|Passage: Isaiah 18-22|
On Saturday, August 10, 2013 (Last Updated on 8/10/2015), Yujin wrote,
In Isaiah 22:5 there is mentioned "the valley of vision". What was it? Commentators are all agreed that the reference is to Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 22:9-10; Jeremiah 21:13). Even though Jerusalem itself is a mountain, it is surrounded by higher mountains, so that it can be relatively seen as a valley. It is also called a valley of vision because it was the primary place from which God's prophets declared their visions from the LORD.
This reference to "the valley of vision" inspired the title to a book by Arthur G. Bennett, a collection of Puritan prayers that span a wide range of themes. It is an incredible book, not only of prayers, but also of theological truth. Sadly, today's prayers pale in comparison to the depth of prayers these Puritans prayed. It would do well for us to read and perhaps even mimic the words of these early Puritans in their prayers and so recapture some of which was lost by our very narcissistic generation. Here's an example of a prayer from the book:
Lord God Almighty,
I ask not to be enrolled amongst the earthly
great and rich,
but to be numbered with the spiritually blessed.
Make it my present, supreme, persevering concern
to obtain those blessings which are
spiritual in their nature,
eternal in their continuance,
satisfying in their possession.
Preserve me from a false estimate of the whole
or a part of my character;
May I pay regard to
my principles as well as my conduct,
my motives as well as my actions.
never to mistake the excitement of my passions
for the renewing of the Holy Spirit,
never to judge my religion by occasional
impressions and impulses, but by my
constant and prevailing disposition.
May my heart be right with thee,
and my life as becometh the gospel.
May I maintain a supreme regard to another
and better world,
and feel and confess myself a stranger
and a pilgrim here.
Afford me all the direction, defence, support,
and consolation my journey hence requires,
and grant me a mind stayed upon thee.
Give me large abundance of the supply of
the Spirit of Jesus,
that I may be prepared for every duty,
love thee in all my mercies,
submit to thee in every trial,
trust thee when walking in darkness,
have peace in thee amidst life’s changes.
Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief
|Passage: Isaiah 18-22|
On Friday, August 10, 2012 (Last Updated on 8/10/2013), Yujin wrote,
Oh, what a day of crushing defeat! What a day of confusion and terror brought by the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, upon the Valley of Vision! The walls of Jerusalem have been broken, and cries of death echo from the mountainsides. You inspect the breaks in the walls of Jerusalem. You store up water in the lower pool. You survey the houses and tear some down for stone to strengthen the walls. Between the city walls, you build a reservoir for water from the old pool. But you never ask for help from the One who did all this. You never considered the One who planned this long ago. At that time the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, called you to weep and mourn. He told you to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins and to wear clothes of burlap to show your remorse. But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep. You feast on meat and drink wine. You say, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has revealed this to me: “Till the day you die, you will never be forgiven for this sin.” That is the judgment of the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. (Isaiah 22:5, 9-14 NLT)
Fatalism is the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. There are normally two responses to such a belief. One is apathy, and the other is hedonistic excess. I see Judah doing the latter in Isaiah 22. God is judging Judah in light of her injustices, immorality, and idolatries. They are suffering from famine, plague and war in keeping with the curses for disobeying the Law.
But instead of addressing the cause, they do all they can to bandage the symptoms. They try to conserve water and strengthen the walls, even to extend life a bit longer. At the same time, they dance, play, feast on meat and drink wine, thinking, since death is inevitable, we might as well live it up until we die.
But God says to them, "But you never ask for help from the One who did all this..." Judah does not turn back to God. Now, they just try to take matters into their own hands. They do not repent as they did in times past. They just bide their time in revelry. They ignore God's call to weep and mourn in sorrow for their sins. In light of this response, God issues an even harsher decree: "You will never be forgiven for this sin."
Friends, do you find yourselves struggling with sin, frustrated in your pursuit of holiness, unable to discover the peace of God in your frantic life? Sometimes, you can read Scripture and just assume what will be will be. You might be tired and weary of trying to live and do right. Don't let fatalistic thinking infect your heart. If you are struggling with sin, repent once again, even if it is your thousandth time, for the Lord's mercies are unfailing. They are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). If you are frustrated, don't give up, for although we cannot always see immediate results, the Lord assures us that our efforts will not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). And if you have no peace, give your troubling thoughts to God in prayer, for He promises to give us His peace in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
It is easiest just to give in and give up, but don't you do it. Persevere, dear brother. Persevere, dear sister. Whether we are given a moment longer to live or many years, let us humble ourselves before the Lord and embrace God's call to be faithful on a day by day basis. Remember, we must not trust in our own strength but on His strength, which will never fail us.
|Passage: Isaiah 18-22|
On Wednesday, August 10, 2011 (Last Updated on 8/10/2012), Yujin wrote,
740 B.C. the Ethiopian Piankhy (also known as Piye) took over Egypt from the previous Libyan rulers. He along with his successor Shabako (715– 702) brought a new energy to Egyptian affairs. Most likely both of them attempted to cement alliances with various surrounding countries in order to counter the Assyrian threat posed by both Sargon and Sennacherib. We can imagine the stir made in Jerusalem by the tall, regal-looking Ethiopian envoys, who came up the Mediterranean coast in their strange “papyrus” craft (18:2). But Isaiah says that envoys should instead go to Ethiopia to tell them to beware of the true Ruler of the world. It is his battle flag and his war trumpet for which they should be on the alert (18:3).
A Message from God
(18:4–7) COMPARED TO THE marching of armies and the comings and goings of ambassadors, God’s activity often seems unnoticeable. But in a masterful way the prophet reminds his hearers that just because something does not draw much attention to itself does not mean it is powerless. He uses two comparisons to make his point: the sun and the dew (18:4). Neither comes with fanfare or pageantry; they are simply present and inescapable. So is God. And in his harvest he will cut down the enemy nations like unproductive branches on a vine
(18:5–6). He is the reality, not they. This means that instead of the Judeans giving the Ethiopians a large sum of money for their help, the Judeans should remember that the day will come when the Ethiopians will be giving gifts to the God of Jerusalem (18:7; cf. 2:1–3; 60:10–14).
This passage is in keeping with the larger message on trusting the LORD rather than the nations. After all, the nations are instruments in the hands of God. Trust the Creator and not the creature. As the Proverbs also teach,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
Remember, the LORD has already demonstrated His power, as His Word and all of creation bear witness (Psalm 19). The reality of His power is as certain as the sun and dew (Isaiah 18:4). Rather than look for some flashy display of power or some miraculous manifestation, let us seek daily to trust and obey His Word.