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27th April

Isaiah 36-38, Psalm 117

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
27th April

Isaiah 36-38, Psalm 117

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 the section focused on the judgement and future hope of the nations. Then we started the section accusations against Israel's leaders.

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), Egypt, and Tyre.

Focusing on Israel's leaders, Isaiah pointed out that the judicial leaders, the priests, and even some of those who claimed to be prophets where proud drunkards, who put their trust in their own power and authority rather than God. They ignored God's principles and teachings while paying him lip service. These leaders have repeatedly put their trust in foreign nations like Egypt to save them, rather than put their trust in God.

But through these preaches, Isaiah highlights some key ideas. The Israelites are not to turn to these foreign nations for support and protection. God is in control and will use all this for his purposes. Eventually even these foreign nations will be brought into God's future kingdom. In that time all people will celebrate, feast, and worship God, led by a king who will bring peace and flourishing.

Isaiah 36-38

We’ve read about Isaiah challenging the things that the people had put their trust in and encouraging them to put their trust in God. The book then narrows in on the same message for king Hezekiah. We first read about Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18-20, and much of today's reading will seem very similar to that.

While Hezekiah was king, the Assyrians sent their army to conquer Judah and attack Jerusalem. The commander of the army comes out and gives a speech to Jerusalem, attacking the things they put their trust in. This is similar to the messages that Isaiah has been telling Jerusalem. He points out that Egypt can not save them, and that God is in control because he's the one that has sent them.

The leaders that had come to speak to the commander ask if he could speak in Aramaic, the language of the Assyrians, so that no one in the city would be able to understand what they were talking about. The commander then defiantly shouts out to those in the city, this time attacking their trust in their own king Hezekiah.

But then this is where the commander makes the mistake. Until now, he has been like Isaiah, challenging the false places that the people are putting their trust. But next he invites the people to put their trust in him and in Assyria, so that everything will be okay. He then ends with mocking the God of the Israelites, saying that none of the gods of the other nations have saved them, so why would their God save them? Rather than pointing the Israelites back to God, this commander has insulted god, and it won't end well for him.

The leaders of Jerusalem went back into the city and told Hezekiah everything that had happened, and they mourned together. Then Hezekiah calls for Isaiah's help. Isaiah prophecies that these Assyrians will not be successful and that God will convince him to leave by sending threats of another nation attacking them. The commander goes back to report to the king of Assyria and finds out that another nation will attack soon. He panics and so sends another message to Jerusalem to get the city to surrender quickly, so he would not be fighting a war on two fronts. In that message, he insults God again, telling the people to not put their trust in him because he will not save them.

Receiving this letter, Hezekiah does the right thing. He puts his trust in God. He lays out the situation before God and declares God's power and authority, as Lord of host and king over all the earth. He recognises that the situation is bad and that the Assyrians have defeated many other nations. But he points out that the gods of those nations were fake gods, unlike their God, and so he asks God to save them.

God responds with a challenge to the king of Assyria. He calls out the king for his pride and for mocking him, the God of Israel. God declares that he is the one with authority, who allowed Assyria to defeat these other nations, and who knows everything about the king. So, like a man leading a horse, God will lead the king of Assyria away from Jerusalem and back home.

Then God turns to Hezekiah and speaks of prosperity and protection over the nation. These raids from the Assyrians have destroyed the harvest, but God declares that for this year and next the people will find enough food, and by the third year the harvests will be back to full strength.

He then declares that the Assyrians will not step foot in the city. And that's what happened. An angel of the Lord comes and kills 185,000 men, causing that Assyrians to flee back home. When he arrives at home, the commander of the army is killed by his own sons, as punishment for mocking God. Because Hezekiah put his trust in God, their enemies were defeated.

The focus moves from a nation situation to a personal one. Hezekiah becomes deathly ill, and Isaiah comes to tell him to put his house in order because he will die. But Hezekiah once again puts his trust in God for his own life, and God responds by allowing him to live another fifteen years.

We then get a psalm from Hezekiah that recognises how serious his situation was, that declares his trust in God, and then praises God for saving him. We see in Hezekiah the example the people should be following in trusting in God not in foreign nation nations or personal power for protection.

Psalm 117

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone in particular and falls into the category of praise psalm. Not only that, but it wins the award for the shortest psalm at just two verses.

It is a simple call and declaration. All nations are to praise the Lord, because he is loving and faithful, and will be so forever. These are themes we’ve seen many times before in the psalms. The ultimate goal is for all nations to come and praise the Lord, not just the Israelites. One day, they too will experience the same love and faithfulness that the Israelites were called to experience.

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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