Isaiah 13-23 – Pride of Nations

Bible opened to Isaiah 13 with Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans topped with Justin's Almond Butter on white plate

Today’s ChocolateEndangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans topped with Justin’s Almond Butter

Today’s PassageIsaiah 13-23

I’ve got this book on Isaiah, a Bible study guide from the Navigators. And as I’ve been reading through Isaiah, I haven’t even cracked the thing open yet, but a reader advised me to take a look at what it says about chapters 13-23 and to consider skipping that section or only looking at a portion of it. And here’s what the study guide has to say:

These chapters can overwhelm us with references to events we don’t know and with constant tones of wrath. So, because this may be your first time through the book of Isaiah, we’ve made a thorough study of 13:1-23:18 optional. …We hope you will want to work carefully through the oracles at some time, for each one has valuable lessons about God’s character and what he desires of his people. (Isaiah LifeChange 91)

So now a choice confronts me: do I actually dig into these prophetic messages of judgment, or do I move on to the portions of the text that may be more salient for our purposes? Over breakfast, I read the entire 11 chapters in this section, and while I believe I could get out my exegetical shovel and dig up some significance from each chapter to share with you guys, I also don’t want to bog you all down with difficult historical esoterica. So, at the advice of both reader and NavPress study guide, I’m going to move ahead into chapter 24 tomorrow, but I encourage you to read through these chapters on your own time and see what you make of them for yourself. And if you folks really want me to take an in-depth look at each of Isaiah’s oracles against these various nations, let me know. I want these entries to be good and useful for you.

That said, as I read through these chapters, I saw a recurring theme of pride, arrogance, and overconfidence. Check out God’s message to Babylon: “I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless” (13:11). Or Moab: “We have heard of the pride of Moab, an excessive pride, even of his arrogance, pride, and fury; his idle boasts are false” (16:6). Time and time again, these nations have an inflated view of their position in the world, ignoring God at best, and at worst mocking him and his people. And sure, we can take this message to heart individually, guarding our hearts against personal arrogance. But I think the thrust of these passages–and, in fact, of what we’ve read in Isaiah to date–has particular relevance for America as a nation today. If we truly “returned to God” or experienced a revival, I don’t think we’d constantly be talking about what a great Christian nation this is. Reliance on God does not entail bragging and boasting about our own national goodness, even if we characterize that goodness as obedience to him.

Anyway, tomorrow it’s chapter 24. And again, if you want a closer look from me at these passages, let me know.


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