I Travail Not, Nor Bring Forth Children

Isaiah 23

Here is another chapter steep in historical context, a prophecy against Tyre. Tyre is a port city and strategically placed along key trade routes connecting Egypt and all the Mediterranean to the lands of Assyria, Babylon, and also Jerusalem.

The concluding verses are curious. Though Tyre is referred to as a harlot in these verses, yet will her goods and labors be brought to a holy end in the work of the Lord. This leads me to consider parallels in our days, such as developments in technologies, air travel, and many other industries. The work of the Lord could not have gone forward, as it has towards a global conclusion, without the rise in industrialization as we have it today.

Second morning of reading this chapter, and it makes much more sense. It has been revealed to me. Tyre is to be destroyed because is a symbolic harlot. The accusations brought against her have to do with failure to attend to the real duties of life.

Be thou ashamed, O Zidon… I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins.

Verse 4

The purposes of family life are pointed to here as chief purpose of our existence, a thing which the lands of Zidon and Tyre did not accommodate well.

The description of Tyre and Zidon as a harlot is a compelling one. The gratification of the senses will soon be past, with no posterity, no legitimate offspring, no family bonds to sustain in old age. As the harlot grows older with less appealing prospects, she will have to sing songs to remind others of her existence.

At the very end of the chapter, again, it talks of the merchandise and hire of Tyre being made into holiness before the Lord. The last sentence is key:

it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.

Verse 18

This work of the Lord isn’t about filling up the coffers of the king. Rather for those that dwell before the Lord, it will be sufficient to eat and clothing to wear.

As a Nail in a Sure Place

Isaiah 22, Additional Insights

“Thine slain men are not slain with the sword…” What does it mean to have a host of people living dead lives? Not that I would cast a sweeping judgment across the bulk of humanity, but the question begs consideration. What does come of a nation that has utterly discounted their purpose for existence.

This chapter appears to be directed back at Jerusalem. Where most of the other “burden” prophecies were aimed at the other nations of the day that surround Jerusalem, Isaiah is now address his own people again.

The end of this chapter contains a Messianic prophecy, though there was a literal fulfillment in his words as well. Priesthood keys are referenced here. Christ is the possessor of those keys and that right that comes with those keys.

Studying a bit more the prophesy at the end of this chapter about the Savior (see verses 20-25), there is reference to his crucifixion. The effects of the Savior’s action, or his being placed in this position of authority is significant. “They shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue…” (The Spanish translation replaces “offsping” and “issue” with “descendents” and “posterity” respectively.)

This reminds me of Mosiah 15, where Abinadi is explaining to those wicked priests how Christ’s sufferings extends to him the power to be father to those who believe on his name.

Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed.

Mosiah 15:10

This is an interesting connection, mostly because Abinadi was referencing Isaiah to begin with. Then here I am reading Isaiah and being brought to consider the words of Abinadi.

Watchman, What of the Night?

Isaiah 20, 21

Prophets are what make this thing real. It is what connects humanity to the heavens.

It should be noted the that nakedness (see vs 2) spoken of in Isaiah 20 is generally assumed to be a debasing of garments, not utter nakedness.

In chapter 21, the destruction of so many countries and civilizations goes to demonstrate the futile efforts of nation kingdoms to acquire and preserve wealth and power. The purposes of life are much to the contrary. Should our time be spent in mundane pursuits?

As I sit with these chapters for one more day, I am asking myself: Why does the Lord care about this? Why did he employ his prophets in these prophecies of theses places that were to be destroyed. What am I to learn from this?

Perhaps one of the lessons that I take away from these otherwise abstract chapters in Isaiah is that God is God of the whole earth and all people who live upon it. This extends to those cultures and peoples who have been built up with no acknowledgement or references to the Divine and to those that are completely devoid of the truth. By extension, a prophet is not a prophet only to the believers, but to all people everywhere.

