979.) Isaiah 39

January 31, 2013
"King Hezekiah Flaunting his Wealth"  by Vicente Lopez y Portana.

“King Hezekiah Flaunting his Wealth” by Vicente Lopez y Portana.

Isaiah 39   (ESV)

Envoys from Babylon

At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. And Hezekiah welcomed them gladly. And he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.

We can imagine that this was flattering for King Hezekiah. After all, Judah was a lowly nation with little power, and Babylon as a junior superpower. To receive this notice and recognition from the king of Babylon must have really made Hezekiah feel he was important.

In gratitude, Hezekiah showed them the house of his treasures. We can imagine Hezekiah wanting to please these envoys from Babylon, and wanting to show them that they had good reason to be impressed with him and his kingdom. So he does everything he can to impress them, and shows them the very best riches of the royal household – and he showed them everything (There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them).

As the coming rebuke from Isaiah will demonstrate, this was nothing but proud foolishness on Hezekiah’s part.

–David Guzik

Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?”

Hezekiah said, “They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.”

He said, “What have they seen in your house?”

Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house. There is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”

I39 NoThanks

What should Hezekiah have said to the envoys? The answer is plain: ‘Thank you for coming and thank Merodach from his gift and invitation, but the fact is I have a divine promise to lean on; it has been confirmed personally in my return to health and cosmically in the sign of the sun. I cannot turn from faith in the promises of God.’

–J. Alec Motyer

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”

This is a sad state of heart in the king of Judah. God announces coming judgment, and all he can respond with is relief that it will not happen in his lifetime.

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Music:

Oh, if only Hezekiah had known this song!  Click  HERE  to listen to “Be Thou My Vision”  performed by Eden’s Bridge, from their Celtic Reflections on Hymns album.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Portana.   http://isaiahsbookclub.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/isaiah39_hezekiah-flaunting-his-wealth1.jpg
No thank you.    http://janeheller.com/confessionsblog/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/NoThanks_thumb.jpg

978.) Isaiah 38

January 30, 2013

I38 ready to save

Isaiah 38   (ESV)

Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.”

Mother HS grad

Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

My mother, Maurine Edvenson Riskedahl (high school photo above), grew up in a family that saw a lot of sorrow.  Several of her siblings died in infancy, hard-earned money was scammed from them for Oklahoma oil wells that never delivered (existed?), an Iowa farm was lost in the 30′s.  And my mother’s mother fought a difficult battle for many years with multiple sclerosis.  On New Year’s Day of the year my mother turned 13, each of the family members chose a year verse, as was their habit.  The verse my mother’s mother chose for herself was the verse above –“Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.”

My grandmother died that year just days after Christmas.  She spoke her last words to her family, all gathered around her bedside, and the words pointed to joy:  “I’ll be waiting for you just inside the Eastern Gate.”

I heard this story often as a child, and now that I am older, I think the verse is a wonderful year verse for each one of us.  Is our house in order with the Lord?  Are we keeping short accounts with friends and family, eager to forgive, averse to holding grudges?  Are we regularly telling the ones we love how important they are to us?  Are we giving our best to the Master with our time, our skills, our money?  Are we taking time every day to praise and worship and thank the Lord for all His goodness to us? Do we show God’s grace and joy to those in our sphere of influence?  Do we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance?  Do we love with the love of Christ?

I never met my grandmother, of course.  But that day will come.  And when we meet, “just inside the Eastern Gate,” I will thank her for teaching me to prepare willingly and carefully not only for death, but also for eternal life in Heaven.

Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, and said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.

I38 get-well-soon

In fact, God gave two gifts to Hezekiah. First, He gave the gift of an extended life. Second, He gave the gift of knowing he only had fifteen years left. If he were wise, this would still give King Hezekiah the motivation to walk right with God and to set his house in order.

–David Guzik

I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.

It would seem that this chapter is out of place chronologically, coming before the Assyrian invasion of the previous chapter.  In reality, the personal healing is proof that God will in fact deliver Jerusalem from Assyria.  One promise confirms the other.

“This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he has promised: Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined.

A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:

This is a poem that Hezekiah wrote (verses 9-15) celebrating his recovery.

10 I said, In the middle of my days
I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
for the rest of my years.
11 I said, I shall not see the Lord,
the Lord in the land of the living;
I shall look on man no more
among the inhabitants of the world.

