God Devastates the Earth (Isaiah 24)

Isaiah 24:1-23

"See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants—The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The Lord has spoken this word" (Isa 24:1, 3).
  1. Earth destroyed (24:1-13). Humanity in chaos.
  2. Ultimate praise (24:14-16)...but present devastation (Isa 24:16b).
  3. Cosmic judgment (24:17-23)...ending in sheer glory (Isa 24:23).


God's Plan is to Humble the Proud (Isaiah 23)

Isaiah 23:1-18 (Your money is not yours. It is a gift from God.)

"The Lord Almighty planned it, to bring down her pride in all her splendor and to humble all who are renowned on the earth" (Isaiah 23:9).

Tyre is like Babylon; both are proud. With the pronouncement against Tyre in Isaiah 23, Isaiah fittingly concludes his judgments upon the nations (ch.13-23). As Babylon, the great city in the east, opens this section (ch.13-14), so Tyre, the great city in the west, closes it. As Babylon is described in general, universalistic terms, so is Tyre. As it is difficult to pin down the precise historical events in ch.13, so also it is with ch.23. So much similar are the two chapters that Revelation uses the language applied to Tyre to describe the great world city Babylon (Rev 18:11-24). Thus, Tyre, like Babylon at the beginning, is being used in a representative way. For instance, both are proud and arrogant (Isa 13:11; 23:9).


The Unforgivable Sin (Isaiah 21-23), Tue 7 pm, 9/29/15

  • The Unforgivable Sin (Isaiah 21-23) often scares Christians. From Isaiah, the unforgivable sin is simply to ignore God and sin by living it up as though everything is fine.


But You Did Not Look to God (Isaiah 21-23 questions)

Isaiah 21-23
  1. What nation is "the wilderness of the sea" referring to (Isa 21:1, 9)? What was said about the glory of this land earlier (Isa 13:19)? What might be some reasons for calling it by this term?
  2. If God has brought down Babylon (21:2), why is he grief–stricken (Isa 21:3–4)? [The Persians (Elam) and the Medes captured Babylon in 539 BC, ending the Judeans' exile in Babylon (Isa 21:2).] To understand Isa 21:5 see Daniel 5.
  3. [Dumah (21:11–12) was an oasis deep in the Arabian desert where Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king lived.] What is happening on the caravan routes (21:14–15)? 21:16–17 seem to swing back to Isaiah's own lifetime when perhaps the Assyrians devastated Edom's trade. Why include this with a prediction of events in the far future? [A caravan route came across the northern Arabian desert to Dedan, Tema, and Kedar, sites in Edom (21:13-17).]
  4. [It is not clear what event is referred to in 22:1–3. Is it the temporary lifting of the siege of Sennacherib in 701 BC, when the Assyrian officer withdrew his army to support the emperor at the time when the Egyptians came out to battle (Isa 37:8–9)? Or is it the final lifting of the siege after the death of the Assyrian army?] Who is being addressed in this oracle of judgment (Isa 21:8–10)? Why would this country be included in this list of untrustworthy nations?
  5. What is the irony of "valley of vision" and why use it (22:1)? Where do we normally go to see a long distance?
  6. Why does Isaiah not share in the general jubilation (22:5–7)? What does this say to us about short-term and long-term vision? But suppose we are called "killjoys" and "spoilsports"? [Elam and Kir (22:6) are both locations in extreme south Mesopotamia.]
  7. A title for God (22:5) appears in one form or another 6 times in the chapter. What is its significance in this context?
  8. What is the central problem addressed in 22:8-11? What did Hezekiah do and not do? Should he not have made defensive preparations? What's the problem? What does 11b mean? How should such a person have done?
  9. Why should the people be "weeping and mourning" (22:12)? Is there never a time for celebration? What was wrong with this celebration? What is the proper Christian attitude towards heaven?
  10. 22:14 seems very harsh. Why will this "iniquity" not be "atoned for"? What is the  unpardonable sin? (Heb 10:26–29; 1 Jn 5:16–17)
  11. How does 22:15–19 function as a graphic illustration of what was said in 22:1–14, and especially in 22:13? What is Shebna "looking to" and what should he be looking to? What does 22:20-25 say about a guarantee of success (from a human perspective) if we are faithfully doing God's work? Isn't this unfair? Shouldn't doing things God's way always enjoy God's evident blessing? What does 22:24 suggest might be one reason for Eliakim's eventual failure? What is the message for us? ["the steward…who is over the household" (22:15) almost certainly is a term for "the prime minister" of the country. Note that in 36:3, it is Eliakim who is "over the household" as per Isaiah's prediction in 22:20–22. Isaiah 22:17–18 suggest that at some point Shebna would be taken as a hostage to die in a foreign land.]
  12. What has happened to Tyre (and Sidon) and what is the response of her/their trading partners (23:1–14)? What question are they asking and what is the answer (23:8–12; 14:24–27)? What truth should we draw from this? [The cities of Tyre and Sidon were the two dominant ports on the coast of Lebanon. They seem to have been the places where Canaanite culture and religion chiefly survived after Israel took over Canaan proper. These are the people whom the Romans knew as the Phoenicians. These cities largely controlled trade to the west around the Mediterranean Sea. "Tarshish" (23:1, 6, 10, 14) was probably located in what is today Spain.]
  13. If 23:1–14 says not to trust in Tyre and Sidon because of their coming destruction, why do 23:15–18 say there is no reason for Judah to put her trust in them? [In 23:15–18, prostitution is apparently being used as a figure of speech for being a trans-shipper of merchandise. Tyre is selling her services to the various nations, like a prostitute would. But clearly there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this since the wages are to be dedicated to the Lord (18).]


