July 16 (Daily reading: Isaiah 13-17) As we read from Isaiah through the end of the month, we will see the recurring theme of God’s judgment on sin. “The LORD says, “I will bring disaster on the earth and punish all wicked people for their sins. I will humble everyone who is proud and punish everyone who is arrogant and cruel” (13:11). Isaiah lived during the expansion of the Assyrian empire and the subsequent judgment of Israel. “Now in that day the glory of Jacob (Israel) will fade … It will be even like the reaper gathering the standing grain … like the shaking of an olive tree … declares the LORD, the God of Israel” (17:4-6). Isaiah’s message was that God had spoken, and what He said would come to pass. “The LORD Almighty has sworn an oath: ‘What I have planned will happen. What I have determined to do will be done’” (14:24).
What was Israel’s sin? “You have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the rock of your refuge” (17:10). It was as if they had planted a beautiful garden to worship pagan gods, “yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain” (17:11, NIV). God’s judgment upon Israel would lead them to look to their Creator. They would no longer have any interest in the altars they had made with their own hands for false worship (see 17:7-8). Isaiah revealed that ultimately, the Messiah would come: “In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it—one from the house of David—one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness” (Is. 16:4-5, NIV). Isaiah looked to the future for the arrival of the Messiah (Jesus). We look to the past to see what Jesus accomplished, and we anticipate His return, when we “will see the Son of Man coming…with great power and glory” (Mk. 13:26).
– Al Gary