Blessed Be Egypt My People

Isaiah 19, Additional Contexts

As I revisit this chapter for a second morning, the first thought that impresses me is this final thought of the chapter: Israel is not alone in the Lord’s eyes.

Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.

Vs. 25

The Lord refers to Egypt as his people and Assyria as the work of his hands. This work is much bigger than just one person or one group of “chosen people”.

The first part of this chapter details the fall of Egypt, it is not unlike the descriptions of other great states that have come to ruin. Egypt though has a different ending than Babylon. The second half of this chapter chronicles the blessings extended to Egypt, including the establishment of a temple in their midst.

An Ensign on the Mountains

Isaiah 18

This chapter deals with the gathering of a nation “scattered and peeled” throughout all the earth. The description of Israel includes “a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down.” Isaiah uses almost the same wording at the beginning and the end of the chapter to describe Israel. He doesn’t use names to identify them, rather he uses these descriptive phrases.

As I reflect upon this, we are talking of a people who are not organized as a people at all among the nations of the earth. This is except within the Church, whose purpose includes the gathering of “scattered and peeled” Israel.

In the middle of the chapter, there is a simple call to the inhabitants of the world, dwellers on earth: see the ensign, hear the trumpet. Is it not important to know that God is already on the move in this gathering process? I appreciate how this invitation is not exclusive to Israel, but is extended to all the world.

This is an invitation to consider the timing of the Lord.

Shall a Man Look to His Maker

Isaiah 17

This chapter is an indictment against Israel. But it also is a warning against anyone that would oppress Israel. Hands off says the Lord! Israel is not to be punished to the benefit of other nations.

These garden analogies are very poignant in my situation. I understand both the analogy and the real to life application of this. First the imagery of a few just fruits hanging on the boughs of the tree that are beyond reach. That’s the first image. The second, after the Lord declares that they had forgotten Him, paints a more dismal picture. This one I am familiar with both in a practical and symbolic level.

Seeds are planted. Plants grow and are cultivated after our own manner. The end result however is a ruinous heap of nothing salvageable. Oh what a waste of time and energy! Why would one want to attempt to grow after such failed efforts? What guarantee of something better is there?

Back to verses 6 to 8: Isaiah speaks of the “gleaning grapes” that are left behind, and how “at that day shall a man look to his Maker”. This is desirable fruit, whatever the cost (the bereavement for the seemingly scare output), will be such as to properly acknowledge the Father for who He is. This precious fruit will not look to the creations of his own hands as proof of God’s goodness. He will not take confidence in the substance of his own prosperity. It was Job that taught us, “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” This is what true worship looks like.

Be not at ease in Israel.

There is a footnote from the words of Job that I have just referenced: The full verse reads as such:

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.

Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.

Job 13:15-18

What is revealed here to me is the volition of Job, the manner in which Job was an agent unto himself to act. This is the fruit that God desires of his children to become.

The Burden of Moab

Isaiah 15, 16

This is my first time considering this chapter. (In Spanish, the word “burden” is replaced with “prophecy”.) This is a prophecy against the people of Moab, herein referred to simply as Moab. There is not much here except for a detailed analysis of their destruction.

The people of Moab are descendants of Lot. When the Children of Israel were brought back into the land of promise, they are told to leave the land of Moab alone (Deuteronomy 2:9). These chapters seem to again corroborate this loving and merciful reality, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7)

Trying to make sense as to why this appears in the book of Isaiah. And why do we see warnings of destruction as negative. If I am heading towards a cliff unawares, do I not want someone to warn me of the direction I am headed?

The warnings against Moab are different than the warnings against Babylon and Assyria. Moab doesn’t appear to be a superpower state. Rather the Moabites (and the Ammonites of the Old Testament) are the descendants of Lot, a righteous man. They don’t have the promises of covenants made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet it seems to me here that the Lord is acting in mercy to reveal to Isaiah the eventual demise of Moab. Gardeners prune gardens.

