cliff July 5-6 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Isaiah 10:5–16:14 (note: since this Bible study is a two day study, it is suggested that the Bible reading be read the first day and the Bible study the second)

Fall from Greatness

Most of us have witnessed the fall of a great financial empire, a profitable industry, a popular political figure, or even the fall of a talented athlete. What often brings about their destruction? Pride. “Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, NIV). God hates pride (Proverbs 6:16-17). Why? Those who are proud often forget their humble roots and believe all success is due to their own efforts. They get overconfident, thinking they are invincible. They are stubborn, they will not listen, and they are not teachable. This is the point when they are the most vulnerable to defeat. Such was the nation of Israel, and such were the nations which destroyed her.

What happened to Israel? Although powerful and prosperous, the northern kingdom of Israel was wicked and decimated by chaos and the frequent assassinations of wicked kings. She was finally destroyed, plundered, and her people taken away by Assyrian kings.

Now the Assyrian armies proceed to conquer the nations around Israel. The Philistines in Ashdod are proud and think they are safe, having sought help from Damascus. However, Damascus is destroyed by Assyria. Moab, the nation east of Israel, also thinks she is safe, but her pride is brought low. She has to flee to the south and seek refuge in Edom. Assyria is the great military power of the day, even conquering the city of Babylon in 689 B.C. (this was before the nation of Babylon became strong (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp.1061-1064). For this reason sometimes Assyria is referred to as Babylon (the context will tell; see Isaiah 14:4, 22, 24-25). Assyria, too, will soon fall from greatness.

Assyria is the arm of God’s judgment, but she is proud and has her own agenda. God says,

Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations (Isaiah 10:5-7, NIV).

Isaiah further prophesies, “When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, ‘I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes’” (Isaiah 10:12, NIV). God is Sovereign over the nations and their kings. He punished Israel for wickedness and idolatry, taking her people from the land. However, he leaves a remnant.

Therefore, this is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: “O my people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did. Very soon my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction” (Isaiah 10:24-25, NIV).

Isaiah 10:24-25 is a possible reference to 701 B.C. when God destroys 185,000 Assyrian soldiers overnight. It could also refer to the final destruction of Assyria under Babylon in 609 B.C. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., p.1055).

Not only would the Assyrian King be destroyed, but Isaiah prophesies of a new king. He will spring up from the stump of Jesse (a reference to King David, a son of Jesse, and in particular his most notable descendant, Jesus Christ). He will be the one whom the Spirit of the LORD will rest upon—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding (Isaiah 11:2; Luke 4:18-21). The Branch (Jesus Christ), also identified as the Holy One, will one day be in the land of Israel (Isaiah 12:6; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15). Both the people of Israel and Judah, which will be scattered across the world, will gather to Jerusalem and be united. There will be no more jealousy and division between the two nations. King Jesus will rule and judge with wisdom and righteousness. During this time, called the thousand year (millennial) reign of Christ, there will be world-wide peace, even in the animal kingdom. He will usher in a time of great joy after the destruction of Israel’s enemies.

In today’s Bible reading we see that God is parenting his children. For their wickedness, rebellion and idolatry they have to be punished, but still God leaves his children with some hope. This is a good general pattern for parents to follow.

The oracle Isaiah proclaims against Babylon (Isaiah 13:1) is probably directed to the king of Assyria, possibly Sennacherib, who ruled in the city of Babylon about the time of Israel’s destruction and exile (more…). A “Day of the LORD” will be coming against this Assyrian king. The “Day of the LORD” is a phrase often used by the prophets. What characterizes this special time? Isaiah 13:6, 9 (NIV) describe it this way: “Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty…. See, the day of the LORD is coming--a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.” The “Day of the LORD” is first a day of judgment.

The Day of the LORD will be followed by a day of peace upon the whole nation of Israel (Isaiah 14:1-2), and later upon the world. Within 200 years a partial fulfillment of this prophecy will occur. Assyria will be conquered by Babylon. Then Babylon will conquer the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C. and take her people into exile. Shortly thereafter, this kingdom will be conquered by the powerful nations of the Medes and Persians. After seventy years in Babylonian captivity, a remnant of Israel will return to occupy her homeland and be protected by the LORD; she will be a vassal state under the nation of Persia. Ultimate peace and victory of Israel over her enemies is yet future.

In Biblical history, God will soon rescue Judah from Sennacherib. God may also rescue us, too, if we find refuge in him. Some day the LORD will give ultimate victory of the righteous over their oppressors. This will happen when his Son sits on his throne in Jerusalem. Jesus brings peace. Peace for our souls is found in Him (more...).

The fall of the Assyrian king is likened to the fall of a star from heaven. Sennacherib views himself as a star. Although Isaiah 14:12-15 is attributed as a veiled reference to Satan and his angels in their fall from heaven, its immediate context is probably referring to Sennacherib. Are we a star in our own eyes? We need to be careful; we may fall from the skies of God’s favor.

Innocent people often fall victim to the pride of their leaders. As stated earlier, Moab fell because of her pride. Isaiah weeps as he sees the families of Moab fleeing their homes. It is a sad scene as they seek help from their man-made gods and find none, as they lose their homes, their fortune and their lands, and as they walk in sackcloth, weeping and wailing because of their destruction and loss. Moab goes south to Edom for her protection but find no refuge. Where do we find refuge? God says refuge is found in Zion (in Jerusalem, where the LORD made his dwelling place). Today, our refuge is not found in a symbolic place, but it is still found where God dwells. Only he can provide comfort and peace (more...).

Lessons to Live By

  • Pride often leads to a downfall.
  • God is Sovereign over nations and their kings.
  • For their wickedness, rebellion and idolatry Israel had to be punished, but still God left his children with some hope. This is a good general pattern for parents to follow.
  • Are we a star in our own eyes? We need to be careful; we may fall from the skies of God’s favor.
  • Innocent people often fall victim to the pride of their leaders.
  • God is our refuge. Only he can provide comfort and peace to our souls. (more...)

Focus Verse

Isaiah 12:1 (NIV)

In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

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A Look Ahead: Israel and many other nations were destroyed by Assyria. Judah is one nation left in the area. How was she to Stop the Spreading Cancer of sin in her nation so she would not be destroyed as they were? How do we stop it in our own lives? Join us for our Next Lesson.

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