April 24th

Isaiah 23-27

  • 23:1-18 – This prophecy is against Tyre and Sidon explaining their impending destruction.
  • 24:1-23 – This chapter ends the prophecies against various cities and begins an apocalyptic section.
  • 25:1-12—This is praising God for deliverance from oppression. What’s interesting is that this was written down over a century before the Exile in Babylon. Isaiah is praising God for delivering the people from oppression before the oppression has even begun
  • 26:1-21—Again, this is Isaiah speaking about events far, far in the future. This time it’s Judah’s eventual triumph over their enemies
  • 27:1-12—Now he’s speaking about the return from Exile- again, this is over a century before the exile even begins. So, while Isaiah is telling Israel that God is going to judge them harshly, he’s also telling them that God will still redeem them in the end- this theme of judgement and hope runs throughout the book of Isaiah.

What to expect this week

We’re powering through Isaiah!

I know this book is long and it’s difficult to read and understand. It’s full of long, poetic prophecies of judgment and hope that are beautiful in small doses, but we have trouble focusing and comprehending the written word when it’s not written in the form of a story, and that’s what makes the prophetic books so difficult.

That said, Isaiah is one of the richest and most important books in the Bible; a huge amount of our theology is based largely on Isaiah and many of the texts that prove that Jesus was who he said he was, and that tell of us about the Second Coming of Christ, are found in Isaiah.

Because Isaiah is so important, we want to help you read it as much as we can. This Wednesday’s (4/25) Bible study is all about Isaiah, and I’ll be preaching on Isaiah on Sunday (4/29). See y’all on Sunday!

April 23rd

Isaiah 18-22

  • 18:1-7—In the midst of a string of prophecies condemning other nations, this one indicates that God is going to bless his people through the nation of Ethiopia. It’s not clear what event this might be referring to, but we do know that there is a strong connection between Ethiopia and Israel. There’s been a large Jewish community in Ethiopia since ancient times and the nation is one of the oldest Christian states in the world, and one of the only sub-Saharan African nations that adopted Christianity before the arrival of Europeans. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church even claims to possess the Ark of the Covenant, saying that the Ethiopian emperor Menelik I (who they claim was the son of King Solomon) brought it with him when he returned from visiting his father.
  • 19:1-15 – This is the prophecy against Egypt, who was the nation that enslaved Israel.
  • 19:16-25 – These sections elaborate on what’s going to happen and let them know that they will be turned to the Lord.
  • 20:1-6 – Yes, you read that right. Isaiah walked around naked and barefoot. This was to represent the humiliation Israel’s enemies would feel upon defeat. Next time you see somebody naked in public, instead of thinking “there goes a crazy person”, maybe you should think “I wonder why God told them to do that”
  • 21:1-17 – These are prophecies against Babylon, Dumah, and Tema. Though Dumah and Tema are fairly unknown, Babylon would soon overthrow the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
  • 22:1 – “Valley of vision” refers to Jerusalem. There is irony in this title because Jerusalem had always been referred to as on top of a mountain – which was both physical and figurative.
  • 22:1-14 – This prophecy is aimed at Judah. God saved them from Assyria’s attacks and they felt they were home-free so they began celebrating instead of mourning their sins like God called them to do.
  • 22:14-25 – Shebna was an officer for King Hezekiah but his sin was so great that he was demoted. This is an indictment on him.

April 22nd

Isaiah 13-17

  • 13 – This begins a 10 chapter series of prophecies against various nations.
  • 13:1-22 – This section is aimed at Babylon. In later years, Babylon would destroy Jerusalem and complete the exile of all of the Israelites out of their promised land. This hasn’t happened yet though.
  • 14:3-23 – This prophecy is a bit of taunting toward the Babylonian king.
  • 15:1-16:14 – This is the prophecy against Moab. The Moabites were continual enemies of Israel and tended to seek out wars. The end of the prophecy is that Moab will end up weak.
  • 17:1-14 – This prophecy is against Damascus, a city in Syria. The Syrians were tough and were also gifted warriors.

 

 

 

