The burden against Damascus.
Is 18 – Is 20:
The message to Ethiopia/Egypt
The burden against Egypt.
A sign against Egypt and Ethiopia.
The burden against Damascus.
the capital Syria, has a close
historical relationship with Israel.
Damascus was a dominant trading and
transportation center. Standing 2300 feet above sea level, it lay northeast of
Mount Hermon and about 60 miles east of Sidon. Both major
international highways ran through Damascus.
The Via Maris from Mesopotamia in the east
through Damascus and the Jezreel Valley to the Plain
of Sharon and the Mediterranean coast, then south to Egypt
The King’s Highway from Damascus
south through Ashtaroth, Rabbath-ammon,
and Bozrah to Elath on the
Red Sea and to Arabia.
The Bible’s recording/history
concerning this city is as follows:
Abraham chased invading kings north of Damascus to recover Lot,
whom they had taken captive. (Gen 14:15)
Soldiers of Damascus attempted to help Hadadezer, king of Zobath –
another Syrian city, against David. David won and took over Damascus (2 Sam 8:5ff). The weakness of Zobah encouraged Rezon to
organize a renegade band. Rezon became the leader of Syria headquartered in Damascus (1 Kgs 11: 23-25). God used him to
harass Solomon after Solomon sinned against God.
Damascus to the point that Asa,
king of Judah (910-869),
paid him tribute to attack Baasha, king of Israel, and relieve pressure on Judah
(1 Kgs 15:16-23)
Ben-Hadad means Son of
Hadad. Hadad was another
name for the god Baal. Ben-Hadad, the Syrian king,
under King Ahab. A prophet revealed the way to victory for Ahab over a drunken
Ben-Hadad. The Syrian king decided Israel’s God controlled the hills
but not the plains, so he attacked at Aphek (1 Kgs 20:26). Again a prophet pointed the way to Israel’s victory. Ahab agreed to a
covenant treaty with the defeated Syrian king, for which he met a prophet’s
strong judgment. (1 Kgs 20:35-43) (Compare with the story of Elisha releasing
the soldiers of Syria)
Elisha had done much with this country.
Naaman, a Syrian
officer, sought Elisha’s help in curing his skin disease but decided Abana and Pharphar, the great
rivers of Damascus, offered greater help than
did the Jordan.
(2 Kgs 5:12) These rivers made Damascus
an oasis in the midst of the desert.
Elisha helped deliver Samaria when Ben-Hadad
besieged it. (2 Kgs 6).
Elisha prophesied a change of dynasty in Damascus, naming Hazael its king
(2 Kgs 8:7-15) It is to fulfill the prophecy of God
when God told Elijah that Hazael would punish Israel.
Ahaziah, king of
Judah, joined Joram (Ahaziah’s
uncle), king of Israel,
in battle against Hazael with Joram
being wounded. Jehu took advantage of the wounded king and killed him
(2 Kgs 8:25-9:26). This is to fulfill the prophecy of God to Elijah.
Shalmaneser III fought
against Damascus and severely weakened Damascus. After this, Hazael of Damascus exercised strong influence in Israel, Judah,
and Philistia (2 Kgs 10:32-33). His son Ben-Hadad maintained Damascus’
strength (2 Kgs 13:3-25). Finally, Jehoash, king of Israel (798-782), regained some cities from Damascus (2 Kgs 13:25)
Jeroboam II, king of Israel
(793-753), expanded Israelite influence and gained control of Damascus (2 Kgs 14:28). This was possible
because Assyria threatened Syria
again. King Assyria invaded Syria
from 805-802 and again in 796. About 760 BC, Amos the prophet condemned Damascus and its kings Hazael and Ben-Hadad. (Amos
king of Assyria (744-727), threatened Damascus
again. King Rezin of Damascus
joined with Pekah, king of Israel, in an effort to stop the
Assyrians. They marched on Jerusalem, trying to
force Ahaz of Judah to join them in fighting Assyria (2 Kgs 16:5). The prophet Isaiah warned Ahaz not to participate with Syria
(Isa 7). He also said that Assyria would destroy Damascus (Isa 8:4) Rezin of Damascus had some military success (2 Kgs 16:6),
but he could not get Ahaz of Judah to cooperate.
