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Read Isaiah 18

A Prophecy Against Cush

18 Woe to the land of whirring wings
    along the rivers of Cush,
which sends envoys by sea
    in papyrus boats over the water.

Go, swift messengers,
to a people tall and smooth-skinned,
    to a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
    whose land is divided by rivers.

All you people of the world,
    you who live on the earth,
when a banner is raised on the mountains,
    you will see it,
and when a trumpet sounds,
    you will hear it.
This is what the Lord says to me:
    “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place,
like shimmering heat in the sunshine,
    like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone
    and the flower becomes a ripening grape,
he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives,
    and cut down and take away the spreading branches.
They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey
    and to the wild animals;
the birds will feed on them all summer,
    the wild animals all winter.

At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord Almighty

from a people tall and smooth-skinned,
    from a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
    whose land is divided by rivers—

the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.

Go Deeper

As we read through Isaiah 18, we read a prophecy of the balance of hope and judgment. Although men (like Isaiah) are speaking out warnings against the people of Israel, it is clear that the heart of the message is the Lord’s. When reading this passage, we can be encouraged knowing that the Lord is extremely powerful and aware. His omniscience is evident through the fact that He knows his creation. Nothing is hidden from Him! We can trust his timing and His guidance when He instructs us to take a step in faith. 

Sometimes, that step in faith could be patience and endurance through a tough time in our lives, knowing that God desires to protect and love His people. This passage establishes a relationship between the Creator and His creation. He is asking us to trust Him, and we can see His wisdom and protection, as well as his patience in acting. God is inviting us to trust Him in every season, specifically the seasons that appear hopeless and barren. 

We can read this passage and grow our trust in the Lord, knowing that He is extremely transparent in his communication with His people. Isaiah serves as an announcer, or a forerunner, of God’s plan for the people that is meant to instill hope for the future. Verse four also helps us see into God’s character, because He is slow to act, and does not act on emotion like we tend to do. He cares about his people and, although He is a just God, His promise of restoration and hope is something we can lean on today. Sometimes we begin to think that evil will prevail in our life, but we can be encouraged by this passage knowing that God will execute His judgment on every spectrum in the end.

Sometimes, it can feel like everything around us is in flux. This can be extremely frustrating and disorienting (especially when we finally start to feel settled), and we can imagine the Israelites felt this in some sense as well. Isaiah 18 presents the hope of the refining process of the Lord, in that God is stopping a seemingly good thing for an even better thing in the future. Be encouraged knowing that God wants us to be planted in Him and bear healthy fruit instead of the fruits of this world. 


  1. How can I be slower to act and quicker to observe and listen in my life?
  2. Where are my roots currently planted, where should they be planted?
  3. What promises from the Lord can I specifically lean into in the season that I am in right now?

Did You Know?

When Ethiopia is referenced in this chapter, it’s referring to a larger geographical area than modern-day Ethiopia. Ethiopia circa 700 B.C. was a dominant world power that ruled over Egypt and also encompassed modern-day Sudan and Somalia.

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4 thoughts on “Isaiah 18”

  1. No one would argue that we are in the midst of battles, whether they be personal, national or global. Storms of life are sure to blow, but for the believer there is a “strong and steady anchor for our souls.” God still supremely reigns, and our trust must continually be placed in his sovereignty and unfailing love. We must intentionally shift our eyes from the battle to our conquering King Jesus who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth! I recently read this quote from Alistair Begg that resonated with me, “As a result of grace, we have been saved from sin’s penalty. One day we will be saved from sin’s presence. In the meantime we are being saved from sin’s power.”

  2. Even thought this text is meant for the Ethiopians and Assyrians, I can’t help but read this text as for us—our land—to have hope in the day of Jesus’ return that we will hear the trumpet sound v3. I guess, too, because I’ve been studying about God being the ultimate Dweller, about His housekeeping on earth, and providing us an eternal home. In verse 4, He states He will be quietly at home, still providing for us on earth, and when the time is right (Gal 4:4)—just before harvest—he will do some housekeeping.
    Some of us will be harvested, and some of us will be cut off. (That’s my interpretation from reading)
    I found comfort in this short passage bc it illustrates God’s providential timing as referenced in the commentary. Twice, it made reference to God’s control of His timing in v4 and v7. Which gives me hope, and to remind me to trust.

  3. Israel was set apart to accomplish a specific purpose to bring about Savior into the world, God’s Chosen people. They were to be a holy nation that reached the nations. Israel failed to obey God and imitated the wicked nations around them so they lost God’s blessings. We as believers need to be careful we are now the chosen 1 Peter2: 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. We need to speak of God’s truth, His ways, His laws, to will and do His good pleasure. Phil 2:13. As a believer this is our tribulation, our trials, our burdens but we have heaven ahead, the hope of Glory. This seems forever but a twinkle of an eye, and we will be gathered together WOOHOO!!!!! So while we are here we do our heavenly glory actions to LOVE God’s people and show them who He is, help point them to that Glory!!!!

    Thank You God for the HOPE of Your Son’s return!!!!! Thank You for Loving me through these times of hardness here and showing up through the prayers and support of my life group. Thank You for me knowing without a doubt You have hand upon and love my child more than I do. Thank You for guidance and loving words to fall out of my mouth. I need those Love Goggles on God, thank You for helping me see through them in Jesus name amen.

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