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chairman of the board July 10 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Isaiah 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28:14-29

Responding to Threats

We all face threats in our lives. We may be bullied or we may experience threats from our employers. We may face the threat of creditors and/or financial ruin. We may even face the threats of other nations coming against us. How will we respond? Let’s look at how many nations around Israel in the pre-exile days of Judah responded to threats from Assyria and see how we should respond.

You may remember from previous lessons that Assyria was a powerful nation and its king ruled from the city of Babylon. Assyria conquered many nations in the Middle East. When Israel relied on Assyria to help fight against Damascus to the north of her, instead of the LORD, Assyria not only conquered Damascus but also conquered Israel as far south as Samaria. Israel was besieged, ravaged, plundered, and her cities set on fire. Her residents were taken into exile and replaced with foreigners. Now Assyria wanted to continue her conquest by pushing west and south to Ashdod, Tyre, Sidon, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Judah, Edom, Egypt and Ethiopia. Then she wanted to proceed east of the Jordan River to Moab, Babylon, and Media. How would these nations respond to these threats?

Cush (Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan) apparently sought an alliance with Judah, but Hezekiah thought that unwise at the time and did not form a union with them. There will come a day, however, when Egypt and Ethiopia will seek the LORD. The phrase “at that time” or “on that day” usually refers to the coming 1,000-year rule and reign of Christ. At that time Cush and other nations will bring gifts to the LORD Almighty when his Son [Jesus] rules from Jerusalem. Egypt relied on its own wisdom and its own gods to save them. They would not, however, be saved. Isaiah prophesied, “I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them," declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty,” (Isaiah 19:4, NIV). In 671 B.C. Esarhaddon, the reigning Assyrian king conquered Egypt. *

There would come a time, however, both near and in the future, when the land of Assyria would be conquered. In the future millennium, they, along with other nations including Assyria, will be at peace and will bring gifts to Zion. Here is a lesson we might learn: In times of threatening circumstances, do not seek to make alliances or deals. Seek help from the LORD; the LORD brings peace.

Babylon sought to rise up against Assyria, but in 701 B.C. it, too, fell. Isaiah was horrified by the vision he saw of Assyria putting down Babylon's rebellion and continuing its march to conquer nations. He was even more horrified at the complacency shown by Judah. They should have sent spies to find out what was happening and make battle preparations, but they were complacent. Are we complacent when we see threats? Do we deny that they will affect us? Denial can result in defeat. Proverbs 22:3 and 27:2 say, A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it, (NIV).

Edom had heard of threats, but since there was silence (i.e., nothing was happening at that moment), she assumed things would go on as previously. Because we are not facing an immediate threat today, does that mean nothing will happen tomorrow? Let us not be naive.

Arabia fled from the threats of Assyria, but she was not able to out run her enemy. Within one year, Isaiah prophesied, she would be decimated. This prophecy must have been given in 716 B.C. because in 715 B.C. it was fulfilled. * Do we try to run from threats? Trouble may still catch up with us. Run to the LORD for refuge and help.

Isaiah saw a vision of Jerusalem from the Kidron Valley (also called the “valley of vision” because that is where he received it). In our last lesson we saw that the kingdom of Judah, under King Hezekiah, had a great revival. Afterwards, however, sensing a threat from Assyria under the new king Sennacherib, he apparently formed a league with Egypt and other nations. He prepared Jerusalem for a possible attack and siege by making a tunnel to bring in water and by strengthening its walls. Time brings forgetfulness. Hezekiah did not immediately look to the LORD for help, the one who made it possible to build the city. Then Jerusalem acted with further shame in her hedonistic fatalism, enjoying the moment. “Let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” (Isaiah 22:13, NIV). One of the king’s stewards even tried to make a monument to himself before the invasion. He was replaced by Eliakim a faithful steward. Is that our response? Do we forget the God who saved us and look only to ourselves for deliverance? When threatened, do we have an attitude of complacency and fatalism about our destiny? Will we eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we may die? Where is our faith? Will we selfishly look to making a name for ourselves with the time we have left, or will we look after the interests of others? If we do the former, we, too, might have our honor taken away. We can forget God, act in our own wisdom and strength and suffer for it, or we can repent and look to the LORD for our salvation. Let us be faithful to the end, and we will be rewarded.

Tyre and Sidon and its trade with Phoenicia and Cyprus would come to an end. For seventy years Assyria severely restricted their trade. Tyre and Sidon could no longer rely on their wealth and trading relations. Do we rely on stock markets, trade, and wealth? The LORD planned the demise of these nations “to bring low the pride of all glory and to humble all who are renowned on the earth,” (Isaiah 23:9, NIV). Do we need to be humbled so that we will seek not our own glory and wealth but God’s glory? 1Samuel 2:7 says, “The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up,” (NIV). Psalm 3:3 says, “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head,” (NIV).

Lessons to live by:

  • When you are threatened, remember to depend on the LORD. It is the LORD who can shield us when we are threatened.
  • In times of threatening circumstances, do not make alliances or deals; seek help from the LORD; the LORD brings peace.
  • Do not rely on your own wisdom and resources to deal with threats. Rely on God and his wisdom.
  • Let’s not be complacent when we see threats. Let’s not deny that they will affect us. Denial can result in defeat. Proverbs 22:3 and 27:2 say, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (NIV)
  • We cannot run from every threat; trouble may still catch up with us. Run to the LORD for refuge and help.
  • When facing threats, do not have a complacent, fatalistic, hedonistic outlook on life or seek your own interests. Look to the LORD for your salvation and be faithful (more...).
  • All the destinies of the world are known by God and are under his control.

* Resource: The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament , by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp. 1065-72.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Psalm 3:3 “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head,” (NIV).

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