After using the same Bible reading pattern for years, I know there are some days that I put the Bible down and say, “I’ll try again next year.” Today is one of those days.
Consider it a victory if you are able to read through Isaiah 20-23. There is so much I do not understand. Those who were living in the midst of this history understood far more. Each year I read and try to learn a little more, to find a nugget of understanding or application. The new nugget I learned this year is the date of this section is 711 BC when Sargon II captured Ashdod, a Philistine city on the Mediterranean Sea. Archaeology hints he then made it into a fortress city. .
Here are the nuggets I found last year:
- Isaiah 20 – The prophet runs around “naked,” probably in what we would call our underwear. Egypt and Cush (south of Egypt) were potential allies. The Israelites put their hope in them. They will be destroyed. In what am I placing my hope other than in the sure promises of my God?
- Isaiah 21 -- Babylon has fallen. Another potential ally is gone. Edom has fallen. Arabia has fallen. All potential allies.
- Isaiah 22 - Jerusalem made ready for attack, "but they did not look to the One who made it." They trusted in their own abilities rather than in the LORD. People who should be looking out for the good of God's people are only looking out for themselves (Shebna, the manager of the king's household).
- Isaiah 23 - Glorious cities like Tyre fall. "The LORD planned it long ago." The rise and fall of nations is no accident.
The New Testament lesson (find Ephesians 6 here) is more familiar. It continues the lesson from Ephesians 5:21: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
It is hard to submit. It is hard for children to submit to their parents. It is hard for slaves (employees who don’t feel they are paid enough) to submit to their employers.
No wonder Paul ends with saying, “Put on the armor of God.” We need the help of our God as Satan attacks us!
There are some issues in my life that I am struggling to submit to. Where have I placed my trust in the wrong place? Do I trust my God? How is Satan using this to attack me?
I wrote this late at night. "Watchmen, tell me of the night?" (Isaiah 21:11) "Morning is coming, but also the night. If you would ask, then ask, and come back again."
When is the morning coming? "Morning will come, but also the night." There will likely be relief from this time of darkness in your life and mine, but more dark, difficult days will likely lie ahead. So, "come back," or "turn" or "repent." Safety is only found in turning back to the LORD.
“The LORD Almighty has planned this against Tyre” (Isaiah 23:9). So too, the LORD, the Savior God who can do all things, has planned the dark and difficult time you and I may be going through. So we turn, turn to the LORD for mercy.
I did get more out of the reading this year than last. Still so much that I don't understand. Don't give up when you are going through these difficult sections. Don't be afraid to email me questions about what you read. We can work together to find some answers.
Finally, join me in humbly saying, "I’ll try again next year." It is all part of putting on the full armor of God.
Your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus (Revelation 1:9),