Instead, Ahaz sent money to Tiglath-pileser,
asking him to rescue Judah
from Israel and Damascus. The Assyrians
responded readily and captured Damascus
in 732BC, exiling its leading people (2 Kgs 16:7-9)
Damascus had one
last influence on Judah; for
when Ahaz went to Damascus
to pay tribute to Tiglath-pileseer, he liked the
altar he saw there and had a copy made for the Jerusalem temple. (2 Kgs 16:10-16). Damascus sought to gain independence from Assyria in 727 and 720 but without success. Thus Damascus became a captive
state of first the Assyrians, then Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Ptolemies, and Seleucids. Finally, Rome gained control under Pompey in 64BC.
Jews began to migrate to Damascus
and establish synagogues there.
Saul went to Damascus to determine if any Christian
believers were attached to the synagogues there so that he might persecute them (Acts 9). Thus the Damascus Road became the sight of Saul’s
conversion experience. Paul had to escape from Damascus in a basket to begin his ministry
(2 Cor 11:32).
gained importance, eventually becoming a Roman colony. It also gained
importance as a Christian city, with a bishop stationed there prior to 400AD. The Arabs
captured it in 636 and made it a capital city for the Moslem world, which it
continues to be.
Prophecy of the fall of Syria.
III, king of Assyria (744-727), indeed destroyed Syria in 733.
V2: Jehu’s sins brought God’s punishment on Israel,
including the loss of Aroer to Hazael
of Damascus (2 Kgs 10:33)
V3: Is7:8 For the head
of Syria is Damascus,
and the head of Damascus
is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall
Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.
Prophecy of the fall of Israel.
Under the rule of Jeroboam
was a strong country. It almost restored the territory of King Solomon.
But like a physical body, its richness and power would have faded away.
was destroyed by Assyria in 722BC.
“Reapers gathering the standing grain and harvests the grain with his arm…” The reaper and the
harvests refer to judgment (Mt 13:30-39).
“As when a man gleans heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim” Rephaim, residents of Sheol, is often translated as “Hades” or
the “dead” (Prov 9:18; Isa 14:9)
“Yet some gleaning will remain…” There will be
few left in the country. God have mercy to spare the remedy.
The awakening of Israel.
In suffering and difficulties, man will look to
his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. This is a
repeated lesson in the book of Judges. Ex. An elder mentioned that it is hard
to preach nowadays. When the suffering and tribulation comes, all will look
to his Maker for salvation.
failure of all human beings is: “Because you have forgotten the God of your
salvation, and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge…” (v10) Paul
mentioned that the Rock is the spiritual rock that follows the Israelites in their journey
in the wilderness for 40 years. The spiritual rock yielded the spiritual water
to quench their thirst.
“though you plant
pleasant plants and set out slips of an alien god, morning that you sow; yet
the harvest will flee away in a day of grief and incurable pain” (v10f). The
pleasant plants could refer to Hosea 4:13 “They offer sacrifices on the
mountaintops, and burn incense on the hills, under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, Because their shade is
good. Therefore your daughters commit harlotry, And
your brides commit adultery.”
We have to acknowledge that sometimes Satan has power to help people. Or a strong country has power to
help us in our need. V10 and v11 used Rock to talk about God and plants to talk
about human reliance. The growth can be seen more easily in the plants rather
than in the Rock. The rock is not moved. But we can see that the Rock lasts forever
and plants got cut away. The flowers fly away in time of distress.
God is our reliance.
“Nations roar like the roaring of many waters,
but He will rebuke them, and they will flee far away” (v13). This verse reminds
us of the time when Jesus calmed the sea and the storm. “At evening time,
behold, terror! Before morning, there are no more.” The terror lasted for a
The enemy of Judah
included Syria, Israel, and Assyria.
Even though they might attack Judah
like roaring water, but God will make them run away (Ref 2 Kgs 18-19). The King
of Assyria failed to take over Jerusalem.
The message to Ethiopia.
The biblical Ethiopia should not be confused
with the modern nation of the same name somewhat further to the southeast. In biblical times, Ethiopia
was equivalent to Nubia,
the region beyond the first cataract of the Nile south, or upstream, of Egypt.
