Daily Bible Reading for January 17, 2014: Isaiah 12-17.
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Context and Meaning: Chapter 12 looks to a future where God is no longer angry. It is a hymn of praise and a hymn of anticipation. Chapter 13 changes themes. The next several chapters focus on the destruction of numerous, mostly foreign, nations. Chapter 13 and the beginning of chapter 14 foretell the destruction of Babylon and the death of the King. Scholars have been unable to date this prophecy as Babylon has been destroyed, and the king defeated, more than once. Potentially, the prophecy could have been made around 701 BC, as Judah was considering an alliance with Babylon in order to defeat Assyria. Following the prophecy against Babylon is a prophecy of the fall of Assyria. In this context, it is a warning to Judah to not rely on men and allies for protection but to trust in the Lord for deliverance. The remainder of chapter 14 predicts the fall of the Philistines. It serves as a warning that Judah must have complete faith in salvation from the Lord; there is no halfway. Chapters 15 and 16 is a lament, a cry of sorrow, for Moab, whom will be destroyed because they have rejected the Lord and taken pride in themselves. The final chapter of today's reading foretells the destruction of Damascus and Israel. Again, it warns Judah against turning away from the Lord as Israel did, for it will bring destruction. It also serves as encouragement to Judah that God has promised to protect them.
World History: It is important to remember that the book of Isaiah is not written in historical order. It is a compilation of the various prophecies of Isaiah. Additionally, these prophecies were likely delivered in Judah, not to the nations whose destruction was being foretold. They served as a political warning to Judah, a warning against making alliances with these nations. Moab was the land where Ruth met and married Boaz. Since then, military disputes had arisen between Moab and Israel/Judah over land.