Isaiah 2022 • Sermon • Submitted • Presented • 38:59
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Good evening church ,open your Bibles with me to Isaiah chapter 17. As you do, just a reminder that the prophet Isaiah in this section is in the middle of prophesying about area nations, much of his prophecy has both a near and a far fulfillment, to them, some being yet future. Also it is important to note a couple of things about these prophecy's specifically, and that is that they are not all in chronological order. So if you try to carefully align this prophecy with the historical record we have in 2 Kings 15-21 and in 2 Chronically 26-33, you might find something written in the prophecy that sounds like a timeline when we are reading it, and then find that something happened 30 years prior to the event that is listed before it.
It is also important to remember that Isaiah didn’t just sit and write his prophecy in a long weekend, his ministry lasted about 20 years and this was written over much of that time and then consolidated into this volume. I think that also answers some of the critics that claim that there was more than one author because of changes in the writing styles, well, my writing style has changed significantly over the past 20 years, how about you?
Most of his ministry or prophecy was to Judah or the southern kingdom of Israel, although he does write concerning both. He was a contemporary of the prophets Hosea and Micah. For those of you that like timelines, Isreal had been in the promised land for about 700 years at the time this was written. The first 400 years of that they were ruled a judges, military leaders, some spiritual leaders, just different people that God rose up to lead them as a people.
The nations around them had kings, and Israel saw this and they wanted a king. There first King was Saul, followed by David, and then Solomon. The reign of these three kings lasted about 120 years, but then with the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam took over and Isreal had a civil war in 917 b.c. that divided the 12 tribes of Israel.
Of the 10 tribes to the North, Ephraim was the largest, and they were often referred to as Ephraim. The two southern tribes were known as Judah. I mentioned that much of the prophecy that we read the past two weeks Assyria was a dominating power, but the prophecies concerned Babylon who had not yet risen to power.
When Isaiah came on the scene, the nation was already divided. He prophesied to the northern kingdom, until they fell to Assyria in 722 B.C. and then his prophecy was directed solely to Judah. At that point that point, I think the northern kingdom had burned through 18 kings, all of them were bad and did evil in the sight of the Lord, the southern kingdom had less, and some were good and some were bad.
But the nation as a whole was not only divided, but they were in constant conflict with Assyria, Egypt, and eventually Babylon. Now tonight, we start in an interesting place. In chapter 17 we read of an odd alliance. Isaiah 17:1-3
1 The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap. 2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken; They will be for flocks Which lie down, and no one will make them afraid. 3 The fortress also will cease from Ephraim, The kingdom from Damascus, And the remnant of Syria; They will be as the glory of the children of Israel,” Says the Lord of hosts.
Damascus was the capital of what? Not was, Damascus is the capital of what? Syria here at the time of this prophecy, Ephraim (northern Isreal) and Damascus (Syria) had formed an alliance against Judah. And God announces judgement on both. What is interesting is that today, Israel and Syria are in constant conflict, Iran has sidded with Syria, actually one side of Syria as they are in their own civil war.
Are you guys familiar with the Golan Heights? That is the primary land mass that Isreal and Syria both hold claim to and are still fighting over. It doesn’t just divide them, the world is divided over it. In March 2019, then-President of the United States Donald Trump proclaimed the recognition by the United States of the Golan Heights as part of the State of Israel, making the United States the first country to recognize the sovereignty of Israeli rather than Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The 28 member states of the European Union declared in turn that they do not recognize Israeli sovereignty. Continue to watch that area in the future, it is significant. Verse 4 Isaiah 17:4-6
4 “In that day it shall come to pass That the glory of Jacob will wane, And the fatness of his flesh grow lean. 5 It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain, And reaps the heads with his arm; It shall be as he who gathers heads of grain In the Valley of Rephaim. 6 Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it, Like the shaking of an olive tree, Two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough, Four or five in its most fruitful branches,” Says the Lord God of Israel.
Verses 4-6 explain to us what he was talking about in verse 3.. Damascus was destroyed by the Assyrians it has been rebuilt, some thought this was going to be fulfilled back in 2012 during the battle of Damascus as part of the Syrian civil war… the far fulfillment has not yet happened as it is still a city. I personally think that will occur at the beginning of the Millennial reign of Christ. Isa 17:7-9
7 In that day a man will look to his Maker, And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel. 8 He will not look to the altars, The work of his hands; He will not respect what his fingers have made, Nor the wooden images nor the incense altars. 9 In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough And an uppermost branch, Which they left because of the children of Israel; And there will be desolation.
