ISAIAH 22:1 – 24:23 and HEBREWS 3:1–19
The focus of judgements is now going to turn towards Jerusalem. The previous chapters saw God’s hand coming upon the surrounding nations but now is about to hit home. The time period for this assault will be during the reign of Sennacherib when he looked to move against Jerusalem. The Assyrians have already exercised God’s judgement upon Samaria and the 10 tribes of Israel to the north. In verses 1-3 it appears that Jerusalem had no awareness of the threats posed by the Assyrians. There was an ease and complacency which left them totally unprepared for what was coming. The King of Judah at this time was Hezekiah; a righteous king whom God would vindicate and uphold. The prophet Isaiah is feeling the pain and anguish of this pending judgement. This is one of the prices that a true prophet of God has to pay. It is more than just delivering a message it is being the message. A true prophet comes to know the heart of God and is driven to travail for the purposes of God to come to pass. Jerusalem is now beginning to understand the seriousness of this event as they witness the approaching Assyrian army. It is just beginning to dawn on them they are now in trouble (vs 6-7).
In the midst of this pending battle what did Jerusalem do? They looked to their own strength and resources as opposed to looking towards God. They examined every conceivable means of defending themselves without looking to the sovereign God. In verses 12-14 we see God’s people turning to drunkenness and rebellion instead of fasting, weeping and prayer. They were demonstrating a careless disregard for the situation they were in. The consequences of eternity do not seem to faze them. They were being casual and indifferent in the midst of an approaching storm. Once again it is not too difficult to draw similar parallels today. Life has become so cheap and we see it reflected in culture and entertainment. There are songs that have become popular that refer to death and life in nonchalant ways. It is a tactic and tool of the enemy. He always seeks to diminish the consequences of sin and eternity (Gen 3:4). This mind-set paves the way for loose living with minimized standards.
In verses 15-19 we learn valuable lessons through the life of Shebna. Shebna had a very high position under King Hezekiah. His position could eventually lead to the throne. Shebna was proud and felt that his positon could never be removed from him. God had other plans and He saw to it to have him removed. Shebna was so sure his name would carry on that he built for himself a sepulchre and monument that was meant to serve as a testimony to future generations. He was a man who abused his position while living a life of opulence. In the end Shebna was disgraced and removed from his position. God is not mocked and we need to make sure that our heart is right at all times.
In verses 20-21 we are introduced to a man by the name of Eliakim. He was a faithful and humble minister who was clothed with the divine attributes of God in being placed into the vacated position of Shebna. He is a man who is given authority and mentioned as one who will be a father to many. He embodies the kind of man that the Apostle Paul speaks of in Col 3:12-15 which are the hallmarks of holiness. Eliakim is called the servant of Jehovah. Can we see the Shebna’s and Eliakim’s in the church world today? Eliakim was given the measure of power that David had in receiving the blessings of the “Key of David”. It is one of the promises that is given to the overcomer as seen in Rev. 3:7. It is an authority that is rooted and established and one which will stand in the midst of adversity. Still, in verse 25 we see that there will come a time when Judah will no longer have that father like example available to them due to their sin and transgressions which ultimately leads them to Babylon.
The word of the Lord is now going to be pronounced against the city of Tyre. The prophecies of judgement began with the Babylonians who were the most formidable imperial land power and are now ending with Tyre. This city was known for its maritime prowess and was influential in the arena of commerce. Their prominence arose during the time of the Assyrians. The king of Tyre was also likened to Lucifer as we shall see when we look at the Book of Ezekiel (Eze 28). The destruction that will come upon Tyre will have an effect upon many of the nations that surround her. It is a picture of the destruction that will come upon the Babylonian System of the last days. Many will lament when they see the judgements coming upon primary cities of commerce. This portion of scripture has considerable linkage to last day events. It is another example where a case can be made for a dual application. This is especially true when we see the King of Tyre being likened to Lucifer.
In verses 6-7 Isaiah speaks of Tyre being a city that revelled in mirth and debauchery only to suddenly experience the judgement of God. Take any major city in the world and think of the carefree way of life that many of them indulge in. Think of the consequences and sentiment that would come upon the people and observers of that city once judgement hits. The fall of Babylon under King Belshazzar is perhaps the greatest example of this scenario (Dan 5). In verse 9 we see that it is the Lord that has purposed this event. It represents a time when the cup of iniquity has grown full resulting in God releasing His wrath upon sinful man. The prophet sounds out further woes upon Tyre through verse 16.