I38 empty tomb

Hezekiah’s pain at his approaching death is increased as he believes that in the grave he will no longer see the Lord.  His thinking is based in the cloudy understanding of the world beyond before life and immortality were brought through the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:10). Though there are occasional glimpses of hope into the world beyond (such as in Job 19:25-27), for the most part there is no clear understanding in the Old Testament of the nature of life after death (Psalm 6:5, Psalm 88:3-5, 11).

This explains why Hezekiah does not welcome death as a certain pathway to the presence of the Lord. For these Old Testament saints like Hezekiah and David, the grave (Sheol) was an uncertain place. They knew the Lord was there (Psalm 139:8), but they didn’t know exactly how. So for these Old Testament saints, going to the world beyond was exchanging this world’s certainty for the uncertainty of the world beyond.

–David Guzik

We, on the other hand, know the glorious truth of the Empty Tomb!

12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me to an end;
13     I calmed myself until morning;
like a lion he breaks all my bones;
from day to night you bring me to an end.

14 Like a swallow or a crane I chirp;
I moan like a dove.
My eyes are weary with looking upward.
O Lord, I am oppressed; be my pledge of safety!
15 What shall I say? For he has spoken to me,
and he himself has done it.
I walk slowly all my years
because of the bitterness of my soul.

I38 was_it_worth_it

What did Hezekiah do with these added 15 years?

One thing he did was father a son who would succeed him on the throne of Judah. Of the next king of Judah, Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, it is written that he was 12 years old when he became king (2 Kings 21:1). This means he must have been born in the last 15 years of Hezekiah’s life. Sadly, fathering Manasseh was not a worthy achievement. It was written of him, And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel (2 Kings 21:2).

–David Guzik

Like they say — Be careful what you wish for.  Oh, that we might submit every thought and desire to Christ, to do his will in every detail!

16 O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
17 Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.
18 For Sheol does not thank you;
death does not praise you;
those who go down to the pit do not hope
for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living, he thanks you,
as I do this day;
the father makes known to the children
your faithfulness.

20 The Lord will save me,
and we will play my music on stringed instruments
all the days of our lives,
at the house of the Lord.

21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” 22 Hezekiah also had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”

The two are related:  Hezekiah will not go to the house of the Lord until he is healed.

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Music:

My mother loved to sing and she loved to listen to George Beverly Shea sing.  This song was one of her favorites.  Click  HERE  for “The Love of God.”

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
ready to save.    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5255/5519237257_d388ef20ac.jpg
Get Well Soon.   http://www.sar-el.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/get-well-soon.jpg
empty tomb.    http://alaskabibleteacher.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/tomb6.jpg
Was it worth it?     http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/192/2/6/was_it_worth_it____page_3___doujinshi_by_whitemoth93-d56ulgj.jpg

977.) Isaiah 37

January 29, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Isaiah 37   (ESV)

Hezekiah Seeks Isaiah’s Help

As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord.

There was good reason for Hezekiah to be so humble before the Lord. “City after city has fallen to Sennacherib and long lines of deportees are already snaking their bitter way into exile — and it is all Hezekiah’s fault! He followed the lunatic policy of rebellion and was bewitched by Egyptian promises. He might as well have sold his people himself. But even when a matter is our own fault we can still pray about it. And the Lord can always be trusted to hear and help his people.”

–J. Alec Motyer

And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz. They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, ‘This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth.

This was a proverbial expression for a disaster — a woman so exhausted by labor that she could not complete the birth, so it is likely that both mother and child will die.

It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the Lord your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’”

When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the young men of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’”

How these words must have cheered Hezekiah! Before, he had hoped it may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh . . . to reproach the living God (verse 4 above). Now, the Lord speaks through the prophet Isaiah, saying He has indeed heard these words! Now, God is taking it personally!

–David Guzik

The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish. Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, “He has set out to fight against you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’”

We know of people like the Rabshakeh!  They blabber on and on, thinking their words are accomplishing their purposes, when really they are just adding fuel to the fire of their own destruction.  Lord, give me ears to hear the truth of what I am saying, especially when I am speaking unkindly of others or disrespectfully of you.

Hezekiah’s Prayer for Deliverance

I37 spread it

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”

Hezekiah responds rightly.  He takes his problem to the Lord, and praises God for his power and wisdom.  And he leaves the situation in the Lord’s hands.

butterfly anxiety

Sennacherib’s Fall

–a glorious answer to Hezekiah’s prayer!

21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him:

“‘She despises you, she scorns you—
the virgin daughter of Zion;
she wags her head behind you—
the daughter of Jerusalem.

