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Devotionals June 8 – July 7, 2024: Isaiah 13–23: The Burdens

This section of Isaiah is compiled from a series of “burdens” that Isaiah prophesied against Jerusalem and the neighboring nations. The burdens start out with Babylon being destroyed, Moab being laid waste, and Damascus being made a ruinous heap. They continue with prophecies against Egypt, the land beyond Ethiopia, Arabia, Dumah, Kedar, and then Jerusalem herself.  

The fact that Isaiah includes Israel and Judah in the prophecies of judgment throughout this book shows that they did not deserve God’s favor any more than the nations around them did. Although God will chastise Israel and Jerusalem for their terrible sins, however, he will not destroy them forever. Isaiah 14:1 says, “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land.” In chapter 16 we read, “Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion…And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness” (vv. 1, 5). God promises that Israel, and the throne of David, will be reestablished through the Lamb that is sent to Zion. The suffering and bondage in Babylon are only for a season in order to purify God’s people.  

The fulfillment of the burdens in chapters 1323 is not contained in a single historical event. While Isaiah 13:17 prophesies that the Medes will overthrow Babylon, we also see the fall of Babylon described in Revelation 18, where Babylon is a picture of the antichristian kingdom at the end of history. Also, in Isaiah 13:10 and 13, we read of the sun, moon, and stars being darkened, and God shaking the heavens during the destruction of Babylon. Jesus prophesies in Matthew 24:29 that at the time of his second coming, the sun and moon will be darkened, and the “powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” When we read the prophecies in the book of Isaiah, we must be careful not to look for fulfillment in only one event in history. Otherwise, we will fall into the temptation to believe either that the great tribulation is past, or that the physical nation of Israel is still the chosen people of God, with Gentile Christians secondary to God’s covenant. 

The latter error is contrary to Isaiah 19:1825, as well as chapters 2:23 and 14:1, which clearly show that God, in his eternal counsel, determined to gather his elect from every nation, tribe, and tongue. The Gentiles are not a New Testament add-on feature to God’s covenant. One might read Isaiah 19 and be tempted to think, “How could God bless such wicked nations as Assyria and Egypt, calling them ‘my people’ and ‘the work of mine hands’?” Jonah had this sinful attitude when God told him to preach to Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. He thought, “Why should I preach to such a wicked city?” Then he became angry when God spared Nineveh from judgment after they repented.  

The Pharisees also had this sinful attitude. When Jesus went to Levi’s house in Mark 2, many tax collectors and other people of sinful backgrounds were there. The Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, “How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?” (v. 16). Jesus’ answer was, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (v. 17). The Pharisees did not think those types of people were worthy of their company, and they disdained Jesus for associating with such sinners. The Pharisees conveniently ignored their own sin and unworthiness of Christ’s fellowship.  

While the publicans and sinners knew that they needed a Savior, the Pharisees thought that since they were Abraham’s seed and had the law of Moses, they were going to heaven. Jesus sharply points out that “if ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39; see also Heb. 11:819). The true children of Abraham are those who know their sin and seek for salvation in Christ (Isa. 19:1922; John 8:3347; Rom. 4:918; Gal. 3:2629). These supporting Scripture references demonstrate that Gentiles are included in the promises that God gave to Abraham in Genesis 15 and 17, and they help us understand why God would bless Assyria and Egypt. 

From these chapters in Isaiah, we see that the burdens on the nations serve God’s purpose of gathering his people from all nations. The wicked are punished and destroyed, but God uses that judgment to save his people and to gather to himself a holy, catholic church.  

Rebekah is a wife and mother in the home. She attends Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, CA, with her family. 

 

Date  Read  Study  Psalter 
June 8  Isaiah 13:1–5  Who is gathering against Babylon?  126 (vv. 1, 3–5) 
June 9  Isaiah 13:6–10 

Matt. 24:29 

What does the Old Testament destruction of Babylon picture?  16 
June 10  Isaiah 13:11–18 

Ps. 137 

Isaiah 13 was written before captivity, and Psalm 137 was written during captivity. How was this prophecy a source of comfort to the faithful in captivity?  379 
June 11  Isaiah 13:19–22  What is Isaiah prophesying in these verses?  185 (vv. 1, 4–6, 8–9) 
June 12  Isaiah 14:1–3  Why is Babylon being destroyed?  9 (vv. 12) 
June 13  Isaiah 14:4–11 

Rom. 8:19–22 

How is the destruction of Babylon also a salvation for the creation?  258 (vv. 1, 67) 
June 14  Isaiah 14:12–23  What was the key sin the king of Babylon committed?  173 (v. 6) 
June 15  Isaiah 14:24–32  What beautiful truth do you find in these verses?  238 
June 16  Isaiah 15 

Jer. 48 

What reasons does Jeremiah give for the destruction of Moab? (Jer. 48:7, 11, 26, 29, 42)  156 (vv. 1–4) 
June 17  Isaiah 16:1–5  Who is foreshadowed in verse 5?  241 (vv. 1–3) 
June 18  Isaiah 16:6–14  Why is the destruction of Moab so lamentable?  91 
June 19  Isaiah 17:1–6  Why is Israel included in this burden?  294 (v. 1) 
June 20  Isaiah 17:7–14  What will be the result of the destruction of Damascus and Ephraim?  109 (v. 1) 
June 21  Isaiah 18:1–3  What was the land beyond Ethiopia trying to do?  400 (vv. 1–3, 7) 
June 22  Isaiah 18:4–7  What is the “present” mentioned in verse 7?  401 
June 23  Isaiah 19:1–10  What is the primary means that God will use to judge the Egyptians?  296 
June 24  Isaiah 19:11–17 

Jer. 30:5–6 

What earthly picture is used to describe the terror and pain the Egyptians will experience?  148 
June 25  Isaiah 19:18–20  How will some Egyptians respond to the judgment God will send?  103 
June 26  Isaiah 19:21–22 

Mal. 1:11 

What significance do these verses have?  166 
June 27  Isaiah 19:23–25  How have these verses been fulfilled? Do we experience the result of that today?  237 
June 28  Isaiah 20  What was Isaiah asked to do, and for what purpose?  206 
June 29  Isaiah 21:1–10 

Dan. 5:1–9, 17–31 

How is the earthly kingdom of Babylon destroyed?  216 
June 30  Isaiah 21:11–12  What is the answer of the watchman?  39 (v. 3) 
July 1  Isaiah 21:13–17  Which nation is this judgment spoken against?  93 
July 2  Isaiah 22:1–7  What is the valley of vision?  157 
July 3  Isaiah 22:8–14 

2 Chron. 32:1–8 

Why was this a day of weeping for the people?  218 
July 4  Isaiah 22:15–25 

2 Kings 18:18 

What are these verses saying concerning Shebna and Eliakim? How does 2 Kings 18:18 confirm that this indeed took place?  138 
July 5   Isaiah 23:1–9  What was the city of Tyre known for?  420 (vv. 1, 3, 6) 
July 6  Isaiah 23:10–16  How many years will Tyre be forgotten?  183 
July 7  Isaiah 23:17–18  When Tyre is restored, how will she behave differently?  194