The lament is so strong that they sing a song of their desolation (vs 16). There is a bit of a twist as Tyre is spoken of after 70 years of judgement. The King of Tyre supplied timber for the construction of Solomon’s temple. This king had deep affection for David and it is clear that the Lord has taken note of this kindness. We also discover that Tyre was instrumental in supplying materials for the temple during the restoration era. Tyre is another one of those cities that has a double connotation. They were highly influential due to their positioning along the sea. They could be involved in corruption and perverseness and yet be instrumental in the building up of the various temples. Is it possible that they would have a part in the building of Ezekiel’s temple in the millennium? Remember Egypt who was used of God as an instrument of cruelty for a season as opposed to being kind to Joseph and Israel earlier? God remembers this benevolence and it is clear that both Tyre and Egypt could finish well when it truly counts. Solomon is another figure where you see two extremes. One hand there is a vivid picture of what Christ will be like in the millennium as seen in the early years of his reign contrasted with antichrist type qualities as seen in final years.
This chapter is also known as the mini apocalypse. Isaiah will prophesy judgements on a universal basis that goes beyond that which applies to individual nations. This chapter provides clarity to the release of judgements that will be seen in the last days as revealed in the Book of Revelation. One could read Zechariah’s prophesy, (Zech 12-14) the Lord’s remarks concerning the 2nd coming and the Book of Revelation to gain further insights. The prophet has been speaking on judgements for individual nations and now is brought into a prophetic flow that transcends to the last days. In verse 1 we already see a universal judgement being spoken of. The onset of judgement will cause people to lose strength and hope. What is the reason for this release of God’s wrath upon the earth? The simple answer is that man took it upon himself to play God by changing His laws and ordinances (vs 5). How many times did Moses remind the children of Israel to be sure to uphold God’s laws as seen throughout the Book of Deuteronomy? Israel would have had great success and flourished as a nation in their inheritance if they would have kept His law and statutes. Think how successful the kings of Israel would have been if they upheld the law of Kings and lived by the Book of the Law that they were to keep alongside them at all times (Deu 17:14-19).
God is a God of order; His creation maintains a course as prescribed by his Divine decree. It is upheld by Law because the Law helps to define who God is. When man seeks to alter or redefine God’s Law he is opening doors for cracks and fractures to materialize which soon results in chaos. Once God’s moral law is broken there is no point of reference that can be drawn from; every man soon becomes a law unto himself. This breakdown often begins within the church itself. A simple subtle alteration of truth is all it takes for the enemy to gain a foothold. It is one thing for the world to take swipes at the absolutes of God but it far more damaging when it takes place within the church. The fruit of a nation’s sin is often a direct result of the condition of the church. The pulpits across the world today are being redefined by a man made agenda. The fallout from all of this is what we see in this chapter. The earth is now beginning to convulse in profound ways. Think of the increased earthquakes worldwide or the increase in volcanic activity as but a few examples of the earth responding to man’s lawlessness. The chaotic upheavals we see today are only to grow in intensity as lawlessness continues to rise. This is the preparing of the way for the antichrist in contrast to John the Baptist’s ministry role in paving the way for Christ. The church is making a huge mistake in thinking that it can serve God on its own terms.
What we see in this chapter is the culmination of iniquity becoming ripe. This chapter provides a window into what the last day outpouring of judgement is going to look like. God’s Law is honourable, it is Holy and it needs to be embraced. God’s Law does not need to be redefined but rather written and etched upon the hearts of men. When we see the pulpits in our churches make allowances for compromise, no matter how subtle, it opens a door for future chaos. Churches do this in the name of compassion or being relevant to people’s needs etc. This sounds great but never is this to be at the expense of God’s divine order. Jesus was the epitome of compassion and yet able to uphold the highest standards pertaining to His Father’s ordinances. This is the standard we should seek to emulate. The ultimate fulfilment in the violation of God’s Laws is seen in the following verses:
Isa 24:19 The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
Isa 24:20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
God’s ordained order as seen in His creation is now out of balance. Man has taken it upon himself to live by his own set of prescribed laws in violation to that which God has given. This took place as a result of man giving ear to the words of the serpent to disobey and violate the one law that God had given to man (Gen 3:1-6). That one choice of man (Adam) put into motion a whole sequence of events which could only be remedied by the sacrifice of the Son of God. The work of the Cross is the only way the chaos seen in Isaiah 24 can be atoned for. What is about to come upon the earth is the fruit of what took place in the garden when Adam sinned. The fruit of our eternity is determined by our choosing to accept the gift of the Son of God. It is Jesus Christ who represents the ultimate means of restoring that which has been broken. As leaders we must always put a premium on the sanctity of God’s laws and seek for the grace to live by it.