Judgment and Hope, Trust and Rebellion in Isaiah

Outline of Isaiah by John Oswalt.

Figures of speech
. These repeated figures of speech in Isaiah crop up throughout the book, giving the careful reader a sense of discovery and delight in recognizing the author's craft in recalling an earlier figure and using it in a related, but amplified way:
  • trees (Isa 1:29-30; 2:13; 6:13; 10:33-34; 29:17; 32:15, 19; 37:24; 44:14, 23; 55:12; 57:5; 60:13; 61:3).
  • highways (Isa 2:3; 7:3; 11:16; 19:23; 35:8; 40:3; 49:9, 11; 57:10, 14; 59:7-8; 62:10).
  • banners (Isa 5:26; 11:10-12; 13:2; 18:3; 30:17; 49:22; 62:10).
  • deserts (Isa 5:6; 6:11-12; 32:14; 34:13-17; 41:18-19; 43:20; 48:21; 50:2; 64:10).
  • gardens and fertile fields (Isa 29:17; 32:15; 35:1-7; 41:18-19; 51:3; 65:3, 10; 66:17).
  • children (Isa 1:4; 3:12; 9:6; 11:8; 26:17; 37:3; 49:19-21; 54:1-3; 66:7-12).
  • light and darkness (Isa 2:5; 5:20, 30; 8:22; 9:2; 26:19; 29:18; 30:26; 42:6-7, 16; 45:7; 49:9; 51:10; 58:8, 10; 59:9-10; 60:1-3, 19-20).


Pope Frances to Congress on 9/24/15

"The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience."


Babylon Has Fallen, Has Fallen (Isaiah 21)

Isaiah 21:1-17

"Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!" (Isa 21:9b)

The whole world in His hands...at the moment and into the future. Isaiah 13-23, a new section of oracles against the nations, began with the Mesopotamian powers of Babylon and Assyria (ch.13-14). Then the oracles moved to the neighbors Philistia (14b), Moab (15-16), Aram and Israel (17a). Isaiah 17b-18 is an interlude chapter (17:12-18:7), where Cush (Ethiopia) was used to declare that Yahweh is the Lord of the nations (Isa 17:13). Then came the oracle against Egypt (ch.19-20). In essence Isaiah 13-20 declares that God rules decisively over the nations. In Isaiah 21-23 he makes more declarations to the same effect, but with an interesting difference. He speaks more allusively, more vaguely, more mysteriously, because he is giving less attention to his immediate surroundings and peering out further into a more remote future. What does Isaiah see? He sees a redeeming God at work in a deeply troubled world.


One World, One People, One God (Isaiah 19-20)

Isaiah 19-20 (Converted, Saved, Healed and Whole)

Can the world be one
Isaiah's oracle on Egypt shows that the God of Israel has something glorious in mind for the whole earth. Egypt is the first enslaver of the Lord's people and their most memorable adversary. But through her, Isaiah opens up a truly magnificent view which includes thinking of Egypt as "my people" (Isa 19:25). [This follows the vision of a remnant of both Gentiles and Israel being drawn to the Lord in Zion (Isa 18:7).] At the climax of the oracle (Isa 19:23-25), Isaiah links Egypt with Assyria, the contemporary oppressor. If these two can be brought into co-equality with Israel then the world will be one indeed!
  1. Egypt's fall (19:1-15): Egypt smitten, collapsed, fallen and defeated.
  2. Egypt's restoration (19:16-25): Egypt saved, healed and converted.
  3. Egypt's unreliability (20:1-6): Egypt is untrustworthy; she will be taken captive (20:1-6).


