Wednesday, July 31, 2013

why God saves

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. 

Isaiah 43:25

There is a rather incorrect theology floating around in the evangelical church that doesn't fully represent the gospel. The corruption of God's love looks something like this: "God loves you SO MUCH, that if you were the only person who ever sinned, Jesus would have died for you." It wants to emphasize our "special" nature to God. But I am afraid it misses exactly why God saves anyone at all. It puts a sinful focus upon ourselves.

God told a sin-filled Israel that He saved them not because they were so lovable, but because He was so holy and active on their part. He saved them for His sake. And in this passage God shines the spotlight on Himself in at least three clear, undeniable ways. First, there is an emphatic "I" at the beginning: "I, I am he". There is no doubt that God alone does the transaction of forgiving sin. Secondly, God blots out sin "for my own sake". He has His interests and glory in mind... not our own exclusively. Thirdly, God chooses not to remember sins because the offense is against Him. Only He can forgive. We do nothing. This is important to remember: We would have no salvation if God did not save us exclusively for HIS glory.

So what started this selfish man-centered, misdirected evangelism we sometimes see today? I think evangelicals were eager for a response. And appealling to our "felt need" for love and acceptance was one way to soften the scandal of the cross where a wrathful God sent His Son to die for filthy sinners. The truth is, our sins offend a holy God. Yes, He does indeed love the world. Yes, He sent His Son to die for our sins. But it is all so that we can worship Him and He did it to bring glory for His own sake. That is the salvation that we have. It helps us humbly see ourselves and rightly see our God Who is mighty to save. Yes, you do matter to God, but not more than His own glory. He saves people FOR HIS GLORY, not for theirs.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

above and beyond it all

I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.

Isaiah 42:8-9

God does not tolerate any thought of pluralism. Time and again He reminds Israel in the Law and Prophets that He is a jealous God. That does not mean He holds a sinful jealousy like mankind knows. It means that He is holy, unique, and the only being worthy of worship in all of creation. And His holiness guards that uniqueness. He will not stand for humans to replace Him with idols.

This is sort of like the "Shema" from God's point of view. His very name is the LORD. He is THE Lord.

There is no other. He is the LORD and no one else rules above Him. His sole existence as God demands worship from all that He has made. Lordship is rulership. Rulership demands respect. Respect is worship.

The Lord also reminds us that all times (past, present, and future) are His seasons and He directs them. He has created our pasts and in the now He can declare what our futures will be. And with the gift of revelation to mankind (profoundly seen for us now in the Bible), He declares to us what will happen before it ever does. He is sovereign over everything that happens, has occurred, or ever will take place in the universe. From galaxy formation to the smallest subatomic particle vibration, everything that springs forth is by His intimate knowledge and design. This reality takes my breath away as I think about it.

Envisioning this great God is not a small mental exercise. God is bigger than a universe we cannot see across. He is stronger than a billion burning suns going supernova all at the same time. We may idolize these creations of His, but He is greater and must demand our praise far above all that exists.

Monday, July 29, 2013

faith facing fears

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you." 

Isaiah 41:13

This is a promise from God that stems from relationship with God. To have access to the promise, one must be a worshiper of God. There is no other way to enjoy the help of The Lord in our fears. God must be trusted and worshiped to be of the heart's benefit.

The Lord gave this promise to Israel as they flirted with idolatry. They struggled to stay faithful. They often disobeyed God. But The Lord made it clear that in relationship with Him they could find the necessary strength to face their fears and find their help.

There is an image of comfort and strength found in God describing Himself as the One Who will "hold your right hand". When we worship God and follow Him, we find Him as near as a strengthening Father in our moments of deepest difficulty. He holds our hand and we are never alone.

