Have you ever stopped to consider just how much of the Old Testament is NOT aimed at or about the nation of Israel? I don’t know about you, but I was taught throughout my early church career, that the Old Testament is the story of the nation of Israel and their fall from grace.
I don’t mean to step on the toes of the wonderful men and women who taught me through my formative years (and trust me when I say I had some incredible spiritual mentors along the way), but it is just not true that the Old Testament is the story of the nation of Israel.
The Old Testament is God’s story, first, foremost and always. The Old Testament is the story of God’s work in the world, the whole world not just the nation of Israel. The 10 chapters that we have begun reading today, from Isaiah 13-23 are a wonderful example of that.These 11 chapters are letter from God to Judah and ten foreign nations; letters that reveal God’s plans for each of them. Now, granted those plans aren’t particularly pleasant, but if you will notice the judgement levied against that nations comes as a result of their disobedience and refusal to turn to God.
These letters kind of remind me of the letters from Jesus to the 7 churches of Asia Minor in the New Testament book of Revelation. They are letters of warning, but like in the story of Ninevah in Jonah, if the nations had turned from their ways and repented before God, their destruction may have been averted. Unfortunately history tells us that the nations refused these warning and continued on their own path to destruction.
These chapters remind us that history is “HIS story” as missionary leader Arthur T. Pierson put it. These chapters remind us that God’s sovereignty supersedes all earthly kingdoms, rulers or authorities. Daniel 4:25 says: “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” That’s a powerful description of God’s sovereign right to give and take away earthly reign.
Pay attention in these letters to the Kingdoms. Although there is certainly judgement and destruction, there are also moments of assurance, promise of redemption (like 14:1-2) and assurances of God’s power and authority to work within the nations to accomplish his will. Our God is not impotent, then or now. He has power and authority to act in the nations, through the nations, and against the nations.
We would do well to remember that.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 18-22