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22nd April

Isaiah 13-17; Psalm 112

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
22nd April

Isaiah 13-17; Psalm 112

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Isaiah, we’ve read through the first section, focused on the judgement upon Jerusalem and Israel, and then their future hope. The book is as a collection of preaches and visions from the prophet Isaiah, a prophet under kings Ahaz and Hezekiah before the exile. They had been collected together, edited, and repurposed by his later disciples. His disciples were writing after the exile, gathering Isaiah’s teachings and building a picture of a new hope for those returning to the land.

Through these different preaches and visions, we gathered a series of images. We saw Isaiah in God's courtroom, purified to be in God's presence and then commissioned to be a warning to the people that they will ultimately ignore. God was about to pour judgement on the Israelites for their wickedness and corruption. We got an image of a vineyard that's been carefully tended and looked after that refused to produce good grapes and so is scrapped. God described Israel as like that vineyard, who will be judged and torn apart.

In the midst of this we read about Ahaz, who was hearing about threats of foreign nations, and Isaiah telling him that in the time it takes a woman to get married, give birth, and for that child to reach about 7, those nations will be made powerless. The Israelites were not to turn to foreign powers for protection. They were to trust in God. We read as Assyria was named as the nation that would destroy the northern kingdom of Israel. Isaiah pointed out that Assyria too would become boastful and wicked and so God would bring judgement on them as well.

But after the judgement and destruction of God's people, there will be a remnant. Like a tree cut down, there will be a stump left. And from that stump will come a branch that will grow again and bear fruit. God will cleanse this remnant of his people to make them a holy city and nation before him. Out of the remnant of his people, the tree stump, God would raise up a branch from the line of David, who would be king who reigned over the earth and brought peace. Isaiah mentioned a future son who would be born and who would come after the period of judgment. He would be king over, God's people, bring peace to the world, and restore all nations under his rule. 

Isaiah 13-17

Yesterday we finished the section of Isaiah focused on the judgement and future hope of Jerusalem. For this next section of the book, Isaiah switches his focus to the foreign nations, and their judgement and future hope.

The first nation he focuses on is Babylon. Isaiah talks about a future 'day of the Lord' when judgement will be poured out. The armies of the Lord will come and destroy everything. The purpose of this destruction is clear; to destroy sinners, to punish the evil and the wicked.

And it will be in this time that God restores his people, the people of Israel. God then inspires his people to mock Babylon with a poem. This poem isn't specific to Babylon and its king. Instead, it is aimed at anyone who chooses pride and to oppress others.

Within this poem, we get a section dedicated to the king of Babylon. The kings of Babylon were famous for their pride, and would often claim because of the great power of their empire, they were like gods. As they conquered nation after nation, they would then say this was evidence that they were greater than the gods of that nation.

The point of this poem is to mock this king that once held himself so highly but has now been made low. It is saying, “you thought you were so great. You put yourself above God and his spiritual beings”.

But the reality is you have been humiliated and shamed. You are now nothing, and people will look at you and be disgusted that such a great king has become so insignificant. Then there is the ultimate shame that he will not be buried, but his body will be left out and trampled under feet. This is God speaking out what will happen to the king of Babylon.

But what's interesting is there is a lot of imagery here that is meant to make you look at this passage through a spiritual lens to. Stars were often associated with spiritual beings, and the king is referred to the 'Day Star' that is trying to set himself 'above the stars of God' (Isaiah 14:13).

In the same verse, he is trying to set himself above the mount of the assembly. The assembly was another name for God's council of spiritual beings that he led with. We saw these in 1 Kings 22, when God asking his council how they thought they should get rid of king Ahab.

So while this poem is focused on the king of Babylon, it is also aimed at a spiritual being; one whose pride made them see themselves greater than God, who seeks to oppress the world, and will one day be cast out of heaven down to earth.

This is the first real hint we have read about yet on a Satan-like figure. Yes, there was the serpent in Genesis 3, but we weren't told much about him. The Old Testament is pretty quiet on Satan, and we often only get brief reference or allusions to him, so it's useful to point them out when we do.

Isaiah then mentions judgements for Assyria and Philistia (the home of the Philistines). These will face a similar fate to Babylon. The next nation Isaiah focuses on is Moab, which he gives a bit more time to.

Isaiah first focuses on weeping and sorrow for what will happen to Moab. This may seem strange. Why would God want to express sorrow for a nation he will destroy? Well, the reason is that it could easily be avoided. Isaiah calls to Moab and encourages them to send gifts, a lamb, to the future leader of Zion. Remember, this is all prophecy of what is to come.

He then encourages them to ask for help, to plead with Zion to grant them justice and to protect their outcasts. To recognise with Israel that one day the throne of the line of David will one day be firmly established for all to see. But ultimately, the Moabites are a proud people, and will never come to the Israelites for help. And so God weeps because their pride has brought their destruction on themselves.

Finally, Isiah focuses on Damascus (a city in Assyria), and he lumps Damascus and Ephraim (northern tribe of Israel) together. Isaiah is speaking to the southern kingdom of Judah, and it is possible that this was a message for king Ahaz to not trust the Assyrians but to trust in God instead.

In 2 Kings 16, we read how the southern tribe of Judah was being attacked by the northern tribe of Israel, and king Ahaz turned to the Assyrians for help. Isaiah is encouraging Ahaz that God will bring low both the northern kingdom of Israel and Assyria. He will make them infertile, not producing much of worth at all. So rather than being afraid of mere humans, or turning to mere humans for help, Ahaz should look to God for his strength.

Psalm 112

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone and falls into the category of praise psalm. It can also be described as a wisdom psalm, as it contrasts the experience of those who fear the Lord with the experience of the wicked.

It pairs well with Psalm 111. Psalm 111 was a list of the Lord’s characteristics and great deeds. Psalm 112 is a list of the blessings those who fear the Lord get to experience.

Psalm 112:1 - A call to praise the Lord

Psalm 112:2-9 - The blessings of those who fear him

Psalm 112:10 - The experience of the wicked

The psalmist starts with a call to praise the Lord, particularly those who fear him. They will be happy and delight in his commandments. The psalmist then lists out the benefits of those who fear the Lord.

Their descendants will be established in the land and be blessed. They will become wealthy and strong, built upon a righteousness that endure forever (see Psalm 111:3). The people will be like a light in the darkness, gracious and merciful (see Psalm 111:4).

They are generous and deal justly with others, and because of the righteousness they will be remembered long after they are gone. They do not need to fear evil because they are firm in the Lord. Instead, they will see victory over their enemies.

Those that fear the Lord distribute their wealthy freely, helping the poor and the needy. In contrast, the wicked see all this and hate it. But try as they might to get their way, they will ultimately fade to nothing.

Not only does this psalm list out the reasons that godly people have to praise the Lord, it also shows how godly people emulate the Lord. Just as we saw God’s work in Psalm 111, we see the people who experience his blessing doing similar works in Psalm 112.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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