God also alleviates our fears by making the difference that helps us. He holds our hand and reassures us that we have nothing of which to be afraid. And He sovereignly works in our lives to help us. He will be with us right through it all. Like David said: "I will fear no evil, for You are with me." That is the strengthening reality of faith. Why do we need this? Because life is hard and we were made to walk with our Creator.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Everlasting God

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 

Isaiah 40:28

Everlasting God

lyrics by Chris Tomlin

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord

We will wait upon the Lord

We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever

Our hope, our Strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God

The everlasting God

You do not faint

You won't grow weary

You're the defender of the weak

You comfort those in need

You lift us up on wings like eagles

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord

We will wait upon the Lord

We will wait upon the Lord

Thursday, July 25, 2013

the fool's bargain

Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good." For he thought, "There will be peace and security in my days."

Isaiah 39:8

Hezekiah did not learn what God wanted him to learn. He was one of Judah's good kings, but still struggled to let God change his heart. After his recovery from a deadly illness (a situation in which God intervened with divine healing), he proudly received a diplomatic envoy from Babylon and gave them the full tour of the treasures of Jerusalem. Hezekiah is proud and foolish.

God wanted the king to think towards the future of the nation. But Hezekiah had a tendency to be short-sighted. When he fell ill, God's message through Isaiah was for the king to "set his house in order" (Isaiah 38:1). This was a call to reorder priorities. It involved preparing his sons to lead well and entrusting the kingdom to their stewardship. But Hezekiah's thoughts in this incident show he paid no attention to the warning God gave him. He was content for the nation to thrive only in his lifetime. He gave no thought to the future, but was content to live "in the moment". He sold his future at a bargain price at the first opportunity that came his way.

Ironically, the Babylonians to whom Hezekiah had just issued the "back stage pass all access tour tickets" would one day return in the very near future to burn Jerusalem to its foundations. The would plunder the treasures of the city and take the people captive away from it. The king's sons would be castrated and led away as eunuchs to serve the Babylonian king. Hezekiah's line would end because of his nearsighted contentment with the politically expedient NOW. Selfishness will make us short-sighted. And a good future found in obeying God can be lost by present satisfaction with a mediocre status quo. It is a stupid mistake to make.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

the shadow on the stairs

Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. 

Isaiah 38:17

Hezekiah's praise for deliverance comes from God's saving him from death. He was suffering some sort of deadly infection from a boil. He was told his death was imminent. He wept before the LORD, praying for deliverance from death. God was gracious to the king and answered his prayer. Isaiah came to the king with good news. The king would live fifteen more years. God would save him.

And The Lord provided a miraculous sign to him, even as servants took Isaiah's medicinal advice and applied a folk remedy to the boil. The shadow of the sun retreated back down the staircase. The sun did not just stand still. It moved in reverse. The world changed direction briefly for Hezekiah and God to have a moment of grace. God will turn back time to show us His love.

The effect on Hezekiah was a song of praise. His thanksgiving is recorded for us. And we can sing it with him today because God is still the same. God still delivers us from destruction. He still teaches us the value of our sufferings as we trust in Him. He still delights in forgiving His children, casting all our sins behind His back.

I wonder if Hezekiah ever approached any staircase the same way ever again. Any shadow had to remind Him of God's powerful love and mercy. Perhaps every staircase in Jerusalem became a symbol of new life to him. After all, the God who turned back the shadow on the stairs had turned back death as well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the empire shaker

So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.

Isaiah 37:20

Hezekiah's faith drove him to intercede for the nation of Judah. He was most interested in God's reputation and not his own personal political needs. The king of Assyria sent a missive promising invasion and demanding surrender. In that letter the Assyrians mocked the God of Israel. Assyria was an unstoppable military monster, swallowing up nations in a quest for empire. Even mighty Egypt had capitulated to Assyrian control. It did not look good for Jerusalem.

Hezekiah had no plan to thwart this invasion militarily. The army of Assyria had the city surrounded. There were no military manuevers possible to save the nation. Hezekiah's response was to worship and to trust God. He appealed to the highest power possible. He fervantly prayed to God to save His people for the greatness of His own name. He wanted the world to see that God was a God of salvation. And that prayer would bring down an empire.

