Why Do the Nations Rage?
A daily devotion for February 10th
A Prophecy Against Tyre
23 A prophecy against Tyre:
Wail, you ships of Tarshish!
For Tyre is destroyed
and left without house or harbor.
From the land of Cyprus
word has come to them.
2 Be silent, you people of the island
and you merchants of Sidon,
whom the seafarers have enriched.
3 On the great waters
came the grain of the Shihor;
the harvest of the Nile was the revenue of Tyre,
and she became the marketplace of the nations.
4 Be ashamed, Sidon, and you fortress of the sea,
for the sea has spoken:
“I have neither been in labor nor given birth;
I have neither reared sons nor brought up daughters.”
5 When word comes to Egypt,
they will be in anguish at the report from Tyre.
6 Cross over to Tarshish;
wail, you people of the island.
7 Is this your city of revelry,
the old, old city,
whose feet have taken her
to settle in far-off lands?
8 Who planned this against Tyre,
the bestower of crowns,
whose merchants are princes,
whose traders are renowned in the earth?
9 The Lord Almighty planned it,
to bring down her pride in all her splendor
and to humble all who are renowned on the earth.
10 Till your land as they do along the Nile,
for you no longer have a harbor.
11 The Lord has stretched out his hand over the sea
and made its kingdoms tremble.
He has given an order concerning Phoenicia
that her fortresses be destroyed.
12 He said, “No more of your reveling,
Virgin Daughter Sidon, now crushed!
“Up, cross over to Cyprus;
even there you will find no rest.”
13 Look at the land of the Babylonians,
this people that is now of no account!
The Assyrians have made it
a place for desert creatures;
they raised up their siege towers,
they stripped its fortresses bare
and turned it into a ruin.
14 Wail, you ships of Tarshish;
your fortress is destroyed!
15 At that time Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the span of a king’s life. But at the end of these seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute:
16 “Take up a harp, walk through the city,
you forgotten prostitute;
play the harp well, sing many a song,
so that you will be remembered.”
17 At the end of seventy years, the Lord will deal with Tyre. She will return to her lucrative prostitution and will ply her trade with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth. 18 Yet her profit and her earnings will be set apart for the Lord; they will not be stored up or hoarded. Her profits will go to those who live before the Lord, for abundant food and fine clothes.
Who planned this against Tyre, the bestower of crowns, whose merchants are princes, whose traders are renowned in the earth? The Lord Almighty planned it, to bring down her pride in all her splendor and to humble all who are renowned on the earth. (Isaiah 23:8-9)
Why do the nations rage? That question is answered many times in the Scriptures, but notably in this section of Isaiah, beginning with chapter 13 and ending in chapter 23. In these chapters the prophet is given a vision concerning the great world powers that surrounded Israel in that day. The prophecy begins with a word concerning Babylon; then focuses on Assyria, Moab, Egypt, Edom and other nations; and ends in Chapter 23 with the burden of the city-nation of Tyre.
These messages were wholly predictive when they were uttered. They point out things that are going to happen from Isaiah's time onward. As we look back on history we can see that much of this prophecy has already been fulfilled. These nations are not only historic but are symbols of forces at work in every age and every generation. What makes this passage so real and valuable to us is that through the experience of these nations we begin to understand our own personal struggles.
These judgments depict things that are true of us. Babylon, Tyre, Assyria and Egypt appear all through the Scriptures, and they always picture the same thing: the world in its varied attack upon us. Egypt is ever the picture of the corruption and defilement of the world. Babylon pictures the deceitfulness of the world and the great Deceiver behind it, using false religion to lead astray.
The final burden in this section calls upon the colony of Tyre to behold the desolation of the Lord upon this city. The prophet inquires why this is coming to pass. It is because God despises the love of luxury, the lust for creature comforts, and the pursuit of material gain which Tyre stands for in the Scriptures. Jesus once said the things which men highly esteem are an abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15). Tyre's sin was crass materialism, storing up wealth and treasure for this life only, with little concern for that which is to come. For seventy years it was judged, following its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar the Great.
God has a solution to the world, the flesh, and the devil. As we live in relationship to him he provides the power and strength to overcome the world, the flesh, and behind them, the devil. In these passages Isaiah describes in a marvelous way how we too can rely on the presence of the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in our midst, and can daily triumph over these enemies of our faith.
Father, these words speak of the world as it really is, stripping it bare before my eyes. I have felt the attractiveness of the world and the flesh. Thank you for showing me how destructive they are to me; how I cannot entertain these, but by the power committed to me by the Lord Jesus and his presence in my heart I have strength to say no to these and to walk in faithfulness before you.
Life Application: We experience daily media exposure to conflict and corruption everywhere. Are we choosing to participate in God's solutions, rather than perpetuate the problems?
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