Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 14 (3)

The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand, that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and on my mountains trample him underfoot; and his yoke shall depart from them, and his burden from their shoulder.”

This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth,and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle:

Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you, that the rod that struck you is broken, for from the serpent's root will come forth an adder, and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent. And the firstborn of the poor will graze, and the needy lie down in safety; but I will kill your root with famine, and your remnant it will slay. Wail, O gate; cry out, O city; melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!For smoke comes out of the north, and there is no straggler in his ranks. What will one answer the messengers of the nation? “The Lord has founded Zion, and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.” (Is. 14: 24-32)

In verses 24-27, Isaiah reverts back to the prophetic proclamation of doom over Assyria, the immediate enemy of Judah. Swearing by His Name (v. 24), the Lord promised impending doom upon Assyria as He Himself will crush Assyria while they were invading Judah (v. 25), a fact realized in the elimination of the Assyrian army at the walls of Jerusalem (Is. 37:36), thus ending Assyria's oppression of His people as symbolized by the departing of the yoke from Judah. In verses 26 and 27, the Lord states that this is God's purpose and no one can stop God and His plans in this regard. God's purposes concerning the whole earth is that He will protect His people from their enemies, of which Assyria functions here in typology.

Verse 28 however starts off on a note about the death of the wicked 3rd king which Isaiah served under, King Ahaz. The Philistines could possibly have been rejoicing with the death of King Ahaz, as they had envisioned an even greater time of further victories against Judah as they have had in the time of King Ahaz (2 Chron. 28:18). God however pronounces judgment against them through the prophet Isaiah. Judah has been broken in the time of wicked King Ahaz, but the Philistines were asked not to rejoice as they will face an even deadlier foe (v. 29). Although God will protect the poor and the needy, yet God will send famine and sword against the Philistines (v. 30). Through the coming king Hezekiah, the Philistines will face the wrath of Almighty God in attacking His people, as King Hezekiah will struck down the Philistines even to their major city of Gaza (2 King. 18:8), and their fortifications will do them no good in averting this judgment of God. Philistia is thus called to wail as their judgment is near (v. 31). Far from it that they would grow in strength and numbers, they would face a strong army in the army of Judah under King Hezekiah who would crush them resoundingly.

The passage thus ends in a note of comfort to God's people, which also functions as a testimony of God's glory to the nations. To those from other nations who came to enquire about the happenings in Judah, Judah is to proclaim the strength of YHWH God on her behalf. Those of His people who are afflicted can find strength and refuge in Him and in the place where they can meet Him, the temple in the city of God, Zion. The power of God on the behalf of His people is thus to be proclaimed among the nations as to the greatness of the God of Israel. It is God that is to be glorified in this, not the tactical brilliance or military prowess of the Jews.

For us too therefore, we are to continue trusting God to work on our behalf in vindicating us from our enemies. God will do so in His own time, as He works all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28). Yet through our afflictions, we can find strength and refuge in the Lord who will aid us. And when the deliverance does come, we are to give glory to God for the good things He has done on our behalf, NOT to boast about our competence but about how God has saved us in this regard. Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

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