The Lord answered Judah's king. And in the process an empire was humbled. The world saw what the true God did. Not one arrow flew in attack against Jerusalem. The next morning, the citizens of Jerusalem awoke to find 185,000 dead Assyrian soldiers outside their city. One angel sent from God had struck them down. The king of Assyria quietly returned home and in pagan worship in his capital was assassinated by his own sons. Assyria would threaten no one in Judah ever again. God answered the wildest request in Hezekiah's prayer: the world found out that God alone is The Lord.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Situation: Critical

Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?

Isaiah 36:20

The commander of the army of the king of Assyria is confident that Jerusalem will fall to Assyria's invading forces. He comes to the walls of Jerusalem and taunts the people, mocking God in the process. The words are harsh and threatening. The man who mocks God is proud. The situation looks bleak. It seems to be impossible for it not to happen.

But out of this critical confrontation a faith is forged. The reality is that God had never decreed that Jersualem should fall to Assyria. And the leaders in Judah trusted God to deliver. King Hezekiah refused to answer the taunts of Assyrian pride. Instead, the people sought the LORD.

That response shows us how to handle those who mock God. Don't believe them. Don't worry about their twisted accusations. Wait and trust in God. He is more than capable of ending the mocking of His name. Nothing changes that. His rejection by others brings reception by His people. And that simple truth makes all the difference. The situation was really critical for Assyria and not for Jerusalem. Judah trusted God. The Assyrian army was going to find out just Who God was and why no one gets away with mocking Him.

Friday, July 19, 2013

leap like deer

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;

Isaiah 35:5-6

Face to Face


The eyes of the blind will open
The ears of the deaf will hear
The tongue of the mute will shout for joy
And the Lord will cause the lame to leap like deer

*We will see the glory of the Lord
We will see the glory of the Lord

Strengthen the arms of weakness
Steady the feeble knees
Say to those with anxious hearts
Be strong on the Lord and do not fear *

*We will see the glory of the Lord

Hallelujah for the Lord almighty reigns
Hallelujah we will worship Jesus face to face (X2)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Justice: Full Circle

For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. 

Isaiah 34:8

God will visit sin

with judgment;

the hurt that people do in

this world... with justice.

He will avenge.

God will bring punishment

fitting the crime;

No favoriting environment

will spare sinner's lives.

He will sentence and judge.

The LORD has a day...

a day of vengeance.

There will come a time...

a time of recompense.

Right now it seems

like sinners get away;

But God already has the means

to know and judge in that day.

He will avenge.

And those suffering now

for doing right

will watch oppressors bow

before the God of might.

He will recompense.

The LORD has a day...

a day of vengeance.

There will come a time...

a time of recompense.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

4 ways to start the day

O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble. 

Isaiah 33:2

Four important observations spring from this verse. The first is an appeal to God's grace. Isaiah made this request even though he had spoken words of judgment knowing that brutal conquest would decimate God's people in the very near future. He cried out for grace to pour out from God. He hoped in the power of God to fulfill His purpose in the restoration of all things. All who really desire God will cry out for grace. It is the heart's calling when it knows God.

Seasoned with this appeal is an awareness that realistically the people would necessarily have to wait for just the right time and place to know God's restorative gracious action. They would wait on The Lord. Much of the strengthening that God does in us is on His eternal time scale. And we wait... and we wait... and wait... patiently and sometimes interrupted by fits of our own selfishness. But in order to see the end of the matter that God has for us, we MUST wait.

The third request is poetic. Isaiah asks God to be Israel's "morning arm". We work with our arms. We provide for our lives with that work. This is an appeal to trust in God's strength and provision. And Isaiah wants that attitude to start every new morning, implying that only God's strength will get His people through each day. And God must be "our arm every morning" if we are to make every day truly count for eternity.

