Monday, July 16, 2012


You made a reservoir between the walls for the waters of the ancient pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or consider the One who created it long ago. 

On that day the Lord God of Hosts called for weeping, for wailing, for shaven heads, and for the wearing of sackcloth.  But look: joy and gladness,
butchering of cattle, slaughtering of sheep, eating of meat, and drinking of wine—‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’

The Lord of Hosts has directly revealed to me: ‘This sin of yours will never be wiped out.’ The Lord God of Hosts has spoken.” (Isaiah 22:11-14 HCSB)

Flying blind—a plane goes into the clouds, the pilot loses his frame of reference, and becomes disoriented.  He feels like he is right-side up, when he is actually upside down.  It is a dangerous thing.  If he depends on how he feels, rather than consulting his instrument panel, he pulls the yoke or stick back to climb and instead is diving into the ground.  The result is deadly.

That is what was happening in Isaiah’s day.  The Jews had been blessed with God’s truth to guide them.  The prophets, like Isaiah, pointed men to their Maker.  The holy law was the instrument panel to show them reality as they flew through the fog of this sinful world.  The prophets were in the control tower to talk them into a safe arrival.  But, they would not listen.  They became disoriented, pulled the throttle back—upside down, they crashed and burned.

It is ironic that all this happened in “the Valley of Vision.”  That expression is used twice in Isaiah 22.  Israel was a place that had been graced by God with prophetic vision.  The Lord had revealed Himself, His will and His ways through His Word.  It had been engraved by His finger on tablets of stone placed in the hands of Moses to teach them morality.  Priests and prophets had expounded it and provided additional insight as God’s Spirit spoke through them.  But, the people had rejected the light of God’s truth, and the darkness had closed in—the Valley of Vision was now a black abyss where blind guides led blind people.  That never ends well—for pilot or passengers.

No wonder Isaiah is heartsick.  He delivers his “oracle against the Valley of Vision” (v.1).  It isn’t a message favorable to the audience, but a pronouncement of judgment “against” them because of their rejection of their Maker and His message.  In fact, some translations render “oracle” as “burden”—a heavy message that Isaiah had to deliver, one that weighed on his mind—a word of immense gravity and intense grief.  No man of God finds joy in delivering such a sorrowful sermon, yet he is just the plane’s attitude indicator, showing that the people are upside down—and in peril.  He must be faithful to the truth—whether the pilot adjusts his course or not.

In the face of impending doom, what did those piloting the nation’s plane do?  They sent out word, “Nothing to worry about!  Settle back, enjoy the flight.”  Then the attendants were sent out with booze and tasty treats, and the cabin turned into a party.  When one lone fellow in the back, shouted out in tears, “We’re going to die!”  Isaiah was told, “Shut up!  Sure we’re going to die; everybody does—but not today.  So, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’” (v.13)

God had called them to mourn for their sin, but instead they were merry in it.  They should have fasted in repentance, but instead they feasted in rebellion.  The nation was in a death spiral, and only pushed the throttle forward.  From the tower, the Lord sent out to the plane this solemn word to Isaiah, the only one listening, The Lord of Hosts has directly revealed to me:This sin of yours will never be wiped out.’  The Lord God of Hosts has spoken.” (v.14)

As I look out the window of the plane I ride called, “The United States of America” I can see through a break in the clouds that we are upside down.  As in Isaiah’s time, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa.5:20 HCSB)  Those piloting the plane will not listen.  The passengers are having too much fun on the flight to heed the ranting of some old preacher.

We are a nation that is busy trying to insure security through our military and not by depending on our Maker.  We look to stimulate the economy and reject our Provider.  By rejecting God, we have lost our fixed point of reference.  We repeat the folly of ancient Jerusalem’s inhabitants:

“You also saw the damage to the city of David, that it was great; and you gathered together the waters of the lower pool.  You numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses you broke down to fortify the wall.  You also made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to its Maker, nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.” (Isa.22:9-11 HCSB)

Is anybody listening?

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