The Burden of Valley of Vision - Part V
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Turn to Isaiah, chapter 20. Let me remind you that we are in the section of the book of Isaiah which is known as the Book of Burdens . It began with chapter 13 and it concludes with chapter 22. It is called the Book of Burdens because it is related to messages of judgment, indicated by the word burden , to ten nations that had to do with the nation of Israel, ten nations that have come in contact with the nation of Israel in the past or will come in contact with the nation of Israel in the future.

We did remind you that though all of these prophecies in this section were prophecies when Isaiah uttered them, they represent both prophecy and history for us today, because a number of the prophecies in this particular section have already been fulfilled, and a number of them remain yet to be fulfilled.

Where it has been possible to identify modern events, by very definite statements in the book of Isaiah, we have been quick to do so, and we have emphasized that there can be no question about the matter under discussion. But where there has been an absence of a definite historical event to fit the picture described or where there has been no prophetic indication to fit the picture described, we have merely suggested to you those phrases within the chapter which indicate that there is something within these various chapters that yet will be fulfilled.

Prophecy Fulfilled In History

In our journey through this section of the book of Isaiah, we have come to chapter 20. If you will glance at it with me briefly, because we do not want to spend time discussing it, you will recognize that it is a prophecy of the terrible doom that was going to fall on Egypt and Ethiopia at the hand of Assyria. If you glance at the first verse of chapter 20, you will find the exact date that this particular prophecy was fulfilled, so you look at chapter 20, not as prophecy related to the future as far as we are concerned, but prophecy related to the future as far as Isaiah was concerned; it is related to history as far as we are concerned.

If you glance again at that chapter, you will realize that it is a unique prophecy in that it was not something which was uttered, but something which was acted out. In verse 2, Isaiah was instructed to go and loose the sackcloth from off his loins and put the shoes from off his feet and walk naked for three years up and down throughout the city of Jerusalem, so that every time anybody looked at him they would be reminded of the judgment that was going to fall upon Egypt and Ethiopia at the hand of the king of Syria.

We do want to make mention, lest you be led astray by the statement we made, that the sackcloth referred to was the outer robe of Isaiah. The reference to his nakedness is not nudity. He was covered with the garments worn under the outer clothing. He took off the robe which was the symbol of his authority as a prophet. He took off his shoes, and when anyone saw him walking about in that condition, naturally they would wonder why.

One day he told them. In verse 4, he said:

Isaiah 20

4So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

The phrase, “their buttocks uncovered,” is again a reference to the lack of the long, flowing Oriental robes that everybody in that country wore. The nation of Israel then would realize that they were foolish to have placed their trust in Egypt and Ethiopia against the king of Assyria.

You will notice in verse 6:

Isaiah 20

6And the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: and how shall we escape?

The isle refers to Jerusalem, surrounded by her enemies. Her hope had been in these folk, but their hope was no more.

We would remind you, as we glance at chapter 20, that fulfilled prophecy is always the guarantee that prophecy yet unfulfilled will be so. Glance at chapter 21 and notice how it begins:

Isaiah 21

1The burden of the desert of the sea…

You will recognize that the first ten verses of chapter 21 have to do with the prophecy of the downfall of Babylon, which we have already studied in Isaiah, chapters 13 and 14. There is no point in studying it again now. If you did take the time to compare the first ten verses of Isaiah, chapter 21, with Isaiah, chapters 13 and 14, you would discover that Isaiah describes in minute detail the banqueting hall in which Belshazzar was gathered when the Medes and the Persians conquered his city. You would even see the horsemen going by two and two. You would see the chariots riding in on the dry river bed to take charge of the city whose downfall was pronounced twice over: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, and the graven images of her gods hath he broken to the ground.”

The Fate of Edom

If you will glance at verse 11, you will see a prophecy related to Dumah , which is another name for Edom . If you will look at these verses here, you will find that it is not so much a prophecy as it is a question concerning the fate of Edom. All of the nations in the near and Middle East were falling, one after another, according to the prophecy of Isaiah; and so the individuals who lived in Edom sent to Isaiah and said, in verse 11:

Isaiah 21

11…Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

Isaiah was a watchman. He had pronounced doom upon the nation, and they wanted to know how they were going to be involved. Isaiah answered in verse 12:

Isaiah 21

12The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.

If we were to paraphrase these words, what Isaiah said to them was, “I really am not prepared at the moment to give you an answer as to what is going to happen to you, but if you will return in the future and ask me again, I will have a message for you.”

