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Chinese8/6/2006English
經文:以賽亞十七至廿章
鑰節:「……祂就差遣一位救主作護衛者……」(19:20)
提要

        十七章是有關敘利亞滅亡的預言,與第七章的歷史事件相對應。以色列北國和敘利亞聯盟,企圖抵禦亞述對他們的侵略,以色列如此是無濟於事的,因上帝已定意懲罰以色列及毀滅敘利亞。以賽亞的預言在主前七三二年應驗,亞述滅敘利亞的首都(17:1)大馬士革,所有的聯軍都被擊敗,以色列所有的要塞城(包括撒瑪利亞)也都被亞述毀滅(17:3)。以賽亞同時預言,以色列將有飢荒(17:5~6),人們被擄;所有的人看到突來的毀滅都要明白,因他們忘記上帝,不記念上帝是他們的救贖(17:10~11),如此的悲劇才使他們想到造物主及悔改在祂面前(代下30:11;34:9),明白要敬畏上帝,不再拜偶像(17:7~8),因人手做的偶像,在他們有需要時不能幫助他們,唯有上帝才是真實的避難所。

        亞述毀滅撒瑪利亞後繼續向猶大攻擊及掠奪,圍攻耶路撒冷城,但以賽亞已預言過,他們無法成功(10:24~26);亞述人膽敢掠奪上帝的子民,在夜間災難臨到亞述軍隊,一夜之間上帝除盡亞述人(17:14;王下19:35;代下32:20~22)。

        十八章上帝的審判臨到蘇丹(古實)。以賽亞形容有一塊地被「翅膀揮動的響聲所遮」(18:1),可能因蘇丹及非洲常有蝗災。以賽亞預言蘇丹茁壯,但忽然又被消滅,像是禾稼還未成熟就被割下一般(18:5~6);亞述在所有的戰役中,並沒有將鄰近所有的國家都征服,因此蘇丹仍得存活,在對蘇丹的預言中,最後出現了一線希望,就是他們不會完全被毀滅,他們存活可能為的是要在耶路撒冷獻貢物給上帝,因到那時有許多國家都如此,蘇丹也是其中之一,時間是在上帝救希西家和耶路撒冷居民脫離亞述王時,各方獻貢物到耶路撒冷(代下32:22~23)。另一種蘇丹存活的可能是,上帝讓許多蘇丹人成為敬畏上帝的人(外邦人敬拜上帝45:14;詩68:31;87:4;番3:10),他們到上帝的家耶路撒冷朝聖,就如新約腓力帶領蘇丹太監信主,當時這位蘇丹太監就是到耶路撒冷朝聖(徒8:26~40)。

        十九章上帝的審判臨到埃及。上帝審判所有的國家是一個記號,為要讓猶太人明白,他們以為亞述人能拯救他們,卻不知上帝才是他們唯一能信靠的(20:5~6)。埃及是當時強大的國家,也是世界上文明國家之一,以賽亞預言埃及將受苦,與鄰國爭戰時漸衰微,同時又有內戰,使得埃及的軍事、經濟都垮倒,此時一向自認聰明的埃及人只能顯示出自己的愚拙(19:3,14~15),懼怕所有四圍的國家,甚至害怕在亞述欺壓下的猶大(19:16~17;代下33:11),更糟的是國內又有嚴重的乾旱,賴以為生的尼羅河也無用武之地,所有的埃及人都將受苦(19:5~10),在如此的光景下,全亞述人輕易的統治了埃及(主前671年)。

        強暴的亞述王,更加嚴酷的統治埃及人,但到了廿章,情況有了戲劇性的改變,亞述人不再嚴酷對待壓制下的埃及人,原因是許多猶大人在亞述人和巴比倫人的壓迫下,移民到埃及成為難民,在埃及他們說希伯來話,自成一村莊,這群人敬拜上帝,且說公義、純正、愛和真理的話(番3:9,13),因祂子民如此,上帝免去他們受苦,連帶埃及也免受苦。

        上帝懲戒埃及,因他們愚味敬拜偶像和行巫術,但當他們回轉呼求上帝,上帝就醫治他們(19:22),將他們帶到祂面前,人能相信上帝所差來的救主,他們就能免去毀滅(19:20,21)。耶穌基督所統治的地方,必有公義和平,在互爭之地,祂必帶來平安,而無論是猶大人或外邦人,只要跟隨主的,必被稱為祂的子民(19:23~25;加3:26~29;弗2:11~19;彼前2:9~10)

禱告

        主啊!以賽亞肩負了他那時代的責任,您藉著他彰顯您的真理,我們也求您,藉著我們將您的信息傳揚在我們的世代及國家中。奉主耶穌聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Isaiah 17-20
Key Verse:"...He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One..."(Isaiah 19:20)
Overview