April 21st

Isaiah 9-12

  • 9:1-7 – A prophecy describing the Messiah that is to come. Enjoy this musical interpretation of this powerful prophecy. You’ve heard it before, since it’s popular around Christmastime. Here’s the interesting part- this verse is talking about three different events, widely separated in time:
    • First, it’s talking about the Persian conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem, ending the Exile. The titles listed in verse 6 were all applied to Cyrus at one time or another during his life.
    • Second, it’s talking about the Messiah- predicting the birth of Christ
    • Third, it’s talking about the second coming of Christ. We know this because much of what’s mentioned here hasn’t yet come to pass- endless peace, the end of oppression, the “government upon his shoulders”, etc. This passage was a promise of hope first to the Israelites who were about to go into exile, later to the Israelites under Roman rule, and now to us as we await the second coming of the Messiah.
  • 9: 8-21 – This foretells the coming demise of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Though God’s hand is still available, the people continue to walk towards evil and destruction.
  • 10:5-19 – God used Assyria to punish Israel when Assyria toppled Israel, but now God is speaking against them because they have overstepped their bounds and are going after Jerusalem.
  • 10:20-23 – Though the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom were occupied by Assyria and only a few remained, they were able to have hope because God said they would eventually be able to return to relying on him.
  • 10:4-27 – God assures Judah that they will not be overtaken by Assyria like Israel was.
  • 11:1-16 – This is another Messianic prophecy. The root of Jesse refers to Jesse, David’s father. Jesus was from David’s line and thus part of Jesse’s family. Ultimately, this passage, like so many others in Isaiah, is referring both to the birth of Christ and to the second coming of Christ and the incredible peace and joy that will come with God’s final victory over evil.
  • 12:2 – The second half of this verse is repeated two other times in Scripture: Exodus 15:2 and Psalm 118:14. It is a powerful thought that God acts first as our strength and this leads him into the roll of our salvation.

April 20th

Isaiah 5-8

  • 5:1-7 – This section describes Judah and Israel as a vineyard that has yielded wild grapes instead of the good, winemaking grapes that were intended. The vintner allows the vineyard to be destroyed.
  • 5:6-23 – This is a series of laments of various ways people sin.
  • 6:1-4 – This sets the scene for Isaiah’s calling to be God’s prophet. God is described as vast and powerful.
  • 6:5 – It is very common for folks in the Bible to be hesitant to accept their callings. They often have excuses.
  • 6:6-7 – God always has a solution for people’s excuses.
  • 6:8 – Yet another example of a person in Scripture who answers, “Here I am”.
  • 6:9-13 – God is fed up with the Israelites unfaithfulness. He sends Isaiah to speak a message of repentance but knows the people won’t listen.
  • 7:1-9 – Syria and Israel are in cahoots to attack Jerusalem, which is part of Judah. Isaiah is to assure Judah that Syria and Israel will not prevail.
  • 7:14 – This is a clear prophecy of Jesus’ birth, which wouldn’t happen for over 400 years, but is also specifically talking about Isaiah’s son, Immanuel. The book of Isaiah is multi-layered- it will frequently use one short passage to simultaneously talk about what will happen in the near future (for Israel/Judah), the coming of Christ, and the second coming of Christ.

April 19th

Isaiah 1-4

  • 1:2-17 – This is a vision God has given Isaiah explaining that the Israelites are sinful and that God is tired of receiving meaningless sacrifices from people who go on sinning. They are no longer pleasing to him.
  • 1:18 – There seems to be a plan in place for how God will restore the Israelites to himself.
  • 2:1-4 – This is a vision for future peace and perfection.
  • 2:5-22 – Though the majority of Isaiah addresses Judah, this vision calls upon the house of Jacob, which is most likely the Northern Kingdom of Israel, to repent.
  • 3:1-15 – Now the judgment switches over to the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
  • 3:16-26 – This judgment is directed towards “the daughters of Zion” – aka – Jerusalem.
  • 4:2-6 – This is the plan for the future of Jerusalem after all the sinful folks are wiped out.

April 18th

2 Kings 23-25

  • 23:1-24 – Josiah took the law he found in the temple very seriously and methodically destroyed any remnants of anything dedicated to any other God.
  • 23:31 – This is not Jeremiah the prophet.
  • 23:32 – Interesting that Josiah was more faithful than any of the kings before him and yet his son, Jehoahaz, did evil.
  • 23:33-35 – Pharaoh Neco removes Jehoahaz from the throne after only 3 months and puts Eliakim/Jehoiakim in power. Pharaoh’s appointment and name change makes it clear that the king of Judah is now subject to him- again, Kings is focused on the interplay of the various kings of Judah and Israel with God, not with the rest of the world, so it glosses over some important details. The Assyrian Empire has collapsed into civil war and rebellion at this point, Babylon has captured Ninevah (the Assyrian capital) and is still consolidating its power. Egypt, now free from Assyrian rule, is challenging Babylonian power- for the next several decades, these two superpowers will be locked in an economic and military battle for supremacy. This is an aggressive move by Egypt to increase its own power by controlling Judah.
  • 24:1—Nebucahdnezzar will be the most powerful king Babylon ever has; he’s the one who’s building projects will turn Babylon into one of the most famous cities of the ancient world. He’ll also expand Babylonian power to it’s greatest extent, and he starts here by taking Judah away from the Egyptians. Jehoiakim foolishly rebels against him.
  • 24:3 – This is Manasseh the king, not the tribe.
  • 24:7-8—Jehoiakim didn’t rebel alone- he was helped by the Egyptians, who wanted control of Judah back from Babylon. This goes badly, as not only does Nebucahdnezzar defeat and depose Jehoiakim, but he then finally conquers Egypt as well, leaving Babylon as the sole surviving superpower of its time. Jehoiachin now ascends to the throne.
  • 24:10-17—This is essentially punishment for Jehoiakims actions. Jerusalem is captured, Jehoiachin is taken prisoner, the Temple is ransacked and looted, the government officials, soliders, and ten thousand of the richest and most well educated, most skilled people of the city of carried off as prisoners.
  • 24:18—Zedekiah is put in place as a puppet king by Nebuchadnezzar. Like his grandfather, he will rebel against Babylon
  • 25:1-21—Babylon captures Jerusalem a second time, and this time they will take no chances- the Temple is completely destroyed, the king is killed, and this time everyone in the city is taken captive and carried off to Babylon. It’s hard to imagine what this was like; Judah idolized the city of Jerusalem and most people were absolutely certain that it could never be defeated because Jerusalem was the city of God. The message is clear to them now: God is not with them.

