ISAIAH 19:1 – 21:17 and HEBREWS 2:1–18
This chapter begins with judgements being pronounced upon Egypt. In the previous chapter it involved Ethiopia and parts of Egypt but here it is exclusively Egypt. One of the strongholds of Egypt was their idolatry which was seen back in the days of Moses. In verse 1 it says that even the idols will tremble at the presence of the Lord. It is a picture of what happened in the Philistine city of Ashdod when the presence of the Lord came into the tent of their chief god Dagon (1 Sam 5). There is awesomeness to God’s presence and we must never take it lightly. There must also be an understanding concerning the priestly role when the presence of God is on the move. There is the danger of manipulating or presuming the work and move of God. This is why it is so important to spend time and tarry in the presence of God so that we can become better acquainted with who He is. One of the judgements that can come upon a nation is when they begin to fight one against another. This is what is happening here to Egypt in verses 2-4. It is something we see happening in America today where major cities are coming apart at the seams. The enemy is empowered in the midst of civil unrest.
In verses 5-10 there are further calamities pronounced against Egypt. The Nile river will dry up which would affect their industries such as papyrus and other enterprises. The fishermen will lose their livelihood as will the weavers. It is a thorough destruction that was to come upon the land. These events took place around the years 695-670 BC. To top everything off there would be a perverse spirit that would infiltrate the administrative functions of Egypt. There will be errors of judgement on a grand scale that will only add to their demise. I read these verses with trepidation when looking at how many nations are being governed today. The judgements are not the physical and natural calamities; it is rather a “drunken” like stupor that comes upon leadership. Their decisions are hard to reconcile and yet it is God that is allowing it to happen. The cycle of judgement being described here is eerily similar to the cycle at work today.
In verses 15-16 there will be the recognition that the hand of God is at work against them. If they knew their history, they would understand that it is not the first time. In verses 18-21 there is the mention of 5 cities that will speak the language of Canaan. This event did take place around the year 160 BC. This event opened the door for the way of Truth to be known amongst the Egyptians. The scene in verse 22 is now different. It speaks of the period during the stages of the early church primarily through Alexandria. They forsook the ways of God after about 600 years which resulted in judgement coming by way of Moslem hordes. In the end there will be millions of Christian believers in Egypt who know the Lord and as a nation will experience His blessings during the millennium.
In verses 23-25 we see further evidence of the Lord’s hand upon Egypt. This nation has been seen on the two sides of a pendulum. There is extreme cruelty on one hand as seen during the days of Moses. There was the benevolence of Pharaoh that was seen at the time of Joseph. It is heartening to see Egypt as a nation that in the end may be well blessed.
This is another chapter that deals with Egypt but it goes back to the time of Sargon who was King of Assyria. He was not the legitimate heir to the throne but took advantage by way of his position as army captain after Shalmaneser V died. He is the king who captured Samaria in 722 BC which represented the end of the reign of the Kings of Israel from the northern kingdom. In verse 1 Sargon moved against Ashdod which was a principal city of the Philistines. They aligned with Egypt to help fight against the Assyrians. Isaiah was called upon to walk naked and barefooted for three years as a sign to Egypt of the soon coming invasion of the Assyrians. This was what was going to happen to them once the invasion was to take place. In verses 5-6 there is a further reminder as to what will happen if one was to put their trust in Egypt. This is a critical message because many in Judah will make that very same mistake in the lead-up to their Babylonian captivity (Jer 41-42). It is a problem seen throughout the whole of the Word of God. In times of distress who do we look towards? Egypt is figurative of the world and it is amazing how often they were looked to for relief or help. The same is true today. Who do we trust when we are in a time of need? Do we look to the Lord or do we put our trust in earthly things like possessions and people? This message of Isaiah had to be walked out and it was to serve notice for Israel. Its implications are clear for us as well. God alone is our help and fortress and should always be the focus of our trust.
This chapter deals with the fall of Babylon. In verses 1-2 there is the depiction of the fall of Babylon by way of the Medes and Persians. It seemed that there were several armies involved in the invasion; some by the rivers via Cyrus and others coming through the desert. It is the desert armies that Isaiah is referring to here. Isaiah will speak more concerning Cyrus when he takes Babylon as will be seen in chapter 44. He even is able to name him long before the event; such was the measure of the prophetic that was functioning upon Isaiah. In verses 3-4 Isaiah literally feels the travail of pain as an indicator of the severity of judgement to come. Babylon was cruel and treated people and women the same way in which they will later be judged.
In verses 5-7 it is the Lord that allows for a drunken stupor to come upon the defenders of Babylon. They will take light of the danger and not even know up to the time the enemy is at their doorstep. This was the situation at the time of King Belshazzar’s feast. It is the situation seen in our world at this time. It is sobering seeing that we have not learned from history. In verses 8-10 there is further descriptions of Babylon’s woes. These verses would prove encouraging to the people of God who have been crushed like corn; their vindication and opportunity will come later as declared by Micah the prophet (Mic 4:13).
In verses 11-12 the judgements are pronounced upon Edom. It is clear that the judgements upon Edom will be absolute with no hope once it comes upon them. In verses 13-15 the pronounced words against Arabia followed with a pronouncement against Kedar. There are some interesting truths concerning Kedar. The men of Kedar are descendants from Ishmael. There was a time when Ishmael mocked Isaac the son and seed of promise. These two sons of Abraham strove with one another and their respective seed still strives today. God Himself made clear that His covenant and promise was to be through the seed of promise which was Isaac (Gen 17:19).
