READ: Isaiah 21-23
BACKGROUND: This section contains prophecies about some major cities and nations that are not following after God. They have rejected him and chosen evil instead, and this is what God has to say to them.
21:2 – The Elamites and the Medes joined with Cyrus to conquer Babylon in 539 BC.
11-12 – This prophecy against Edom is given in greater detail in Jeremiah 49:7-22, Ezekial 25:12-14, & Amos 1:11-12.
16-17 – Kedar was where the Bedouin tribes roamed. Nebuchadnezzar crushed the people of Kedar.
22:1-13 – This likely refers to the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 588-586 BC, but it could also refer to the siege laid on Jerusalem by Sennacherib of Assyria in 701 BC.
9 – Storing up water in the lower pool refers to preparing supplies for a long siege.
11 – Again they’re preparing for a siege. Without praying. Without turning to God. That is dumb. It does not end well.
13 – This is quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:32
18 – Nothing profound to note by any stretch. I just laughed at the image of God wadding somebody up and throwing them like a ball. I bet God has an amazing curveball. 🙂
23:1 – Alexander the great totally destroyed Tyre. Completely. They tried to hide form him on their fortified island so he burnt the city to the ground and built a land-bridge to the island and burnt the island down leaving “no house or harbor.”
12 – Sidon was crushed by Esarhaddon in the seventh century BC, then it was crushed again by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC.
13 – Sennacherib destroyed the city of Babylon in 689 BC.
17 – Tyre was trying to make prophets and money however it could, even being dishonest and oppressive. Self gratification was it’s greatest goal. God called this prostitution. Seems like there is a lesson in there for Americans somewhere.
18 – This is a fascinating verse. The earnings of a prostitute could not go to the Lord. They were an unacceptable and unclean sacrifice. The wealth of a city that has been devoted to destruction by God, however, was to be set aside for his treasury.
THINK: The band N’SYNC was a big deal back in the day. To even see one of the boy-band members on TV was an ‘amazing’ experience for many young girls. However, today they are just a group of middle aged men. In their heyday everyone wanted their autographs and wanted to be associated with them. Today, girls laugh that they used to like N’SYNC’s music.
This is a similar scenario to what is being described in Isaiah. There are some big, successful, beautiful cities that everyone wants to be a part of. People wanted to be associated with the places of the world that were well-to-do. However, in God’s mind, these cities were living in disobedience to him. They may have seemed like the very best societies at that time, but they were worldly. Isaiah prophesied against them telling them that the pomp and prestige they currently had would soon be gone because they were disobeying God. Right now they may feel like they are succeeding but that will come to an end.
In chapter 22 God rewards those who obey him. God promises to be a firm foundation to all who rely on him. He also promises destruction for all who live according to the world. Where are you at with this? Are you chasing after worldly desires that will ultimately lead you nowhere? Or are you pursuing God’s desires that will lead you toward the most abundant life imagined? Sometimes we think that flirting to get attention is the best option for life right now, but in reality, a few years from now you may never talk to that boy or girl again. What seems so important now, God says is meaningless. This is just one example. We can also think about gossip and slander. Perhaps it will get us ahead now to talk trash about a certain teacher or classmate, but where will that take us in the long-run? Right, a dying spirit wandering far from God.
Think about it the other way for a minute. What if you are deciding to keep yourself from seeking attention from the opposite sex? This would not be an easy choice and definitely not a popular one, but it would lead to an abundant and joyful life. It may seem a little disappointing in the moment, but you will never regret saving yourself. The same is true with gossip. I guarantee you will never ever regret holding your tongue and not speaking badly about someone. I can promise that because God promises that his way is better than ours! Take that to heart!
ASK: In what ways am I chasing after worldly desires, and in what ways am I pursuing the things of God? How can I change that balance?