Isaiah- Session 4- 23:8-18

Session 4- God Reigns

Isaiah 23:8-18

Session Resources:

Subject:  Nations

Central Theme:  God’s Rule over the Nations

Objective Sentence:  Every person can be assured of God’s rule over the nations by observing 4 truths about God.

Keyword:  Truths

Truth #1- God is jealous. V.8-9

Truth #2- God is just. V. 10-12

Truth #3- God is active. V.13-14

Truth #4- God is honored.  V. 15-18

 

Introduction:

Connection:

  • People tend to act differently when the authority is gone.
    • Classes potentially misbehave more for a substitute teacher.
    • Kids break the rules that they would normally keep if their parents were in the room.
    • We’ve all tapped the breaks the moment we see the police car on the side of the road.

Tension:

  • There may be some people that are tempted to believe that God is gone.
    • They see chaos in our country, manifested in pandemics, protests, and politicians, and may tend to think that God is absent.
    • Others see the chaos and believe that He doesn’t care.
    • Still others see this as evidence that He doesn’t exist in the first place.
  • This isn’t just true on the national and international level. It’s also true at the individual level.
  • People experience chaos in their own lives and doubt God because of it.
  • The temptation we have is to begin to ask
    • “Where is God?”
    • “Is He active?”
    • “Does he care about me?”
    • “Does he care about how I behave and what I do?”
  • Or we don’t ask the questions at all. We just believe that He doesn’t care.  We believe that we can live however we want to live.
  • These speculations and questions are nothing new.
  • They were present in Isaiah’s day.
  • In Isaiah chapters 13-23 we see God pronounce future judgement and salvation for the nations of the earth.
  • There is value in studying these passages in many ways.
  • Today we are going to study Isaiah 23:8-18 so that you can be assured of God’s rule over the nations.
  • God does care about what goes on in our world. He does care about what happens to you.  He does care about what you do.
  • We are accountable to him.

We can be assured of God’s rule by observing four truths about God.

Truth #1- God is Jealous. V.8-9

(8)  Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?  (9)  The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.

 

Explanation:

  • Isaiah chapters 13-23 are primarily a series of pronouncements of judgement to different nations and peoples of the earth.
  • Isaiah 23:1 proclaims the topic of this chapter, namely the coming judgement of Tyre.
  • Tyre was an ancient city known for its seaport.  It was a Phoenician city that was known for its trade.
  • Because of its location on the Mediterranean coast it was well positioned for trade and had colonies as far away as Tarshish which was in modern day Spain.
  • In verses 1-7 of this text, God addresses the judgement of Tyre, and seems to go from west to east in his revelation of this coming judgment.  The nations are finding out about the judgement of Tyre.  It is almost as the mariners, coming home from a long trip to sea, are finding out that they have no city in which to port.

 What is said about this city in these verses?

– Tyre was a crowning city.

  • The phrase could also be translated, “the giver of crowns”.
  • Because of the riches of the city, trade with this city had created power and authority for leaders in the earth.

– Tyre was a merchant city.

  • The city was known for its commerce.  Its’ contacts and alliances around the world brought it great strength and riches.
  • The merchants were “princes”.  This speaks to the amount of riches and political clout that it had.

– Tyre was an honored city.

  • Those from this city were so influential that they were honored throughout the then known world.  Tarshish (in Spain), Cyprus, and Egypt are named in this chapter.  This would cover a large portion of the Mediterranean world at the time.
  • This makes the question asked in verse 8 a reasonable question.

(8)  Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?

  • The question is asked, “who hath taken this counsel against Tyre?”.  Who has something against this nation?  It is handing out crowns!  It is bringing riches!  Its leaders are honored!  Who would destroy it?
  • The answer comes in verse 9.  “The Lord of Hosts hath purposed it…”.

(9)  The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.

