What does it say?
Isaiah’s prophecies against surrounding nations that began in chapter 13 with this prophecy against Ethiopia, sometimes translated as Cus (Isa 18). There is some question as to the actual boundaries of biblical Ethiopia or Cush, but the bulk of it probably corresponds to what we call today Sudan, both northern and southern.
Egypt is also the object of God’s judgment in Isaiah 19. The end of the chapter, however, holds out hope for the restoration of Egypt in the Millennial kingdom. Isaiah 20 reveals that God will use Assyria to bring judgment to both Egypt and Ethiopia.
Isaiah 21 puts the prophetic spotlight on Babylon, Dumah (Edom) and Arabia. In Isaiah 22 Jerusalem is the focus. God’s plan is for the nations to come to Jerusalem to worship him. Jerusalem is also guilty of rebellion. Isaiah 22:1-14 looks to the future foreseeing Jerusalem’s destruction after a horrible siege. Elam and Kir mentioned here are outposts of the Assyrian empire. The last part of the chapter predicts that Eliakim will replace Shebna, a high official of Hezekiah’s court.
What does it mean?
It’s no accident that immediately following the list of judgments against surrounding nations that Isaiah’s burden for Jerusalem appears. God chose Israel to be the channel of blessing for all nations (Gen 12:1-3), but Israel gets no special dispensation for sin. They will also (both northern and southern kingdoms) suffer the consequences of their sin. Yet even that does not stop God’s mission and with the judgment come equal measure of hope. Even in the case of Egypt, classic symbol of the world and sin in the Bible, hope is given for future reconciliation and restoration.
We all suffer the consequences of our choices and our sins. God’s plan has room for us and our engagement is welcomed along with the promise of eternal reward. Whether we agree to be part or not, God’s plan is never thwarted. We should finish this section with a sense that this is not about us, but we can certainly be part of it!
How will I respond?
Honestly looking at my life, is my faith relationship with God more about me, or more about my engagement in his mission? What correction steps can I take to adjust my course?