In each of the oracles today, imagine the prophet overcome with a vision that overpowers him with passionate imagery. In the oracle against Egypt in chapter 19, you’ll notice themes of foolishness and confusion. When the LORD comes to Egypt, He “will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians… and the spirit of the Egyptians within them will be emptied out, and I will confound their counsel.” In the vision regarding Babylon, the watchman stands at his post, awaiting riders who will bring the news that “Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the carved images of her gods He has shattered to the ground.”
And in Jerusalem, there is confusion and tumult, as Isaiah envisions the city under threat, “a day of tumult and trampling and confusion in the ‘Valley of Vision.’” The prophet watches as houses are toppled to fortify the wall, as water is pooled to prepare for siege, while agonizing that its inhabitants refuse “…to look to Him who did it, or see Him who planned it long ago…” For it is the LORD, not Assyria, who will “seize firm hold on you…and throw you like a ball into a wide land.”
Yet once again, in the midst of this, there is hope far beyond that which any son of Abraham could imagine. For there is coming a day when “the LORD will make Himself known to the Egyptians… and they will return to the LORD…” And “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria… in that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth.”
Listen closely for how this hope extends both backward and forward, before the nation of Israel and beyond it. In Genesis 12, the LORD promised that Abram “will be a blessing,” and that in him “all the families on earth will be blessed.” Isaiah foresees the day when Judah’s purpose will be fulfilled, and Israel, Egypt, and Assyria will bow to the LORD.
Our verse for this week is James 1:22: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Isaiah 19 through 22. Now let’s read it!
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.