Morning Reading: Thu, 08 Feb – Isaiah 34-39 ~ The Highway of Holiness

Morning Reading

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Opening – (Northumbria Community)

One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.

Please Read: Isaiah 34-39 (NLT) – click here

Reading Excerpts

The Lord’s Fury Against the Nations

Isaiah 34 (NLT)

Come here and listen, O nations of the earth. Let the world and everything in it hear my words. For the Lord is enraged against the nations. His fury is against all their armies. He will completely destroy them, dooming them to slaughter….  The heavens above will melt away and disappear like a rolled-up scroll. The stars will fall from the sky like withered leaves from a grapevine, or shriveled figs from a fig tree.

+ Edom: marked for destruction – And when my sword has finished its work in the heavens, it will fall upon Edom, the nation I have marked for destruction….

For it is the day of the Lord’s revenge, the year when Edom will be paid back for all it did to Israel…. This judgment on Edom will never end; the smoke of its burning will rise forever. The land will lie deserted from generation to generation. No one will live there anymore…. For God will measure that land carefully; he will measure it for chaos and destruction.

+ Edom: the Land of Nothing – It will be called the Land of Nothing, and all its nobles will soon be gone. Thorns will overrun its palaces; nettles and thistles will grow in its forts. The ruins will become a haunt for jackals and a home for owls. Desert animals will mingle there with hyenas, their howls filling the night….

Search the book of the Lord, and see what he will do. Not one of these birds and animals will be missing, and none will lack a mate, for the Lord has promised this. His Spirit will make it all come true. He has surveyed and divided the land and deeded it over to those creatures. They will possess it forever, from generation to generation.

Hope for Israel’s Restoration

Isaiah 35 (NLT)

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.

+ The Lord is coming to save  you – With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.

+ The Highway of Holiness – And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers.

Only the redeemed will walk on it. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

Assyria Invades Judah

Isaiah 36 (NLT)

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them. Then the king of Assyria sent his chief of staff from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.

These are the officials who went out to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian.

Assyria Threatens Jerusalem

Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah:

+ What are you trusting in? – “This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me? On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!

“But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?

+ Let’s make a deal – “I’ll tell you what! Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them! With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers? What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’”

Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew, for the people on the wall will hear.”

+ Everyone will suffer under a siege – But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.”

+ Don’t let Hezekiah fool you – Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you. Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’

+ Your freedom for peace – “Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.

+ No god can rescue you – “Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?”

But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, “Do not answer him.”

Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian, went back to Hezekiah. They tore their clothes in despair, and they went in to see the king and told him what the Assyrian chief of staff had said.

Hezekiah Seeks the Lord’s Help

Isaiah 37 (NLT)

+ A day of trouble and insults – When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, all dressed in burlap, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They told him, “This is what King Hezekiah says: Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby. But perhaps the Lord your God has heard the Assyrian chief of staff, sent by the king to defy the living God, and will punish him for his words. Oh, pray for those of us who are left!”

+ Isaiah: I will move against him – After King Hezekiah’s officials delivered the king’s message to Isaiah, the prophet replied, “Say to your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him, and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’”

Meanwhile, the Assyrian chief of staff left Jerusalem and went to consult the king of Assyria, who had left Lachish and was attacking Libnah.

Soon afterward King Sennacherib received word that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia was leading an army to fight against him. Before leaving to meet the attack, he sent messengers back to Hezekiah in Jerusalem with this message:

+ Sennacherib: your God is helpless – “This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all! What happened to the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad? What happened to the kings of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”

+ Hezekiah: Lord save us – After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.

+ For your name’s sake – “It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”

Isaiah Prophesies Judah’s Deliverance

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you prayed about King Sennacherib of Assyria, the Lord has spoken this word against him:

“The virgin daughter of Zion despises you and laughs at you. The daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head in derision as you flee.

