Onto the subject at hand:
I’m lovin’ this book. So filled with grave judgment, but so rich with promises of mercy! God says he will afflict his people in order to get them to turn from their sin, but at the same time “In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it—one from the house of David—one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.”
There are millennial echoes throughout as well—from the familiar verse on the United Nations building (as if nations could ever accomplish the beating of swords into plows), to the promise that on his mountain (Zion), “the Lord will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples . . . and swallow up death forever, and wipe away the tears from all faces, and remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.”
Here’s something interesting I found: in the prophecies against specific nations (Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Moab, Cush, etc.,) look at Chapter 18: notice that God doesn’t promise destruction to this nation (apparently Cush, or Ethiopia), but says they will bring gifts to the Lord to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord (the Temple), during the time when time when all nations see the banner of the Lord on the mountains (the millennial kingdom).
Now . . . there’s an old tradition that says that an Ethiopian son of Solomon (borne by the Queen of Sheba), took the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia some time after Solomon’s reign. What if the “gift” brought to the Lord is the Ark being returned to the rebuilt Temple? Interesting thought, no?
Another thing struck me in these chapters: the plan of God. Human events do not take place nilly-willy. Over and over in Isaiah we read: “This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (14:26-27).
And “The Lord Almighty planned it, to bring low the pride of all glory. . .” (23:9) “in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago” (25:1). Why? “When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.”
I also found another OT mention of the belief in an afterlife for the righteous: 26:19 (though vs. 14 seems to indicate that the unrighteous dead do not live . . . not in the same way, in any case.)
My favorite part? The promise that one day Egypt, Syria, and Israel will be united in worshipping the Lord Almighty. “The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance” (19:25).