Thanks for joining me in reading and thinking about the book of Isaiah again today. I hope your Lord’s Day was worshipful and uplifting. Let’s dive in…
“‘What right do you have here, And whom do you have here, That you have hewn a tomb for yourself here, You who hew a tomb on the height, You who carve a resting place for yourself in the rock?” Isaiah 22:16 — We don’t know a whole lot about Shebna except that he had been placed over the household of King Hezekiah, and that he was rather full of himself, symbolized in the special tomb that Shebna was making for himself. Having a tomb carved out for oneself was ordinarily reserved only for royalty. Shebna was over-reaching, though we can’t be exactly sure how far, and it was this arrogance and self-important attitude that God found so disagreeable and intended to punish. Shebna would not be buried in his prepared tomb. This was not only the personal justice that needed to be executed for arrogance, but a good lesson for any observers, including us, dear reader. God has placed a premium on order and appropriate submission to authority, whether it’s in the family, the church, or the nation.
By the way, a lintel from a tomb in Jerusalem was discovered in 1953. This lintel had an inscription on it in paleo-Hebrew (from the times of Hezekiah), which read, “This is [the sepulcher of] . . . yahu, who is over the house. There is no silver or gold here but only his bones, and the bones of his slave-wife with him. Cursed be the man who breaks this open.” Sadly, the name itself was partially destroyed; but many scholars believe that it is actually the tomb that Shebna (Shebaniah — “yahu” would have been the end of his name in Hebrew) had prepared for himself but never occupied (Isaiah 22:15-18).
“The LORD of hosts has planned it, to defile the pride of all beauty, To despise all the honored of the earth.” Isaiah 23:9 — Is God active in this world? The answer is yes. This is not to say that the LORD is micro-managing everyone’s life, the Scripture is pretty clear about the free will that God has granted mankind. But God does have plans — and they will not be denied. In this specific context, they are plans for justice and judgment. They weren’t plans that the beautiful and powerful were going to like, but it didn’t matter. This is a solemn principle of warning to the high and mighty, the popular and the beautiful, the rich and famous, who often rely on money, position, or fame to manipulate the world and get what they want. But the Lord has plans and they can’t be resisted or denied.
“The earth is broken asunder, The earth is split through, The earth is shaken violently. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard And it totters like a shack, For its transgression is heavy upon it, And it will fall, never to rise again.” Isaiah 24:19, 20 — This whole chapter is a stereotypical “Day of the LORD” stuff, speaking of a great day in which God would intervene in a major way in the affairs of men. In this case, the turmoil, brought to us in metaphor, is about the huge upheavals of great kingdoms and empires. And over the next 100 years great empires were going to rise and fall — God plans came to complete fruition. But this is also a double prophecy with its secondary fulfillment looking to the end of time itself. This second fulfillment will be less metaphorical and more literal as we can see in New Testament passages like 2 Peter 3:10-13, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.