They did return, and he did have a message for them, and that message is contained in Isaiah, chapters 34 and 35, and in Isaiah, chapter 63. We are going to reserve our comments on the message to Edom until we reach that portion of the book of Isaiah, because it was related not only to the future as far as Isaiah's day was concerned, it is related to the future as far as our own day is concerned, with Isaiah in chapter 63 very plainly declaring that when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth the second time, He will fight His initial battle against the enemy in the land of Edom. Edom is going to be a very important territory in the years that are to come, as the Antichrist, who by and by will make his appearance, will consider it a very important territory for the furtherance of his own efforts.

Arabia In Prophecy

If you will look at verse 13, you will see a message addressed to Arabia, and you will notice the number of names given in these few verses. If you were to trace their names down to the original source, you would discover that they were the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of the son of Abraham by Keturah as well. You would recognize them as some of the Arabic tribes which are represented in our modern world today. This particular prophecy is of interest because there is nothing in history that faintly resembles what is described here. Notice in verse 13:

Isaiah 21

13The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.

Let us pause and recognize that the word forest should be rocks because there is no forest in Arabia, and the word forest actually means “rocks.” We are told in this verse that there will be some traveling companies who find refuge in the rocks of Arabia.

In verse 14, we read:

Isaiah 21

14The inhabitants of the land of Tema [a part of Arabia] brought water to him that was thirsty [those who had taken refuge in the rocks] , they prevented with their bread him that fled.

Of course, you know the word prevented is an old Anglo-Saxon word which does not speak of hindering, but which speaks of providing or of setting before, so actually what you read is that the inhabitants of the land of Tema set bread before these individuals who were taking refuge in the rocks.

Why are they taking refuge in these rocks? The answer is found in verse 15:

Isaiah 21

15For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.
16For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Within a year, [that does not mean a year from the time that Isaiah gave the prophecy, but from within a year of the time that the activity begins] according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail:
17And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

I said a moment ago that there is nothing in history that compares to this particular prophecy. It is possible that it was fulfilled in some fashion and history took no notice, but if that is not true, then it remains yet to be fulfilled, and we wonder exactly to what it could have reference.

The Time of Jacob's Trouble

With that thought in mind, turn with me to the book of Revelation, chapter 12, which is going to describe for you that period of time that is coming on the earth known as the Tribulation , the Time of Jacob's Trouble , when the Devil, realizing that he has only a short time left—a brief three and one half years—is going to intensify his persecution of the people of God, which in that day will be primarily the nation of Israel. Notice in verse 13:

Revelation 12

13And when the dragon [that is, the Devil] saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

Were we to study this in detail, we would find that the woman here is the nation of Israel. So he began to persecute the nation of Israel. He began to intensify his efforts against her. Then we read in verse 14:

Revelation 12

14And to the woman [the nation of Israel] were given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent [the face of the Devil] .

Time will not permit us to go into additional detail, but most Bible scholars believe that the wilderness to which the nation of Israel flees at this particular time are the rocks of Petra, which are described by the word forest in verse 13 of Isaiah, chapter 21.

Books Hidden In the Rocks of Petra

So definite are the prophecies in the Word of God that in the end time, the nation of Israel will find refuge in the rocks of Petra, where Bible scholars have hidden away certain books which they believe will enable the Jews to recognize that they have rejected their Messiah and need to acknowledge Him, confessing their sin, that He might return.

One of the oldest books that has ever been written on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is entitled Jesus Is Coming , by W.E. Blackstone. That book in quantity has been hidden away in the rocks of Petra in weatherproof cases with the hope that when the Jews flee there for safety, they will be able to read the promises concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Dr. David L. Cooper, who is now with the Lord, who was here in Bible conferences in times past, who was the founder of the Biblical Research Society , and who had an unusual ministry particularly to intellectual Jews, has hidden away in the rocks of Petra in weatherproof cases various of his books, which will open the eyes of the Jews to the fact that they need to acknowledge their crucifixion of Jesus Christ and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to return for their deliverance.

I would suggest then, without being dogmatic, that the last paragraph of Isaiah, chapter 21, is a reference to that time when the inhabitants of the Arabian desert will nourish the Jews who flee from the face of the Devil into the rocks of Petra.

Judgment Pronounced Against Jerusalem

That brings us to chapter 22, at which we wish to look somewhat more in detail. Chapter 22 is rather unique in that it is not a burden, a pronouncement of judgment, against some foreign nation; it is a pronouncement of judgment against the city of Jerusalem itself. It begins with the words, “the burden of the valley of vision.”