10 Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, Therefore you will plant pleasant plants And set out foreign seedlings; 11 In the day you will make your plant to grow, And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; But the harvest will be a heap of ruins In the day of grief and desperate sorrow.
Part of their judgement was that their work would not produce any fruit. And then in the next few verses, we see that the nations that God uses to pour out judgement on Syria and Ephraim also have a price to pay. Isa 17:11-14
11 In the day you will make your plant to grow, And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; But the harvest will be a heap of ruins In the day of grief and desperate sorrow. 12 Woe to the multitude of many people Who make a noise like the roar of the seas, And to the rushing of nations That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! 13 The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. 14 Then behold, at eventide, trouble! And before the morning, he is no more. This is the portion of those who plunder us, And the lot of those who rob us.
In chapter 18 the prophecy begins speaking about Ethiopia. Isa 18:1-2
1 Woe to the land shadowed with buzzing wings, Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, 2 Which sends ambassadors by sea, Even in vessels of reed on the waters, saying, “Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth of skin, To a people terrible from their beginning onward, A nation powerful and treading down, Whose land the rivers divide.”
A couple of things that we need to look at here. If you look back when all these judgments begin to be pronounced on these different areas, if you look at chapter 13:1 it starts the burden against Babylon, chapter 15:1 begins the burden against Moab, the last chapter 17 began the burden against Damascus. This is not a harsh burden pronounced against them, but more of a rejection of an offer.
When we think of Ethiopia today, world power does not come to mind, yet when this was written Ethiopia included the areas of Somalia, the Sudan, and at times they actually ruled over Egypt, the Bible sometimes refers to that larger area as Cush. So what is going on here is that northern Isreal had formed that alliance with Syria, against the approaching Assyrians.
In the south you had this huge power of the Ethiopians, saying to Judah, forget the Syrians, side with us. This morning hearing of the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, it reminded be of the days of the cold war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. And there were all these smaller nations and land in between that were forced to make a choice, to choose a side. Ethiopia was basically offering an alliance here and God said no, not necessary. He’s not rebuking them, He’s just rejecting the offer as not necessary as He wants Judah to place their trust in Him, not in other nations. Isa 18:3-6
3 All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth: When he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it; And when he blows a trumpet, you hear it. 4 For so the Lord said to me, “I will take My rest, And I will look from My dwelling place Like clear heat in sunshine, Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” 5 For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect And the sour grape is ripening in the flower, He will both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks And take away and cut down the branches. 6 They will be left together for the mountain birds of prey And for the beasts of the earth; The birds of prey will summer on them, And all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.
Sounds like a lot of carnage. I think this is a pretty good description of what we read about in 2 Kings 19, when Isaiah tells King Hezekiah to not fear the coming Assyrians. But Hezekiah had heard of the cruelty of the Assyrians, so he prayed to God asking for help…and God responded to that prayer 2 Kings 19:32-35
32 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: ‘He shall not come into this city, Nor shoot an arrow there, Nor come before it with shield, Nor build a siege mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, By the same shall he return; And he shall not come into this city,’ Says the Lord. 34 ‘For I will defend this city, to save it For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’ ” 35 And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.
That sounds like a pile that the mountain bird could prey on all summer and the beasts of the earth could winter on. Verse 7 in chapter 18 Isaiah 18:7
7 In that time a present will be brought to the Lord of hosts From a people tall and smooth of skin, And from a people terrible from their beginning onward, A nation powerful and treading down, Whose land the rivers divide— To the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, To Mount Zion.
This speaks of a time when the Ethiopians will come and worship in Jerusalem. I think blessing on a nation rather than a burden. Not an alliance against the Assyrians, but something even better. People from Ethiopia bringing gifts or a present to the Lord of hosts…some think that the resins used to make the frankincense and myrrh, was extracted from trees in Ethiopia.
Certainly, the Ethiopian eunuch that was baptised by Philip had been in Jerusalem to worship the Lord, and the church was strong in the first few centuries after the resurrection of Christ and still exists today.
