Monday, February 4, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 23

It is appropriate that we are having a discussion of Isaiah 23 the morning after one of the greatest upsets in sports history. On one of the message boards where I regularly post, I actually picked the Giants to win on Friday afternoon. As long as they play the game any team has a chance to win. The media did not agree, as many were saying it was merely a coronation for the Patriots last night. There was no way they would lose, and when Tom Brady drove down the field with the latest entry for his highlight reel in Canton it certainly looked to be true. It was true, until Eli Manning did the same thing because there was enough time left to do so.

How does all this relate to Isaiah 23? Well, Isaiah 23 is a lesson in being too confident. It is a lesson that even when you think you are invincible, you are not because God is in full control. This does not mean the New York Giants are God in anyway, but they merely present an abject lesson in being too confident in one's abilities. We see the same thing in Isaiah 23 with the city of Tyre.         

At the time Isaiah was written, the city of Tyre was one of the most prosperous in the world. It was a center of commerce and thrived on the trade from its harbor. It had an island fortress in the harbor that made the residents feel invincible. Their rationale was that, in case they were attacked, they would merely flee to the fortress on the island and wait for the invaders to leave. This strategy worked in 572 B.C. when Babylon invaded, but the people of the city waited 13 years in the fortress from the Babylonians to leave. Because of this, the people of Tyre were overly confident that they would never lose their place in society. God, as normally happens when we become too confident, had other plans.

1 An oracle concerning Tyre:
       Wail, O ships of Tarshish!
       For Tyre is destroyed
       and left without house or harbor.
       From the land of Cyprus
       word has come to them.

 2 Be silent, you people of the island
       and you merchants of Sidon,
       whom the seafarers have enriched.

 3 On the great waters
       came the grain of the Shihor;
       the harvest of the Nile was the revenue of Tyre,
       and she became the marketplace of the nations.

 4 Be ashamed, O Sidon, and you, O fortress of the sea,
       for the sea has spoken:
       "I have neither been in labor nor given birth;
       I have neither reared sons nor brought up daughters."

 5 When word comes to Egypt,
       they will be in anguish at the report from Tyre.

 6 Cross over to Tarshish;
       wail, you people of the island.

 7 Is this your city of revelry,
       the old, old city,
       whose feet have taken her
       to settle in far-off lands?

 8 Who planned this against Tyre,
       the bestower of crowns,
       whose merchants are princes,
       whose traders are renowned in the earth?

 9 The LORD Almighty planned it,
       to bring low the pride of all glory
       and to humble all who are renowned on the earth. – Isaiah 23:1-9

Here we see the prophecy of Tyre being thrown down from its perch, and this actually came to pass in 332 B.C. At that time, a gentleman by the name of Alexander the Great was building one of the largest empires in the history of the world, and the first of its kind. He conquered the city of Tyre, then using timber and stone from the city, built a bridge to the fortress and conquered the island itself.

This is proof that even our best plans can still be conquered by God. The Lord had something specific in mind for the city of Tyre. We see at the end of the chapter that when Tyre was restored it was going to be restored as a place that had its profit set aside for the Lord. It is important, then, to remember that we cannot be too confident unless that confidence is placed in the Lord.


  1. How does God use a world-wide historical event, like Alexander the Great, to accomplish His aims?

  2. Why is it important that we don't become too confident?

  3. Where else in history have we sent his confidence?

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