If you’ve been following me recently, you know that I’ve been trying to write a little as I read through the book of Isaiah. I want to deal briefly with the oracles of chapters 14-23 as a whole, then come back later to hit some specific points.
These oracles are dealing with the empires and kingdoms of the day. Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Egypt- the LORD is setting forth his rightful claim over them all. They are his and he is not only using them to accomplish his purposes, but he has a purpose for them as well. As he says in an oracle concerning Assyria, “This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” (Is.14:26,37)
God has been using the nations of the earth to discipline and judge Israel, the nation that was called out by him to be a priesthood to the world. Instead of drawing all nations to the LORD, Israel had been drawn to the gods and glory of others. Now, he sets himself against the instruments of his judgment, lest they be deceived into thinking themselves beyond his rightful rule.
His purpose in all things is stated well in Isaiah 11:9 “…for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Full covering, complete glorification, this is the unstoppable purpose for which God has stretched out his hand. We get a glimpse of how this will come about when he says, “then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness.” (16:5) But glory must come through death. The empires and gods of this world must be brought to destruction. The LORD is striking down the glory of man’s own hands so that man may repent and find his true glory in Christ.
“And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them…In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts blessed saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.;” – Isaiah 19:23,24