Isaiahs BurdensOne of the difficult parts when it comes to understanding the writings of the Prophets is their habit of speaking in two different times… their present and the future.  Many times they will interchange their visions – vacillating between events that will happen in just a few years to those that have yet to happen in our future.  Many books and teachings have been composed which seek to bring clarity and interpretation to these writings… an act still ongoing to this day.

Isaiah is relaying 10 visions he has seen regarding the future of 10 major cities of his day.  He records these through chapters 13-23 of his book… noting much calamity and destruction – some of which is almost too much for him to bear (Isaiah 21:2-4). Those 10 cities are:

     1. Babylon (ch. 13 & 21)

     2. Canaan (ch. 14)

     3. Moab (ch. 15-16)

     4. Damascus (ch. 17)

     5. Ethiopia (ch. 18 & 20)

     6. Egypt (ch. 19-20)

     7. Dumah (ch. 21)

     8. Arabia (ch. 21)

     9. Jerusalem (ch. 22)

     10. Tyre (ch. 23)

To get a good idea of the destruction Isaiah is seeing – lets look for a moment at his vision for Jerusalem as recorded in Isaiah 22.

Jerusalem is the city known as the “Valley of Vision” (vs 1).  Isaiah reveals that the citizens of Jerusalem are starting to panic due to reports of a coming invasion by a massive army.  This army is headed up by the Assyrians, and this situation is fully recorded for us in 2 Chron 32 et al.   Isaiah notes that they are gathering on their housetops (vs 1).  In Jerusalem the houses have flat roofs and the family would gather there in important times (much like we gather in the streets today).   On the housetops one could see with a better view… and witness the commotion of the massive army on their doorstep.

So great was the fear of the people of Jerusalem that they were cowering.  Their leaders were captured and destruction was imminent (vs 3).  Isaiah also sees the cities of Elam and Kir involved int he battle against Jerusalem (vs 6).  These are both cities in Persia/Medes and speak of them working with the Assyrians.  (200 years later the Persian/Medes would break from Assyrian control).  The valleys surrounding Jerusalem were “full of chariots” (vs 7) – truly a hopeless situation.

Isaiah next speaks of the efforts by the Jews to protect themselves – from weighing their military (vs 8), to securing the city water supply (vs 9-11), to tearing down houses to use the material to reinforce the walls (vs 10).  Yet, they failed to turn to the Lord for His protection through fasting and prayer (vs 11-12).  Instead, the people of Jerusalem held parties and indulged in pleasure, viewing their lives as over (vs 13).  The Lord has Isaiah specifically call out the Treasurer of Jerusalem – Shebna – who was building a tomb for himself among the rocky heights (as the rich people do).  Isaiah tells him that he will not be buried in that fancy tomb – but instead will die in a foreign land due to being taken into captivity (vs 15-19).  In his place, God will set Eliakim as ruler in Jerusalem (This was fulfilled in 2 Chr 36:4).

As in many of the visions seen by Isaiah – these predictions would come to pass only a few short years later.  God had sent the Prophets to His people to warn them – to turn back to Him in repentance.  Unfortunately, as we have seen, most of the time they ignored the warnings and looked tot heir own defense.  As you read through these prophetic declarations of doom – join me in determining to heed from histories examples, humble ourselves before the Lord, and place Him first in our lives!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,