go to Israel. Isa 22:12-14
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.
No atonement for you even to your death, God says it’s too late! I don’t want to get into a big debate, but what is it that we call the unforgivable or unpardonable sin? Refusal to respond to the Holy Spirit all the way to our death…what is going on here? They are ignoring and ignoring and ignoring God. Now the prophecy transitions from the nations to actually two men, both of whom served under King Hezekiah. Isa 22:15-17
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.
This speaks of pulling a very prideful man down, and the next section speaks of lifting a faithful man up. Isa 22:20-23
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.
That should sound familiar verse 24 Isa 22:24-25
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.’ ”
So the end of this speaks of Shebna being that peg that was in place, and was going to be removed and replaced by Eliakim. But verse 22 Isa 22:22
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.
Some of the commentaries will tell you that this verse speaks of Peter because of Matthew 16:19, you can right that down as a reference if you want, but in the future eternal fulfillment of these, Jesus tells us that Isaiah was talking about Him. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, in the letter to the church of Philadelphia, Jesus says Rev 3:7-8
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
Now chapter 23 we move to another nation, we’ve covered some ground here tonight we’ve talked about Assyria, Babylon, south of Israel to Edom, Saudi Arabia, Persia, a couple of individuals…and now Tyre, the ancient Phoenician people, a seafaring people, if you have been doing our Chronological bible readings with us as a church, on Monday we had our reading in Ezekiel 28-31 and I made the comment there that It is clear from the description that God is not speaking of any human leader here, but rather the one who was the real king of Tyre, Satan.
Tyre was good and bad for Israel depending upon the season. Some of the lumber used by David and Solomon to build the Temple was obtained from King Hiram of Tyre. But you know who else came from Tyre? Jezebel, the wicked wife of King Ahab. King Ahab who is described as doing more evil and all those evil kings before him.
So being a seafaring people they were involved with commerce, they have wealth and pride.....
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?
Not only were the areas of Sidon and Tyre effected but the whole area! We just lived through probably the biggest blockade of transportation in American history orchestrated by our government and blamed on Covid. Shipping ports closed, trucking companies unable to deliver. Here when news reaches Egypt, they are in agony? What do you mean, they can’t deliver! It would be like our major delivery companies all crashing at once. Why did this happen? Verse 9 tells us. Isa 23:9
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.
The rich and the prideful are humbled. verses 10-14 is this pronouncement of judgement. …Isa 23:10-12
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.”
The Chaldeans here refers to the Babylonians, it also mentions the Assyrians, so Tyre is brought down by both
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.
Verse 15&16 give us an interesting and sadly graphic prophecy Isa 23:15-16
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.”
So she will be taken out of business and then she will return to her hire, she will go back in business Isa 23:17-18
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.
What is interesting is that when you look at secular history around this time, concerning the Assyrians, is that right around this time, a little before this was written actually, the Assyrians concurred Tyre, and when they did, they installed one of their own governors to rule Tyre, and during that time they were prohibited from participating in trade and commerce around the Mediterranean trade routes, guess for how long? 70 years. It was from about 700 B.C. - 630 B.C. but then she comes back and is turned right back to committing fornication with the kingdoms of the world, letting money come before everything.
Next chapter, judgement of the world.