Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 56

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 56

We begin Chapter 22 today and it involves a prophecy against Jerusalem. Up til now Isaiah has been warning the people not to trust in the pagan nations around them for help. But now he pronounces woes against his own people. This is a prophecy given prior to Sennacherib of Assyria sending his field commander with an army detachment to threaten siege upon Jerusalem, which took place during Isaiah's ministry when King Hezekiah reigned. 

"A prophecy against the Valley of Vision: What troubles you now, that you have all gone up on the roofs, you town so full of commotion, you city of tumult and revelry?" (Isaiah 22:1-2a) Jerusalem is called the Valley of Vision because it was the religious capitol of Judah, with the temple in its midst, with the priests and prophets. It was a Valley of Vision because the word of God went out from it. Also, it was built on a hill but surrounded by higher hills, therefore Isaiah refers to it as a valley.

Houses in Biblical times were built with flat roofs, which made a handy vantage point for viewing things from a distance. We know from our study of the kings that Sennacherib's field commander stood outside the gates of Jerusalem and shouted insults against their king and their God. He predicted people would become so hungry and thirsty during his siege that they would have to eat and drink their own bodily wastes. Hezekiah's officials were upset that the people of the town could hear these awful words, for many peered down from the tops of the walls. It's likely during this time that other citizens went up on their housetops to view the troops and hear the field commander's words.

Some had fled the city when they saw the troops approaching, believing disaster was imminent. "Your slain were not killed by the sword, nor did they die in battle. All your leaders have fled together; they have been captured without using the bow. All you who were caught were taken prisoner together, having fled while the enemy was still far away." (Isaiah 22:2b-3) Some commentators feel Chapter 22 describes the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon, although Isaiah will mention Shebna who was one of the men who went outside the walls to speak to the Assyrian field commander. This could be a twofold prophecy because when Babylon lays siege later, King Zedekiah and his bodyguard of soldiers will fee through a hole in the wall but be captured. 

Isaiah foresees these troubling events and his heart cries for the people. "Therefore I said, 'Turn away from me; let me weep bitterly. Do not try to console me over the destruction of my people.'" (Isaiah 22:4) I picture Isaiah standing before the people, obediently delivering this bad news from the Lord and being overcome with grief. He turns his back and covers his face, needing time to get his emotions under control. The people attempt to murmur comforting words to him but he refuses to be consoled because some things need to be wept over. Unrepentant hearts and the consequences of sin need to be wept over. We should refuse to be consoled when thinking about our lost family members and friends. Feeling grieved about their waywardness is what will keep us in prayer on their behalf. It will cause us to pray every day that they would come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. 

On the day known as Palm Sunday or The Triumphal Entry, the Lord Jesus sat on a donkey on a hill overlooking Jerusalem and wept. He sat on his borrowed donkey in the same spot the Roman general Titus would sit on his warhorse about forty years later to plan how best to lay siege to Jerusalem during the Jewish uprising against Rome. Jesus looked down on the city, on its temple, on its people, and He wept bitterly and could not be consoled, for He saw the coming destruction. He saw the thirst and starvation of siege conditions. He saw the walls broken down and the temple burned. He saw the slaughter of many citizens and also the taking of many citizens captive to Rome. Looking four decades into the future, Jesus wept and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace---but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." (Luke 19:42-44)

If our hearts aren't broken at the thought of those who don't know the Lord Jesus, we need to pray for our hearts to be broken. We need to pray for a heart like that of Jesus, for a heart like that of Isaiah, so we can weep for those who are continuing down the wrong path and who, if they do not repent, will someday reap the consequences of their actions. The heart of God the Father weeps bitterly for those who live in rebellion to Him. He cannot be consoled because He looks down through time and sees the outcome. God is holy and righteous, therefore He must judge sin. But I believe His heart breaks when He passes sentence. I believe He feels as Isaiah feels in today's passage, like turning His face away and weeping.

Our worship song link is below and it talks about the mercy we receive in Christ.

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