This region, with an abundance of natural resources, was known to the Egyptians
and was occupied by them during periods of Egyptian strength. During the New
Kingdom (1550-1070 BC), Ethiopia
was totally incorporated into the Egyptian Empire and ruled through an official
called the “viceroy of Cush”
When Egyptian power waned, Nubia
became independent under a line of rulers who imitated Egyptian culture. When Egypt
fell into a period of chaos about 725 BC, Nubian kings extended their influence
northward in 715 BC… They succeeded in establishing
control over all of Egypt
and ruled as pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. The most influential of
these Ethiopian pharaohs was Taharqa (biblical Tirhakah), who rendered aid to Hezekiah of Judah during the
Assyrian invasion of Sennacherib in 701BC (2 Kgs 19:9; Isa 37:9)
The Assyrian Empire invaded Egypt in 671 BC, driving the Ethiopian
pharaohs southward and eventually sacking the Egyptian capital Thebes. (biblical No-Amon, Nah 3:8) in 664
BC. Thereafter, the realm of Ethiopian kings was confined to Nubia, which they
ruled from Napata.
Sometime after 300 BC, Napata was abandoned
and the capital moved further south to Meroe,
where the kingdom continued for another six hundred years.
This chapter is a message from
Isaiah to the messenger of Cush.
King of Cush intended to unite with Hezekiah of Judah to go against Assyria.
Isaiah prophesied that God would destroy Assyria.
When God sees the right time, He will do it.
Describe the people of Cush.
They were strong and swift people. The Nile river,
and its branches, divided the land. Land of whirring wings referred to three
kinds of people in the bible. 1st: the fly of Egypt. 2nd: the bee of Assyria. 3rd: the eagle of Rome. (According to Pr Lin’s book). Vessels
of papyrus: there was less wood in the land of Egypt.
So the boat was made of papyrus.
Yet Cush shall listen to the horn of
God. God will for sure avenge at the right time.
I will remain quiet and will look
on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud
of dew in the heat of harvest.”
Sunshine and dew are two necessities for the
harvest. All plants will grow toward sunshine. Dew will make plants grow
stronger. Good harvest depends on these two resources. Harvest refers to
God’s judgment time. (Mt 13:30)
Ex. God did not punish
the land of Canaan during Abraham’s time. God commented
that the evil was not fulfilled. After 400 years, God exercised His
Ex. Even though men are evil, God still helps man with His grace. God makes the sun shine on the evil and the good. This is to show the
righteousness of God.
God will remain quiet and will look from His
“Vengeance is Mine” says the Lord. (Heb 10:30)
We will not be disappointed by God’s
righteousness. (Ps 73)
“…He will cut off the shoots with
pruning knives, and cut down and take away the spreading branches. They will all
be left to the mountain birds of prey and to the wild animals.”
God will cut down Assyria
after the blossoming time. At the time of the maturing of grapes, God will cut them
God always gives a grace period for a person to
repent. God gave Adam a grace period. God gave Achan
a grace period. When the graceful period has passed, man cannot escape the
judgment of God.
When the judgment of God comes upon us, it
will be very serious. (Heb 12:29) For God is a consuming fire.
At that time, gifts will be
brought to the Lord Almighty from a people tall and smooth-skinned, from a
people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land
is divided by rivers.
This verse echoes the V1-3. Eventually, Cush
would know that God is almighty.
In New Testament times, an Ethiopian eunuch, to
whom Philip explained the gospel, was a minister of Candace,
queen of the Ethiopians. (Acts 8:27). We can see from history that the Ethiopians knew to
worship the Lord.
The burden against Egypt.
The punishment of Egypt (v1-v15)
v1-v4: Bankrupt of Religion.
“… the Lord rides on a
swift cloud…” It refers to the speed of
“idols of Egypt
tremble before him” Idols cannot stand still in front of God. The ark of God
was carried to the Philistine temple and all idols fell before the mighty God.
“and the hearts of the
Egyptians melt within them.” God punished the people of Philistine and they
send the ark back to Israel.
V2: “God stirs up … and they will fight,
every man against his brother and …his neighbors…”
God controls the hearts of man and the king. God
Therefore humans fighting against one another is another form
of God’s judgment.
V3: “The Egyptians will lose heart, and
I will bring their plans to nothing; they will consult the idols and the
spirits of the dead, the mediums and the wizards.”