  • The God of Israel is the one who has allowed and even caused for this to happen.
  • We must remember two important truths at this point.
  • First, the primary audience of the book of Isaiah is Judea.
    • This is not to say that they are the only ones who would have read it, but that it was primarily for them.
  • Secondly, this is a foretelling of what would happen.  It had not yet happened.
  • The pagan gods of that time would have been described as involved in human history, but the purpose for their involvement would be for the lifting up of the nation that worshipped it.
  • Contrast that with the purpose for the God of Judea in taking counsel against Tyre.
  • He is doing it to “stain the pride of all glory and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.”
  • God is not doing this to make Israel prominent.  He is not against men being honored or glorified.
  • He is against people glorying in themselves apart from Him.
  • It is pride found independent of the true God of the world that is at issue here.
  • It is the pride and arrogance that says we can live independent of God, and that we are the source of our own power, wealth, and honor to which God is opposed.
  • God is rightly jealous for any glory that is due to Him and Him alone.

 

Application:

  • Two passages of scriptures that stand out to me at this point:

(6)  But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.  James 4:6

 

(5)  Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.  (6)  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  (7)  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  1 Peter 5:5-7.

  • It is important for us to be responsible.  We should take responsibility for our lives, work hard, and be wise with our decisions, time, and resources.
  • At the same time, we must not begin to believe that we are the source of our own safety, security, wealth, power, and prestige.
  • We must not be so independent in our thinking that we begin to believe that we do not need God.
  • We must be aware of our own dependence on God in every area of our lives.

 

We can be assured of God’s rule by observing four truths about God.

Truth #1- God is Jealous. V.8-9

Truth #2- God is just. V.10-12

(10)  Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength.  (11)  He stretched out his hand over the sea, he shook the kingdoms: the LORD hath given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong holds thereof.  (12)  And he said, Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest.  Isaiah 23:10-12

 

Explanation:

  • In verses 8 and 9 we find out that God is the one who has pronounced judgement on Tyre. The prophet continues in verses 10 through 12.  Let us take it phrase by phrase.
  • “Pass through the land as a river…O daughter of Tarshish”
    • There were trade partners and even colonies around Tarshish related to the city of Tyre.
    • There are a couple of ways to translate the Hebrew here, but it seems that He is calling those that have been away from Tyre to come and see what has happened.
  • “there is no more strength”- 
    • What they will see when they pass through the land like a river?
    • When they look through the land, they will find that the economic and military strength of Tyre and Sidon are gone.
    • Why?
  • “He stretched out…he shook….the Lord….to destroy the strongholds thereof”- 
    • God has judged the land.  They have depended on themselves and become prideful.  They had denied God, and become arrogant.  They had oppressed and God was bringing justice.
  • “And he said…”-
    • The “He” here continues to be God.
  • “Though shalt no more rejoice…virgin…daughter of Zidon”- 
    • Tyre is pictured here not as a of a fresh, young, vibrant woman, but an oppressed, older, tattered woman.
  • “arise, pass over to Chittim”-
    • Chittim is another name for the island of Cyprus.  He is telling them to go beyond their own coasts to go to the closest island to them.
  • “there…no rest”- 
    • Even in this place there will be no rest.
    • The Assyrians, who were used by God to bring judgment, would not let the sea keep them from continuing to attack beyond the coasts of Tyre.
  • Now those who had been oppressed by Tyre would no longer be oppressed by them.  God, in his justice, will crush the arrogant and prideful nation and bring justice to those it oppresses.

Application:

  • Some people may read a passage about God bringing judgment on a culture and be tempted to think of God as unjust.
  • God is just.  He is not arbitrary in His judgment.
  • Tyre and Sidon had sinned against God, and oppressed others.  God was promising judgment, and it would come.
  • God hates oppression, and ultimately all that is wrong will be made right.

Response:

  • Are you concerned with justice as the Bible describes it?

 

We can be assured of God’s rule by observing four truths about God.

Truth #1- God is Jealous. V.8-9

Truth #2- God is just. V.10-12

Truth #3- God is Active. V.13-14

(13)  Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin.  (14)  Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste.
Isaiah 23:13-14

Explanation:

 “Behold …the Chaldeans”-

  • God is pointing to a people who had also received his judgement by the Assyrians, the Chaldeans.
  • Who are the Chaldeans?
    • They were a people tied to the Babylonians that were prominent at one time.
    • They had fortresses.  They had palaces.
    • God had allowed the Assyrians to lay waste to their nation in such a way that it became a wilderness.
    • For those who may not believe that such a thing would happen, God points to the fact that it had happened before.

“Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste”-

  • The ships of Tarshish were ships used by the colonies and merchants of Tyre and Sidon to do commerce throughout the known world.
  • God is telling them that their strength, the society that made the commerce possible, is laid waste.
  • God was active in what Tyre would have seen as its past, and he would be active in their future as well because of their arrogance and oppression.

 Application:

  • We live in a culture and day that is not much different than Tyre.
  • In the U.S. we have historically had a strong economy.
  • We are a proud people.  We have much of our history that is good in which we can be proud.
  • We have also sinned and should be penitent for much of our history as well.
  • Tyre became arrogant and lived as if there was no God, and God brought judgement to them because of their pride.
  • He pointed to them that the Chaldeans had experienced the same thing.
  • As believers in Christ in the United States, we must recognize that we are not immune from the judgement of God.
  • We are not above the law of God.  We must not be prideful.  We must pray for our land, and our people.
  • We must exemplify humility before God.  We must exemplify repentance.
  • We must recognize that God is active in the affairs of men.

 

We can be assured of God’s rule by observing four truths about God.

Truth #1- God is Jealous. V.8-9

Truth #2- God is just. V.10-12

Truth #3- God is Active. V.13-14

Truth #4- God is Honored. V.15-18

 (15)  And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot.  (16)  Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.
Isaiah 23:15-16

 

Explanation:

  • Isaiah describes the time after the end of downfall and judgement of Tyre.  He says “that Tyre would be forgotten 70 years”.
  • For 70 years, Tyre will be a shadow of its former self.
  • The picture offered for this is a vivid one.
    • Tyre will be like a harlot who has been aged and used up by the consequences of her profession.
    • She returns by finding a way to get a hearing and provide a service for her former clientele that they will want.
  • She is commended to “Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten“.
  • Instead of offering her body she is now offering her voice and song.
  • Why?  The purpose is “that thou mayest be remembered”.
  • We are seeing here God setting up Tyre to be used to bring Him honor.  We’ll see that in the coming verses.  He can do this because He is sovereign.

(17)  And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.  (18)  And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.
Isaiah 23:17-18

  • Isaiah continues the prostitute metaphor in these verses.
  • At the end of this time of desolation Tyre will be recognized again by the nations.
  • She will begin again to make a profit, and do business with “all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.”
  • God is going to use her newly accumulated wealth for His honor and for His purposes.
  • Instead of being used to oppress God’s people, they will be used to supply God’s people.
  • During this time people thought of deities as being tied to peoples and nations.
  • The further you got from the peoples and nations the less powerful the deities would be.
  • In this text we see Jehovah God being different than those other “gods”.
  • Of course we know that He is different because He is the One and True God.
  • But He is also contrasted here because He is equally omnipotent everywhere.
  • He is both omnipresent and omnipotent.
  • He is orchestrating history to bring about His purposes and His plans, and all the nations of the earth are accountable to Him, not just Israel.
  • Tyre, like all cities and nations, is accountable to Jehovah God.  The same is true of our country.  We must pray for our nation to Honor God.
  • This serves as a reminder to the people of Judah that they need not prostitute themselves with the practices of the pagan nations around them.
  • Jehovah God will provide for them. He will take care of them.
  • They need to not envy the nations of the world that obtain wealth in ways that dishonor God.
  • God is honored by obedience, and He honors those who are obedient to him.

Application:

  • These principles apply to us.
  • We can begin to think that there is some disadvantage to living righteously when we see evil people prospering.
  • We must remember that God will ultimately honor Christ’s obedience who offered His life for us.
  • When we trust in Christ alone for salvation, God justifies us.
  • There are blessing that come with obedience.
  • We must trust God by being obedient even when it costs us in the short term.
  • There will be blessings in eternity for those who put their trust in the omnipotent, sovereign God of the universe.

 

Response:

  • Is there a pattern in your life of living like those who do not trust God?
  • In what ways does your life show that you trust God and want to honor Him?

 

Conclusion:

We can be assured of God’s rule by observing four truths about God.

Truth #1- God is Jealous. V.8-9

Truth #2- God is just. V.10-12

Truth #3- God is Active. V.13-14

Truth #4- God is Honored. V.15-18

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