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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Isaiah 18: Isaiah Prophecies against Cush


      We continue our study of Isaiah today as we look at Chapter 18 which deals with Isaiah's prophecy against Cush. It's generally believed that the land of Cush is a reference to Ethiopia. The reference to 'the land of whirring wings' in the opening verse could mean 'the land of the locusts'  or it could be a reference to anything which might have the semblance of wings in its shape, such as a temple or house, or even an army formation. It could refer to the sails of a ship, particularly if it referred to a flotilla.
      The overlying message is that God cares for His people, and seeks to strengthen His church. God sends a message to His people through the prophet Isaiah that He will take care of them and provide for them.
      The boats referred to in the second verse would most probably be similar in construction to the coracle found in West Wales today. Made of reeds and rushes they would be light and easily transported, and yet strong enough for their intended task.
      God says that He will take His rest (verse 4). In Scripture, when God is said to rest, it refers to His not working for an individual or a group of people. God will look down upon them from Heaven, watching their lives unfolding and yet not lifting a finger to intervene. Just because God permits the wicked to triumph sometimes it does not mean that He does not care for His church and His people. Because we may not understand the reason that God allows things to happen does not mean that they are not part of His divine plan.
1 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.

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