chairman of the board July 10 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Isaiah 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28:14-29

Responding to Threats

We all face threats in our lives. We may be bullied, intimidated by our employers, threatened by creditors or face financial ruin. As a country, we may even face the threats of other nations coming against us. How will we respond? Let's look at how many nations around Israel in the pre-exile days of Judah responded to menacing attacks from Assyria. From this, we can learn how we should respond to threats against us.

Assyria was a powerful nation and conquered many nations in the Middle East. When the northern kingdom of Israel relied on Assyria (instead of the LORD) to help fight against Damascus, Assyria not only conquered Damascus but also conquered her. Israel was besieged, ravaged, plundered, and her cities set on fire. Her residents were taken into exile and replaced with foreigners. Now Assyria continues her conquest by pushing west and south to Tyre, Sidon, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Ashdod, Judah, Edom, Egypt and Ethiopia. Then she plans to proceed east of the Jordan River to Moab, Babylon, and Media. How will these nations respond to these threats?

Cush (Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan) seeks an alliance with Judah, but Hezekiah thinks it unwise and forms no union with them—Egypt relies on her wisdom and gods to save her nation, not the LORD. Egypt will not be saved. Isaiah prophesies, "‘I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,' declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty" (Isaiah 19:4, NIV). In 671 B.C. Esarhaddon, the reigning Assyrian king conquers Egypt. *

There will come a time, however, both near and in the future when the land of Assyria will be conquered. In the future millennium, Assyria, along with Egypt and other nations, will be at peace and will bring gifts to Zion. Here is a lesson we might learn: In times of threatening circumstances, do not seek to make alliances or deals. Seek help from the LORD; the LORD brings peace.

Babylon rises against Assyria, but in 701 B.C. it, too, falls. Isaiah is horrified by the vision he sees of Assyria putting down Babylon's rebellion and continuing its march to conquer nations. He is even more horrified at the complacency shown by Judah. They should send spies to find out what is happening and make battle preparations, but they are unconcerned. Are we complacent when we see dangerous situations? Do we deny that they will affect us? Denial can result in disaster. Proverbs 22:3 and 27:2 (NIV) say, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

Edom hears of threats, but since there is silence (i.e., nothing is happening at that moment), she assumes things will go on as previously. Because we are not facing an immediate threat today, does that mean nothing will happen tomorrow? Let's not be naive.

Arabia flees from the menace of Assyria, but she is not able to outrun her enemy. Within one year, Isaiah prophesies, she will be decimated. This prophecy must have been given in 716 B.C. because in 715 B.C. it is fulfilled. * Do we try to run from threats? Trouble may still catch up with us. Let's run to the LORD for refuge and help.

In our last Bible study, we saw the kingdom of Judah, under King Hezekiah, had a great revival. In today's Bible reading Isaiah sees a vision of Jerusalem from the Kidron Valley (also called the “valley of vision” because that is where he received it). Sensing a threat from Assyria under the new king Sennacherib, King Hezekiah forms a league with Egypt and other nations. He prepares Jerusalem for a possible attack and siege by making a tunnel to bring in water. He also tears down houses and uses the materials to strengthen its walls. Hezekiah does not immediately look to the LORD for help, the one who makes it possible to build the city and shield it from harm. Then Jerusalem acts with further shame in her hedonistic fatalism, enjoying the moment. “Let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” (Isaiah 22:13, NIV). One of the king's stewards even tries to make a monument to himself before the invasion. He is replaced by Eliakim a faithful steward.

Tyre and Sidon and its trade with Phoenicia and Cyprus will come to an end. For seventy years Assyria severely restricts their trade. Tyre and Sidon can no longer rely on their wealth and trading relations. Do we rely on stock markets, trade, and wealth? The LORD planned the demise of these nations “to bring low the pride of all glory and to humble all who are renowned on the earth” (Isaiah 23:9, NIV). Do we need to be humbled so we will seek not our glory and wealth but God’s glory? 1Samuel 2:7 (NIV) says, “The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up.” Psalm 3:3 (NIV) says, “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

Lessons to Live By

  • When we are threatened, let's remember to depend on the LORD. It is the LORD who can shield us.
  • In times of threatening circumstances, we should not make alliances or deals. Let's seek help from the LORD; the LORD brings peace.
  • We should not rely on our wisdom and resources to deal with threats. Let's rely on God and His wisdom.
  • Let’s not be complacent when we see threats and deny they will affect us. Denial can result in disaster. Proverbs 22:3 and 27:2 say (NIV)“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
  • We cannot run from every threat; trouble may still catch up with us. Let's run to the LORD for refuge and help.
  • When facing threats, we should not have a complacent, fatalistic, hedonistic outlook on life or seek our interests. We should look to the LORD for our salvation and be faithful (more...).
  • All the destinies of the world are known by God and are under His control.

* Resource: The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp. 1065–72.

Focus Verse

Psalm 3:3 (NIV) “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

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