Monday, April 19, 2010

Isaiah 32-39: More Prophecies and a History Lesson

Okay, so I'm behind again, but only a little.  The great thing about Isaiah is I can lump a lot of chapters together pretty easily because it's a lot of words about a few key ideas.

And the first key idea in this passage is what the heading in my Bible calls "The Glorious Future."  As before, this is describing a time in the future when there will be a righteous king and basically the world will be the way it should be - people will listen to the truth, understand what's right, and cheaters really won't prosper, and that sort of thing.  But then he switches gears again and talks about trouble that is coming, and it seems to me that this time he gives a deadline: about one year from when he is speaking is when things are really going to go downhill and Jerusalem will be abandoned.  But then it says that the Spirit will be poured out on us, and everything will become good again.

So then Isaiah talks more about the judgment that's to come, and how basically the instruments of judgment will be judged themselves because they aren't righteous either.  And then he describes the God who is doing all this, how God is going to be exalted in all this, how He is the source of security, and how those who live according to His laws are the ones who will be able to stand the judgment because God will save them.

Then it talks about a more universal judgment (I think the last chapter was talking about Judah specifically) and how God is going to judge all the nations for their wickedness and the whole earth - the whole of creation - will be affected by it, even to the mountains and the sky.  I think this is describing the Day of the Lord - the final day of judgment - but Isaiah specifically mentions Edom in this particular chapter and says that it's going to be completely uninhabitable for men and that only wild animals will live there.

And once again, there's a full-circle effect when Isaiah talks again about a future time of peace and prosperity for Judah.  This has another favorite verse of mine, verse 4, which says: "Say to those with anxious heart, 'Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.'"  There's a song based on this verse that we sang in church when I was little, and I really liked it.  In my Bible, whenever I read a line that I know from a song, I put a little music note mark next to it.  It's so neat to see where the songs I know from church originated.

Then there's a history lesson, and I think it's almost word-for-word from 2 Kings.  It's the story about Sennacherib invading Judah during the reign of Hezekiah, and how the army commander taunts the people, but they don't say anything back, and how Hezekiah prays and asks God to deliver them, and He does.  What I didn't mention last time was that Isaiah was involved in this story.  See, when Hezekiah hears what's happening, he sends for Isaiah and asks him to pray for the people who are left in Jerusalem.  Isaiah tells them not to be afraid of Sennacherib or of Rabshakeh (that's the name of the army commander, I think it's funny) because God will make them leave and Sennacherib will die in his own land.  That's basically all Isaiah says, and it happens just as he predicted.  We see Hezekiah's prayer again and God's response and the aftermath, how Sennacherib departed from Judah and was later killed by his own sons while worshiping a false god at home.  Kind of ironic, isn't it?  Sennacherib's commander bragged on and on about the powerlessness of all these other nations' gods and the might of Sennacherib.  Well, in the end, neither Sennacherib's own might nor his own god were able to save his life.

Then we have the story of Hezekiah's sickness again, and it's the same story again except for this time there's a poem that Hezekiah writes after his recovery about being sick and God healing him.  And finally, the story that makes me cringe, about the king of Babylon paying a courtesy visit to Hezekiah and Hezekiah showing him all the valuable stuff that the king of Babylon thinks would look great in his own house.  And of course, since we've already read Kings, we know exactly what's going to happen.  But in case we didn't, Isaiah tells us.

So what I think is cool about this passage is that after a bunch of prophecies about what's going to happen someday, we see a story about some of Isaiah's prophecies coming true.  So we know he's not just making all this up, and I think this story is to sort of silence the nay-sayers.

This was probably my shortest entry in a while, but I am saving the next passage for next time, because it's one of my favorites.

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