Read Isaiah 18
A Prophecy Against Cush
18 Woe to the land of whirring wings
along the rivers of Cush,
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.”
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
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.
- How can I be slower to act and quicker to observe and listen in my life?
- Where are my roots currently planted, where should they be planted?
- 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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