The final request is for God to be "our salvation in the time of trouble". Really, God is always our salvation. But in trouble we are tempted to take our eyes off of Him until we are overwhelmed by our great need and inability to save ourselves. We need God to save us from our massive failure to control our own sinful impulses. He is our only Savior.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

flowers among the ashes

And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. 

Isaiah 32:17-18

This promise of restorative rest in righteousness and of a peaceful trust in God forever comes after the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the land of Israel. God has just commanded the women of Judah to weep over the ruined land and to mourn for the desolation of Jerusalem. But after the loss comes a promise: God will pour out His Spirit on the people and restore the nation. The land will again be fruitful. The people will serve Him in righteousness. They will live in peace, serving The Lord.

When sin leaves behind desolation, God will bring back beauty in restoration. It is a magnificent experience. The fullness of God's grace comes even in the promised judgment. God reminds Israel that He will restore what will be ruined. He will bring them back after they have suffered. God restores what He redeems.

I am glad that God works in this way. I admit that I have made my share of willful choices to disobey God, even as I have claimed to follow Jesus. And there are consequences to sin. There always are. But God's mercy, grace, and forgiveness fall on me with fresh power when I repent and return to Him. His mercies lead me to repentance and in His forgiveness I am at rest. He gives me grace to grow beyond my failures. I am so glad that God restores what He redeems!

Monday, July 15, 2013

worshiping power

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD! 

Isaiah 31:1

When the invading army of Assyria came against Israel, a vain attempt at Egyptian diplomacy failed miserably. Egypt was powerless against the brutal military of Assyria. And Israel was chided by God for trusting human power over God's covenant. It was the last way they turned against The Lord.

This is a telling observation on human behavior. What is it about us that looks to self-reliance and our own wits to deal with the spiritual needs that are beyond us? God had warned Israel that Assyria would bring them to nothing for their idolatry and rejection of Him. And yet, at the last chance to turn to God, they looked instead to mankind for deliverance. They trusted the temporal over the eternal in the face of impossible odds. Sadly, we will all default to doing just that. We are creatures of the here and now blinded to spiritual truth by our overcommitment to our empirical senses.

These prophetic warnings show us the unchanging tendence of the human heart. We will bind ourselves to the material world. We will place our hope in political saviors. We will worship our own power even as it fails us. This is how much we need God.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

smooth operator

For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD; who say to the seers, "Do not see," and to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel." 

Isaiah 30:9-11

A choice for spiritual self-deception characterized the people of Israel and Judah as God prepared to reach them through judgment. The message of Isaiah is penetrating in its analysis. The nation has rebelled against God. It is characterized by lying and deceit. The people are like disobedient children who turn their heads away from parental instruction. They are bent on doing wrong and will not listen to the Word of God.

But they are in a rebellion that wants to keep some semblance of spirituality. They instruct the prophets on exactly which messages they want to hear. This is "survey the crowd" theology and it zeroes in on "felt needs" homiletics as the message of the day. I am sure it was remarkably successful for those false prophets who practiced it. The people wanted smooth sermons and illusive visions for the future. They wanted to be entertained. And false prophets did this all the way up to the point where Jerusalem was reduced to smoldering embers. But these "smooth messages" were rebellion. Yes, pleasing the crowds with captivating sermons was outright rebellion against God.

Cue up Sade singing Smooth Operator. That is what the people wanted. Easy listening, palatable, "positive and encouraging" messages from the prophets made them happy. They did not want to necessarily hear from God. They just wanted inspiration to carry on with their lives. And it seems that is what they got to the very end.

Pablum proceeds judgment. And Israel's rebellion ultimately did not end until Nebuchadnezzar's soldiers burned Jerusalem to cinders. And only at the rivers of Babylon did the survivors weep and repent and accept the hard reality of God's call to them for repentance. Smooth messages were worthless disasters.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

upside down people

You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, "He did not make me"; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"? 