Jerusalem was often referred to as a valley because it was surrounded on every side by mountains. So definite was that geographical fact that David the Psalmist said, “God encamped round about those who fear Him, even as the mountains round about Jerusalem.”

Isaiah refers to it as the valley of vision , not only because it refers to the city of Jerusalem, but because he was there when the vision was given to him. “The burden of the valley of vision,” constitutes the first fourteen verses of this chapter. It seems a bit strange, for it seems as though God seeks to talk to all the nations to whom He had been addressing Himself, and He begins to address Himself to the nation of Israel.

Isaiah, in the first two verses, sees the whole city in vision stirred up about something. He says:

Isaiah 22

1…What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?
2Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, joyous city…

There they were gathered on the tops of the houses, clamoring, shouting, and making noise; and he said to them, “What is all this excitement about? Why is there so much noise going on?” Then as he looks further into the vision he says, in a sense, “This noise and this excitement is somewhat out of place,” for in the second part of verse 2, he says:

Isaiah 22

2…thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.
3All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.

“Look at you,” he said. “Your men have not returned from battle in victory; they have returned in defeat. It is nothing to rejoice about. It is something to weep about.” So broken was the heart of Isaiah that in verse 4, he requested that he might be left alone with his grief. He said in verse 4:

Isaiah 22

4Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.

“The daughter of my people” is a reference to the city of Jerusalem. “Isaiah, why are you so brokenhearted? Why are you so disturbed?” Isaiah said:

Isaiah 22

5For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.
6And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.
7And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.

Why was he so sad? Because, as he looked down the corridors of time, he saw in vision a day when the city of Jerusalem would be completely surrounded by the chariots of various nations, all of the valley stilled, and nobody seeming to care, because no one seemed to realize the danger in which they were.

Israel's Defense of Jerusalem

Then in verse 8, Isaiah said:

Isaiah 22

8And he [that is, God] discovered the covering of Judah…

That is when He removed the veil from their eyes, when he removed the blindness from their eyes that forbade them seeing things exactly as they were. He said that when that veil was removed, in verse 8:

Isaiah 22

8And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.

The house of the forest was a definite building in the city of Jerusalem. Solomon built it, and he built it as a great arsenal in which could be kept all the various weapons of warfare, but through the years they had been careless. They had not kept up their arms, and they had been in a state of disarmament, and when they went to the house of the forest, there was nothing there with which they could do battle against the enemy. They looked about the city, in verse 9:

Isaiah 22

9Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many…

That is, there were many holes in the wall round about Jerusalem that the enemy could break through with the least bit of effort. They began hurridly to put up some line of defense, and so we read in the last part of verse 9:

Isaiah 22

9…and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool.

That is, they made a reservoir so they could catch all the water that they could so that they could withstand a long siege. Then in verse 10:

Isaiah 22

10And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.

The breaches which were many in the walls of Jerusalem had to be fixed. What did they do? They tore down their houses in order to fill up the holes within the wall, and they made, in verse 11:

Isaiah 22

11…a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool…

Failure to Acknowledge God

They did everything they could to provide a defense for their city with the exception of one thing. Isaiah mentions that in the last part of verse 11, when he says:

Isaiah 22

11…but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.

“God made the pool long ago. God built the wall long ago. You have done everything but look to Him. You have done everything but respect Him.” So, in verse 12:

Isaiah 22

12And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:

God said that it should be a day of national repentance. It should be a day of national acknowledgment of sin, but what did Isaiah see in verse 13?

Isaiah 22

13And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.

They were completely forgetting God. Then Isaiah said in verse 14:

Isaiah 22

14And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

Yes, it is possible to go too far, and they had gone too far. God's judgment was going to rest upon them.

Some individuals see the fulfillment of this prophecy in the days of King Hezekiah when Sennacherib and Rabshakeh and his men gathered outside the city of Jerusalem because, as we will see when we get over to chapter 37, some of these very things were done. Perhaps it was fulfilled then, but this we know: There is going to come a day when the city of Jerusalem will be surrounded again by all the nations of the world. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Not only in Jerusalem, but in the whole world it will be as it was in the days of Noah, marrying and giving in marriage, completely oblivious of one's responsibility to God.”

The last part of this chapter relates not to a city, but it relates to two individuals. One of them is named Shebna , and the other is named Eliakim . They actually existed and lived in that day. Because of the very language of this paragraph, Bible scholars have come to the conclusion that God recorded a history of these two men, not for the sake of history itself, but because they were a portrayal of two characters who will yet walk across the stage of this world in the fashion described. One of them is the Antichrist and the other is our Lord Jesus Christ when He returns the second time. If we had read the entire passage of Scripture before we began these comments, you would have recognized Shebna as the Antichrist, and you would have recognized Eliakim as our Lord Jesus Christ.

