Text: Isaiah 22
If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be “The Valley of Lack of Vision.” Isaiah sees the future Babylonian capture of Jerusalem. His people celebrated that the angel of the LORD killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night, but they do not see that their continued rebellion will lead to their destruction, 150 years later.
He will send Babylon against them, but they are too short-sighted to see their own coming destruction. The LORD has sent Isaiah to warn them, so they would repent and return to Him.
Remember that Nebuchadnezzar is the LORD’s servant to discipline and punish His wayward people —
Jeremiah 25:8 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, 9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.
Verses 1-2 —
In this oracle, Isaiah sees and speaks of the valley of vision. Jerusalem is on a hill, Mt. Zion. So why does he see them in a valley? From a mountain, you can see what is coming from a far distance. But they are in a valley of short-sightedness. Thus, they have no vision!
The LORD says to His people, what is the matter with you? You are on your housetops, trying to see what is coming. What has happened to your noisy, boisterous celebration? You were exultant, gloating over the death of the 185,000 Assyrians, struck down by Me — not you — in one night.
But you did not repent, so now you are anxiously looking from your low rooftops, instead of from My high mountain. Oh world-loving, rebellious church, you are short-sighted. Your judgment is coming, but you do not see it!
Because of your short-sightedness and rebellion against Me, says the LORD, you will be slain, not by the sword, nor in battle. Many of His people will die from hunger, when Babylon lays siege to you for three years. Access to food will be entirely cut off, when the Babylonians lay siege against them.
Verse 3 —
Isaiah sees all of the rulers fleeing and being captured without the bow. They will not die in heroic battle, but as fugitives. Jeremiah records the rulers’ attempt to flee, 150 years later —
Jeremiah 39:4 When Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them (the Babylonian army), they fled and went out of the city at night by way of the king’s garden through the gate between the two walls; and he went out toward the Arabah. 5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and they seized him and brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he passed sentence on him.
Verses 4-5 —
Therefore, Isaiah says to his people, Do not look at me! I am weeping bitterly for you! Do not try to comfort me concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people (Jerusalem)! He cannot join in their revelry, their celebration of victory over Assyria, for they continue to sin against the LORD. So, their destruction is coming.
He sees that the LORD God of hosts has a day of panic, subjugation and confusion in the valley of vision for short-sighted Jerusalem. Isaiah sees a breaking down of walls, and a crying to the mountain. The cries of His people will echo throughout Mt. Zion.
Oh, beloved! There is a siege coming upon today’s church, and she does not see it because she is short-sighted. Already, there is a famine for the word of God . . . no one speaks the whole counsel of God, so no one hears it —
Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD.”
Verse 6 —
Elam (Persia) took up the quiver, with the chariots, infantry and horsemen, and Kir (Babylon) uncovered the shield. The Persians were known for their archery, which is why the king of Babylon would have recruited some of them to serve under him, in those days.
The picture Isaiah sees is one of every warrior ready with his bow, and all weapons of war poised. The shields were uncovered — the battle is about to begin.
Verses 7-9 —
Then Isaiah sees the invasion of Babylon. Jerusalem’s choicest valleys were full of chariots, and the horsemen took up fixed positions at the gate. The LORD removed the defense (literally screen, covering) of Judah, in the day they depended on their own strength — the weapons of the house of the forest — a reference to a part of the temple that was constructed of cedar and was used as a storehouse for weapons.
O church, you are about to be overrun by the world system that defies the Lord. You are armed with nothing but man’s wisdom and man’s ways in your beautiful buildings, apostate seminaries, and massive libraries!
Babylon besieged and overran Jerusalem, as recorded by Jeremiah —
Jeremiah 39:1 Now when Jerusalem was captured in the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it; 2 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the city wall was breached.
And Isaiah’s people saw that the breaches in the wall of the city of David were many! The Babylonians had built a siege ramp, over about a three-year period, while they kept the people of Jerusalem from leaving the city. They were pinned down. If they tried to leave to find food, the Babylonians killed them.
Verses 10-11 —
Desperate measures were required by Isaiah’s people! But they did not repent before the LORD, though they had seen His salvation and His mighty works!
Instead, Isaiah sees his people counting the houses of Jerusalem and determining that there were enough to fortify the wall. So, he sees that they tore down the houses, and put the rubble in the space between Jerusalem’s double wall. It was like a shock absorber for Babylon’s battering rams.
They also stored water between the double wall. Where did they get water, when they were pinned down? King Hezekiah had dug a tunnel between the spring of Gihon at Kidron and the pool now known as Siloam, on the east side of the city, not far from the temple.
