Learning from Isaiah 19-24
19:1-20:6 - ‘The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel my heritage”’ (19:25). ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek... you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). How can people who seem to be opposites be brought together? Jesus Christ brings them together. He breaks down ‘the barrier’. He removes ‘the dividing wall of hostility’. We are brought ‘near’ to one another through ‘the blood of Christ’. We must come to ‘the Cross’ of Christ. There, at ‘the Cross’, we will find each other. We will discover what it means to be ‘one body’ in Christ (Ephesians 2:13-16). When Satan comes, creating misunderstanding, filling our minds with suspicion and undermining our hopes of peace, let’s remind him of God’s Word, ‘You are all one in Christ Jesus’.
21:1-17 - We live in a situation of conflict. We are at war with the enemy. Satan is God’s enemy. Satan is our enemy. Satan is a very determined enemy. Satan is a defeated enemy. The words of verse 9 - ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon...’ - , repeated again in Revelation 14:8; 18:2, assure us that Satan will not prevail over the Lord and His people. The victory is the Lord’s. He gives His victory to us. When the going gets tough, when Satan seems to have the upper hand, let’s remember this: ‘Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe, but the King’s own army none can overthrow. Round His standard ranging, victory is secure, for His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure’. Let us not hesitate to commit ourselves to Christ: ‘Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine, we are on the Lord’s side; Saviour, we are Thine’ (Church Hymnary, 479).
22:1-25 - Here, we read about ‘the Valley of Vision’ (1,5). The Lord Himself is to be our Vision: ‘Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art, Thou my best thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping Thy presence my light’ (Church Hymnary, 87). Down in the valley, the mountain-top experience seems a long way off. What are we to do when everything seems to be hard-going? When there seems to be no way out of the valley, no way back to the mountain-top, we must keep on ‘looking to Jesus’ (Hebrews 12:1-2). In the ‘valley’, we must learn to say, ‘My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, nor even blessing, but Himself, my God’. Let your ‘valley’ become your ‘valley of vision’, the place where you are learning to ‘turn your eyes upon Jesus’ (Mission Praise, 470,712).
23:1-18 - ‘Look at the land of the Babylonians, this people that is now of no account!’ (13). To the nation which turns to Him, the Lord speaks His promise of blessing - ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord ...’ (Psalm 33:12). To the nation which turns away from Him, God speaks His warning of judgment - ‘For lack of guidance a nation falls’ (Proverbs 11:14). We must choose. Will we choose to listen to the Lord, to submit our lives to Him, to follow the guidance He has given to us in His Word? Or, will we ignore Him and go our own way? The way of the Lord leads to blessing - ‘Righteousness exalts a nation’. The way of self leads to judgment - ‘sin is a disgrace to any people’ (Proverbs 14:34). What will it be? - ‘Look at the Babylonians...!’ or ‘They will see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16).
24:1-23 - ‘They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord, exalt the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we hear singing: “Glory to the Righteous One”’ (14-16). What a beautiful picture of a land that is enjoying God’s blessing, praising Him and giving glory to Him! Looking around us, we see a very different picture - ‘The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws... therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt’ (5-6). Can the dark picture of sin and guilt be turned into the brigther picture of salvation and rejoicing? God ‘is able to do so much more than we can ask for, or even imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20). Be bold. Pray that God will send revival in our time.