Saturday, August 2. Isaiah 22 – 25

What in the world is a “valley of vision?” It seems more than a little contradictory. You can have a vision of a valley if you are looking over it, but in a valley, vision is obscured by the mountains on both sides. This is a case of irony in chapter 22. Judah thinks she has vision – knows the future. But hers is a “valley of vision,” that is, no vision at all.

About 711 B.C., Sargon, king of Assyria, attacked Ashdod. Judah suffered too, but was not overcome. They were able to rebuild what they lost and re-fortify their defenses. They felt like they had dodged a bullet and there was great rejoicing – but Isaiah could find nothing worth rejoicing over. He had real vision. He knew what was coming, but Judah was blind to the impending doom.

Shebna, the palace administrator, in an inexplicable moment of hubris, built for himself a monumental tomb for his burial. His sense of self-importance mirrored Judah’s. But God said his position, like Judah’s security, would not last. He would lose his job to Eliakim, and Eliakim, given the responsibility of the nation, would likewise crack under the pressure.

No one, not Shebna, Eliakim, the King, neither military armaments nor defenses would save Judah. They looked to everyone and every thing for help, but not to the Lord. For that failing, there could be no deliverance. “The Lord has spoken.”

The lesson for us should be plain. There is nothing that can take the place of trusting God. Trust is the real sign and meaning of faith.

Tuesday, July 10. Isaiah 21 – 23

    Chapter 22 opens with a reference to the “Valley of Vision.”  Not a geographical place mind you, but a reference to the fact that what follows is a place in a vision, a vision that reaches far into the future to the destruction of Jerusalem.

    The certainty of Jerusalem’s destruction is underscored by the fact that her dead will die before a battle is enjoined, her captives taken before the army arrives.  How can it be?  Because God has decreed it.

    Judah’s crime?

    Not trusting in God.

    She trusts in her weapons and her preparations for war, but not to the Lord.  Life goes on undisturbed despite the revealed vision of God.  Shebna, Hezekiah’s “secretary (Chief of Staff), has made a name and a monument for himself, but he has not urged his master to submit to the Lord.  Focusing on himself, he does not see what the Lord has planned, and does not realize that his efforts at self aggrandizement will only result in ignominy.

    Furthermore, others who follow his example will have the same end.  Eliakim is the palace administrator (2 Kings 19:2) and he too seeks his own interests.  Many will depend on him, and he will enjoy his status as the “go to” guy.  But one should only put his trust in God.   The weight of dependents will break a mortal, as Isaiah says it will do to Eliakim.