But they did not consider (look intently to, have respect for) Him who made it, nor did they take into consideration Him who planned it (molded it, like a potter) long ago. They did not look to the LORD who created them and gave them the land, nor did they repent.
Verses 12-14 —
The LORD called them to weeping and to wailing, to shaving the head and wearing sackcloth — that is, repentance and mourning over their sin — when Babylon approached. But there was no repentance! As Isaiah had seen in Verse 2, they had feasted with gaiety and gladness, killing cattle, slaughtering sheep, eating meat, and drinking wine to celebrate the Assyrian defeat.
It was a final mark of His people turning away from Him and to apostasy — they renounced Him, by their words and actions. Let us eat, drink and be merry, they said, for tomorrow we may die! There is nothing beyond the grave, so we do not need to fear the LORD’s judgment!
But Isaiah heard these words from the LORD of hosts — Surely this sin, Judah and Jerusalem’s apostasy shall not be forgiven them until they die, says the LORD God of Hosts.
Apostasy is never forgiven, beloved —
Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and “the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries (His people who blaspheme Him).”
And Jesus says to His people —
John 5:28 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
Verses 15-16 —
The Lord GOD of hosts instructed Isaiah to go to the steward of His people, Shebna, who was in charge of the royal household. And Isaiah was to speak these words from the LORD —
What right do you have here, and whom do you have here, that you have hewn a tomb for yourself here, you who hew a tomb on the height, you who carve a resting place for yourself in the rock?
The Lord would see to it that Shebna would be struck down, and would not be buried in luxury, as he had planned. Instead, he would die in Babylon, as a slave.
Verses 17-19 —
Isaiah describes what the LORD will do with Shebna. He will hurl him headlong, and grasp him firmly, and roll him tightly like a ball, to be cast into a vast country, a reference to Babylon. And there Shebna will die, and with Shebna will be his splendid chariots in which he trusted, instead of trusting in and obeying the Lord.
That is why the Lord calls Shebna, “You shame of your master’s house.” The Lord will depose Shebna of his office, and pull him down from his station.
Why? Shebna was a man who is in charge of the household of Judah. But he never exhorted the people to repent, nor did he tell them the consequences of their sin.
He simply lived in luxury, with no thought of the LORD or of His judgment of His people. He lived and led without vision or understanding. It is the same today, in much of the church!
Verse 20 —
I believe this is not only a prophecy of a man, Eliakim, who was placed over the household of Judah (Isaiah 36:3), but also a prophecy of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. I will show it to you.
Something will come about in that day when Shebna is deposed, but also, at the end of things. What will come about? The Father will summon His servant, for Shebna has not served Him.
Verses 21-22 —
The man named Eliakim will have the tunic and sash of Shebna, both articles of clothing representing Shebna’s authority as head of the household of Jerusalem and Judah. But that would be far too small a thing for God the Son! He will be clothed by His Father, with authority over His house!
He will entrust His Son with authority over the house of Judah, as well. And His Son will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the house of Judah. And He will set the key of the house of David on His Son’s shoulder. The LORD spoke through Isaiah —
Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
When He opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open. It is written of Eliakim. But God the Son has all the authority of God over all that happens, and He says to the angel (leader) of the church in Philadelphia —
Revelation 3:7 . . . He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: 8 “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”
Verses 23-25 —
These verses speak figuratively of the crucifixion of God the Son. He will be driven like a peg in a firm place, and He will become a throne of glory (kabod) for His Father’s house. He will hang from spikes on a cross, but He will rise and ascend and be returned to the glory He had before He was sent by the Father.
All of Jesus’ glorious deeds will be hung on Him. A sign on His cross will call Him “Yeshua Hanaseray, Vimelech Hayahuda,” which means, “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.” But note that the first letters of each title spell YHWH, God’s answer to Moses when he asked what he should call Him (Exodus 3:14). They crucified God, that is, God the Son! No wonder they objected to the sign Pilate had made, and wanted him to change it (see John 19:18-21)!
In that day, the peg driven in a firm place will give way, it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off (He will die and be cut down from the cross), for the LORD has spoken. And when the LORD speaks, it will surely be done.
Thanks be to God, for if He had not taken upon Himself the punishment we deserved for our sin, we would not be reconciled to God and saved from His wrath!
But you are short-sighted, O church, O believer, if you have turned from Him and joined hands with the world system that defies God! If the world loves you, then repent, for they only love their own (John 15:19). If you are sinning against the Lord whom you say you love, repent! He knows you are disobeying Him and therefore do not love Him (John 14:23-24). If you do not repent, you will not see your judgment that is coming!
Lord Jesus, I pray You would open the eyes of Your short-sighted people, just as You opened my eyes. Let them see and hear, so they fear and repent. Let it be so, I pray. Amen.