I am impressed just one more time before concluding a study of these chapters, of how merciful the Lord is in warning. Whom the Lord loves, he chastens. That Moab was warned suggests to my mind that it held a place of interest or regard before the Lord.

The Lord… Will Yet Choose Israel

Isaiah 14

The great difference between the two sides is this: Christ acts for the benefit of others, and as such is made a king to rule over the nations. This is just. Satan acts only for the benefit of himself, and consequently will be consigned at the end of time to the sides of the pit, slightly below those great rulers who subscribed to his self-absorbed doctrines.

There is such a contrast between the two and it is worthy of questioning my own motives by simply asking myself: Am I doing this for myself or for the benefit of others? If I can confidently express that my motives are to the benefit of those around me, then there is power and great strength to accomplish the objectives that stand before me, however impossible they may seem.

This chapter starts with the declaration that “the Lord… will yet choose Israel.”(vs.1) This fore-ordination completely negates the need to be competitive because the Lord’s will is already made known.

Verse 24 builds on this idea: “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:” If we want to be part of something eternal, a work that will never end or be in vain, then it is to align ourselves with God and to participate in His work.

I am reading again these passages this morning, and am brought to consider the peaceful plot of land that the Lord has blessed me with here where I live. I’ve been too much caught up in national events as of late, which are far from me. I have not contemplated enough the peaceful prosperity with which I have been blessed. I have not used it to the benefit of teaching the gospel, establishing Gospel truth here in our home.

Babylon… Shall Never Be Inhabited

Isaiah 13

The introduction of this chapter (verses 2-5) to me has much to do with temple worship and work. Though this talks of the Lord’s preparations against the world at the last and final battle, the wording in verses 2 and 3 draws a parallel to temple rites and ordinances.

This is one of those passages that is layered in meaning, and this morning I am seeing two layers: a layer that references the gathering of Israel from the ends of the earth, and a layer that sets the stage for the destruction of the wicked. If there was not the higher, nobler cause of preparation for the saints and the Lord’s Second Coming, there would be no reason for destruction.

In the remainder of the chapter, Isaiah spares no expense in articulating how the destruction of Babylon will be unfolded. The end of Babylon is a sad story indeed. I think of the world in our day, and how its fate for the wicked is the same. These institutions of man and their structures that seem to us so permanent, they too can be destroyed and will be destroyed.

There is a personal note here as well, I have in my direct family tree proof of these prophecies. My grandparents left to their families both significant tangible inheritances, but what is left of those that never made covenants with God? There is nothing there. It is all spent and lost. Of those that did make covenants, there remains a significant land inheritance, and other spiritual blessings, that continue in our family line.

I am wanting to move on, but the Lord’s prophet has taken time to spell out this destruction that will come upon the world. I am to understand it.

TG – Punishment

Alma 42 addresses the idea of punishment from a godly perspective. Sinners are punished because of their sins. Sin often causes cruel, unfair advantage to be taken of others. So punishment is the just redistribution of consequence to its proper recipient.

There is a very violent description of families being destroyed in this chapter of Isaiah.

But the crux of the matter of pride. God is punishing the pride that exists among men. If we will allow it to be rooted out of us, then well. If we attach our identities to our pride, then we are at a loss. “…I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” (vs. 11)

Great is the Holy One of Israel

Isaiah 12

I read these verses about the Millennial Day, and the Spirit of the Lord pours over me in abundance this morning. This is a great reminder of things to come: a time when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord; of the things that He accomplished and His doings throughout the earth.

I am sure that the time in which we live will be referenced: how the world thought we were spinning out of control, how the Lord was able to push forward peacefully the Gathering of Israel in the midst of the confusion. Greater things are to be accomplished in our day than in the time of the Exodus from Egypt and 40 years in the wilderness. At the end of our time, we will have those that come forth in garments made white through the blood of the Lamb, and others seeing it, will ask were did these come from? (See Revelation 7:15)

This chapter also emphasizes how Christ, the Lord, the Holy One, is at the center of all in the Millennium.