23 “‘Whom have you mocked and reviled?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes to the heights?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
24 By your servants you have mocked the Lord,
and you have said, With my many chariots
I have gone up the heights of the mountains,
to the far recesses of Lebanon,
to cut down its tallest cedars,
its choicest cypresses,
to come to its remotest height,
its most fruitful forest.
25 I dug wells
and drank waters,
to dry up with the sole of my foot
all the streams of Egypt.

26 “‘Have you not heard
that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
what now I bring to pass,
that you should make fortified cities
crash into heaps of ruins,
27 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength,
are dismayed and confounded,
and have become like plants of the field
and like tender grass,
like grass on the housetops,
blighted before it is grown.

How humbling this must have been for the Assyrians! All along, they thought it was because of their mighty power they had accomplished so much. Here, God makes it plain that it was His power that did it.

28 “‘I know your sitting down
and your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me.
29 Because you have raged against me
and your complacency has come to my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will turn you back on the way
by which you came.’

30 “And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

33 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

36 And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh.

“The Biblical account concludes with the much debated statement that the Assyrian army was struck down in some way during the night with considerable loss of life, following which the siege was called off . . . The Assyrian Annals tacitly agree with the Biblical version by making no claim that Jerusalem was taken, only describing tribute from Hezekiah.”  — from T.C. Mitchell, The Bible in the British Museum

–David Guzik

38 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

I37 Angel-destroying-Assyrians

The Destruction of Sennacherib

by Lord Byron (George Gordon)

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,

And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;

And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,

When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,

That host with their banners at sunset were seen:

Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,

That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,

And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;

And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,

And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

.

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,

But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;

And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,

And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,

With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:

And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,

The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,

And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;

And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,

Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

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Music:

I am something of a Diane Bish fan — she is an organist extraordinaire!  Here she is (in typical sparkles) with the Choir of Second Baptist Church of Houston and her arrangement of “Lead On, O King Eternal.”  Click  HERE  to hear this performance from a concert (not a worship service).

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Do not be afraid.    http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Mark6_50.jpg
spreads the letter before the Lord.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Book_of_Isaiah_Chapter_37-1_%28Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media%29.jpg
1 Peter 5:7.    http://ih1.redbubble.net/image.8928824.8226/flat,550×550,075,f.u2.jpg
angel destroying the Assyrians.    http://www.wisdomlib.org/uploads/images/Angel-destroying-Assyrians.jpg

976.) Isaiah 36

January 28, 2013
Lachish Siege Reliefs Room.  The Lachish relief is a set of Assyrian stone panels narrating the story of the Assyrian victory over Judea during the siege of Lachish in 701 BCE. Carved between 700-681 BCE, as a decoration of the South-West Palace of Sennacherib in Nineveh, the relief is today exhibited at the British museum in London.[1] The palace room, where the relief was discovered in 1847, was fully covered with the "Lachish relief" and was 12 meters wide and 5,10 meters long.

Lachish Siege Reliefs Room. The Lachish relief is a set of Assyrian stone panels narrating the story of the Assyrian victory over Judea during the siege of Lachish in 701 BCE. Carved between 700-681 BCE as a decoration of the South-West Palace of Sennacherib in Nineveh, the relief is today exhibited at the British Museum in London. The palace room, where the relief was discovered in 1847, was fully covered with the “Lachish relief” and was 12 meters wide and 5 meters long.

Isaiah 36   (ESV)

Sennacherib Invades Judah

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah,

This is about the year 700 b.c., during the reign of the godly King Hezekiah of Judah. The events of this chapter are also recorded in 2 Kings 18:13-27 and 2 Chronicles 32:1-19.

This begins a four-chapter section different than the prophecies recorded before or after. Isaiah 36 and 37 describe the Lord’s work against the Assyrian threat. Isaiah 38 and 39 describe the response to the Babylonian threat.

“This is history at its best, not dull recital of statistics and dates but an account which enables us to sense the haughty arrogance of the Assyrian and the chilling clutch of despair at the hearts of the Israelites.”

–David Guzik

Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh (a title, meaning something like “field commander” or “chief of staff”) from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army.

detail of Lachish reliefs

detail of Lachish reliefs

Lachish was thirty miles south-west of Jerusalem. Archaeologists have discovered a pit there with the remains of about 1,500 casualties of Sennachaerib’s attack. In the British Museum, you can see the Assyrian carvings depicting their siege of the city of Lachish, which was an important fortress city of Judah.