Isaiah 29:16

Sin turns a society upside down and backwards. It leads people to be far from God. It leads to ridiculous conclusions about the way that things are. It blinds eyes from seeing and stops ears from hearing. People will be dark to the truth because sinful selfism creates a topsy turvy world where what was right looks very weird to those who have been deceived by the "new normal".

In the case of rebellious Israel, they went from being the chosen people of God commissioned to draw the world to God to being a people who denied God altogether. In the most outlandish extremes they denied God as the Creator or believed Him to be outdated and stupid. They were denying God altogether in their new commitment to living in Bizarro World. Their thinking was that they made God and no longer needed what they had made.

These words are eerily practical to my own culture. Academia teaches a secularism in which God is nothing more than an ancient societal construct. It was a way for "primitive" peoples to keep their mortal fears at bay as they evolved to become masters of the planet. It really does regard the potter as the clay, just as God saw His people doing in Jerusalem so long ago. It is an upside down conclusion, sure to lead to the same chaos God warned Israel to watch out for as it was soon to overtake their society with complete breakdown.

Upside down people need an encounter with the justice, mercy, and grace of God in order to have their world restored to its proper position. The church exists with the message of the gospel to do just that. We are the sane people locked in the asylum hoping a few of the upside down people captivated in the current madness will be set clearheaded and back on their feet by the gospel.

Monday, July 8, 2013

good in judgment

This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom. 

Isaiah 28:29

The "this" that Isaiah is referencing at this point is the decreed destruction of Jerusalem. God has announced it in terms of certainty and finality. And it will happen. Isaiah's point is that in judgment, God knows what He is doing.

The prophet uses an extended farming metaphor to get this across. Just as a farmer knows the right way to plow, and the right crops to plant in the right places; he knows the correct method of harvest and how to handle the crop after the harvest, so God know with infinite wisdom the best way to "thresh" Jerusalem. Isaiah is preparing the nation for the horrors of the siege and destruction of the city. He is assuring them that God will wisely use this to bring about His own purposes.

The bottom line is that the God Who brings judgment is always wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom. He can be trusted. The people can be reassured that even the coming devastation will be able to result in the best purposes of God. It is His time of threshing.

Friday, July 5, 2013

a people without discernment

When its boughs are dry, they are broken; women come and make a fire of them. For this is a people without discernment; therefore he who made them will not have compassion on them; he who formed them will show them no favor. 

Isaiah 27:11

God's rationale for bringing Israel into judgment was their sinful moral diminishment. Their capacity to make right choices was handicapped by their lack of discernment. Without the Law to guide their thinking they were clueless. And they had become as useless as dead trees, limbs fallen to the ground only to be picked up by old ladies who used the dead wood for kindling.

God had given them His Word as a guide. He had revealed truth to them so that they could live in a way that pleased Him and brought them satisfaction. But in the abandonment of the Law, Israel lost all moral sense. Nothing kept them from being worse than the pagan gentiles around them. And that is what dried them up to make them the useless dead wood that they had become. And when the fire would come from God, they would burn up quickly without discernment.

I can testify to the soul-drying effect of the neglect of the scriptures. When I stray from their life-giving words, I too will feel the vitality start to drain away from my soul. But when I seek God in them, I am strengthened, revived, and refreshed.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The God of all things

In the path of your judgments, O LORD, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. 

Isaiah 26:8

The strong yearning to see God is the desire of every worshiping soul. It is the motivation for this song in which Isaiah calls a nation that is waiting for an decreed inevitable judgment to come from God to WORSHIP the God that will judge them... even as they stand in the path of that judgment. God is great in judgment just as well as in blessing.

It is wrong of us to think of God as only capable of being good if He gives us all that we want. He is good at all times... especially when we suffer. He is good when His Law painfully confronts our sin. He is good when His Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. He is good when His judgments comes to those who will not repent. He is good when His grace falls on those who do repent. He brings justice through His hand and often uses people to both heal and reprimand the sinning heart. He is the God of all things.

