Isaiah 15-19
(Woe to the Enemies of the LORD)

July 19th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.

- Isaiah 17:13 (KJV)

Summary of Chapters

In this set of chapters Isaiah continues to prophesize regarding the nations that surround the Israeli kingdoms. For example, Chapters 15 and 16 are prophecies against Moab, a long term enemy of God’s people.

Chapter 15 describes the forthcoming utter destruction of Moab. Then, chapter 16 follows with a description of a peace offering of lambs that Moab will give to Judah that is considered too little too late. Near the end of the 16th chapter, Isaiah uses the image of a vineyard to illustrate the depths of despair that Moab will experience because of their transgressions against the LORD’s people:

Chapter 17 is an oracle against Damascus, the capital of Aram. Isaiah describes how it will be destroyed and also describes the consequence for Israel (the Northern Kingdom), which had been allied with Aram against Assyria: " What's left of Aram? The same as what's left of Israel—not much (17:3 - MSG). Yet there will be some survivors, which Isaiah compares to leftovers from a harvest, such as the few apples left on a tree that no one could reach.

Chapter 18 describes how the people of Cush (Ethiopia) will send messengers to other nations asking for help, but no one will come to help. The LORD will observe but chose not to intervene. “This is what the LORD says to me, ‘I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place (18:4 - NIV).”

The 19th chapter contains a prophecy regarding Egypt, the former temporary home of the Israelites and a strong nation to the East. Isaiah depicts the LORD riding “a swift cloud (19:1 - NIV)” to Egypt, where the idols will tremble and the people will turn on each other. Not only will the Egyptians be conquered by an invading force, but the nation will experience a drought so severe that no commerce will take place – fields will dry up, fish will not be caught, and even “those who work with combed flax will despair (19:9 - NIV).”

At the end of this chapter, Isaiah prophesizes that there will be a day yet to come when Egypt and Assyria will turn to the LORD, and the “LORD Almighty will bless them saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel, my inheritance (19:25 - NIV).”

Reflection and Application

Vineyards are used often in the Old Testament because people could relate to it. For example, the image of a vineyard featured prominently in Song of Songs as a romantic meeting place and as a symbol for the Lover. In this chapter of Isaiah it represents the livelihood of a nation. What would be a similar symbol for our generation?

If Isaiah lived during our lifetimes he might remind us of how far we have wandered off course and prophesize something like this for a future day of reckoning, “No trades will take place in the stock market, the malls will be empty, GDP and employment will be down, Christmas shopping will grind to a halt.” This description is similar to what we experienced in 2008 and a reminder to us of where we should put our trust and faith.

The Northern Kingdom chose to put their faith in an alliance with Aram, and faced the penalty envisioned by Isaiah. Why would they put trust in men who are fallible instead of the invincible God? Perhaps because they could see and touch these men?

Judah turned down the invitation from Aram, so God temporarily saved them from Assyria by sending away the troops on word of a rumor of an attack. We can trust God but might not always know how he is going to solve the problem.

One day all of the nations will turn to the one true God. We may not have reached that point yet, but we should make sure that we are in the gleaning that continues to worship him and do our best to share the Good News, even if we find few listeners. When we feel defeated in this area we can take inspiration from Isaiah and other prophets who may have had few listeners but carried on faithfully for that gleaning of people who remained.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

Related Questions
  1. When was the last time you stared at the clouds? What did you see?
  2. What symbols would you use to depict the livelihood of your nation?
  3. How do we persevere with the sharing of the message God has given us?

Recommended Prayer
Father in heaven, we know that you are to be feared by your enemies. Help us remain loyal to you.

Suggested Prayer Concerns
Financial Market Regulators

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow's reading: Isaiah 20-23 (Woe to Jerusalem)

Comments and Questions
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