Some days I cannot concentrate. Some days, my Bible study makes no sense. Sometimes it’s like Charlie Brown’s teacher…
And today, in Isaiah 21 – 22, that’s how my morning began! So I broke out my old study Bibles. Three versions of the Bible. Two commentaries. One girl studying. Whew.
First of all, the consensus is that chapter 21 refers to the downfall of Babylon. They were supposed to look ahead and watch for what was happening.
Other nations also got in on the action. The NIV Commentary yielded that “Dumah” is “silence,” a wordplay on Edom. The first thing that happens is a shout to a watchman. Whatever dawn was coming would be swallowed up quickly again. Other nations are also mentioned: Kedar, Arabia. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated them all.
What I see here is that the world is bigger than one nation of Israel. God’s word was reliable because it was fulfilled across the board. And Daniel explains how Nebuchadnezzar was humbled before God. He is greater than the conquerors of this world who seem to be steamrolling their way to power. It is not easy stuff to accept. Isaiah is staggered…bewildered…faltering,…trembling…horrified. But no matter what happens, God’s hand is guiding the process of the world.
The MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV, explains the Valley of Vision of Isaiah 22 as a vibrant word picture. God gave the Israelites vision after vision, but their heads were still looking down, focused on life on earth like the bottom of a valley.
Valleys are also pictures of abundance, with lots of rich soil and good climate. But where things grow, they can also rot. People in Jerusalem were dying, and not in combat… they were starving and sick. Leaders? None left; they all deserted the city and were captured. God removed His protection, and what was left for them? This is the end of the rope, guys, so what are you going to do? They made all the preparations for war, and yet did not respect God enough to ask if He had an opinion. God wanted them to see their errors, and instead they flaunted their excesses.
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
This is chillingly familiar to the mantra of the modern worldview that “there’s nothing after I live now, so what’s to lose?”
Isaiah goes ahead and names some names. He called out a certain Shebna, who decided to pay more attention to making his tomb fancy than helping the people. So God would set up HIS SERVANT Eliakim. God just used that term in chapter 20 to describe Isaiah, someone actively working to further God’s plans. Yet at the end of the chapter, this guy that everyone was hanging their hopes and dreams on would crash to the floor. The picture that they use is a hook put in the wall. And everyone hung their coats, scarves, hats, pots and pans, and lives on him. Then down came the peg and everyone with it. That’s just depressing. That happens over and over in life. We put so many expectations on something, only to see it fail. Life is not dependable apart from God. People come and go, and even the promising stars will fall. But God’s plan prevails.
Prophesy is confusing. Metaphors do not always come into focus. But God is still God in the confusion. And no matter what chaos is erupting in the world around us, that’s where we can put our confidence.
God, thank You that You bring order out of chaos, like in the beginning of the world. And You allow us to fall far so that we will turn back to You. It’s heartbreaking to see people embrace the thing that is killing them to get their own way. Please help me to see where I do this, and turn back to You. Thank You for Your love. Amen.