And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. And there came out to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.

And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if you say to me, “We trust in the Lord our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar”?

The Rabshakeh knew that King Hezekiah had implemented broad reforms in Judah, including the removal of the high places (2 Kings 18:3-4).

The high places were spots of “individual worship” which were prohibited by God’s law (Leviticus 17:1-4). Israel was commanded to bring their sacrifices to the official center for sacrifice (the tabernacle or later, the temple). In the pagan world at that time, it was customary to offer sacrifice wherever one pleased – altars would customarily be built on high hills, in forested areas, or at other special places.  That practice may have been fine for the time of the patriarchs. But now, God regarded sacrifice at high places as an offense. Hezekiah did right when he took away the high places and the altars, demanding that people come to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifice.

This command runs completely contrary to the way most people come to God in our culture. For the most part, Americans have an entirely individualistic way of coming to God, where each person makes up their own rules about dealing with God as they see Him. In the book Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah and his colleagues interview a young nurse named Sheila Larson, whom they describe as representing many Americans’ experience and views on religion. Speaking about her own faith and how it operates in her life, she says: “I believe in God. I’m not a religious fanatic. I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It is ‘Sheilaism.’ Just my own little voice.” This “pick-and-choose-as-I-go-along-according-to-my-inner-voice” approach is just like picking your own high place and altar to sacrifice to God the way you want to instead of the way God wants you to.

–David Guzik

Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land and destroy it.’”

I36 its_over

Ouch!  The Rabshakeh taunts them, saying, Even if we give you two thousand horses, you will still lose in battle against us.  So just give up now.

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 12 But the Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?”

He is intent on spreading fear and distrust and discouragement.

13 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. 15 Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 16 Do not listen to Hezekiah. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”

G

The Rabshakeh mocks King Hezekiah, and also (so unwisely!) he mocks God, counting the Lord as merely one like all the other gods.

21 But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.” 22 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

Though they were silent, no doubt they were still deeply affected by this attack. It didn’t just roll off their back as if it were nothing. They have the same experience Paul described in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: 2 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. Things were hard, but the battle was not lost yet! 

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Music:

Have you felt like everything is against you — like you have a Rabshakeh telling you how hopeless you are and what a mess your future will be?  Do not believe it!  You can exchange all of that junk for the joy of the Lord!   HERE  is Darrell Evans and “Trading My Sorrows.”

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English Standard Version (ESV)  The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Lachish siege reliefs room.    http://blog2.bibleplaces.com/uploaded_images/LACHISH_SIEGE_RELIEFS_ROOM,_TB112004283-715389.JPG
detail of siege relief.   http://wolfweb.unr.edu/homepage/lange/ch201/Exams/SkinningHebrewsatLachish.jpg
It’s over.   http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-y1y3WK18O00/UPPX9rIev7I/AAAAAAAAAgY/IJpFrfg1ty8/s1600/its_over.gif
God is not mocked.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GJ8t_TGWcu4/TZSBnDQXxeI/AAAAAAAAApw/fZDrdsPqog4/s1600/Galatians_6_7.jpg

975.) Isaiah 35

January 25, 2013
Desert in bloom in Alamo Canyon, Ajo Mountains, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona

Desert in bloom in Alamo Canyon, Ajo Mountains, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona.  Photograph by Ed Cooper.

Isaiah 35   (ESV)

The Ransomed Shall Return

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

I35 streams

For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

VISION AND REALITY

“And the parched ground shall become a pool”  —  v. 7

We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation.

“Life is not as idle ore,
but iron dug from central gloom
and battered by the shocks of doom
to shape and use.”

God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give up. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry. In the light of the glory of the vision we go forth to do things, but the vision is not real in us yet; and God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality. Ever since we had the vision God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal, and over and over again we escape from His hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape.

The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.

in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;

I35 This_is_the_way
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

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I35 welcome home

Music:

Coming home.  How many times have we longed to go back home?  From summer camp as a kid — from freshman year at college — from a long vacation on too many different beds — from an unsettling place to what is known and loved.  I think of what it must have been like for my mother to arrive in Heaven and see her mother, father, and little siblings, and her Savior — welcoming her home to everlasting joy and gladness, with no more sorrow or sighing and much singing!  And this is our future, too, as followers of Jesus Christ!   Click  HERE  for a delightful “Welcome Home” (and thank you, Carole!).