Two Cities (Isaiah 24-27)

Isaiah 24-27

Isaiah 24-27 contain the third set of visions of the future. In the first set (ch.13-20) Isaiah looked at the world around him. In the second set, using cryptic titles (ch.21-23), he probed forward and found the same features dominating the future as he had seen in the present. In this third set, Isaiah is looking right to the End. Similar aspects to prior visions emerge:
  • The collapse of the "world city," the human attempt to organize the world into one "global village" (24:1-20).
  • At long last, the Lord's reign over the kingsof the earth in Zion (24:21-23).
  • Gentile problems at last solved in the great messianic feast (25:1-12).
  • The Lord's people secure in the strong city of salvation (26:1-21).
  • The joy of the world-vineyard (27:1-13).

God's Triumph over the Nations (John Oswalt, 1988).

  1. A strong city laid waste (24-25).
    • The earth is crushed (24).
    • God's feast (25).
  2. The Lord's day (26-27).
    • Judah's song (26:1-27:1).
      • Hymn of thanksgiving (26:1-6).
      • Psalm of dependence (26:7-19).
      • Oracle of salvation (26:20-27:1).
    • The Lord delivers Judah (27:2-13).
      • The Lord's vineyard (2-6).
      • Cleansing versus destruction (7-11).
      • Return (12-13).

Two Cities in Contrast: Endurance Through to Glory (24-27) [J. Alec Motyer, 1993]

  1. The Lord's harvest from a destroyed world (24:1-13).
    • Destruction (1-12).
    • Gleanings (13).
  2. The song of the world remnant (24:14-16a).
  3. The sinful world overthrown (24:16b-20).
  4. The waiting world (24:21-23).
  5. The song of the ruined city (25:1-5).
  6. MOUNT ZION (25:6-12).
  7. The song of the strong city (26:1-6).
  8. The waiting people of God (26:7-21).
  9. Spiritual forces of evil overthrown (27:1).
  10. The song of the remnant of the people (27:2-6).
  11. The Lord's harvest from a destroyed people (27:7-13).
    • Destruction (7-11).
    • Gleanings (12-13).

The End of the World-City (24:1-20) [J. Alec Motyer, 2011]

  1. Earth devastated: divine action (1-3).
  2. The earth withered: explanation (4-6).
  3. The song stilled: the fall of the city (7-12).
  4. The song overheard: the Lord's gleanings (13-16a).
  5. Personal wasting away: grief over the ultimate consequence of sin (16b-18a).
  6. Earth devastated: moral/spiritual causation (18b-20).


The Unforgivable Sin (Isaiah 21-23)

Isaiah 21-23

but you did not look to the One who made it, or consider the One who created it long ago" (Isa 22:11b, HCSB). "The Lord of Heaven's Armies has revealed this to me: "Till the day you die, you will never be forgiven for this sin." That is the judgment of the Lord, the Lord of Heaven's Armies" (Isa 22:14, NLT).
  1. Babylon has fallen (21:1-10): Don't trust Babylon.
  2. The uncertain world goes on (21:11-12): Live with faith in the tension of uncertainty.
  3. There are no human solutions (21:13-17): Learn to trust God.
  4. God does not forgive disregarding him (22:1-25): Never forget to look to your Maker.
  5. Consumerism, capitalism and covetousness (23:1-18): Don't be seduced.


An Altar to the Lord in the Heart of the Land (Isaiah 19-20)

Isaiah 19–20

"On that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the center of the land of Egypt and a pillar to the Lord near her border" (Isa 19:19, HCSB).

  • In both Canaan and Egypt the storm god was depicted as riding on a cloud (Isa 19:1).
  • At least twice in Egypt's history a period of total political breakdown followed a period of absolute monarchy. Isa 19:2 seems to reflect knowledge of this tendency.
  • Egypt was easily the most idolatrous nation in the ancient Near East. Only surpassed by modern Hinduism.
  • Egypt was famous for its ancient wisdom. The first known collection of proverbs comes from Egypt (1900 BC?).


Do Not Forget the God Who Saves You (Isaiah 17:10)

"You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress…" (Isaiah 17:10a).