        The burden that Isaiah prophesied against Syria is cited in chapter 17 and goes along with the historical events of chapter 7. The Northern Kingdom of Israel (often called Ephraim) had joined arms with Syria to form a coalition in an attempt to stop the Assyrians from conquering them, yet it was to no avail, for the Lord had purposed to defeat Syria and chastise Israel. Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled in 732 B.C., when Tiglath-pileser of Assyria destroyed Damascus, the capital of Syria (17:1). This lead to the defeat of the whole coalition army, for "the fortress" in Ephraim (Samaria, the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel) would likewise be left in ruins by the Assyrians (17:3). He also predicted the scarcity of inhabitants in Israel (17:5-6), for the majority of people would be taken captive (under Sargon in 722 B.C.). Everyone who sees the sudden destruction will know it was the judgment of God upon them for forsaking Him, "the Rock" of their salvation and stronghold (17:10-11). The tragedy will cause them to look to their Maker and repent (2 Chron. 30:11; 34:9). They will learn to fear the Lord and no longer respect their idols (17:7-8), for such man-made images cannot give any help in times of need; only the "Rock" can provide true refuge.

        After the Assyrians defeated Samaria, they continued south to Judah like a rushing torrent and plundered the many villages. Their seige on Jerusalem, however, was not successful, as Isaiah had previously prophesied (10:24-26). Here we have an event graphically described which Isaiah would live to see: the destruction of the Assyrians who would dare to plunder the people of the Lord. In the night, trouble would come for the Assyrian army, for the Lord would intervene, and before morning they would be no more (17:14; cf. 2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chron. 32:20-22).

        Chapter 18 tells of God's judgment upon Ethiopia, a land which Isaiah describes as "shadowed with buzzing wings" (18:1), probably referring to the frequent locusts that sweep across Ethiopia and other parts of Africa. Isaiah prophesied that the Ethiopian nation would be in their prime and growing stronger when suddenly they would be cut down and preyed upon, like crops which are not yet ripe (18:5-6). The Assyrians did exactly that in their campaign of conquest. Isaiah ends his prophecy concerning Ethiopia with a glimmer of hope. They will not be totally destroyed, for they will live to pay tribute to the God of Israel by bringing a present to Jerusalem. This is possibly referring to the time when gifts from many nations, no doubt including Ethiopia, were brought to Hezekiah after the Lord had saved him and all Jerusalem from the Assyrians (2 Chron. 32:22-23). Another possible explanation is that many Ethiopians would become God-fearers (Gentile worshippers of the true God; 45:14; Ps. 68:31; 87:4; Zeph. 3:10), and make pilgrimages to worship God at His House at Jerusalem, as did the Ethiopian eunuch whom Philip led to the Lord (cf. Acts. 8:26-40).

        The judgment of God upon Egypt is recorded in chapter 19. Isaiah prophesied these judgments on all these nations and it was "a sign" to show the people of Judah that it is futile to put their trust in them for deliverance from the Assyrians; the Lord is the only One upon whom they must rely (20:5-6). Egypt was once the strongest and most civilized nation in the world, yet Isaiah predicted that Egypt would suffer and become weakened by war with neighbouring nations (Ethiopia), as well as a civil war. Their military and economy would collapse due to the Lord's causing confusion so that the wise men of Egypt (who prided themselves in their wisdom) would give only foolish counsel (19:3, 14-15). Egypt would be extremely fearful and even paranoid of little Judah who, at that time, was weakened by Assyria (19:16-17; 2 Chron. 33:11). To make matters worse for Egypt, Isaiah prophesied a severe drought and since the livelihood of Egypt depended upon the Nile, everyone of every class would suffer (19:5-10). All these factors would enable the Assyrians to easily conquer Egypt (which they did in 671 B.C.). Isaiah prophesied that a fierce king would rule over them with much cruelty (19:4) and chapter twenty tells of Isaiah becoming a living illustration to dramatically portray the cruel way the Assyrians would lead away the Egyptian captives.

        Because of the Assyrian oppression and the later Babylonian oppression, many people of Judah immigrated to Egypt for refuge and established their own Hebrew-speaking villages. The "language of Canaan", however, may refer to a population of people who will worship the Lord and speak only words of righteousness, purity, love, and truth (Zeph. 3:9, 13).

        Isaiah explains that God will purpose all these tragedies to chastise Egypt and cause her to see her foolishness in consulting idols and charmers, so that they might call out to Him and God could heal them (19:22) and bring them unto Himself. The Lord had purposed that these Gentiles would come to know the God of Israel as their own, for they too will become His people if they have been saved by the "Saviour" and "Mighty One" whom God will send to deliver their souls from destruction and death (19:20-21). The Saviour will bring peace to the warring region and the three warring nations will become as one. Only during the righteous and peaceful reign of Jesus Christ will this be possible, for in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile and all those who follow Him He calls "My people" (19:23-25; cf. Gal. 3:26-29; Eph. 2:11-19; 1 Pet. 2:9-10).

Prayer

        O Lord, Isaiah carried a heavy burden of concern for his generation and nation, and You spoke Your truth through him; even so we pray that we'll truly have Your message for our generation and nation.


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