Shebna, a Type of the Antichrist

Let's read about this man Shebna, beginning with verse 15:

Isaiah 22

15Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer [ruler] , even unto Shebna, which is over the house [of Israel] , and say,

When God said, “Go get you unto this fellow,” He shows His utter contempt for him. He says to Isaiah, “Ask him a question.” We read in verse 16:

Isaiah 22

16What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?

What is the meaning of this? Here was Shebna, an interloper, a usurper, someone who had no right to be where he was, ruling over the house of Israel. What was he doing? He was hewing out a sepulchre as a place of burial among all the kings of Israel as though he had a right to sit on David's throne. God sent Isaiah to him and said, “What are you doing here? What right have you to be making a sepulchre in this place? What gives you a right to act in this manner?” He didn't wait for an answer. Isaiah said, in verse 17:

Isaiah 22

17Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.
18He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house.
19And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.

He was saying, “Shebna, the day is going to come when I am going to double you up in my fist like a ball, and I am going to hurl you out into the desert, and you will die there. You will be removed from your place of authority, never to take it up again.”

Eliakim, a Type of Christ

Then in the paragraph beginning with verse 20, God speaks to another person whom He is going to place in the place that Shebna once had. We read in verse 20:

Isaiah 22

20And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:

Eliakim means “God will establish.” God has deposed Shebna. He is going to put in his place a man who will establish things as they ought to be established. God is going to remove the Antichrist from the power that he usurped when he took his seat upon the throne of David and in his place will appear the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice what He says, in verse 21:

Isaiah 22

21And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.

When you have time, read how the Lord Jesus Christ is clothed in chapter 19 of the book of Revelation and recall what was said about him in Isaiah, chapter 9, verse 22, when it was stated that He would be the eternal Father, mighty to save.

Isaiah 22

22And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

If you have any doubt now that Eliakim is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ when He returns in glory, we suggest that you read chapter 3 of the book of Revelation, noticing verse 7 particularly, where we are told the Lord Jesus Christ has in His hand the key to the house of David. These very same words are used: “He shall be able to open, and no man will be able to shut, and He will be able to shut, and no man will be able to open.”

An Illustration of Security In Jesus

God changes the metaphor, in verse 23, and presents a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ in words He uses to describe Eliakim, which I love to think about. In verse 23, He said:

Isaiah 22

23And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.
24And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.

You need to understand a little bit about the custom of the day to fully appreciate this verse. In a sense, if there was a center pole, there was a peg driven into the pole, and upon that peg was hung the shield, the armor, all the various vessels that were used in the camp. If it was a home, in the center wall there was a wooden peg called a nail driven into the wall and all the vessels in the house were hung upon that one peg.

I wonder if the Apostle Paul didn't have in mind this same thing when he gave somewhat the same kind of illustration in the letter that he wrote to Timothy concerning the house of God. No, he didn't mention the nail, but he did mention the vessels. Notice II Timothy, chapter 2, verse 19, where Paul said to Timothy:

II Timothy 2

19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his [thank God for that] . And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity [we had better heed that] .
20[Notice now] But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

Here the Apostle Paul compares believers to vessels. He says that there are all different kinds. There are some of gold, some of silver, some of wood, some of stone, all different kinds; but Isaiah says in verse 24 that Eliakim is a peg, a nail firmly driven. The Lord Jesus Christ is a nail firmly driven upon which all the vessels of the house can hang securely. What a wonderful place to be—on the Lord Jesus Christ.

A Sure Place of Protection

In verse 25 one word is left out from the original text which provides some confusion, because if you read it exactly the way it is written you would be under the impression that the nail about which we have been talking someday is going to fall with all those vessels hanging on it. That would be a tragedy, wouldn't it? We read in verse 25:

Isaiah 22

25In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

What the verse really says is, “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall that other nail that is fastened in a sure place be removed.” That other nail is Shebna. As God said, “He will be removed.” That other nail is the Antichrist, a physical manifestation of the Devil upon whom multitudes of people have hung all their hopes and aspirations. He will be removed someday, and all that have pinned their hopes on him shall come crashing to the ground.

Conclusion

Thank God, we who are hanging upon Eliakim, our Lord Jesus Christ, will never need to worry about falling to the ground, for we hang on a nail in a sure place.


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