I woke up today from a dream that I don’t understand. I listened to the Bible on audio this morning and heard a verse that I didn’t understand either. It was talking about when the tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out. The people were upset that a tribe had been cut off from the land. Then I remembered that Dan is not in the book of Revelation. I also recalled that Judah split off from Israel and that Ephraim opposed Gideon. Israel was cut off from its land for almost 2,000 years! I was asking the Lord to help me understand this pattern of a cut off tribe. He brought to mind Judas being cut off and replaced as an apostle!
Sometimes we don’t understand until we begin the process of searching it out. Today I don’t understand what I am about to write. The Lord has put Isaiah 18 on my mind as the only really important thing to write about today, but I don’t understand Isaiah 18. As I write this, I’m starting to wonder if it has to do with another fulfillment of the cutting off and replacing of Judas. The Bible always points to Jesus but sometimes we just don’t understand it at first glance.
I can’t exactly tell if Isaiah 18 is a continuation of 17 or not. In this section of Isaiah, he is writing about the nations that will be judged and what the judgements will be. Chapter 17 talks about some important stuff like the destruction of Damascus. But 18 starts out with a call to a nation that isn’t named. The land beyond the rivers of Cush or Ethiopia depending on your translation, but same area of the world. Depending on how you read it we could be talking about any number of places. Somalia or Djibouti or South Africa or Kenya… perhaps the South Pole… I’m not entirely sure.
This next description should give something away and probably would have in Isaiah’s time. He describes this nation as sending messengers in papyrus vessels on the waters. Papyrus boats were apparently a thing in the Egypt, Chad, Cush area of the world back then. This is also a land divided by rivers, maybe Sudan, still not completely sure what nation this is.
Now Isaiah calls out o all the inhabitants of the world to pay attention to this. There’s a signal or trumpet of some kind happening here. Perhaps one of the final trumpets will be known by a sign from a nation in this area? Now with this setup, Isaiah begins to quote the words from God to him. “I will quietly look from my dwelling like clear heat in sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” How many in the church would dismiss Isaiah today? Quietly look from my dwelling like clear heat in sunshine? Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest? What?
So much of the prophetic works like this. We need to have a more biblical understanding of how prophets speak honestly. I’ve heard teaching about who is and is not a prophet that would throw Isaiah right out of the church. Now Isaiah begins to describe the word of God. Before the harvest, when the grapes are ripening, God is going to do some pruning. Now when Jesus talked about the harvest, He described it as the time when the angels go throughout the earth separating the evil from the righteous. The ultimate harvest of the earth is the time of His return. I don’t know if that’s the time Isaiah is meaning but we do have trumpet, sign and harvest which all can mean the time of the end.
Next Isaiah confirms my suspicion here. They shall all of them be left to the birds of prey of the mountains and the beasts of the earth. We see two things here. One is the great slaughter of the day of the Lord. But there is some deeper symbolism here about the birds (the fallen evil spirits) and the beasts (the people group who choose to follow the fallen evil spirits). Then he gives something to look for. At that time tribute will be brought to the Lord of hosts from a people… and goes back to describe the people of the African nation he was describing in the beginning of the chapter. He just brought the whole thing full circle and it’s beautiful and poetic.
I don’t know what nation this word was for, but I know the Lord has a plan for each nation and peoples from all over the earth. The footnotes say this land is probably Nubia. This would put it in what is now Sudan. I don’t know that for sure but I do know the Lord has spoken to a nation through a prophet. May the people of the nation He loves enough to speak to, be touched by the words of Isaiah 18! May His love for all nations shine like the sun! May the Lord bless your ears with understanding! May He open your mind to what He has spoken! May we travel the road to understanding on the path of trusting Him and asking Him and letting Him guide us into truth and may God bless all y’all.