Shebna

Isaiah 22:15-19. “Thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say, What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou has hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock? Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee. He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house. And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down. ”

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For more scriptures on Shebna’s story, you can go to Is. 36 and 37; also 2 Kings 19.

Shebna was a chamberlain over the king’s household, with specific responsibility over the treasury.  The use of the word this (Shebna) in verse 15 indicates that Shebna is out of favor with God. Inhis arrogance, he prepared a grave for himself, hollowed out in the rocks of the city, copying the high and mighty of earth.  He would never occupy that grave. Instead, he would be taken captive and the Lord would toss him violently, like a ball, into a far land that was very large. He had provided himself stately carriages which would go, too. He would die in captivity.

In captivity, God would “cover”him, or bring him down to a place of humility, stripping away his outer pretension to being a great man. He would die in obscurity rather than the pomp he had planned for himself.

The lesson here is clear. God will humble us when we aspire to places that do not belong to us. When we hold ourselves high in our own opinion, God will strip us of all pretenses and put is firmly in our right places.

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(Matthew 23:12)

 

 

Unrepentant

Isaiah 22:12-14. “And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink: for tomorrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts.”

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I tried to block out the line on the bottom, but I’m not tech-savvy enough. Yolo is You Only Live Once, so I guess it’s appropriate.  That is exactly the attitude the people of Jerusalem took.

In verse 12, “in that day” is not far future prophecy, but immediate.  God called the nation to repent of their sins, but instead they acted foolishly and abandoned all common sense. They feasted and partied and many were drunk. As far as I could find, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” shows up for the very first time in this passage. I didn’t take a lot of time with it, so I could be wrong.

One wonders how the people could have a bacchanalia when thousand of their enemies stood just outside the door.  It seems they were having a little trouble with reality, doesn’t it?  They refused to acknowledge God’s call for repentance, and they partied as if there would be no tomorrow.  Did they really believe they would die on the next day?  Hard to say.  I just can’t imagine behaving that way with the visible threat of impending doom surrounding me.

Verse 14 is chilling.  Isaiah says that God told him the sin of the people would not be purged until they died.  No going back at this point. No more second chances.  They had used up all their do-overs, and horror was about to fall on them.

Invaders

Isaiah 22: 6-7. “And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield. And it shall come to pass, that the choicest valley shall be full of chariots and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.”

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This is Persia, and Kir  is Media, indicating that the armies of the Medes and Persians were with the armies of Assyria in the invasion of Palestine and the surrounding countries. Two hundred years later, the Medes and Persians became independent   of Assyria and Babylon.

The choicest valleys being full of enemy armies indicates how huge the invading force was, and how utterly helpless Judah was without God (v. 7; 37:36-38).

A Day of Trouble

Isaiah 22: 4-5. “Therefore said I, Look away from me: I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people. For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord God of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.”

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Isaiah’s grief over the destruction of Jerusalem was inconsolable. I think it is hard for us in America to imagine being completely destroyed and taken over by some other country. We haven’t had to battle foreign armies on our own ground since the War for Independence. Perhaps the closest we can come to being horrified by an enemy attack is 9/11, when the Twin Towers fell. All of us were glued to our television sets that day, shocked and unbelieving as we watched,  over and over again, the events that changed our perception of our own safety. Of course, my parents’ generation experienced the same horror at the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

What Isaiah saw was the destruction of an entire city, not just a little corner of the city.  In this same chapter, he also will see future events that are just as frightening.

Sometimes I think it must have taken a lot of courage to be an Old Testament prophet!

Jerusalem

Isaiah 22: 1-3. “The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops? Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle. All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.”

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Isaiah’s “valley of vision” concerned Jerusalem. It is not in a valley itself, but there are mountains all around it. God had chosen it as a place shut in from the world, a place where He would give, through his prophets, vision of His will and purposes.

This chapter does concern the nature of the judgments about to fall on Jerusalem, but is not confined to the near future. Much of the opening verses will be fulfilled when the nations are gathered together against the city at the end of this age.  I will do my best to distinguish what has already taken place and what is still to come.  Sometimes I really wish I were a Hebrew scholar 🙂

The people were so alarmed at the invading armies surrounding the city that they thought to escape by going up to their housetops. The flat roofs were used as living space, and usually had walls around them for safety.

A joyous city would indicate that there was revelry in the streets, perhaps in denial of what was about to happen. The ones slain were those who had fled the city and were captured and killed; those who remained in the city were save by God destroying the Assyrian army (Is. 37:   33-38).

Verse 3 expresses the idea that the people in Jerusalem were numb with fear to the point of inactivity, being helpless against the great armies on the outside who demanded surrender (v. 3; 36:1-22).

Within a Year

Isaiah 21:16-17. “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the  years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail. And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the Lord God of Israel hath spoken it.”

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This prophecy has been given a specific time element:   Within one year it would be  proven as true or false.  History tells us that it was indeed true.

Kedar is another descendant of Abraham through Hagar and Ishmael (Gen. 25:13). It is just north of Tema and Dedan.

All the mighty archers would be so diminished in number that they would be helpless against the Assyrian armies as they rolled through the land. The devastation would be complete.

The Burden of Arabia

Isaiah 21: 13-15. ” The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim. The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled. For they fled from the sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.”

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There are no great forests of trees in Arabia, but there is very thick underwood making some places  very rugged and inaccesible.

The traveling companies  are caravans, or roving tribes of Arabs.

The Dedanim are descendants of Dedan, son of Abraham by Keturah (Gem. 25:31).

Tema is also a descendant of Abraham through Hagar and Ishmael ( Gen.  25:15).

This passage is the story of one group of people helping others who are traveling to escape the bloodshed of the Assyrian armies. Water and food were offered to them as they traveled and hid.