"Forgotten" and "not remembered" (Ps 78:11, 42) refer to the failure to keep the mind fixed on God. What does it mean to keep the mind fixed on God? In the theology of Deuteronomy, remembering and forgetting form a fundamental concept (Dt 8:11-20; 8, 19-20). What is in view is not primarily a mental activity, although it does involve such activity. Rather, remembering is a mental activity which issues in certain kinds of behavior. Conversely, the absence of corresponding behavior negates any claimed mental activity. Thus, one cannot claim to know God if their life and behavior does not reflect it.

One who remembers acts accordingly. God wants his people to recall his unique, never-to-be-repeated acts on their behalf with the result that their present actions will be in keeping with his character. If their present actions are not of such a nature, then they do not truly remember who God is and what God has done.


True Religion (Isaiah 19-20)

"On that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the center of the land of Egypt and a pillar to the Lord near her border" (Isa 19:19, HCSB).

  1. Egypt smitten (19:1-15). Because of her religion (1-4)--idolatry, resources (5-10)--Nile, and self-reliance (11-15)--human wisdom.
  2. Egypt healed (19:16-25).
  3. Egypt unreliable (20:1-6).

Five Marks of True Religion (19:19-22):


Am I Relying on God as my Savior and Rock? (Isaiah 17-18)

Would you trust God in a crisis? The attack of Israel and Aram on Judah (Isa 7:1) precipitated a crisis of faith and trust (Isa 2:22; 7:4a, 9b). Judah [Ahaz], instead of turning to God, turned to the nations of the world [Assyria] for its help at the critical moment of difficulty (2 Ki 16:7). Thus, in Isaiah 17, Isaiah used this good opportunity (the mention of Aram and Damascus) to declare the larger truth in these chapters (13-23) that all nations of the world are subject to Yahweh (Isa 17:12-14; 18:1-7). So it would be foolish for Judah to either fear the nations or trust the nations (Isa 7:2, 4a, 9b).


Isaiah Outline by John Oswalt, 2003

1-5    Intro: Introduces the idea/problem of servanthood. Who will you trust? God or man?
6       Call to servanthood/to trust God. It is the solution to the problems addressed in 1-5. It is the pivotal chapter in Isaiah.
7-39   Lessons in Trust (7-35: No Trust. 36-39: Trust).
    7-12    God or Assyria? No Trust. Ahaz fails to trust God and the consequences.
    13-39    Study lessons on trust again.
        13-23    Don’t trust the nations.
        24-27    God is the sovereign actor on the stage of history.
        28-33    Woe to those who will not wait/trust.
        34-35    Conclusion
        36-39    God or Assyria? Trust. Hezekiah passes the test of trusting God.
40-55    Grace motivates us to trust God.
56-66    Grace enables us to live in the righteousness of God.


Isaiah in 71 days by Alec Motyer, 2011. Part I: Backdrop to Isaiah's Ministry (1-5)

I. Backdrop to Isaiah's Ministry (Isaiah 1-5).
  1. 1:1-9. Title (1:1). Author's preface (1:2-5:30) outlines the situation in which he ministered. Backdrop to Isaiah's ministry (1): You are not what you ought to be (1:2-31).
    • The state of the nation (1:2-9).
  2. 1:10-20. The people were spared the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (1:9) but the spirit of Sodom and Gomorrah lives on among them (1:10) and is seen especially in their religion.
    • The state of the church (1:10-20).
  3. 1:21-31. Isaiah's review of the state of affairs is social breakdown.
    • The state of society (1:21-26).
    • The surprising future (1:27-31).
  4. 2:1-4. Backdrop to Isaiah's ministry (2): You are not what you were meant to be (2:1-4:6). The glorious vision of 2:2-4 expresses what the Lord expects from his people. The elect was meant to be a magnet to all the earth, drawing all others into the knowledge of the Lord. The reality proved very different. Religiously (2:5-21) and socially (2:22-4:1) his people sadly conformed to the world rather than being the point of its transformation. But the future will see the ideal restored (4:2-6).
    • Heading (2:1).
    • The great "might have been" (2:2-4).


Not Remembering and Not Trusting God (Isaiah 17-18)

Isaiah 17-18

"For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge..." (Isa 17:10, ESV).

Wherever Judah looks, to the west (Philistia), east (Moab), north (Damascus/Aram) or south (Egypt), she sees only nations whose glory is fleeting and whose fate is sealed. There is nowhere she can look for her own security but to the Lord, who is the Lord of history and the judge of them all.