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Cooper.    http://www.7photographyquestions.com/images/36/desert_in_bloom.jpg
vs. 6-7.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/citysafari/winter_08/isaiah_streams_2008.jpg
This is the way.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_I_rRqZjTqu0/TKYRXjjk3oI/AAAAAAAAAsw/MNBvUz7eC6Q/s1600/This_is_the_way_isaiah.jpg
Welcome home.    http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width/hash/20/fa/20fa0f7839edd8e58c6ccf0d876785c6.JPG

974.) Isaiah 34

January 24, 2013

Gavel

Isaiah 34   (ESV)

Judgment on the Nations

Chapter 34 presents a comprehensive view of God’s judgments on guilty nations; Chapter 35 is a view of God’s blessing upon his people.  Notice the contrasts!

Draw near, O nations, to hear,
and give attention, O peoples!
Let the earth hear, and all that fills it;
the world, and all that comes from it.

This message from God is so important that Isaiah summons the whole earth to hear it, for the judgment that is coming will be severe.

For the Lord is enraged against all the nations,
and furious against all their host;
he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter.
Their slain shall be cast out,
and the stench of their corpses shall rise;
the mountains shall flow with their blood.
All the host of heaven shall rot away,
and the skies roll up like a scroll.
All their host shall fall,
as leaves fall from the vine,
like leaves falling from the fig tree.

For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens;
behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom,
upon the people I have devoted to destruction.

Psalm 137:7   (NIV)

Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
    on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
    “tear it down to its foundations!”

I34 Jacob and Esau

Edom is representative of the nations which are enemies of God and his people.  Edom was a sister nation to Israel, but had a violent hatred for Israel, more so than any other nation.  The hatred dates back in history to Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac.  Esau sold his birthright for a morsel of food to assuage his temporal hunger.  It was for this reason that the birthright and blessings were given to Jacob, who later became Israel.  The Scripture tells us the Esau hated his brother Jacob and they went separate ways.  There was never a reconciliation, and as nations developed from these two people, they remained hostile.

–N. E. Constance

The Lord has a sword; it is sated with blood;
it is gorged with fat,
with the blood of lambs and goats,
with the fat of the kidneys of rams.
For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah,
a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
Wild oxen shall fall with them,
and young steers with the mighty bulls.
Their land shall drink its fill of blood,
and their soil shall be gorged with fat.

For the Lord has a day of vengeance,
a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch,
and her soil into sulfur;
her land shall become burning pitch.
10 Night and day it shall not be quenched;
its smoke shall go up forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
none shall pass through it forever and ever.

I34 Porcupine-

God has a time, the prophet says, when he will carry out his purposes of vengeance, which “refers to God’s action in carrying out the sentence which He as Judge has justly imposed” (William MacDonald).   Burning pitch brings to mind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  No people will live there after such devastation — only birds and wild beasts will find their place there among the thorns and thistles.

11 But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it,
the owl and the raven shall dwell in it.
He shall stretch the line of confusion over it,
and the plumb line of emptiness.
12 Its nobles—there is no one there to call it a kingdom,
and all its princes shall be nothing.

13 Thorns shall grow over its strongholds,
nettles and thistles in its fortresses.
It shall be the haunt of jackals,
an abode for ostriches.
14 And wild animals shall meet with hyenas;
the wild goat shall cry to his fellow;
indeed, there the night bird settles
and finds for herself a resting place.

15 There the owl nests and lays
and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow;
indeed, there the hawks are gathered,
each one with her mate.

I34 Bible

“The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.” Augustine of Hippo

“Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.”Dwight Lyman Moody

“A good church is a Bible-centered church. Nothing is as important as this–not a large congregation, a witty pastor, or tangible experiences of the Holy Spirit.”Alistair Begg

“The reason you don’t like the Bible, you old sinner, is because it knows all about you.”Billy Sunday

“The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God.”James Merritt

16 Seek and read from the book of the Lord:
Not one of these shall be missing;
none shall be without her mate.
For the mouth of the Lord has commanded,
and his Spirit has gathered them.
17 He has cast the lot for them;
his hand has portioned it out to them with the line;
they shall possess it forever;
from generation to generation they shall dwell in it.

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Music:

We do not know what distress may come to us in our lives (I hope not anything quite like what has been described in this chapter!) — but as Avalon reminds us  HERE  —  “God Is In Control.”   So you can shake out the tension in your shoulders now and look up to heaven and say, “Thank you, Lord!”

