Reading Time: 5 Minutes
King Solomon has often been quoted, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29.18).
Isaiah began a message to the inhabitants of Jerusalem with a sarcastic word about their vision. He wrote, “The oracle concerning the valley of vision” (Isaiah 22.1).
There was irony in his words. Mount Zion had been reduced to a spiritual valley and the people had no vision at all. They were a living example of what was the tragic response to Isaiah’s message.
Keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep looking, but do not understand.
Make the mind of this people dull,
and stop their ears,
and shut their eyes,
so that they may not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and comprehend with their minds,
and turn and be healed. (Isaiah 6.9-10)
God’s purpose for Jerusalem was expressed in the early chapters of Isaiah.
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2.3)
Instead of learning from God and walking in his paths, the people of Jerusalem climbed to the rooftops to see what the nations were doing.
What do you mean that you have gone up,
all of you, to the housetops. (Isaiah 22.1)
Let’s be thoughtful for a moment. When difficult times come, do we go to social media, TV, or some other place to find out what’s going on and how we should respond?
Or, do we enter our prayer room to seek God’s message and the next steps that we should take?
Whether we check news sources and other opinions or not, we need to know God’s purposes behind what is taking place in the world. That way we can align our lives with what he is doing.
A Wrong Course of Action
Isaiah outlined some common erroneous ways to respond to calamity.
— Escape – The leaders had planned escape routes to leave the ordinary citizens to suffer. However, Isaiah prophesied that escape would not be possible.
Your rulers have all fled together;
they were captured without the use of a bow.
All of you who were found were captured,
though they had fled far away. (Isaiah 22.3)
There is a long list of ways that people try to escape from difficulties today. Addiction, busyness, diversions, and entertainment are a few that come to mind.
— Misplaced Human Effort – The people made an intelligent effort to protect their city with one glaring exception.
Isaiah wrote, “And you saw that there were many breaches in the city of David, and you collected the waters of the lower pool.
“You counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall.
“You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool.
“But you did not look to him who did it, or have regard for him who planned it long ago.” (Isaiah 22.9-11)
Planning before and during a calamity is prudent. What is not wise is to disregard what God is doing.
The people chose a vision of what the nations believed, instead of striving to understand what was God’s will.
This was a mistake in 700 B.C. and is still wrong in 2021.
Learn from Isaiah
If testing the direction of the nations from our housetop is wrong, how can we adjust our lives to know and do God’s will? Isaiah provides an excellent example.
— Grieve – Isaiah did not engage in a blame and shame game. Instead, he wept about the blindness of his countrymen.
Therefore I said:
Look away from me,
let me weep bitter tears;
do not try to comfort me
for the destruction of my beloved people. (Isaiah 22.4)
The language of complaint tells a story of how awful other people are and how wrong they have behaved.
The language of commitment goes to God in prayer and weeps with God over the destruction of his beloved people.
Like Isaiah, our commitment to God and his purposes leads us to the kind of action that holds out the possibility of God’s grace.
In that day the Lord God of hosts
called to weeping and mourning,
to baldness and putting on sackcloth. (Isaiah 22.12)
When Jonah proclaimed God’s judgment over Nineveh, that capital city of a pagan nation responded with fasting, mourning, and the putting on of sackcloth.
Tragically, Jerusalem’s response was quite different from that of Nineveh.
Instead there was joy and festivity,
killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,
eating meat and drinking wine.
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.” (Isaiah 22.13)
In 1969 a crowd of people assembled in a hotel on the beachfront of Biloxi to have a hurricane party. There was plenty of eating, drinking, and partying.
They didn’t comprehend the force of Hurricane Camille that was headed their way, the second most intense hurricane to hit the United States in history.
It wiped the hotel where they were partying off the map, like someone clearing a Monopoly board with casualties among all of the party-goers.
As we consider worldwide unrest, national conflict, the coronavirus, and threats from many other fronts, we can escape or trust in self-sufficiency.
There is an alternative. We follow Isaiah’s example and go to our inner room, grieve over our rebellion and unbelief, repent, and pray to experience God’s grace.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.