April 17th

2 Kings 20-22

  • 20:3-7 – The Lord hears Hezekiah’s prayer and answers it. God heals Hezekiah from a life threatening illness using a fig cake, or what is described in other translations as a fig poultice.
  • 20:12-19 – Hezekiah is overly hospitable to the king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan. Though it won’t happen for a while, Babylon will eventually take his people into exile. For now, Hezekiah sees Babylon as an ally- Babylon was part of the Assyrian Empire, and the Babylonian king was therefore, technically, a servant of the Assyrian king. Judah is a vassal state at this time- Assyria let’s Hezekiah rule, but only so long as he continues to send payments of tribute to the Assyrian king. Since Judah and Babylon are in the same position, it’s possible Hezekiah was hoping to forge some sort of alliance with Babylon. We know that, eventually, Babylon rebels and overthrows the Assyrian empire- maybe Hezekiah wanted to help.
  • 20:19 – Though Hezekiah’s response seems a little arrogant or lackadaisical, commentaries tell us, because he was a faithful king, his response is more likely one of thanks for the peace they have at the moment.
  • 21:7 – This was the tribe of Judah. God claims this tribe forever and it is the tribe that Jesus belonged to.
  • 21:1-9 – Manasseh was pretty much the worst of the worst. He should not be confused with Joseph’s son Manasseh who was the patriarch of one of the 12 tribes.
  • 21:12-15 – Israel had already been conquered and exiled, but Judah remained where they belonged. Manasseh’s leadership puts it over the edge though, and God explains that he’s opening them up for attack too.
  • 22:1—If it seems a little insane to you to let an eight year old rule the country, don’t worry- you’re not alone. Josiah was king at age eight because his father Amon died, but there would have high-ranking government officials from Amon’s court who handled the actual business of running the nation until Josiah was older.
  • 22:3-7 – The temple, due to sinful leadership and neglect, had fallen into disrepair so Josiah used his position as king to restore it.
  • 22:8-13—The Temple was in such bad shape, and Judah’s leadership had become so corrupt, that they had actually lost an entire book of the Bible. And not just any book- the book of the law, the single most important book of the Torah, the one that their entire religion, their entire relationship with God was based on. That’s just astounding. It also helps explain how things got so bad in Judah- by this point, nobody remembers what the law is. This doesn’t excuse them- there’s no excuse for continuing to ignore the Temple and worship false gods- but it makes things a little clearer.
  • 22:14-17 – The prophetess Huldah lets Judah know it too will be destroyed because of its sin.
  • 22:18-20 – Because King Josiah had been faithful and repentant, he would die before the destruction occurred.

April 16th

2 Kings 18-19

  • 18:1-4 – Hezekiah is king of Judah and chooses to live faithfully.
  • 18:16 – Gold that was, at one time, given as an offering to the Lord to build his home amongst the Israelites, was now stripped off and given to a foreign king. The change in the state of affairs is drastic.
  • 18:19-25 – A message is sent from the king of Assyria to Hezekiah, the king of Judah, taunting him and saying that God will not be able to save Judah.
  • 18:28-35 – Hezekiah was a king faithful to the Lord. Clearly the king of Assyria is trying to do everything he can to get the people of Judah to turn against Hezekiah and God.
  • 18:36-1 – Hezekiah’s men all tore their clothes as a sign of deep sorrow and disgrace. They were afraid that the king of Assyria might be right.
  • 19:6-7 – Isaiah, the next great prophet, assures Hezekiah and his men that God will rescue them and the king of Assyria will actually die in his own land.
  • 19:10-13 – The king of Assyria’s bullying tactics are convincing. All the other kings Assyria had gone up against had fallen. Granted, their gods weren’t God.
  • 19:29-31 – God gives Judah a sign that he actually is speaking and they can trust him.
  • Fun fact—The siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrian king Sennacherib is actually very well documented in extra-Biblical sources-namely, by Sennacherib himself. Assyrian kings didn’t record history so much as they recorded propaganda, so Assyrian historical documents never mention defeats or that Assyrian soldiers died in battle, so his account of the siege is a bit different. He mentions destroying 46 cities in Judah and trapping Hezekiah in Jerusalem “like a caged bird”, and he mentions returning home with his army, but he never mentions why he returned home.