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
judge’s gavel.    http://biblestudyoutlines.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/i3dgavel.jpg
Jacob and Esau.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_p25edAlk8Xc/TGVm4veXn7I/AAAAAAAAA80/jqUKkzTSV9U/s1600/Jacob+and+Esau.jpg
porcupine.    http://preview.turbosquid.com/Preview/2010/12/02__22_44_00/Porcupine-c-01.jpg81095716-ce1a-4d50-94f6-d87c788435baLarger.jpg
Bible.   http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8iOX9rYgyU4/SuZbZaJSyJI/AAAAAAAACH0/Tljx7EQTExE/S210/GetThumbnail.jpg

973.) Isaiah 33

January 23, 2013

I33 v2 sunrise

Isaiah 33   (ESV)

O Lord, Be Gracious to Us

Ah, you destroyer,
who yourself have not been destroyed,
you traitor,
whom none has betrayed!
When you have ceased to destroy,
you will be destroyed;
and when you have finished betraying,
they will betray you.

The tables will be turned:  the destructiveness and treachery of the Assyrians will come back upon them.  God will answer his people’s prayers for deliverance.

O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you.
Be our arm every morning,
our salvation in the time of trouble.
At the tumultuous noise peoples flee;
when you lift yourself up, nations are scattered,
and your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers;
as locusts leap, it is leapt upon.

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
and he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

Matthew 6:33  (NIV)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

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I33 sennacherib-besieged-judah

Verses 7-9 revert to the time when King Hezekiah sent ambassadors of peace to Sennacherib and was told to pay a fine of three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold (2 Kings 18:13-16).  But even this did not succeed in buying off the Assyrian.  He marched against Judah, leaving a trail of havoc and suffering.

The envoys from Judah are weeping bitterly because of the failure of their mission.  The Assyrian has broken his word by invading Judah.  The most scenic places are now scenes of desolation.

–William MacDonald

Behold, their heroes cry in the streets;
the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
The highways lie waste;
the traveler ceases.
Covenants are broken;
cities are despised;
there is no regard for man.
The land mourns and languishes;
Lebanon is confounded and withers away;
Sharon is like a desert,
and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves.

10 “Now I will arise,” says the Lord,
“now I will lift myself up;
now I will be exalted.
11 You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble;
your breath is a fire that will consume you.
12 And the peoples will be as if burned to lime,
like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”

13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;
and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
who despises the gain of oppressions,
who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe,
who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed
and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
16 he will dwell on the heights;
his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks;
his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.

I33 be-good

So here is what to do to be secure and satisfied:

1.   Walk righteously.
2.   Speak what is right.
3.   Reject gain from extortion.
4.   Refuse to accept bribes.
5.   Walk away from plots of murder.
6.   Close your eyes rather than look at evil.

17 Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty;
they will see a land that stretches afar.
18 Your heart will muse on the terror:
“Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute?
Where is he who counted the towers?”
19 You will see no more the insolent people,
the people of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend,
stammering in a tongue that you cannot understand.
20 Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts!
Your eyes will see Jerusalem,
an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent,
whose stakes will never be plucked up,
nor will any of its cords be broken.
21 But there the Lord in majesty will be for us
a place of broad rivers and streams,
where no galley with oars can go,
nor majestic ship can pass.
22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver;
the Lord is our king; he will save us.

I33 judge

James 4:12   (NIV)

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

23 Your cords hang loose;
they cannot hold the mast firm in its place
or keep the sail spread out.
Then prey and spoil in abundance will be divided;
even the lame will take the prey.
24 And no inhabitant will say, “I am sick”;
the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.

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Music:

Verse 2 today prays to God, “Be gracious to us.”  Psalm 145:8 promises that “The Lord is gracious and compassionate.”  So we can rest in his steadfast love, his everlasting mercy, and his divine kindness.  Do not deprive yourself of the graciousness of the Lord!  Rest in God!  Click  HERE  to hear Bridget Moses’ “The Lord Is Gracious and Compassionate.”

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
verse 2 sunrise.   http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ha8aVh5Sm7c/UGYdM3ReOhI/AAAAAAAACGo/0xMR_EacO4E/s1600/isaiah332.png
Sennacherib besieges Judah.    http://biblestudyoutlines.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/sennacherib-besieged-judah.jpg
be good.    http://www.minimalwall.com/wp-content/uploads/minimal-desktop-wallpaper-be-good.png
verse 22 gavel.    http://www.calvarychapelprinceton.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/isaiah33_22.jpg