9/27/2015

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).]