We can see that no matter if it is in Egypt or in Taiwan, where there is idol
worship, there is consultation of idols and of the dead and of the occult.
Even though Egypt was famous for its plans, God brought its
plans to nothing. When God wants to judge, man cannot finish his plan. Ex.
Saul wanting to kill David. Ex. Absalom seeking for
V4: “give over
the Egyptians into the hand of a hard master, and a fierce king will rule over
This may refer to the invasion of Assyria in
672. (Isa 20:4; Jer 46:26)
v5-v10: Ruin of Land.
V5-v7: “the waters of the Nile will be
dried up…The canals will stink; the streams of Egypt will dwindle and dry up. The
reeds and rushes will wither, also the plants along the Nile,
at the mouth of the river.”
There was a drought in the land. The Nile dried up because there was no rain on the mountain.
Therefore, there was no rain in Egypt
The canals will stink: This refers to there being
war besides the drought. So we can see famine, war, death, and plague in the land of Egypt.
V8-10: The fishermen will groan for there
are no fish in the rivers. There is no cotton due to the lack of water, so the
weavers of fine linen will lose hope. The high-class people and law class
people will suffer together. “The pillars of the Land” refers to the
industrious leaders. “work for hire” refers to the employees.
v11-v15: The disabling of leaders.
V11: “ The princes of Zoan
are utterly foolish; the wise counselors of Pharaoh give stupid counsel. How
can you say to Pharaoh, ‘I am a son of the wise, a son of the ancient kings’?”
Zoan was a city in the
north of Delta area. Zoan was once a capital. Two
pharaohs came from this city. Memphis later
became the capital.
According to some ancient writing, the priests
were famous for their wisdom. Many Pharaohs came from the family of priests.
(Priests did not have to pay taxes in Joseph’s time.)
The spirit of confusion would come to the Egypt and make it do the wrong thing. Ex The ill
spirit came between Shechem and Abimelech, then there was guile in among the people.
Those spirits were allowed by the Lord to attack the people.
Palm branch refers to the Royal people. The reed
refers to the low status people. All kinds of people cannot finish their job.
Leaders/wise men are great asset in a country.
King David’s kingdom was very strong because there were mighty men serving in
his country. Let us pray that God can raise more mighty men to serve God in
v16-25: Prophecy that Egyptians will
return back to the Lord.
V16-17: Egypt fears God.
V18:5: Cities learn new language.
V19-22: Egypt learns to worship God.
V23: Egypt and Assyria worship God.
V24-25: Countries worship God.
Even though God struck Egypt,
God would save Egypt
in the future. There are 5 paragraphs starting with “In that day.” In that day
could refer to the last day.
In that day, Egypt will be scared like a woman. How
do women react to worms? God’s hand will make Egypt feel scared.
There will be five cities in the Land of Egypt
that will speak the language of Canaan and swear
allegiance to the Lord of hosts.
One of the cities is called “City of Sun” because the city
worships the sun. Other translation calls it “City of destruction”. This name is to show that Jews despised the city.
In the last day, God will punish and then heal Egypt (v22). A
pillar was used to mark a place of worshiping (Gen 28:18). 12 pillars were
set up by Moses when he built an altar for the Lord and offered sacrifice
(Ex 24:4). In the future, Egypt
will set up pillars and altars to worship the Lord. Egypt will know God and pray to
God. This country will become God’s people.
In the last day, there shall be a highway out of
Egypt to Assyria
and vice versa. There will be peace in these two countries. This highway refers
to Christ (Jn 14:6) Christ tears down the wall between man and man. The mystery
revealed to Paul is that the Gentiles shall receive salvation through Jesus Christ
In that day, God will bless three countries.
Salvation shall be for all nations. “And many nations shall join themselves to
the Lord in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of
you, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.”(Zech 2:11)
A sign against Egypt and Ethiopia.
Background: A northern city in
Philistine, Ashdod, rebelled against Assyria in 713BC. Ashdod
was conquered by Assyria in 711 BC.
Tartan: it is not a man's name.
It is a title like “Chief Officer”
Prophet Isaiah served as a sign
to tell people that in the future, Assyria will destroy Egypt. The
purpose is so that Israel does
not rely on the power of Egypt.