Chronological Bible 29: Prophecies of the Future

This week we re-enter the historical narrative and prophetic books. The passages are Isaiah 18-27, 29-39, Micah 2-7, 2 Chronicles 32, 2 Kings 18-20.

Chronologically, we are still within Hezekiah’s lifetime (c. 700 B.C.). Hezekiah is only one of 4 of Judah’s kings who is described in Scripture one who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.” (2 Chronicles 29:2) Later during his reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria, threatened to overrun Jerusalem. In his threat he said

Is not Hezekiah misleading you, that he may give you over to die by famine and by thirst, when he tells you, “The LORD our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria”? Has not this same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, “Before one altar you shall worship, and on it you shall burn your sacrifices”? Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to deliver their lands out of my hand? Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!’ (2 Chronicles 32:11-15)

Sennacherib openly defied God and so God promised Hezekiah deliverance. He caused an angel to put 185,000 of Sennacherib’s army to death in one night, forcing the army’s retreat back to Assyria.

The prophetic writings from this week encompass three different types of prophetic timelines – prophecies concerning the immediate generation, prophecies concerning generations to come, and apocalyptic or end-times prophecies concerning events associated with God’s final judgment of evil and His re-creation of the universe. Also, the intended original recipients varies, from Israel and Judah, to the surrounding nations, and more generally to all future readers.

Both Micah and Isaiah speak to the surrounding nations, emphasizing that while God is going to use them to exact judgment on His people (Israel and Judah), they, in turn, will receive judgment themselves because of their refusal to acknowledge God and their own pleasure in doing the evil that they do to the nations they conquer. Consider the following example:

Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the LORD: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. (Micah 2:1-3)

Prophecies against Judah (and Israel) are that they will be overrun by Assyria and Babylon and the people exiled from their land. However, they will return after a period of seventy years. The following example is spoken of Tyre, at Israel’s northern border and with whom they regularly trade.

In that day Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, like the days of one king. At the end of seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute: “Take a harp; go about the city, O forgotten prostitute! Make sweet melody; sing many songs, that you may be remembered.” At the end of seventy years, the LORD will visit Tyre, and she will return to her wages and will prostitute herself with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth. Her merchandise and her wages will be holy to the LORD. It will not be stored or hoarded, but her merchandise will supply abundant food and fine clothing for those who dwell before the LORD. (Isaiah 23:15-18)

After this exile, though, Israel will come back to their land and this will set up the arrival of God’s Messiah.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” 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. (Isaiah 35:3-6)

Also, the prophecies concerning the end times explain that all nations will be judged, the universe as we know it will come to an end, and death will cease, allowing God’s people to live with Him in His new creation forever.

Draw near, O nations, to hear, and give attention, O peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it. For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. (Isaiah 34:1-4)

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 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. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:6-9)

Next week we will finish the book of Isaiah (chapters 40-66), and also look at 2 Kings 20-21 and 2 Chronicles 32-34. We’ll also begin Jeremiah (chapters 1-2).

For Further Investigation

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