+ Isaiah to Sennacherib: you have defied the Holy One if Israel – “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel! By your messengers you have defied the Lord. You have said, ‘With my many chariots I have conquered the highest mountains—yes, the remotest peaks of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars and its finest cypress trees. I have reached its farthest heights and explored its deepest forests. I have dug wells in many foreign lands and refreshed myself with their water. With the sole of my foot, I stopped up all the rivers of Egypt!’

+ Isaiah to Sennacherib : all according to my plan – “But have you not heard? I decided this long ago. Long ago I planned it, and now I am making it happen. I planned for you to crush fortified cities into heaps of rubble. That is why their people have so little power and are so frightened and confused. They are as weak as grass, as easily trampled as tender green shoots. They are like grass sprouting on a housetop, scorched before it can grow lush and tall.

+ Isaiah to Sennacherib: I know your arrogance – “But I know you well—where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. And because of your raging against me and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth. I will make you return by the same road on which you came.”

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Here is the proof that what I say is true:

+ Isaiah to Hezekiah: you will survive the siege – “This year you will eat only what grows up by itself, and next year you will eat what springs up from that. But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them; you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit. And you who are left in Judah, who have escaped the ravages of the siege, will put roots down in your own soil and grow up and flourish.

For a remnant of my people will spread out from Jerusalem, a group of survivors from Mount Zion. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

“And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:

+ I will defend and protect Jerusalem – “‘His armies will not enter Jerusalem. They will not even shoot an arrow at it. They will not march outside its gates with their shields nor build banks of earth against its walls. The king will return to his own country by the same road on which he came. He will not enter this city,’ says the Lord. ‘For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David, I will defend this city and protect it.’”

That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.

One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.

Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery

Isaiah 38 (NLT)

+ Isaiah: Set your affairs in order – About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’”

When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly.

+ God: I’ll give you fifteen more years – Then this message came to Isaiah from the Lord: “Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. Yes, I will defend this city.

“‘And this is the sign from the Lord to prove that he will do as he promised: I will cause the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!’” So the shadow on the sundial moved backward ten steps.

Hezekiah’s Poem of Praise

When King Hezekiah was well again, he wrote this poem:

I said, “In the prime of my life, must I now enter the place of the dead? Am I to be robbed of the rest of my years?”

+ Help me! – I said, “Never again will I see the Lord God while still in the land of the living. Never again will I see my friends or be with those who live in this world. My life has been blown away like a shepherd’s tent in a storm. It has been cut short, as when a weaver cuts cloth from a loom. Suddenly, my life was over. I waited patiently all night, but I was torn apart as though by lions. Suddenly, my life was over. Delirious, I chattered like a swallow or a crane, and then I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew tired of looking to heaven for help. I am in trouble, Lord. Help me!”

+ Your discipline is good – But what could I say? For he himself sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt. Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins.

+ Only the living can praise you – For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.

Isaiah had said to Hezekiah’s servants, “Make an ointment from figs and spread it over the boil, and Hezekiah will recover.”

And Hezekiah had asked, “What sign will prove that I will go to the Temple of the Lord?”

Isaiah Prophesies the Babylonian Captivity

Isaiah 39 (NLT)

Soon after this, Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah his best wishes and a gift. He had heard that Hezekiah had been very sick and that he had recovered. Hezekiah was delighted with the Babylonian envoys and showed them everything in his treasure-houses—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the aromatic oils. He also took them to see his armory and showed them everything in his royal treasuries! There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did those men want? Where were they from?”

Hezekiah replied, “They came from the distant land of Babylon.”

“What did they see in your palace?” asked Isaiah.

“They saw everything,” Hezekiah replied. “I showed them everything I own—all my royal treasuries.”

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to this message from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: ‘The time is coming when everything in your palace—all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now—will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. ‘Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.’”

Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “This message you have given me from the Lord is good.” For the king was thinking, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.”
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“Therefore The Redeemed of The Lord” – Depoch Church (NAC Indonesia)

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, And come with singing unto Zion; And everlasting joy shall be upon their head.

They shall obtain gladness and joy; And sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

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Blessing – (Northumbrian Community)

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
__________

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!



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