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24th April

Isaiah 23-27; Psalm 114

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
24th April

Isaiah 23-27; Psalm 114

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Isaiah, we’ve read through the section focused on the judgement and future hope of Jerusalem, and have started on the section focused on the judgement and future hope of the nations.

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. This punishment was described like God laying an axe to a tree and just a stump remaining. It was destruction intended to purge and purify.

Out of the remnant of his people, this 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.

Focusing on the foreign nations, we got mention of a 'day of the Lord'. On this day, God will bring judgement, waging war on evil and wickedness. He will destroy powers that set themselves up against him, whether they be human kings or spiritual beings. These foreign nations are judged for their pride, oppression, and wickedness. Isaiah specifically mentions Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Cush (Ethiopia), and Egypt. But through these preaches, Isaiah highlights two key ideas. First, that the Israelites are not to turn to these foreign nations for support and protection, and secondly, that eventually even these foreign nations will be brought into God's future kingdom. 

Isaiah 23-27

Today we get the last of 10 prophecies against the foreign nations. This time it is against the island city of Tyre. Tyre was a profitable trade city, with two different ports on its little island. Just as God will bring low the great military and political powers of Assyria and Babylon, he will also bring down the economic powers.

Once again, the prophecy calls people to wail and mourn on behalf of Tyre, because God will destroy them. For seventy years, they will be desolate. But after seventy years, God will restore them. It says they will go back to prostituting themselves. This seems negative to us, but it's not meant to be. It just means that they will go back to trading with the other nations and being prosperous in trade and finance. But the difference this time is that rather than hoarding the wealth for themselves, they will bring it to the temple and offer it before God.

Finishing his last prophecy on the judgement and future hope of foreign nations, Isaiah now spends some time summarising the fundamental point of all this; trust in God because he has authority over everything. He starts by reminding the people that God will bring judgement to the whole earth. The different things he lists are things that the people could already see around them.

At this time, Assyria was going around conquering different nations. So Isaiah was drawing on the imagery of the conquered nations and saying that more of this will happen across the world. But more importantly, he is saying that God is behind this. So when they see these things, it's not that God has abandoned them. It's just that this is part of God's plan, and he's still in control.

Isaiah 24 ends with another 'on that day', so now we're looking far into the future. On that day, God will not only bring low the nations, but he will also punish the spiritual beings in heaven, and the kings on earth. In punishing the power in heaven and the powers on earth, God is asserting his authority and his rule over the earth.

Isaiah turns from the judgement of the earth to praising God. Because after the judgement is finished, he will provide great feasts for all people. He will swallow up death and wipe away every tear. The people celebrate because they chose well in waiting for God to rescue them and not turning away from God.

They then sing a song for him. They praise God for his strength and his salvation. God gives his people perfect peace. Those singing the song encourage others to put their trust in God. The song then switches to mourning, which may seem weird after singing about trust in God. But the point is that the people are taking this time to grieve the waiting, because they know that God will eventually rescue them.

We go through difficult times and it's important that we recognise that and let ourselves feel those emotions and grieve the difficulties. But ultimately, the grief should point us to our future hope and trust that God will rescue us. So the people sing of how they yearn for God and desire to feel him close and then declare their confidence that he will come and rescue them. They liken it to being pregnant. They are in pains and hurting now, but it also with a focus and a hope for the future, for what God will birth out of this situation.

Isaiah ends this section with a description of the future hope that God will redeem his people and the nation of Israel. He uses vineyard imagery that draws back on the parable of the vineyard in Isaiah 5. The earlier vineyard God destroyed because it wasn't being fruitful. The new vineyard God is committed to caring for it and protecting it. The earlier vineyard produced sour, wild grapes. The new vineyard will 'fill the whole world with fruit' (Isaiah 27:6).

God allowed the destruction of the nations, so that in the process all the altars to foreign gods would be destroyed too. Because once all the things that cause to people to sin are destroyed, then they can once again have a relationship with God. The chapter ends with a reminder that all this will happen 'in that day', far off in the future. But when God does restore his people and his city, they will fulfil their purpose, promised to Abraham, to be a blessing to all the world. Even the people from Assyria and Egypt will come to Jerusalem to worship God.

Psalm 114

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone in particular and falls into the category of praise psalm. This psalm was likely a short song, accompanied by music, that sung of the wonder of God tied to the Exodus.

Psalm 114:1-2 - Israel went out from Egypt

Psalm 114:3-4 - Nature is moved by God and his people

Psalm 114:5-6 - Asking nature why it moved

Psalm 114:7-8 - Creation trembles at the Lord’s presence

The psalmist open with setting the scene. Israel had left Egypt. They had been brought out by God and they now belonged to him. They were the place his presence dwelt.

As the Israelites left Egypt and moved out, the psalmist describes the seas as looking at them and fleeing. Here the psalmist is personifying the Red Sea as it split in two to allow the Israelites to travel through. They then mentioned mountains skipping like rams. This is likely an allusion to how it was on top of mountains that God often met his people, and so even the mountains were subject to them.

This is intensely figurative language to awaken the imagination of the singers and listeners in worship. We aren’t meant to read this as though the Israelites believed the seas actually fled and the mountains actually skipped around.

This psalmist then ask the question, why? Why would the sea flee and mountains skip at the sights of the Israelites? Because of the presence of the Lord. The presence of the Lord was with his people, and all creation trembles before him. He can turn the very rocks into water.

This psalm serves to awaken the wonder and majesty of God in the act of bringing them out of Egypt. It wasn’t just that they moved from one land to another. There was divine, miraculous power at work in their exodus.

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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