Monday, April 5, 2010

Isaiah 13-23: Judgments Against Other Nations

Okay, I know this is a huge chunk of chapters, but I'm going to catch up to where I've read today (although I'm a little behind in my reading).  Basically, I'm lumping these chapters together because they all have something in common: they are (mostly) not about Israel and Judah.  These are prophecies about the falls of other nations.

The first one to be named is Babylon. Basically it says that God is going to use Babylon to carry out his judgment against Judah, but then it says that God will judge the whole earth.  Isaiah mentions something that becomes a common theme in prophetic books: the day of the LORD.  It's the day when God will judge the earth once and for all, and it will be so terrifying that even the sun, the moon, and the stars will not shine.  Then going back to Babylon, Isaiah says next that Babylon will fall to the Medes.  I wonder what the state of the Mede empire was at this time.  They're from Persia, I think.  And Isaiah talks about Israel, once it's been restored, taunting Babylon once it's been conquered

This is where there's that famous line where it calls Babylon "star of the morning" and "son of the dawn."  In Hebrew, those nicknames are pronounced Lucifer.  I'm not sure when the idea that Lucifer was Satan, the devil, first came about, but this is one of the two passages of Scripture that mention this name (the other uses it to describe the king of Tyre).  Scripture never actually says that Lucifer = Satan, so this passage may or may not be referring to him.  I just wanted to point that out.

Next there's a quick judgment against Assyria and one against Philistia.  Following this is a longer judgment against Moab and another long one about Damascus, which was in Aram.  Basically, they're all going down.  Then there's a prophecy about Ethiopia, but I don't really get it.  I'm not sure whether it's saying that bad things are going to happen to them or not, but it seems to say that the Ethiopians will serve God.  And you know, Ethiopia was one of the first Christian nations.

Then Isaiah talks about Egypt, and it's basically the same story - they'll be conquered by somebody else, all the proud people will be humiliated, the land will be desecrated, etc., but it says that the affliction will make Egypt return to God, and then God will heal them.  In fact, he talks about Egypt almost the same way that he talks about Israel: it says God will send a Savior to deliver them, that God will make himself known to Egypt and they will know him, they will worship Him, etc.  I know that Egypt was a Christian nation for a time, before it became Muslim.

There's a short break here - God tells Isaiah to go around naked and barefoot for three years, to serve as a sign against Egypt and Cush (Ethiopia) because they will be taken captive by Assyria.  I find all this really interesting, actually.  Did these other nations hear Isaiah's prophecies about them?  Did he travel to them or send messages so they would know what was going on?  God sent the prophet Jonah to Ninevah; I wonder if he sent other prophets to other nations, especially since it seems he is very concerned with them.

Then he talks again about Babylon falling, and then there's a really short one about Edom, but I don't know what it means.  It's just somebody asking "Watchman, how far gone is the night?" and the watchman replying "morning comes but also night. If you would inquire, inquire; come back again."  I don't really know what that means.  Any ideas?  And then another short one about Arabia, and I don't so much get that one either.  I think it's saying that Arabia will lose its splendor and suffer some kind of loss.

Then there's a prophecy about something called "the valley of vision."  I don't know where that is, but they are going to be in mourning and suffering, but then God will set up somebody named Eliakim and put him over Judah, so I guess the valley of vision is something to do with Judah or Jerusalem.  But he's going to fall too.

Finally there's a judgment against Tyre.  I'm not sure where Tarshish is in relation to Tyre, but it's mentioned a lot too.  Like all the other places, it's going to be destroyed, but only for 70 years.  Then it will rise again and be just as bad as it was before.

So from reading this passage, I learned that I don't know very much about what's happening here.  I know a pretty good amount about Israel, but when it comes to all these other places, I don't have a clue.  I don't know if these prophecies came true or if we're still waiting for at least some of them.  I always thought I knew a lot about the Bible, but I've found an area where I need more study.


Anonymous said...

I have a few ideas.

Babylon is more or less Iraq now, and as we know, Israel has humiliated Iraq more than once. Just an idea, though I could be wrong.

Tarshish and Tyre are linked together, I think, because Tarshish was a colony of Tyre. (The Phoenicians were great traders- the Japanese of the ancient world).

Egypt was a Cristian nation, but remember also that Egypt and Israel are now (at least in theory) at peace with each other, and we know that whoever blesses Israel will be blessed.

I hope that helps.


Zoe said...

Thanks Michal, that does give me some more information.