All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye. — Isaiah 18:3
Like other Christian parents, my wife and I have tried to point our children toward the concept of looking to God in times of stress and need. One blustery evening in late winter a number of years ago, I found they had been paying attention and had truly learned that lesson well.
Our two young sons and I were in our old green van, driving over the Coast Range in the dark on a twisty, winding road. A surprise snowfall had obscured the road, and the falling flakes — caught in the glare of the headlights — made visibility difficult. The worst part was that the steering of this full-sized van, despite significant expenditure, was very loose. I literally had to “steer” to drive a straight line.
As we continued to climb toward the pass, I could feel the tension in my neck and shoulders. At that point the younger of our sons looked up to me and asked, “Jesus will protect us, won’t He?” I looked back at him and said, “Yes, He will!” Immediately I felt a calm come over me. My son’s words reminded me that God had already made the promise to be with us in every situation. I did not need to rely on myself, but just watch for what He would do. The tension in my neck and shoulders left. The van was the same, the road still twisted, and the blustery weather continued, but I had put my burden upon God. Then I could relax and drive.
Today’s focus verse is thought by Bible scholars to be the call to the on-looking nations to watch and see what God would do in a time of great trouble. God had made many promises to His people, and He would not fail His word. On a smaller scale, we know that God steps into our lives and works for us — both in every-day situations and in times of crisis. He has already promised that nothing comes to us except what He allows, so while we might be tempted to worry, that is unnecessary. My little boy’s trust reminded me that God would not fail us.
Whatever we may be facing today, we can cling to God’s promises and then watch what God will do.
Some Bible scholars believe that this chapter was written in the time of King Hezekiah. (See 2 Kings chapters 19 and 20.) They think it concerned Ethiopia, because the original language referred to Cush, which was the area where Ethiopia, Somalia, the Sudan, and perhaps some of Egypt are today. “People scattered and peeled” could have been a description of the people of Ethiopia — tall and smooth. Other commentators suggest this described a nation that had been destroyed and scattered.
“Shadowing with wings” in verse 1, may have referred to swarms of insects, and also could have been a picture of the King of Ethiopia frantically trying to form alliances with various nations (including Judah) as protection from the strong Assyrian army who threatened them. The “vessels of bulrushes” (verse 2) referred to lightweight boats made from papyrus bark.
At Isaiah’s direction, Judah refused to join this alliance, and the messenger was sent home. Hezekiah, with Isaiah’s encouragement, chose instead to fully trust in God. This trust was well-placed. Verse 4 gave the indication that God was calmly considering the whole situation. He would allow men’s plans to develop as a vine that ripens, but then He would step in like a husbandman cutting down a vine. Assyria eventually was routed by God, with great destruction. And the faith of the people of Judah was thereby strengthened.
At the end of the chapter, Isaiah looked ahead to a time when the Ethiopians would be delivered and would worship God, bringing their tribute to Mount Zion.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
C. Prophecies related to the foreign nations
6. The judgment upon Ethiopia (18:1-7)
a. The destruction of Ethiopia (18:1-6)
b. The conversion of Ethiopia (18:7)
Are you facing a “worrisome” situation today? Ask God to help you remember that He has already given promises, and He will take you through.