Chapter 19 begins with a burden pronounced against Egypt, remember the Jews were in bondage in Egypt prior to coming into the promised land, and then historically had a mixed relationship with them. Like I said, when controlled by Ethiopia at times there was a willingness to form an alliance, at times they offered a place of refuge and at others they were enemies. So what we have here in chapter 19 is a prophecy against Egypt and for Egypt, let’s take a look.
1 The burden against Egypt. Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud, And will come into Egypt; The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst. 2 “I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; Everyone will fight against his brother, And everyone against his neighbor, City against city, kingdom against kingdom. 3 The spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst; I will destroy their counsel, And they will consult the idols and the charmers, The mediums and the sorcerers. 4 And the Egyptians I will give Into the hand of a cruel master, And a fierce king will rule over them,” Says the Lord, the Lord of hosts.
The burden is pronounced against Egypt and He says He will destroy their counsel, they will get bad advice and their sources of good advice is going to dry up, so they will turn to their idols…and Egypt probably had more idols and false gods at this point that any other. In fact when you look at the plagues that were pronounced against them, the frogs, the plague on the livestock, the plague of darkness all of these things and the rest were all based upon their idols that they had embraced.
So God says He will destroy their counsel and give them cruel leaders. This is a way that we commonly see judgement poured out on nations even today. As a near fulfillment of this burden, Egypt was divided and went through a period of civil war.
By the way, personal application for us Christians… this point of God causing the idol of Egypt to totter (to shake) at His presence applies to us as well. If you set up an idol in your life, be prepared for God to knock it down....there is more judgement for Egypt.
5 The waters will fail from the sea, And the river will be wasted and dried up. 6 The rivers will turn foul; The brooks of defense will be emptied and dried up; The reeds and rushes will wither. 7 The papyrus reeds by the River, by the mouth of the River, And everything sown by the River, Will wither, be driven away, and be no more.
8 The fishermen also will mourn; All those will lament who cast hooks into the River, And they will languish who spread nets on the waters. 9 Moreover those who work in fine flax And those who weave fine fabric will be ashamed; 10 And its foundations will be broken. All who make wages will be troubled of soul.
Some say this was fulfilled at least partially with the building of the Aswan High Dam, rock-fill dam across the Nile River at Aswān, Egypt, completed in 1970 the idea was to stop the flooding. Sardines gone and still down 50% in the Mediterranean. Isa 19:11-12
11 Surely the princes of Zoan are fools; Pharaoh’s wise counselors give foolish counsel. How do you say to Pharaoh, “I am the son of the wise, The son of ancient kings?” 12 Where are they? Where are your wise men? Let them tell you now, And let them know what the Lord of hosts has purposed against Egypt.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…Isa 19:13-15
13 The princes of Zoan have become fools; The princes of Noph are deceived; They have also deluded Egypt, Those who are the mainstay of its tribes. 14 The Lord has mingled a perverse spirit in her midst; And they have caused Egypt to err in all her work, As a drunken man staggers in his vomit. 15 Neither will there be any work for Egypt, Which the head or tail, Palm branch or bulrush, may do.
This is all the pronouncement of burden because they have rejected God. Isa 19:16-17
16 In that day Egypt will be like women, and will be afraid and fear because of the waving of the hand of the Lord of hosts, which He waves over it. 17 And the land of Judah will be a terror to Egypt; everyone who makes mention of it will be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts which He has determined against it.
Think of how radical this is. It’s the equivalent of saying Sweden or Canada is going to be a terror to the U.S. Although, it is true today that a war between Israel and Egypt would not end well for Egypt, but I think there is more to come regarding this again in the Millennial reign of Christ.
But look what is to come, this is the prophecy for Egypt! Isa 19:18-20
18 In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the Lord of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction. 19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. 20 And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.
21 Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. 22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.
God is pronouncing revival in Egypt. Today there is terrible persecution of Christians in Egypt. Murdered by Muslims, but there will be a day when this will be fulfilled when a mighty Savior will deliver them. I think the ultimate fulfillment is in the Millennium that as a result of judgement upon them, many will turn to the Lord. Unfortunately, it takes severe judgement to bring them to this point. My question when I read this is what is it going to take to have revival in America?
23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. 24 In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, 25 whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”