Paul gives warning concerning those who have become lax in their walk with God. We must take our relationship with God seriously because any slip up or letting down of the guard can open a potentially dangerous door. It is with sadness when I consider many who once had a strong walk with God only to have turned aside; some even no longer following the Lord. The enemy uses the world and many differing entrapments to steer a soul of promise out of the good path. We must be on guard and be faithful in helping others to avoid the same fate. In verses 2-3 Paul is giving solemn warnings as to what happens if one were to disobey the word spoken by angels. One of the most prominent angels seen in scripture is the angel that led Israel through the wilderness (Exo 23:20-21). This angel was to be obeyed and not provoked. Perhaps this could be the angel that governs Zion. When Israel disobeyed in the wilderness there were significant judgements that resulted.
In verses 5-18 Paul is going to do one of the things he does best; present and make the case for the greatness of Jesus. In verse 5 another comparison is made between Christ and the angels. In the next few verses we are going to see the words of King David brought forth. Paul is quoting David from Psa 8:4-5. David was a meditator and as such had great revelation of God and could stand strong in the midst of great opposition. Paul is quoting David who in turn is speaking of Christ; the creator of the universe. Paul states that man is made a little lower than the angels. At the same time man has unique qualities that angels do not have. Man is made after the image of God and can be redeemed because Jesus died as a man and not as an angel. Angels have more power than man in his natural strength however the time will come when man will have an authority over angels through the work of the cross (Psa 149:6-9).
In verse 8 we not only see the authority that Christ had in having dominion over all things we also see the position that Adam had at the time of the creation. He was given authority and even had the privilege of naming the animals. The curse is what has allowed that certain viciousness to come alive that is seen in certain animals. The dominion Christ was given is a dominion that God is presenting before man to those who are in Christ. This dominion will be reclaimed in its fullness upon the earth at the time of the 2nd coming. There is a picture of this when Jesus came across the man possessed with devils. They cried out concerning being tormented before the time (Math 8:29). There is a set time for Christ to have dominion over the earth at the time of the millennium and it seems to be drawing closer by the day.
In verse 9 we see the Son of God being made lower than the angels so that He could effectively become the sin sacrifice for man. What a mighty God we serve! He had to do this because He would have to die as the Son of Man in order to atone for sin. Angels do not have the ability to die. Jesus had to be able to taste death for man so that he could acquaint with man. Jesus did not only die for the sake of our salvation. He died so that we could have the opportunity to become mature sons and daughters of the faith. What Jesus accomplished at the Cross is more than just our salvation. It is an opportunity for us to become more like the Son of God Himself; to die to the old man and its nature as we walk in the light and appropriate by faith the finished work of the Cross.
1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Jesus had two natures; He was 100 percent God and 100 percent man simultaneously. As God, he could not die but as man he could die. As man He could have sinned but he did not. One of the key distinctions between Jesus and man is that Christ was conceived without sin while man was born through the sin of Adam. Think of it this way! Jesus as the sinless of Son of God came from heaven and became acquainted with man and his sin as He walked in the earth. It all culminated at the Cross when Jesus, who knew no sin became sin as the Passover Lamb without blemish. Man on the other hand was born in sin, basically in the position that Christ came to know at the Cross. Man as he accepts the sacrifice of Jesus comes into a position where he can be taken from sin to glory. If the fullness of what Christ accomplished at the Cross is appropriated, he can become like the Son of God. Jesus and man come from two extremes and converge at the cross. This is the Jesus that Paul is seeking to portray to the Hebrew brethren.
In verse 12 Paul refers to a verse that David wrote in the Psalms (Psa 22:22). Jesus declared the name of his Father to those he ministered to. He was the expressed image of the Father (Col 1:15) and so it was through the life of Jesus where many came to know the heavenly Father in a much different way. This is our calling as well. As we come to know Christ we begin to testify of Him to others. The more we know of Christ the more we will come to know of the heavenly Father. There is no denying the desire that God has in seeing His children grow and mature. This will be clearly seen throughout the chapters of Hebrews. Remember, one of the primary themes of Hebrews is the coming within the veil. It is an invitation given to all but it will not be received by all. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews is a beautiful blueprint that can aid in this process.
Paul reminds his audience once again that Jesus did not take on the form of angels but of man. He is of the seed of Abraham. This is a statement that the Jewish brethren should be able to understand. Paul will have much more to say about Abraham and the events that surrounded his life a bit later. Right now he is making a strong case for Christ, the same Christ that they crucified. Paul knows the mind of his brethren, he knows how they think and what they believe and he will use that knowledge to his advantage. This was one of Paul’s primary gifts; he knew how to make a connection to people mainly due to knowing how they think. Paul then goes on to explain further the reasons why Christ became a man; to identify with man and his temptations so that he could function as an effective merciful high priest. The more we come to know this aspect of Christ the more effective we will be in our respective ministries. We are very quick to sing songs or pray about knowing God and His ways. I fear many times our prayer is answered and we do not know it. May God help to grant perspective so that we always see the true picture.