Paul, being a former Judaizer himself, understood the emphasis the Jews placed upon Moses. It is here in this chapter where Paul will demonstrate that Jesus was greater than their revered Moses. Can we appreciate the methods that Paul used in his varied ways of ministry? He knows how his audience thinks and is able to apply the truth of the Word in that “unique” way that grabs their attention. In other words, he knows how to speak the language of his audience. So how does Paul go about showing Christ as being greater than Moses?
In the first two verses Paul speaks of the Apostleship and High priest qualities of the Lord Jesus Christ. He then speaks of the faithfulness of Christ by comparing Him to Moses who was faithful in all his house. So now Paul is promoting Christ but before going forward he brings Moses into the picture so as to develop an effective comparison; showing how one is much greater than the other. We also need to remember that Paul is looking to establish that the New Covenant which is represented by Christ is much greater than the Old Covenant represented by Moses. In verses 3-6 Paul draws the analogy of a house making the point that Moses was a ruler in the house. Who would have the greater honor? Which is greater, Moses or the one who created Moses? Everything Moses did pointed towards Christ. The work of the Tabernacle of which Moses was involved was a picture of God’s redemptive plan showcasing Christ as the Passover Lamb. The Tabernacle also demonstrated the way by which we can come into His presence; into the holiest of all.
In verses 7-13 we are warned about the dangers of allowing our hearts to become hardened and indifferent. God lovingly provided the children of Israel a daily portion of manna and essential provision. In spite of God’s goodness, the people began to complain and become bitter towards God and Moses. This condition continued which only allowed their hearts to become even more desensitized to the things of God. The fruits of this hardness resulted in their forfeiting the opportunity to cross over into their inheritance. Today is the day that the Lord has made and we do not want our hearts to be calloused and hard. This kind of heart condition provides no room for seeds of faith to be planted and established. It is a pure heart, a soft and undefiled heart that God longs for in His people. God is patient and he gives ample opportunity for us to hear His voice and amend our ways. I often use the analogy of a layer of wet cement that has been spread to make a sidewalk. While the cement is wet, impressions can still be made upon it. Once it hardens it is too late. Our hearts need to be like wet cement; it allows the Lord to make eternal impressions upon our heart that will have lifetime ramifications. It is a limited window of opportunity before that layer of wet cement hardens. Today, today if you hear His voice, open up your heart to Him. By God’s grace we must avoid bitterness, offenses and unbelief to poison our heart.
The subject of God’s Rest is referred to in verse 11. It will be picked up again later on throughout this book. It is a multi-faceted subject. Part of God’s Divine order is understanding the blessing of Rest. It is God’s intention to bring his people into a place of Rest. What does this mean? God worked for 6 days and rested on the 7th. He took stock of His work and efforts and saw it was good and proceeded to Rest from his labours. This is recorded for our benefit seeing that God is calling us to know this same blessing. This is in direct contrast to the enemy who has no peace and is constantly driving and restless.
Isa 57:20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
Isa 57:21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
It is from a position of Rest where we can know the voice and the heart of the Father. It is from a position of Rest where we can be refreshed and find direction for the course of the day. This position of Rest is well expressed in the Classic Book Pilgrim’s Progress. The primary character who goes by the name of Christian comes to a resting place known as “The Palace Beautiful”. It is here where Christian is refreshed and revived while in the midst of his journey. It is a good thing because after this refreshing experience he comes face to face with Apollyon which represents a significant threat to those who are looking to hit the mark of God’s high calling. The Rest of God is a blessing; it is one of the names that denotes the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a place in God where we cease from our own labours and find grace to go onward in the purposes of God. There is so much noise and activity clamouring for our attention and we need to be careful about missing this privilege and opportunity that God looks to bring to His people. The key is to know God’s Word, know His heart, His voice and learn to obey it. What was the primary reason for Israel’s inability to enter into their Rest? They suffered under unbelief by not aligning their confession with that which God is saying. It can be summarised in the following two verses. In looking at these verses which of the two defines us?
Num 13:30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
Num 13:31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.