Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. — Isaiah 33:17
If you have ever gone on a long trip, you know that much planning and anticipation are involved. Several years ago, my wife and I took a vacation with some friends. We started planning the trip about a year in advance, fine-tuning every detail: transportation, gasoline, food, admission fee, lodging, stops, etc. We were all so eager that we left at 8:00 p.m. and drove all night so we would not waste a day driving!
Our trip was estimated to take about fifteen hours, and we decided that stops (except for essentials) were banned. When we started out, we talked about what we were going to do and see, and all of us were excited about our adventure. But, as the hours dragged on through the night, the almost-deserted freeway was long and sometimes lonely. The excitement was gone.
When the travel is by road, you know that it sometimes feels as if you are never going to get there. Many trips have unexpected delays. There may be a traffic snarl-up due to an accident, or perhaps there is road construction and a detour. The miles and miles of road can seem to go on and on forever. However, eventually you come to the last stretch of your journey. How the expectation of finally reaching the destination mounts! The goal is almost in sight.
God has given us a promise that we will see His kingdom some day if we keep on with our spiritual journey. We want to plan, prepare for, and anticipate that moment of arrival. Yet, sometimes it seems that the land is “very far off.” Our spiritual journey may seem long and lonely, and as if it will go on forever. Perhaps trials come that appear to be unexpected delays or detours, and the destination of Heaven seems farther away than ever. At times, situations may seem like roadblocks, and we feel as if we are not progressing at all toward our goal.
Take heart, we are in the last miles of our journey! The end times are upon us and the goal is within view. We shall see the King in His beauty and behold the place that He has prepared for us! Hold onto the promise and live each day as if His coming were today. It will be worth every mile of the trip.
Often Biblical prophecy had dual meanings, and this chapter is an example. Many commentators consider the prophecy to reference Sennacherib’s failed attempt to lay siege to Jerusalem and Assyria’s subsequent destruction about 700 B.C. (see 2 Kings 18:19 and 2 Chronicles 32). Although King Hezekiah would pay tribute to Sennacherib, Assyria would break their promise and require Judah to surrender unconditionally.
The righteous few in Judah would pray; God would hear them and miraculously send deliverance — the angel of the Lord would kill 185,000 of the Assyrian army in one night (2 Kings 19:35). However, the land would be desolate. Highways would be deserted. Lebanon, Sharon, Bashan, and Carmel — areas that had been especially fertile — would be destroyed.
This prophecy could also look forward to the end times and the rise and fall of the Antichrist, who will certainly deal treacherously. He will make a covenant with Israel and then will break it (see Daniel 9:27). At that time, the destruction of the Jewish people and of the land of Israel will be so horrible that those who are left will cry out for deliverance. The armies that invade will cover the land like locusts, and the highways will “lie waste.” Yet God will send fiery judgment upon Satan and his army.
In the last verses of the chapter, Isaiah looked ahead to the Millennium when peace will cover the earth and blessings will be abundant. A national money manager (receiver) and a security adviser (he that counted the towers) will not be needed. Enemies with a foreign language will not terrorize (verse 19), and their ships will be plundered (verse 23). Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will be the Judge, Lawgiver, King, and Deliverer. He will supply all of Israel’s needs.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
E. Prophecies related to unbelievers in Israel and Judah
4. Woe against Assyria (33:1-24)
a. The destruction of Assyria (33:1)
b. The cry of the remnant (33:2-6)
c. The devastation of the land (33:7-9)
d. The declaration of Assyria’s destruction (33:10-12)
e. The terror of the ungodly (33:13-16)
f. The deliverance of the remnant (33:17-24)
The trip may be long, but the destination is worth the effort. God’s promises are sure, and if we continue to serve Him, we will reach Heaven. It may be sooner than we think!