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, experience threats from our employers, face the threat of creditors or financial ruin. 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 threatened attacks from Assyria. From this we can learn how we should respond to threats against us.

You may remember from previous Bible readings that Assyria was a powerful nation and its king ruled from the city of Babylon. Assyria conquered many nations in the Middle East. When the northern kingdom of Israel relied on Assyria to help fight against Damascus, instead of the LORD, 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 wanted to continue her conquest by pushing west and south to Ashdod, Tyre, Sidon, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Judah, Edom, Egypt and Ethiopia. Then she wanted to proceed east of the Jordan River to Moab, Babylon, and Media. How will these nations respond to these threats? Today we find out.

Cush (Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan) seek an alliance with Judah, but Hezekiah thinks it unwise and does not form a union with them. There will come a day, however, when Egypt and Ethiopia will seek the LORD. The phrase “at that time” or “on that day” usually refers to the coming 1,000-year rule and reign of Christ. At that time Cush and other nations will bring gifts to the LORD Almighty when His Son [Jesus] rules from Jerusalem. Now Egypt relies on her own wisdom and gods to save her nation. Their people will not, however, 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 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 up against Assyria, but in 701 B.C. it, too, will fall. 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 complacent. Are we complacent when we see dangerous situations? Do we deny that they will affect us? Denial can result in defeat. Proverbs 22:3 and 27:2 say, A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it, (NIV).

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 us not be naive.

Arabia flees from the menace of Assyria, but she is not able to out run 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. Run to the LORD for refuge and help.

In our last Bible study we saw that 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 tried to make a monument to himself before the invasion. He is replaced by Eliakim a faithful steward.

What is our response to threats? Do we forget the God who saved us and look only to ourselves for deliverance? When threatened, do we have an attitude of complacency and fatalism about our destiny? Will we eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we may die? Where is our faith? Will we selfishly look to making a name for ourselves with the time we have left, or will we look after the interests of others? If we do the former, we, too, might have our honor taken away. We can forget God, act in our own wisdom and strength and suffer for it, or we can repent and look to the LORD for our salvation. Let us be faithful to the end, and we will be rewarded.

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 own glory and wealth but God’s glory? 1Samuel 2:7 says, “The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up,” (NIV). Psalm 3:3 says, “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head,” (NIV).

Lessons to Live By

  • When you are threatened, remember to depend on the LORD. It is the LORD who can shield us.
  • In times of threatening circumstances, do not make alliances or deals; seek help from the LORD; the LORD brings peace.
  • Do not rely on your own wisdom and resources to deal with threats. Rely on God and His wisdom.
  • Let’s not be complacent when we see threats. Let’s not deny that they will affect us. Denial can result in defeat. Proverbs 22:3 and 27:2 say, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (NIV)
  • We cannot run from every threat; trouble may still catch up with us. Run to the LORD for refuge and help.
  • When facing threats, do not have a complacent, fatalistic, hedonistic outlook on life or seek your own interests. Look to the LORD for your 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 , by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp. 1065-72.

Today’s Bible Memory Verse

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

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