In our study of Isaiah chapter twenty two, we look at the failure of Judah to trust in God when faced with trials. We will look at the fact that our faith grows through our experience in our walk with God especially when we put it to use. We will also see that a "failure of faith" has to do with our failure and not any failure on God's part. He is willing and able to take care of us.
A prophecy against the Valley of Vision: What troubles you now, that you have all gone up on the roofs, you town so full of commotion, you city of tumult and revelry?
The "Valley of Vision" speaks of Jerusalem and the fact that God had sent prophets to the city to share the comforting words of God with the people. Isaiah predicts that, when they are faced with a siege at the hands of the Babylonians, they will have a "failure of faith". Instead of trusting in God to deliver them, they will run up to their roofs to avoid the invaders and to look for signs of help coming.
Your slain were not killed by the sword, nor did they die in battle. All your leaders have fled together; they have been captured without using the bow. All you who were caught were taken prisoner together, having fled while the enemy was still far away.
Isaiah goes on to explain what will happen during this siege. The people did not go out to fight and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem fled even before the enemy approached. They fled in the direction of modern Jordan but were captured in the plains of Jericho (see 2 Kings 25). This reminds us that the true measure of a leader is whether he/she demonstrates an attitude of faith or an attitude of fear. These leaders definitely had the attitude of fear which is not of God. This is what Paul was talking about in his letter to the Thessalonians who were worried about the last days (see 1 Thess. 5).
Therefore I said, 'Turn away from me; let me weep bitterly. Do not try to console me over the destruction of my people.'
Once again, Isaiah was greatly saddened by the judgment that was coming upon his people. As a true prophet of God, he demonstrated the heart of God and the fact that their "failure of faith" grieved the Lord.
The Lord, the Lord Almighty, has a day of tumult and trampling and terror in the Valley of Vision, a day of battering down walls and of crying out to the mountains. Elam takes up the quiver, with her charioteers and horses, Kir uncovers the shield. Your choicest valleys are full of chariots, and horsemen are posted at the city gates.
Isaiah sees the Babylonian army coming against Jerusalem and the fact that it is a judgment from God.
The Lord stripped away the defenses of Judah, and you looked in that day to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest. You saw that the walls of the City of David were broken through in many places; you stored up water in the Lower Pool. You counted the buildings in Jerusalem and tore down houses to strengthen the wall. You built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool, but you did not look to the one who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.
Isaiah sees that, when the Lord brings the Babylonian army against Jerusalem, they will look to their own efforts for safety. The Palace of the Forest refers to Solomon's palace which had four rows of cedar pillars creating the impression of a cedar forest. The storing up of water and strengthening of the wall refers to efforts that Hezekiah took when Jerusalem was being threatened by the Assyrians. Remnants of this strengthened wall still exist and are called the "Broad Wall". At the time, houses had to be torn down inside the city walls to make room for this very large wall. Isaiah laments that they look to their own efforts instead of remembering what God had done to protect them from the hand of the Assyrians. This was their "failure of faith" as they had the example of what God had done in the past but they still did not trust in Him for the threat at hand. Our faith grows stronger as we remember God's action in the past and apply it to our current problems. We can choose to trust in God or to fear the people and things of this world but we cannot do both.
The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! 'Let us eat and drink,' you say, for tomorrow we die!'
After God delivered them from the hand of the Assyrians, they were called to repentance and to acknowledge Him. Instead, they continued acting in the same manner. They were going along as if nothing had happened. This is a reminder to us that, coming to faith in Jesus Christ, involves a change of mind to agree with God and turn to Him.
The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: 'Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,' says the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
Even after their deliverance, they had refused to acknowledge God. Isaiah informs them that this sin will not be atoned for. So, how can this be? How can a sin not be atoned for through the blood of Jesus Christ? In Matthew 12, Jesus said that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. This was speaking of attributing the work of God to another (in that case it was Satan). Judah had done the same thing in the fact that they had not acknowledged the redemptive work of God. The Holy Spirit had moved in the hearts of men to cause the Assyrian army to abandon their plans. Instead of acknowledging the hand of God, they had credited others with the fact that they had been saved from the Assyrians. This demonstrated their lack of faith and we are reminded that without faith it is impossible to please God.
This is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says: 'Go, say to this steward, to Shebna the palace administrator: "What are you doing here and who gave you permission to cut out a grave for yourself here, hewing your grave on the height and chiseling your resting place in the rock?"'
In this passage, we see that the "failure of faith" had started with the leadership in Jerusalem. The palace administrator was second only to the king and, instead of trusting in God, he was busy preparing himself a choice final resting place.
'Beware, the Lord is about to take firm hold of you and hurl you away, you mighty man. He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country. There you will die and there the chariots you were so proud of will become a disgrace to your master's house. I will depose you from your office, and you will be ousted from your position.'
Isaiah shares the judgment on one of the leaders of Judah. This reminds us that God is in control and that even includes so-called democratic elections. The "will of the people" does not override the will of God. When God wants to remove a leader, He can and will. We can rest assured that whoever is in positions of power is only there because of the fact that it fits into His overall plan for the world.
'In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family shall hang on him; its offspring and offshoots - all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.'
Isaiah speaks of a time when the people will return to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon. During this time, Eliakim would be lifted up to replace Shebna. It is a reminder that God was going to preserve a remnant of His people and they would have a new leader.
'In that day,' declares the Lord Almighty, 'the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.' The Lord has spoken.
Even the people that God puts in positions of authority are only there for a season. Ultimately, all other world leaders will be removed at His coming. This reminds us that, if we put our faith in any man, they will let us down. We must remember that our faith is in Jesus Christ and anything else is a failure of faith.