He is good even in the wrestling we have with the curse on sin. He is merciful to provide perspective on childhood illness, on accidents, on tragic catastrophes, on acts of human violence, on untreatable pain, even on death and destruction. He is never absent from us. His name and rememberance should always be our desire.

O God of all things,

Forgive me when my sinful heart wants you only to be the God of Christmas morning, and not the God of the funeral service. Help me to trust your hand and your love in ALL things... great joys and grieving pains.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

No More Death

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. 

Isaiah 25:8

From the moment of birth

a destiny hanges over us

the finality of death

awaits every one of us

And in a mortal life

we must find greater meaning

With the inhale of each breath

there is another second's existence

but the inevitability of death

keeps us pressing on for purpose

And in tenuous life

we know a deeper tugging

We know we're made for bigger stuff

than eating, sleeping, breathing, sighing

these things are not enough

to stop us wondering what's after dying

And confronting end of life

we see God's hand reaching

There is a promise so astounding...

that death itself will have a death...

that we trust in God's amazing

saving faith, our life, and our depth

The hope of eternal life

swallows death with eternity

God will wipe away all tears

that come to us when death parts us

He will eradicate all our fears

forever finding life given to us

The Creator of our life

will forever live with us... rejoicing

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the earth will sing

They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west. Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. 

Isaiah 24:14-16a

The prophet Isaiah envisions a future in which all the peoples of the earth worship God in song. It is a powerful image of global joy and a hope which every worshipper of The Lord longs for. But this worldwide worship service should be understood in its context. Yes, the world will universally worship God in the future, but only after the devastating judgments that must come from the hand of God to wipe away idolaters, haters of His good, and abusers of other people.

Isaiah first envisions God dealing with sin among the nations. The very surface of the planet is twisted and desolate after God's judgments (Isaiah 24:1). Every social setting and caste of humanity is disrupted by the severity of the judgment (Isaiah 24:2). The earth is empty, mourning, and defiled by its inhabitants (Isaiah 24:3-6)... an environmental wasteland. All of this is the due result of the sin of the people of this planet (Isaiah 24:5-6). Cities are in ruins and there is no cause for human rejoicing, only misery among the survivors as the depth of loss sinks into the world (Isaiah 24:7-13). It is in this context that the vision drastically changes to this powerful picture of global praise. God is the focus of the people of the earth because God has brought them through judgment and He is all they now have.

God loves the world and He will move the very forces of the heavens and the earth to bring praise to Himself through the people of this earth. There is a future in which this world is destroyed and remade back to the Garden it was meant to be where people walked with God. It will come at great pain but it will bring great glory to The Lord. The earth will yet sing. We are far from Him now, but He will shake us back to Him!

Monday, July 1, 2013

an end to pride: the ruins of Tyre & Sidon

The LORD of hosts has purposed it, to defile the pompous pride of all glory, to dishonor all the honored of the earth. 

This is a statement found in prophecies detailing the downfall of Tyre and Sidon. These Phoenician cities had been centers of trade and commerce for the Mediterranean world. They were unbelievably wealthy and quite full of themselves. They had a history of wealth and influence. Phoenician traders sailed the seas and caravaned the land to carry the wealth of empires across the known world that Israel was linked to in the ancient Middle East.

God saw the pride of Tyre and Sidon. Along with commerce, the Phoenicians spread culture, and one of the more insidious cultural trade items was idolatry. The Phoenicians on more than one occassion had been the source of spiritual apathy to Israel. They had been responsible for Israel turning away from God. And God was bringing judgment upon the Phoenicians for their proud idolatry. Assyria would render them non-important. Their influence would be destroyed. Their vast trading network would become only a memory after this judgment.

God will not let human pride stand against Him. He will show Himself to be sovereign in everything. It is best to realize this and to humbly submit to His will in all things.