Isaiah 7:18-25 (NKJV)
And it shall come to pass in that day That the Lord will whistle for the fly That is in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt, And for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
They will come, and all of them will rest In the desolate valleys and in the clefts of the rocks, And on all thorns and in all pastures.
In the same day the Lord will shave with a hired razor, With those from beyond the River, with the king of Assyria, The head and the hair of the legs, And will also remove the beard.
It shall be in that day That a man will keep alive a young cow and two sheep;
So it shall be, from the abundance of milk they give, That he will eat curds; For curds and honey everyone will eat who is left in the land.
It shall happen in that day, That wherever there could be a thousand vines Worth a thousand shekels of silver, It will be for briers and thorns.
With arrows and bows men will come there, Because all the land will become briers and thorns.
And to any hill which could be dug with the hoe, You will not go there for fear of briers and thorns; But it will become a range for oxen And a place for sheep to roam.
Today we look at what awaits Israel due to Ahaz’s refusal to believe in God. We can actually pick back up at vs. 17: “The Lord will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father's house — days that have not come since Ephraim departed from Judah.” Isaiah here is referencing the split between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms in the time of Rehoboam (son of Solomon) and Jeroboam who led the rebellion. During those times, there was a lot of turmoil in Jerusalem; a notion of what would become of the lands. The prophecy states that in that day, the Lord will whistle for the fly in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt and the bee in the land of Assyria and they will rest in the desolate valleys and clefts of the rocks. It is possible that this fly and bee symbolise the kings of Egypt and Assyria, or at least the idea that masses of pests would come to plague the lands of Jerusalem. If this is true, then once again the great forces of the time were seen as merely pests in the eyes of the Lord, and those that would obey the beckoning of His command. The reason for this interpretation lies in vs. 20, where it says the Lord will shave with a hired razor with those from beyond the River (the Euphrates; and therefore referring to the Egyptians) as well as the king of Assyria, the head and hair of the legs as well as the beard. Shaving off the beard and other hair on the body was seen as unbearable shame and usually a sign of great mourning. However, this was not a voluntary action. Being shaved by another would be even more shameful and demeaning. The Lord is basically forcing upon Ahaz the sorrow for what he has done, since he choose not to follow the Lord. Normal agriculture and animal husbandry would not be enough, since a man would only be able to keep alive a young cow and two sheep. However, it is not all hopeless. Here, God references that these animals would produce an abundance of milk, and that the remnant would eat curds and honey. There are two statements here: firstly, that despite taking much away, God would not leave them to die. In the most outstanding way possible, God would provide and demonstrate His presence amongst the people. Second, this might have hinted at the Promised Land once more, since it was a “land overflowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17). In other words, God’s promise was this: that no matter how much devastation there would be, the end result was not annihilation or abandonment but salvation and restoration. However, the land would not be able to sustain the other crops. Land where there could have been a thousand vines worth a thousand shekels of silver would become infested with briers and thorns. There was not going to be luxury, despite the providence of God. Jerusalem had led itself astray with drunkenness and they needed to be sober to rely on God. The Lord was not going to give them another crutch. Note here God specifically references vineyards, rather than any other crop. Those lands that people feared because of briers and thorns would be a land for oxen and sheep to roam. Agriculture would no longer be possible because of these briers and thorns. But the focus here is on the range for oxen and sheep to roam. It is interesting because this might have alluded to the practice of Jubilee. For most of Jerusalem's history, it is unlikely that anyone properly practiced Jubilee, which was letting the land rest after 50 years of produce. Now, the people hadn't much choice in the matter. The land would get its rest whether or not the people wanted to be a part of it. This ending is equal parts hope and devastation. Remember that God, whenever He doles out punishment, always sows in seeds of hope. Regardless of how bad a situation is, there is also a glimmer of something better; a light at the end of the tunnel.
Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections. Daniel is in the Young Professionals ministry of the Central Christian Church.