precipice of cliff July 5-6 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Isaiah 10:5- 16:14 (note: since this Bible study is a two day study, it is suggested that the Bible reading be read the first day and the Bible study the second)

Fall from Greatness

Most of us have witnessed the fall of a great financial empire, a profitable industry, a popular political figure, or even the fall of a talented sports’ figure. What often brings about their destruction? Pride. Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18, NIV). God hates pride (Proverbs 6:16-17). Why? Those who are proud often forget their humble roots and believe all success is due to their own efforts. They often get overconfident, thinking they are invincible. They are stubborn, they will not listen, and they are unteachable. This is the point when they are the most vulnerable to defeat. Such was the nation of Israel, and such were the nations that destroyed her.

What happened to them? Though powerful and prosperous, the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed, plundered, and her people taken away by Assyrian kings. Now that Assyrian armies had conquered Israel, they also proceeded to conquer the nations around her. The Philistines in Ashdod were proud and thought they were safe, having sought refuge from Damascus. However, Damascus was destroyed by Assyria. Moab, the nation east of Israel, also thought she was safe, but her pride was brought low. She had to flee to the south and seek refuge in Edom. Assyria was the great military power of the day, even conquering the city of Babylon in 689 B.C. (this was before the nation of Babylon became strong (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp.1061-1064)). Assyria, too, would soon fall from greatness.

Assyria was the arm of God’s judgment, but Assyria was proud and had its own agenda: In Isaiah 10:5-7 God says,

Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations, (NIV)

Isaiah further prophesied, “When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, ‘I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes,’” (Isaiah 10:12, NIV). God is Sovereign over the nations and their kings. He would punish Israel (and later Judah) for wickedness and idolatry; he would have her people taken from the land. However; he would leave a remnant in the land.

Therefore, this is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: “O my people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did. Very soon my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction,” (Isaiah 10:24-25, NIV).

Isaiah 10:24-25 is a possible reference to 701 B.C. when God would destroy 185,000 Assyrian soldiers overnight. It could also refer to the final destruction of Assyria under Babylon in 609 B.C. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., p.1055).

Not only would the Assyrian King be destroyed, but Isaiah prophesied of a new king. He would spring up from the stump of Jesse (a reference to King David, a son of Jesse, and his most notable descendant, Jesus Christ). He would be the one whom the Spirit of the LORD would rest upon- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding (Isaiah 11:2; Luke 4:18-21). The Branch (Jesus Christ), also identified as the Holy One, will one day be in the land of Israel (Isaiah 12:6; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15). Both Israel and Judah, which will be scattered across the world, will gather to Jerusalem and be united as one people. There will be no more jealousy and division between the two nations. King Jesus will rule and judge with wisdom and righteousness. There will be world-wide peace, even in the animal kingdom. He will usher in a time of great joy after the destruction of Israel’s enemies. In today’s reading we can see that God was parenting his children. For their wickedness, rebellion and idolatry they had to be punished, but still God left his children with some hope. This is a good general pattern for parents to follow.

The oracle that Isaiah saw against Babylon (Isaiah 13:1) was probably directed to the king of Assyria, possibly Sennacherib, who ruled in the city of Babylon about the time of Israel’s destruction and exile (more…). A “Day of the LORD” would be coming against this Assyrian king. The “Day of the LORD” is a phrase often used by the prophets. What characterizes this day? Isaiah 13:6, 9 describe it this way: “Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty…. See, the day of the LORD is coming--a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it,” (NIV). The “Day of the LORD” is first a day of judgment.

The Day of the LORD will be followed by a day of peace upon the whole nation of Israel, as was stated earlier (also Isaiah 14:1-2), and later upon the world. Within 200 years a partial fulfillment of this prophecy would occur. Assyria would be conquered by Babylon, Babylon would conquer the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C. and take her people into exile. Shortly thereafter, Babylon would be conquered by the powerful nation of the Medes and Persians. After seventy years in Babylonian captivity, a remnant of Israel would return to occupy her homeland and be protected by God, though she would be a vassal state under the nation of Persia. Ultimate peace and victory of Israel over her captures is yet to come.

God would soon rescue Judah from Sennacherib. God may also rescue you, too, if you find refuge in Him. Some day God will give ultimate victory of the righteous over the oppressors. This will happen when his Son sits on his throne in Jerusalem. Jesus brings peace. Peace for your soul is found in Him (more...).

The fall of the Assyrian king is likened to the fall of a star from heaven. Sennacherib viewed himself as a star. Although Isaiah 14:12-15 has been attributed as a veiled reference to Satan and his angels in their fall from heaven, its immediate context was probably referring to Sennacherib. Are we a star in our own eyes? We need to be careful; we may fall from the skies of God’s favor.

Innocent people often fall victim to the pride of their leaders. As stated earlier, Moab was a country that feIl because of her pride. Isaiah wept as he saw the families of Moab fleeing their homes. It was a sad scene as they sought help from their gods and found none, as they lost their homes, their fortune and their lands, and as they walked in sackcloth, weeping and wailing because of their destruction and loss. Moab sought to go south to Edom for their protection, but they found no refuge. Where do we find refuge? God says refuge is found in Zion (in Jerusalem, where God made his dwelling place). Today, our refuge is not found in a symbolic place, but it is still found where God dwells. Only God can provide comfort and peace.

Lessons to live by:

  • Pride often leads to a downfall.
  • God is Sovereign over nations and their kings.
  • For their wickedness, rebellion and idolatry Israel had to be punished, but still God left his children with some hope. This is a good general pattern for parents to follow.
  • Are we a star in our own eyes? We need to be careful; we may fall from the skies of God’s favor.
  • Innocent people often fall victim to the pride of their leaders.
  • God is our refuge. Only God can provide comfort and peace to our souls. (more...)

Today’s Bible memory verses:

Isaiah 12:1

In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (NIV)

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